Caleb Stone was raised on the Upper East Side, where wealth and lineage reign, and “alternative lifestyles” are hidden. It took him years to come out to his family, but he’s still stuck in the stranglehold of their expectations. Caleb knows he has to build his confidence and shake things up, but he doesn’t know how… until Oliver Buckley enters the picture.
Oli is everything Caleb isn’t—risk-taking, provocative, and fiercely independent. Disowned by his family, Oli has made his own way in the world and is beholden to no one. After a chance encounter on New Year’s Eve, Caleb is smitten.
As Caleb sheds the insecurities that have held him back for years, he makes bold steps toward changing his career and escaping years of sexual repression. But for Caleb to take full control of his life, he has to be brave enough to confront his feelings and trust Oli with his heart.
First and First is the third book in the Five Boroughs series by Santino Hassell, and so far, my favorite. These two men who grew up in so many ways along the same circles, had very different experiences under their belt. Oli, who was thrown out by his family as a teenager, after a particularly graphic find by his father, was willing to be held back by little, and intrigued by Caleb’s ability to stand apart from the crowd. Caleb, a man who was stuck in a rut, loving a man who would never love him back, and unable to get out from under the thumb of his own arrogant, hateful father. But these two men were so right for each other. Only they could understand where each other had come from.
Watching Caleb work on developing his own confidence, after losing his job, by finding his own path and his own choice was great. He brought along Oli, and his newly found brother, and they were able to make something happen in a niche that needed what they could provide. I loved that it was realistic. It wasn’t that Caleb had this fantastic idea, and just needed to know how to make it happen, and how to market it. He knew he needed to come up with an idea, and then they could take care of making it happen and how to market it. That happens in real life. People make choices, and then have to figure out how to make what they want come to life. And as they found their rhythm, you could see Caleb’s confidence in himself grow, even as he tried to find the confidence to let Oli know he wanted a relationship.
We didn’t get to see a lot of Mere, Caleb’s sister, but she honestly was such great comic relief. One of her best lines was: “Are we horses? Is someone coming to ride me?” That made me snort laugh.
One thing I would have liked to see a little more of was catching up with the couples from books 1 and 2. Was Michael doing well with his sobriety? Had Raymond done well with getting his job back? That piece was something I would have liked to have seen, especially as the books always tend to end, fairly quickly. Which I equate to how things happen in NYC on a regular basis. Something happens then it ends, and you move on. 🙂
All in all, well done by Santino. This book was a chance to see growth in both characters. Caleb in his own confidence. Oli in learning that he wanted a relationship for the first time in his life.
4 pieces of eye candy
**And we begin a new promotion this week with TCO. Check back over the weekend and we will have a giveaway of all the books featured on TCO during the week.