Review: Concourse by Santino Hassell

ConcourseRating: 4.5 stars
Buy Link:
Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Novel

Ashton and Valdrin have known each other for years. While they consider themselves close friends, Ashton is from a wealthy family and he’s best known for being a model and social celebrity due to a sex tape being released without his consent. Val is from the heart of the Bronx and his mother was Ashton’s family’s nanny, which never put the men on equal footing, at least not in Val’s mind. From the outside, it looks like Ashton has it all, but underneath he is a lonely soul yearning for respect and the heart of the only man he has ever truly loved, Val.

Val spends his days holding down a variety of jobs and his nights training to be a boxer. He’s got the skills, but he’s training to go pro for everyone but himself and the pressure is starting to get to him. His relationship with Ashton takes complicated to a whole new level. He at times has resented Ashton and at times wanted nothing more than to act out on the sexual tension that thrums through them both.

When Ashton needs a break from the constant paparazzi, he hides out with Val in the Bronx and their world together gets a whole lot hotter. But the men have kept plenty of secrets from each other and time is running out to clear the air. When Ashton learns the truth, he can either go back to the party circuit or finally trust the only man that has ever made him feel safe and who owns his heart.

The Five Boroughs series is one of my absolute favorite series. Hassell is a master of characterization as he wraps the story around the reader. He allows you to become immersed in each and every story and that takes true talent.

Ashton and Val are oh so complicated in every part of their lives. While Ashton has all the money and is paid to make appearances, he’s not particularly happy. From the outside, his followers think his life is all dreamy, but he’s dying a little more every day on the inside. He only ever craved his family’s love and acknowledgement, but he was seen as an embarrassment, and is only used as a pawn for what they can get from him. Ashton will be the first to tell you that he loves sex, but he certainly wishes that his sex life hadn’t been shared with the entire world.

Val’s life is equally as complicated, although for different reasons. He works, he trains, and he pours everything he has into financing his sister’s college education. He doesn’t date much, he needs an emotional connection with people, and Ashton has been the only person that constantly turns him inside out, yet he has pushed him away for years.

Hassell excels at layering their relationship throughout the earlier part of the book. The men have a long, involved history and he weaves in details of their past in the most natural way that flows effortlessly. Their relationship is a slow, yet intense, burn that is almost painful at times in the way they relate to each other. At first, I felt empathy for both of them and then they both tried my patience. They have so many secrets and there is deception coming from many directions throughout the entire book. While in life people do keep secrets from each other and don’t always talk, it’s more difficult to read about it as the main focus of a book. Yet, in the end, the author pulls it all together; of course he does.

The city continues to be its own character as all of the action revolves around the various boroughs as a backdrop. While this wasn’t my favorite book of the series, the writing alone demands a special commendation. I wouldn’t recommend this book as a stand alone as my feelings are that the side characters and references to past events are heavily infused throughout the series and build on each other. There are still many books for the crew of the Five Boroughs and overall this series still remains at the top of my list.

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  1. Nicki S says:

    Thanks for the awesome review! I haven’t yet started my copy of Sutphin Boulevard to start this series, and plan to have a few more titles before I start. Made the mistake (only because I have to wait now) of reading Insight and giving it an extremely-rare-for-me 5 star rating, and can’t wait for the next 2 books of that trilogy. Insight make the third book I’ve given 5 stars to; I’m a tough customer, lol. Thanks again for an awesome and honest review.

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