Michael Rodriguez and Nunzio Medici have been friends for two decades. From escaping their dysfunctional families in the working-class neighborhood of South Jamaica, Queens to teaching in one of the city’s most queer friendly schools in Brooklyn, the two men have shared everything. Or so they thought until a sweltering night of dancing leads to an unexpected encounter that forever changes their friendship.
Now, casual touches and lingering looks are packed with sexual tension, and Michael can’t forget the feel of his best friend’s hands on him. Once problems rear up at work and home, Michael finds himself seeking constant escape in the effortless intimacy and mind-blowing sex he has with Nunzio. But things don’t stay easy for long.
When Michael’s world begins to crumble in a sea of tragedy and complications, he knows he has to make a choice: find solace in a path of self-destruction or accept the love of the man who has been by his side for twenty years.
What I thought about Sutphin Boulevard
I really like friends-to-lovers stories and I was eager to read this title from Santino Hassell. Michael has been friends with Nunzio since he was a young boy and they've shared many experiences over that time. They even work together teaching high school as adults. Nunzio has kept his attraction to Michael a secret all those years and it takes Michael quite some time to catch on to how Nunzio feels about him.
Michael has a lot going on in his life. His mother recently passed away and his alcoholic father has come back into the picture. He's also trying to get over a broken relationship of two years and is starting to realize what feelings Nunzio has for him. He's worried about losing his friendship if they take the relationship to a new level. Michael isn't the best communicator and ends up self-medicating just to deal with all the stuff that is happening to him. When the situation with his father comes to a head, Michael can't cope any more and ends up in a really bad place. Will he also lose Nunzio in the process becomes the question.
This book really kept me turning the pages. It's dark and gritty. Sutphin Boulevard shows what I thought was a very realistic view of these men and their challenges with careers and families. Sometimes when I read M/M romance, it seems like it's not much different from M/F with just the names changed, but in Sutphin Boulevard, I loved how the dialogue rang so very true to the way men talk to each other. I found myself thinking "yes"! this is how guys talk!
The story is told from Michael's point of view in first person, so that really helps the reader feel his pain. Some readers may get a bit uncomfortable as he descends to a very dark place, but I loved the grittiness and truth of Michael's troubles. Michael's brother Raymond is an interesting secondary character that I'm looking forward to learning more about, along with David, Nunzio and Michael's coworker.
There were a few slow spots in the book that could have been tightened up a little, and I would have liked to know more about Nunzio.That detracted a little from the rating of this title for me. This is very much Michael's story.
Overall, I really enjoyed this title and I'm looking forward to the second book in the series, Sunset Park which will be release in a few days. Santino Hassell is a new author for me, and I'll be keeping an eye out for his new titles.
A copy was provided for review.
Santino is a dedicated gamer, a former fanfic writer, an ASoIaF mega nerd, a Grindr enthusiast, but most of all he is a writer of queer fiction 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.
Facebook || Twitter || Website