Categories
4.5 stars adult - 18+ Angst Level Audiobook Bi-Sexual Book coming of age Contemporary Dreamspinner Enemies to Lovers Exploration Fantasies Gay Heat Index High but not hopeless Homophobia Hurt/comfort m/m Morgan Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Opposites attract Part of a Series Scorching/high heat

First and First (Five Boroughs Book 3) Audiobook by Santino Hassell Narrated by Michael Ferraiuolo

audiobookreview

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/first-and-first-by-santino-hassell-7665-b

 

o-first-and-firstBlurb

 

Caleb Stone was raised on the Upper East Side, where wealth and lineage reign 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 he meets Oliver Buckley.

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.

Review

By now, if you’ve been following along in the series, which is definitely not required but is always recommended, you’ll know that Caleb was David’s ex and he was kinda douchey in book two. He’s a bit tightly wound and has a bit of a self-esteem problem, some of which David contributed to.

This is his story and Santino manages to not only help us to understand why he acts the way he does, but for us to really feel for him and (at least for me) to see David in a dramatically different light. (I kinda didn’t like him in this story * gasp!)

Oli is probably the exact opposite of Caleb and a bit of a dick, too. He doesn’t believe in monogamy and fights his feelings for Caleb til literally the 92% point of the story. So be prepared for that.

This is a long-ish book and while I thought it was really good, the last third sort of dragged for me (relationship wise). I was psyched to see Caleb standing up for himself and finding his rightful place with his family and becoming the man he wanted to be (or at least admitting the man he was was pretty alright!), but, I was OVER Oli being so standoffish about things and wanted them to just cut to the chase.

I think, had I been reading this, I’d have skimmed a bit here and there in the places things seemed to drag, but listening it was harder to do that. (The narration is stellar so it wasn’t a hardship or anything, merely noteworthy.)

There is a lot of dirty talk, ménage situations, Oli has sex with other people even after they’ve hooked up, so if those are triggers for you – be aware. In the end, they end up HEA and I don’t think it’s giving away too much to say it’s not a ménage or even an open relationship – so for romantics like me – I was very satisfied.

I think the thing that would have made this a 5 star book for me, would have been to see more into Oli’s brain. It’s told from Caleb’s POV and he is pretty depressing in the beginning, but does a lot of growing in the story. I wanted to know more about Oli’s feelings, because, honestly, he has to do some pretty significant growing too, and I wasn’t always sure how far along he came. Since the couple is only admitting to being a couple in the last few pages, we don’t have time to see how he manages to actually be in a relationship with only one person, after professing that it’s not his thing for the entire rest of the book.

We get to see a little of the other couples, but not much, and – like I said earlier – they aren’t painted in a rosy light – which I appreciated. Caleb had his reasons as did David for what they did and it was good to see the other side of the coin.

In the end I thought this was a great addition to the series and much better than I had thought it was going to be. Caleb is an interesting character and it was great watching him unfurl.

4 of 5 stars

Audio

I love Michael Ferraiuolo’s take on the various “accents”. He doesn’t go over the top, but does add some subtle changes here and there. He does a nice Raymond and I loved Aiden as well. Caleb’s voice fit him as did Oli’s. He is great with pacing and emotions and was easy to listen to and absolutely added to my overall enjoyment.

5 of 5 stars

Overall 4.5 of 5 stars

4.5-stars-small

Morgan - Signature-small

Copy Generously Provided by Publisher for Honest Review

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.