Happy release week to Santino Hassell – Concourse is here! Today we have an EXCLUSIVE excerpt from the book PLUS an interview with the author!!
CONCOURSE by Santino Hassell (Five Boroughs series #5, standalone)
Release Date: 5/1/17
“I could never stop thinking about Ashton, and I would never stop missing the quiet moments when it was just us and he was a devastatingly beautiful force of nature that had calmed just for me.”
Ashton Townsend is the most famous celebutante of Manhattan’s glitterati. The black sheep of his wealthy family, he’s known for his club appearances, Instagram account, and sex tape. Most people can’t imagine him wanting for anything, but Ashton yearns for friendship, respect, and the love of his best friend—amateur boxer Valdrin Leka.
Val’s relationship with Ashton is complicated. As the son of Ashton’s beloved nanny, Val has always bounced between resenting Ashton and regarding him as his best friend. And then there’s the sexual attraction between them that Val tries so hard to ignore.
When Ashton flees his glitzy lifestyle, he finds refuge with Val in the Bronx. Between Val’s training for an upcoming fight and dodging paparazzi, they succumb to their need for each other. But before they can figure out what it all means—and what they want to do about it—the world drags them out of their haven, revealing a secret Val has kept for years. Now, Ashton has to decide whether to once again envelop himself in his party-boy persona, or to trust in the only man who’s ever seen the real him.
I knew Val was trying to guide me away from the window so he could close it, and keep talking to me, but I didn’t move. Having his fingers on me was much nicer than hearing his angry words. He must have understood that because his attempts to pull me in devolved into him massaging the side and back of my neck until I was a puddle of contentment. Luckily, the rush of the wind and purr of the engine hid my sighs of pleasure.
When Val finally retracted his hand, I followed. Shifting over the center console to lean my head against his neck and press into his side, forcing him to drape his arm around my shoulders. Deju vu hit me suddenly, and I saw us together in this very same car on the weekend of my eighteenth birthday. Summertime in the Hamptons, and an unchaperoned party so lavish that it’d been overwhelming. I’d gotten drunk fast and Val had been there because I’d begged him, hiding in the pool house with an Xbox, until I’d crawled into his lap crying about having no friends but him. He’d driven me away from my own party and we’d sped down this same highway with me sniffling into his shirt. And then he’d taken me home, fallen asleep tangled up with me, and I’d woken up so turned on I’d nearly lost my mind.
God, I’d been pathetic for the majority of my life. What did he get out of this?
My eyes closed as the memories washed over me, and I pressed a light kiss against his shoulder. He didn’t react, so I trailed featherlight brushes of my lips all over him—a line up the junction of his neck and shoulder, to his jaw, as he guided the car along the highway. His shoulders didn’t tense until my lips brushed the corner of his mouth, which is when I realized he’d been fighting tonight.
“Your lip is busted,” I said in his ear. “Are you okay?”
“Did you win?” I asked, not keeping the disapproval from my own tone. “If you’re going to hurt my favorite person’s face, you better be winning.”
I felt more than saw his smile. “Yeah, I won.”
I traced his puffy lower lip with my thumb and found where it was split. “Does it hurt?”
He smiled again, bigger this time, and turned his face just enough for me to kiss the part of his lip that was split. When he didn’t shove me away like he always did, I flicked my tongue against it.
Two things happened at once—Val’s lips parted and a horn blared loud enough to startle me into releasing an alarmed cry. I scooted back into my seat as Val twisted the wheel to swerve into the other lane and around a car with broken taillights. I leaned out the window and flipped him off.
“Fix your fucking lights, dickhead!”
I ducked back inside and rolled up the window as Val’s laughter filled the car.
“You’re ridiculous,” he said, shoulders shaking. “Slurring drunkenly about someone else’s bad driving.”
“That’s really dangerous,” I said indignantly. “And I’m not even that drunk.”
He was still laughing, but he grabbed my shoulder and hauled me close to him again. I’d honestly expected him to yell at me for distracting him while driving, but instead he pressed a brief kiss to my forehead, and kept his arm around me.
“I won’t.” He squeezed my shoulder. “I like it when you’re my Ashton and not that other guy.”
I closed my eyes again. “I know.”
