Published by: Dreamspinner Press
Format: Kindle ARC
Genre: M/M Romance
Reviewed by: Judith
Rating: Get it, drool over it, love it. One of my top reads of 2015.
Plot: 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.
Review: Sometimes you read a book and honestly, all you can think to say by way of review is: wow. Now, Sutphin Boulevard? It’s a total wow. More accurately, a WOW!!! This book–this tightly written, explosively sexy and achingly thoughtful book–surprised me in a way that a book hasn’t in far too long. Yes, at its core it’s a romance and yes, it’s full of dirty hot scenes that will have you blushing and praying the dude sitting next to you on the bus isn’t reading over your shoulder. And yet, at the risk of sounding trite, it’s so much more than that.
This book is set over the course of roughly six months. We meet Michael at the beginning of a mild-addiction which slowly spirals out of control becoming an all-encompassing and self-destructive depression and addiction. It’s heartbreaking and agonizing and the refreshing part? Love can’t save him. Bet you’re probably thinking, what? But love should save him! It’s a romance! I want that sexy Nunzio to save him in the naughtiest ways possible!
Well, you know what? That’s so boring and overused. Too often we are given these romances where the main character spirals out of control and that quick drop into depression and drug use can only be checked by the love interest. What a cop out. It’s a cheap way to save someone and prove that the love they share can conquer all obstacles. Addiction and depression aren’t easily fixed and definitely not through sex or love. And that’s what makes Sutphin Boulevard so fantastic. It’s very stark in its portrayal of love. It doesn’t candy coat it. It very clearly demonstrates that love’s not easy, it requires a lot of give and take, and it ultimately can’t save someone who doesn’t want to be saved. It’s perhaps the most real portrayal of love and addiction I’ve read to date. Watching Michael push away the love of family, friends, and ultimately the man he loves? It was excrutiatingly painful. Watching him then piece himself back together in order to be a person who was capable of love? Also painful but the transformation read as very, very real and 100% genuine.
I can’t recommend Sutphin Boulevard highly enough: get it for the sexy opener (there’s a dirty threesome! it’s so hot!) and stick around for the nuanced portrayal of addiction and love as well as the writing gritty and tight writing. Get it, love it. Then tell me all about it.
Things you will love: the sex scenes are smokin’ hot; the characters are fully flushed out and read as completely real with developed backstories, emotions, and personalities; the NYC setting is dirty, messy, and fits the story beautifully; the writing is phenomenal – you’ll find yourself rereading passages as much for the naughty bits as for the nuanced emotion and detail; it’s a series(!) with overlapping characters and Book 2 coming out soon…
Things you might not enjoy: there’s a raunchy threesome (what?? I heard some people don’t like those…?); Michael’s time in rehab read a bit short for me – would have loved to see him open up more there; and it’s a series(!) with Book 2 not coming out soon enough!
Sutphin Boulevard by Santino Hassell releases July 31, 2015.