Monday, November 27, 2017

Citywide by Santino Hassell

A record-breaking heat wave engulfs the Five Boroughs, and emotions run as hot as the temperatures.

In Rerouted, Chris Mendez is trying to live a drama-free life. That doesn't include another threesome with Jace and Aiden Fairbairn. But then a citywide blackout leaves them trapped together, and Chris is forced to re-examine everything he thought he knew about relationships and his own heart.

In Gridlocked, former Marine Tonya Maldonado is keeping real estate heiress Meredith Stone on permanent ignore. Mere isn't Tonya’s type. Not even close. Who cares if she kisses like a dream and has the filthiest mouth this side of the East River? But then a security detail at a summer party ends with her saving Mere's life and discovering they have more chemistry than she’d ever imagined.

In Derailed, Stephanie Quinones escapes the heat and her complicated love life by going on a company retreat. Trouble is, it's a couples’ retreat, and she lied about having a boyfriend. Unfortunately, the only person willing to play pretend is her on-again/off-again fling, Angel León. They’re currently "off again,” but after a week in the woods, Stephanie realizes she wouldn’t mind them being permanently on.

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Book 6
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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

This is a wonderful collection of three queer love stories. The characters will be familiar to fans of the Five Boroughs books, but this collection diverges from the m/m parings of the earlier books and allows us to enjoy a little bit more of the rainbow. The three stories are separate but interlinked and written in chronological order. Each story features a different set of characters within Raymond and David’s friendship group.

The first story, Rerouted, is my favourite. It’s told from Raymond’s friend Chris’ perspective as he finds himself falling for a polyamorous couple. Chris is bisexual and he is slowly starting to realise that he is also poly. When Chris is trapped with Jace and Aiden in a Manhattan office during a blackout, the men are forced to explore their relationship together. Between their conversations about monogamy and commitment are some wonderfully steamy, dirty scenes. I loved the chemistry between these three and I loved them together.

The second story, Gridlocked, is told from Raymond’s friend Tonya’s perspective. She’s working security for a QFindr event when she runs into Meredith, a woman she once had a fling with. As we know from earlier books, Tonya is a kickass genderfluid former Marine from Queens. And Meredith is a spoiled Park Avenue princess. I really enjoyed the culture clash and I enjoyed getting to see a gentler side of Tonya. The sex in this story is just as hot and just as kinky as the sex in the first one but I found the story itself a little less coherent. This one also didn’t really end – I was expecting the next chapter instead of the third novella. Of the three stories, Gridlocked could have benefitted from being made into a full-length novel because several story strands were introduced but not developed or concluded.

The third story, Derailed, belongs to Stephanie and Angel. Stephanie has been a constant in the background of this series and I’m so glad she finally has her own book. Stephanie’s childhood was grim and as a result, she doesn’t do relationships. Angel has been another background character and I love that he narrates half of this book. Stephanie and Angel have loved each other since childhood but Stephanie’s issues mean that she is afraid of a relationship with Angel. Once again, the sex is crazy hot between these two. I love the way Angel embraces Stephanie’s bisexuality. This is the most angsty of the three stories and I think my heart broke a little bit each time Stephanie pushed Angel away. But the connection between these two is also playful and fun – and pretty kinky at times too.

I love this collection. I love the way Hassell writes about female sexuality and I love that this collection moves past the usual m/m pairings. The collection pushes into erotica territory at times but it also manages to be intelligent, sweet, and funny. I’m not sure if these stories will stand alone – but I also don’t know why anyone would want to miss the earlier books. This collection is a great addition to a favourite series.

This is the sixth in a series, and contains three excellent novellas which are set consecutively. I have not yet had the pleasure of reading the other books in the series, but I intend to remedy that soon. I did not feel at a disadvantage, but am certain that I would enjoy them, even if I know what relationships have occurred already.

Rerouted – this is set mainly in the office when there is a power failure across the whole of New York. The heat of the building combined with the difficult decisions that Chris has to make, and the passion between him and married couple Jace and Aiden is intense. I loved that he had David to talk to about his fears and expectations – and that we also got to understand why Aiden and Jace behave as they did. It was insightful, exciting, and extremely hot.

Gridlocked deals with Tonya having to put some bad choices of words behind her and give Meredith the chance she deserves... this is not an easy decision! The chemistry between the two of them is so lustful it flames off the page. Definitely one to read near a fan!

Derailed – for most of their lives Stephanie and Angel have refused to accept that they are in love with each other. Stephanie's past resulted in her making rules which she refuses to break, even if the on-off passion she shares with Angel could be everything, if she gave it a chance. I love how these two are at the same place, but so scared of believing it. How Angel has played by her rules in order to have some of her, rather than nothing, but can no longer suffer the separation. The fact that so many of their friends are now in loving relationships is breaking his heart, when she won't ever settle down. So much pent up emotion, and so beautifully uncovered and just the most wonderfully understated ending, ever.

A fabulous trilogy of hot, passionate, and deeply thoughtful stories, thank you Mr. Hassell.

Santino Hassell was raised by a conservative family, but he was anything but traditional. He grew up to be a smart-mouthed, school-cutting grunge kid, then a transient twentysomething, and eventually transformed into an unlikely romance author.

Santino writes queer romance that is heavily influenced by the gritty, urban landscape of New York City, his belief that human relationships are complex and flawed, and his own life experiences.

Connect with Santino

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Citywide: A Five Boroughs Novella Collection (Five Boroughs #6) by Santino Hassell to read and review.

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