Audiobook Review | First and First by Santino Hassell

Two more days, guys, and we’re finally going to get to know Ashton in Concourse. i hope you’re as excited as I am! For now, let’s remember the first moment we met him… And bonus! This will give you a taste of Oli and Caleb – my favorite couple so far in the Five Boroughs series.

First and First by Santino Hassell | Five Boroughs #3
Contemporary Romance, LGBTQIA
Published on April 18th, 2016



Book Blurb:

Caleb Stone was raised on the Upper East Side, where wealth and lineage reigns, and “alternative lifestyles” are hidden. It took him years to come out to his family, but he’s still stuck in the stranglehold of their expectations. Caleb knows he has to build his confidence and shake things up, but he doesn’t know how… until Oliver Buckley enters the picture.

Oli is everything Caleb isn’t—risk-taking, provocative, and fiercely independent. Disowned by his family, Oli has made his own way in the world and is beholden to no one. After a chance encounter on New Year’s Eve, Caleb is smitten.

As Caleb sheds the insecurities that have held him back for years, he makes bold steps toward changing his career and escaping years of sexual repression. But for Caleb to take full control of his life, he has to be brave enough to confront his feelings and trust Oli with his heart.

| Book Review |

Reviewing this book is going to be hard for me. I’m pretty sure First and First is my favorite book of all time, and I know my words won’t be able to convey how much I love it. But here goes…

The author really had his work cut out for him here. Caleb is one of the main characters, and as he tried to come between David and Ray in Sunset Park, I had no intention of ever warming up to him. Ever. (I can be dramatic.) No one messes with David and Ray. Anyway, the opening scene just solidified my dislike for Caleb, and then away we went. Well, the thing is, Caleb allows fear to rule his life, and of course he would try and cling to David, because he was all about what was familiar to him, even if it wasn’t good for him. So it wasn’t long before I fell for yet another man in the Five Boroughs series. Oli and Caleb were so well matched. Caleb was pretty insecure about his looks, sexual prowess, and ‘keeping up,’ but Oli was always quick to compliment him; I don’t think he knew how much Caleb needed it, and it made me love Oli all the more because he was just so casual about it. And so very up front about how much he wanted Caleb. This book starts off with a Caleb and Oli having a one night stand, but Caleb can’t remember much from that night. Luckily, for him and for the reader, those events reveal themselves in sexy flashbacks. Oli brings to light a lot of Caleb’s fantasies, and I love how receptive he is about it all – he never pushes Caleb to go further than he wants to, and he understands that sometimes a fantasy is just that. Something someone is fully content to live out in their mind but may never be ready to explore. I loved Oli’s past and the way it has shaped him; it gave him fears of his own that I don’t think were fully realized until Caleb pushed his way into Oli’s heart and wouldn’t stop until Oli gave him what they both wanted. And I think the way this started, with Caleb’s guard completely destroyed, allowed him to keep pushing Oli and see that when Oli lashed out, it was often because he was hurt, not angry. The entire progression of their relationship was perfect. In fact, there are two lines in this book (one from each character in different scenes,) where I felt like they were totally putting themselves out there for each other, and that was a big deal for both of them. They might not mean much to you, but I’ll share them anyway because I love them so much.

This first one is from Oli, and it won’t mean much without the context, but Oli has a way with hitting you in the feels with just an off the cuff comment:

You know I give no fucks about anything but what you want.

And Caleb is a bit more intentional with his words:

God, you fucking inspire me.

Such bit parts in their story, but it’s those little moments that make up the bigger picture of who they are and how much they care about each other. I love that they’re able to be so open only with each other.

This book also introduced us to Aidan, Caleb’s brother, and I love the way the author went with this. I won’t mention anything because I don’t want to spoil it, but suffice it to say that I haven’t gotten enough of Aidan yet. This is where we also meet Ashton, and his character feels very hollow in this installment of Five Boroughs.

One of my favorite things about this series as a whole is that things in this world are constantly coming full circle, and they’re events that cross multiple books. For example, in this one, Caleb is able to realize the depth of the hurt he caused David, and I just love that the revelations keep on coming. 

I would also like to mention that when I was with Badass Book Reviews, C.S. Pacat did a guest post on biased points of view for us (you can click here if you want to read it) and this book made me remember how amazing and spot on that post was. As I mentioned before, seeing Caleb only through David and Ray’s eyes showed me he had no redeeming qualities, but I was quickly proven wrong when I was able to get inside Caleb’s head. If you’re a fan of biased POVs, this series will work for you. It even has me excited for Clive’s book, because a lot of the reader’s exposure to him is from his ex, Michael, and Michael’s boyfriend Nunzio.

I know I keep raving about Five Boroughs, but I can’t help it. I fully admit to being stark raving mad for this series. It’s inspired an entire wish list for me (right down to Aviva Saperstein and his thighs, who was only even mentioned once by name, but man, what a name.) I’ve loved every book in this series, but there was something so special about Caleb and Oli. Their character development felt like it was running parallel throughout the whole book, and I just loved everything about it. I read First and First and all I could think was that this is exactly what most romance authors want – something this hot and deep. A win for sure, and one I know I’ll continue to read over and over again. You can’t max out an listens on an audio purchase…right? 😉

Narrator: Just like with Sunset Park, First and First was brought even more to life with the narrator. If you’re an audio listener, don’t even think twice. Your first read should be with your ears.

| Rating |

Series: Five Boroughs


9 thoughts on “Audiobook Review | First and First by Santino Hassell

Add yours

  1. I thought your review was pretty fantastic even though it is your favoritest book ever and you wanted to do it justice. 🙂 The biased POV can be interesting especially since I love it when an author swings around and makes me love a character I didn’t think I could even like before the book.

    Great review, Angie!


    1. Thanks, Sophia. It’s hard to bang out a review for a book you love, because you want to convince everyone on the planet to read it. LOL

      I really enjoy when an unlikely character worms their way into my heart, and Caleb really did.


  2. That is really high praise when you say that this is your favorite book of all time. These sound like absolutely wonderful characters. I am glad that you are enjoying this series so much. Great review!


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