Review: Interborough by Santino Hassell


Title: Interborough (Five Boroughs #4)
Author: Santino Hassell
Date of publication: 24 Oct 2016
Genre: MM romance 

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My rating: 5 Stars


The Raymond Rodriguez from a few years ago wouldn’t recognize the guy he is today. He’s left his slacker ways far behind him and is now juggling two jobs and school. But the balancing act doesn’t allow much time for the man he loves.

David is doing his best to be supportive, but problems at work and his own insecurity leave him frustrated—in more ways than the obvious—whenever he goes to bed before Raymond gets home. The heat and affection between them is still there, but they barely have the time or energy to enjoy it. And it doesn’t help that Raymond is still hiding David from his colleagues.

The stress mounts so high that a vacation in paradise is filled with turmoil instead of harmony, and culminates on their return to the five boroughs with broken promises and heartache. They have to figure out how to stop allowing their differences to overshadow their love. It’s the only way they’ll make it to forever.


Interborough revisits Ray and David after they got together in Sunset Park. Here we see them dealing with the everyday pressures any couple faces.This story offers an honest portrayal of the life after the I-love-you's, something rarely seen in romance but something that I really love and truly appreciate.

We already know a lot about Ray and David and here we see how deal with pressure both from the outside world and from the demons inside their own heads. And their struggles felt so very real and easy to relate to, despite me being a white 30-something cis het woman living in a small country in Eastern Europe. I have absolutely nothing in common with either David (besides the fact that I worked as a teacher for a while ages ago) or Ray, yet the author made me care about their struggles, made me feel their joys and sorrows and that's what I love about reading fiction - not identifying with the characters so much as being made to feel empathy and understanding.

I could understand how outside pressure can ruin your relationship especially in the early stages. All the problems Ray and David deal with - the social issues, financial troubles, racism, prejudice, coming out/passing as straight - felt real and tangible. This is not some far-fetched romance scenario with artificial drama and angst. This is the reality for many people around the world and Santino Hassell presented in the best and most convincing way.

Ray and David are opposites in many respects and despite having great chemistry and really loving each other, it took them a lot of time and effort to make their relationship work. Falling in love does not magically solve all your problems. It brings people together and helps them overcome difficulties but having a long term relationship takes work and talking things through, building trust and making compromises.

Ray and David are equally to blame for their troubles and also equally responsible for making things right between them again. There is no big drama/transgression on either part followed by epic grovelling as is often the case in romance novels. What we have here a multitude of minor, mundane issues and personal flaws (David's insecurity and clinginess, his fear of messing up again, of losing the Ray's love, and Ray's stubbornness to do everything by himself, his pride making him refuse any help, his still being mostly in the closet), it all added up. And they managed to work, like any two young people - mostly acting as adults, yet with the occasional slip up.

I absolutely enjoyed seeing more of Michael and Nunzio. Their relationship is about love, love, love - and they projected a sense of maturity and contentment, overall happiness which was more than well deserved.

The brief cameo of Oli and Caleb though brilliant was all too short for me and left me wanting more of them since they are my favourite couple in the series (so far).

Ray's Queens crew is everything - a group of diverse characters, fully developed and so intriguing that I want to read about every one of them.

The writing in this book is what we have come to expect from Santino Hassell - direct and on point. I love me a good epilogue and this one was perfect - tender and oh, so romantic.

Purchase links: Amazon | ARe | B&N | Kobo | iBooks | Riptide 

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