The Five Boroughs series
New York City—home of soaring skyscrapers, concrete boulevards, and the hopes and dreams of millions. A city where opposites attract and romance is found in unlikely places. From the glittering penthouses of Manhattan to the blue collar neighborhoods of Queens, values get tested, cultures clash, and connections made. Men of diverse backgrounds examine their lives, test their sexual boundaries, and seek success in an unforgiving urban landscape that moves fast and stops for no one. Despite the odds, there’s love to be found in the five boroughs as long as they’re willing to work for it.
SUTPHIN BOULEVARD – book 1 (standalone)
SUNSET PARK – book 2 (standalone)
FIRST AND FIRST – book 3 (standalone)
INTERBOROUGH – book 4 (sequel to SUNSET PARK)
CONCOURSE – book 5 (standalone)
Untitled Five Boroughs Anthology – book 6 (standalone, coming in November 2017)
Book 7 – (standalone, coming in 2018)
Book 8 – (standalone, coming in 2018)
Check out the Five Boroughs Universe: http://riptidepublishing.com/titles/universe/five-boroughs
Santino Hassell Gets Real: A Q&A with the Author of Concourse
1. What sort of research did you have to do for the two main characters?
Research for CONCOURSE was fun. Ashton Townsend is the Paris Hilton or Kim Kardashian of the Five Boroughs series, and I don’t mean that facetiously. He was initially on paparazzi and gossip column radar for being a rich kid borne of a family drowning in old money (Townsend Telecom is the AT&T of the 5B universe), who was glamorous, sophisticated, and had a life that seemed incredible to the average person. He was also very out about his queerness and very androgynous in his fashion. Ashton is a head turner, and has an Instagram with millions of followers. He’s New York’s “It Boy”.
So for research, I read gossip columns about other people with the “It” factor. How did journalists view them? Where did they catch sightings of them? What relationship details were interesting enough to make it onto Page Six? Those were the types of questions I asked myself as I combed through these blogs. Also, I read articles about the interesting world of paid celebrity appearances. Even though Ashton comes from old money, he’s made a name for himself and is developing his own brand.
2. What’s your favorite book set in NYC?
I always struggle to pick one book for this question. I really love Tessa Bailey’s series BROKE AND BEAUTIFUL, and Karen Stivali has some awesome books set in the city and on Fire Island in her MOMENTS IN TIME series. You can always tell when an author really knows the city, and that authenticity does it for me.
3. What’s your favorite book featuring celebrities?
The first queer romance that springs to mind is Avon Gale’s Scoring Chances series. It’s technically a hockey romance series, but hockey players are celebrities too! She’s also got a couple of rock star books coming out later this year that I am super excited about. There’s also Annabeth Albert’s, ALL NOTE LONG, and Megan Erickson’s IN FOCUS series which has two novels featuring celebrities—a model and the star of a reality television show.
4. Who is your favorite celebrity? What is one celebrity you would fanboy all over if you met?
I’m not sure how much I would fanboy, but I’d lose it internally if I was ever in the same room as Harrison Ford. I’ve loved him since I was a little kid, so it’s serious long term admiration. I’d probably just stare at him from afar and frantically text someone about my excitement. I’m always worried about bothering famous people, so I don’t approach them if I see them in the wild.
5. What couple in the Five Boroughs books is your favorite and why?
This is like choosing between children, but probably… Raymond and David (which is why they got two books with Sunset Park and Interborough). There was something about writing their story from the very beginning, including the first day they met as viewed through the eyes of other characters, that was always exciting. I didn’t plan for them to be together, so their progression from being total opposites, to reluctant friends, to exploring Ray’s bicuriosity, then boyfriends who eventually have a house together in Queens was a great writing journey.
6. What’s up next in the Five Boroughs series?
There will be an anthology of novellas out in November that features a group of characters I like to call the Queens Crew. They’re side characters who were starting to find their HEAs in the backgrounds of other books. I couldn’t ignore them, so I decided to tackle them on a smaller scale. That anthology will be M/M/M, F/F, and M/F, and high in heat level and in drama.
7. Give us hints about secret or new books!
One of my most exciting projects coming out in August is my first sports romance! ILLEGAL CONTACT is being released by InterMix, and is about a grumpy NFL player and the personal assistant he’s forced to hire after being put on house arrest. Lots of sexual tension. That book is really fun, and will take us right back to the world of celebrities, media, and paparazzi!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Santino Hassell was raised by a conservative family, but he was anything but traditional. He grew up to be a smart-mouthed, school cutting grunge kid, then a transient twenty-something, and eventually transformed into an unlikely romance author.
Santino writes queer romance 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.