Review: Citywide by Santino Hassell

CitywideRating: 4.5 stars
Buy Link:
Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Anthology


Citywide is part of Santino Hassell’s Five Boroughs universe and features three stories revolving around several of the side characters we have met throughout the series. This book is billed as a standalone and I am going to disagree with that as I don’t feel that this book stands alone well at all. The Five Boroughs world is heavily connected and that’s the beauty of the series. The early part of the series introduced these characters and the earlier books are how all of these characters came about in the first place. There is even a common thread that runs throughout these three stories and if you have not read the series at all, I would never suggest starting here. But if you are invested in this series, then absolutely come along for the ride.

 

Rerouted

Chris has always felt like the odd man out. He’s got a great group of friends, but now that almost all of them are paired off, he still feels alone. He’s only ever dated women, but when Jace and Aiden take an active interest in him, he has no interest in resisting. But, while Jace and Aiden have an open marriage, Chris knows that sharing them with others is not for him. Jace and Aiden have been together since they were teens and their bond is solid, but being with Chris adds something that may have been missing from their relationship. Chris falls hard and fast, but he knows he needs distance to protect his own heart. When a blackout takes over the entire city, the three men have the time to examine what they need to make it as a threesome.

This story is the one that I was most looking forward to out of the three stories that make up this anthology and it definitely delivered. Aiden and Jace have interested me since they were first introduced and seeing more of them was a great read. There are several stories involving both Aiden and Jace, as well as their first threesome together with Chris, available on several different platforms and this story, for me, came off as a companion piece to all of the stories that came before it. It’s even difficult for me to think about just this story alone without all the background from the other shorts as the previous backstory made for amazing reading.

While there is a minimum of exposition here to fill in a little of the first time the three of them were together, this story is mainly about how they are trying to move forward. Chris has been avoiding them because he knows he wants more. He hasn’t told Aiden and Jace how he feels and he hasn’t given them the chance to explain anything to him either. The chemistry between the three of them is intense and off the charts hot and the dynamics between their different personalities blend so well and the care they give to each other is gratifying. The setting also adds to the story if you are at all familiar with random full east coast blackouts.

In true Hassell style, the story ends in the moment where it all comes together and while the possibility for a future for the three of them leans toward a sure thing, the ending is a strong HFN and I certainly would not be opposed to seeing how these guys are doing down the road.


Gridlocked

Tonya Maldonado is out of the Marines and is working a security job. She’s proud and makes her own way. She tells herself she doesn’t have time to think about high society heiress Meredith Stone. A girl like that certainly can’t be Tonya’s type. Except, that one encounter a year ago was exactly what Tonya needed until, in a blink, it wasn’t. Their extended social circles cross each other now and again, but for Tonya, Meredith just doesn’t exist. When Tonya is working a party where Meredith is assaulted, she steps in, takes out a bad guy, and just may wind up getting the girl of her dreams.

Tonya and Meredith have been in the Five Boroughs universe for a while now with Tonya a part of the Queens crew and Meredith being Caleb’s sister. This couple is a perfect example of opposites attracting. The two of them couldn’t be more different in appearance and how they live their lives and they are both unapologetic about who they are. Meredith grew up among the wealthiest and Tonya is a non-binary, former Marine, that just may have a reaction to Meredith calling her Sergeant. The attraction is fierce and vibrates through and around them.

The two hooked up once a year ago and brief flashbacks are woven through the story, but Tonya got pissed off and has avoided Meredith ever since. But neither one of them can forget the encounter. When circumstances have them back together again, Meredith isn’t letting Tonya go for the second time.

We knew a little more about Meredith over the course of the series, but Tonya was more often in the periphery. We get a little more back story for her and Hassell really nails her dialogue for her character as well getting into the minds of so many different types of characters. Here, he features two strong characters as Tonya and Meredith have a lot to work through between the assault case and job opportunities, as well as how they can ever truly fit together. The ending has them trying that out.


Derailed

Stephanie and Angel have had an on again off again, friends-with-benefits relationship for some time now. Currently, they’re off again, that is until they see each other again as their chemistry is fierce. Angel has been in love with Stephanie since high school and while Stephanie has all the feelings for Angel, her childhood shaped her into not wanting to have a serious relationship with anyone.

The problem is, to get her co-workers off her back, she told them she was engaged…to Angel. Now, Angel is accompanying Stephanie on a work retreat upstate and by the end of the weekend, neither of them may be willing to let the other one go.

Both Stephanie and Angel have been fixtures with the Queens crew since the beginning of the series and we have gotten small glimpses of their story in several books. Angel has always wanted Stephanie and it’s at times romantic, but also at times sad that he will hang around for whatever Stephanie is willing to give him.

Stephanie is making it on her own after a rough childhood left her with emotional scars and she’s determined not to need anyone. She wants to need Angel, but has no idea how to change her focus after all these years. Stephanie owns what she wants sexually and she and Angel are a perfect fit in bed. These two have the classic push/pull storyline and it takes them the entire story and even longer still with their history to try and put something real together. The ending is also just their long-awaited beginning.

This story also introduces Victor, Stephanie’s brother, who is set to star in another Five Boroughs book next year with Clive and I am so looking forward to that one.

 

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Comments

  1. Thanks for your review. I haven’t yet started the 5 Boroughs series (yes, I know I’m behind the times, but I’m collecting them before I start, because patience for the next book in a series is not a virtue of mine). This one has me wary because I’m not a fan of F/F stories; I started reading M/M because I didn’t like most heroines in romance. But, once I’m caught up in the series I may give this one a try.

  2. Yes, wouldn’t it be great to get a full book about Chris, Jace and Aiden? I know it’s not going to happen but there is so much material there!! Their childhood, their troubles, Chris reluctance. Oh man!

    Loved this little book! These guys are so much part of the 5B family.

    Tolk[.]Me[@]gmail[.]com

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