Reviewed by JustJen
Title: First and First
Author: Santino Hassell
Series: Five Boroughs #3
Genre: MM Contemporary
Length: 244 Pages
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: April 18, 2016
Available at: Amazon and Barnes & Noble
Add it to your shelf: Goodreads
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.
Review: I loved this installment! It had everything I loved about book 1, but with extra delicious dirty talk. I wasn’t sure I was going to like these guys, for various reasons, but it didn’t take long for that to change.
Caleb is the ex of David, who is now with Raymond (this all happened in the previous book), but he isn’t in a very good place when this story begins. He’s lonely, unemployed and feels like he doesn’t have anyone or anything to show for his life at this point. He isn’t hurting for money though, as he comes from a rich family. He has some pretty big self-esteem issues, especially surrounding sex, but he hooks up with Oli one drunken New Year’s Eve, in what Oli tells him was a crazy night of sex. Caleb does quite remember it all, but the snippets that are coming back to him are showing a completely different side than Caleb knows himself to be.
Oli is a bit of a player. He doesn’t do relationships, happy instead to live a carefree open sex life. He is able to bring out the “dirty” side of Caleb like no one has before. After having a taste of it, he sort of makes it his mission to show Caleb how great it can be to live out your darkest fantasies. Caleb has some major hangups where sex is concerned, but Oli works in such a way that he doesn’t give Caleb time to think and talk himself down or out of the various situations. Oli is also from a rich family, though he was cutoff and on his own after his father found out he was gay.
Caleb also learns his stepbrother, Aiden, is gay and married. The two have not been very close up to this point, but their shared secrets bring them together. As they grow closer, they each learn more about their upbringings and come to a better understanding with each other. When Caleb has a plan for a startup company, he convinces Aiden and Oli to help found it and get it running, seeing it as a way to make something of himself and to get Aiden out from under their father’s thumbs.
I loved watching Oli bring Caleb out of his shell, watching them explore things and boy were things hot between these two. They walk a pretty fine line with Oli not wanting a relationship, and Caleb wanting more than a friend with benefits. Then there is the whole being partners in business aspect. There were a few different things at play in this story, and each gave just enough meat to the story to keep things interesting and more than just a story about two guys who meet, have great chemistry and hot sex. While there is a lot of that (delicious hot dirty talking, fantasy playing smoking hot sex), the rest of the story gave us more of an interesting and emotional meal.
This was very well written, and I loved it as much as the first one. The other guys all make appearances, and their stories are all kind of connected/interwoven, so I highly recommend you read all of them in order to really get an idea of how things got to this point. This was another definite winner for me, and I can’t wait for more.
Overall Impression: I loved it
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in return for a fair and honest review.*