Cover Artist Paul Richmond
Cover Model Juan Forgia
Cover Photo Credit Mel Seser Photography
A Five Boroughs Story
Raymond Rodriguez's days of shoving responsibility to the wayside are over. His older brother wants to live with his boyfriend, so Raymond has to get his act together and find a place of his own. But when out-and-proud David Butler offers to be his roommate, Raymond agrees for reasons other than needing a place to crash.
David is Raymond’s opposite in almost every way—he’s Connecticut prim and proper while Raymond is a sarcastic longshoreman from Queens—but their friendship is solid. Their closeness surprises everyone as does their not-so-playful flirtation, since Raymond has always kept his bicurious side a secret.
Once they’re under the same roof, flirting turns physical, and soon their easy camaraderie is in danger of being lost to frustrating sexual tension and the stark cultural differences that set them apart. Now Raymond not only has to commit to his new independence—he has to commit to his feelings for David or risk losing him for good.
“You could experiment with me. I wouldn’t mind.”
Raymond’s eyes snapped to my face. “What?”
I tried to feign nonchalance—as if I didn’t care if he laughed at me, or made one of his infamous skeptical faces, or maybe even recoiled at the idea due to my one-night stand with his brother and Nunzio. I wouldn’t be surprised if he did. I tried to tell myself that it wouldn’t bother me, but even the possibility of his rejection had my chest going hollow like I was eight years old again.
“Yes,” I said, gathering my courage. “Nothing crazy. Just a kiss to see if you like it, or if you think it’s too weird with a guy. I’d normally suggest porn, but you’ve already been watching that.”
“You would let me experiment,” Raymond repeated. “With you.”
“Yeah. Why not? It’s not a big deal. Unless it would weird you out.”
“No.” He said it fast, almost too fast. “I mean, even if it was weird, I’m not going to freak out.”
“Do you promise? Because we just moved in together. I don’t want you to—”
“Wow, calm down. I’m not going to run from the building in a panic. It’s just kissing and whatever.”
I wondered what whatever entailed. Instead of asking, I sat up on my knees once again so that we were closer.
“Now?” he asked, eyes widening.
“Yes. When else?”
“Shit, I don’t know.” Raymond licked his lips and shifted again. “Let’s take another hit first.”
I couldn’t help laughing. He was nervous, and it was adorable. Smoke drifted between us, obscuring parts of his face until he looked like an abstract painting, and I wondered if he was jumpy because he would be kissing another man, or because it was me in particular. I took the pipe after him, choked on a mouthful of smoke, and my eyes watered.
He snorted. “Failure.”
“Shut up! I’m not good at this.”
“Obviously.” Raymond set the pipe on the arm of the sofa, and I climbed over his knees, straddling his lap. He was schooling his features to not look nervous, but his body was tense.
“Are you ready?” I asked, furrowing my brow to make it seem more serious than it was.
“Yeah. It ain’t like I never kissed someone before.”
I was acutely aware of how unyielding he was— how his posture was ramrod straight, and then… the slight twitching of his lips just before I touched them. He burst out laughing, and I couldn’t contain a chuckle in response.
“Fuck, I’m sorry. I’m sorry. It’s just weird.”
We tried again, twice more, and each time he dissolved into nervous laughter. He couldn’t take it seriously. It was too staged. We decided to smoke again, relax more, and a brilliant idea sprang to mind— I asked him to shotgun a hit so I wouldn’t pull too hard from the pipe and have another coughing fit. Raymond agreed. This time when our faces neared, he didn’t laugh. He was too busy holding the smoke inside.
Our lips sealed together, then parted, and smoke billowed from his mouth into mine. I sucked it in, wondering if this could even get me high, and slid forward on his lap. Our crotches pressed together and his hand rose to hold on to my hip. While smoke escaped the seam of our mouths, I flicked my tongue to his. His fingers tightened against my hip, and I delved my tongue inside less tentatively. He was so still that it was hard to get excited. It felt like I was molesting him. Or at least it did until his large hand moved up my back and his fingers delved into the hair at the nape of my neck. He cupped my head, pulled me closer, and kissed me the way I knew he kissed the beautiful who followed him around. Gave me a taste of what had kept them coming back for more.
"Having two sexy, dirty-talking alphas wrestle their strong feelings for each other is mouthwatering." -- RT Web Reviews
"Hassell doesn't sugarcoat his vibrant characters, making them as gritty as the Queens neighborhood in which they grew up... There are plenty of steamy sex scenes; overall, a welcome addition to romance collections in urban libraries." -- Library Journal
Book 1: SUTPHIN BOULEVARD
Book 3: FIRST AND FIRST coming in April 2016
Other books by Santino Hassell:
I am thoroughly convinced I will read anything Santino writes. Sunset Park is brilliant. When I read Sutphin Boulevard and we met Raymond for the first time, I wanted inside his head so badly. I very much underestimated that guy. He is rough and tough but watching him with David was like witnessing a miracle. I loved their tender moments and their raw moments. The dialog was outstanding. The flow was flawless. Santino knows how to write an engaging tale. I brought my kindle everywhere so I could read Sunset Park every spare moment I could.
I wish I could pinpoint my favorite part of this book but I just can’t. Everything mattered. All of it was important. And I once again have a book hangover. Santino Hassell is by far one of the best authors in this genre. He brings a gritty, raw, unique, and creative edge that you just don’t see very often.
High praise for Sunset Park and pretty much all of his books.
Santino is a writer of queer romance 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.