Available July 31, 2015
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.
After twenty years, the tread of Nunzio’s motorcycle boots and the jingle of his wallet chain were unmistakable, so I didn’t look up when he strode into the room, shut the door, and stopped by my desk. His fingers wound into my hair and combed back, petting me like he was trying to soothe a feral cat.
Leaning into the touch, I released a soft sigh and kept my face pillowed in my arms. The feel of his long fingers dragging through my hair, scraping my scalp, and the rough pad of his thumb brushing along the curve of my ear almost drove me to wrap myself around him and enjoy being spoiled.
There had been a time when I could do that—stretch out beside him, on top of him, or cuddle up with him—and not feel anything more than the contentment of unconditional friendship, but after fooling around with him, things had changed. Now, as he chuckled quietly and let me bask in the attention, my mind was playing tricks on me and whispering that going back to his place to extend this mostly innocent show of affection would be a good idea. But the logical part of my brain that acted on more than base desires and instincts knew better.
Evidence of that had come the week before, when I’d spent the night at his apartment after a spectacularly shitty day at work.
Vegging out while sprawled all over each other had been anything but platonic when I’d been incapable of not ogling his bare chest, the V of his torso, and the crotch of his sweatpants. In turn, I’d felt him tracing my mouth with his eyes, and his casual touches had grown frequent; his hands had wandered all over me until he’d wound up squeezing my thigh with his knuckles grazing the bulge under my fly.
This isn’t your typical friends to lovers type of story. Like the city it takes place in, it’s gritty, rough, and unforgiving. Set in Michael Rodriguez’s point of view we get a very detailed view of his mind… and all the shattered pieces that linger there. This is a man who is carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders and he really shouldn’t. Mentally he can’t handle it, physically it’s killing him. His family is a mess, his job is drama filled, and his best friend Nunzio is the only anchor he has… and he’s losing that too.
I was born in Flushing Queens NY. Queens is a borough I know well. I love that Santino is a New Yorker and was spot on with his geography. Nothing worse than reading poor researched books. It’s the little things, you know?
This story is a tear you apart, chew you up, spit you out kind of story. There’s great pain and great triumph. There’s hate and there’s love. No matter what you get you get it epically.
Sutphin Boulevard is not a fairytale, it’s reality. I loved that most about it. There wasn’t that, okay I forgive you let’s hug it out crap. It was no, it’s not okay, work out your shit! That was fantastic!
Santino Hassell’s writing is stunning, his descriptions are beautiful, and he writes the human condition like poetry. This is a book you want to own!
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.
Santino will be gifting one person Sutphin Boulevard! Enter the rafflecopter below. Contest will run until August 5th! Winner will be contacted via email so be sure to check your spam.
I want to thank Santino for sharing his work, for his generosity, and for all his future books that will give us book hangovers.