Xchg: Santino Hassell’s First and First

Santino Hassell--First and First

My friend, Requierobl–who I think is the person who put Santino Hassell on my radar in the first place–has been gracious enough to allow me to publish our conversation about the third book in Hassell’s Five Boroughs series. This took place over the course of a few days on Tumblr; it starts with me picking up a conversation that began on Twitter.

The following conversation has been edited for formatting and spelling has been corrected for clarity when needed, but is otherwise presented in its original form. SPOILERS ABOUND!

Monday, April 25th

blnokimi: Finished the first two five boroughs books over the weekend.

requierobl: Wow, does that mean you really like it?

I finished the third one myself.

blnokimi: Yeah, I liked them. I bought the third one this morning

halfway through the 2nd, I figured out that Caleb was going to be the focus of the 3rd book, but I didn’t expect Oli.

requierobl: Neither did I, but I enjoyed them. Although, I wish we got Oli’s POV.

blnokimi: I’m not really looking forward to it and it might take me longer to finish it because I didn’t really dig Caleb as a character. And Oli didn’t really stand out that much, but I’ll see.

No pov from Oli? that’s kind of disappointing.

requierobl: I think you might have issues with Oli, but Caleb was fine.

blnokimi: Since Caleb is so reserved and Oli obviously isn’t, I was already uncomfortable with him “shedding his inhibitions” like something is wrong with him not being into sex the way other people are. And having this idea that he needs someone to show him the way. That seems too close to people telling lesbians that they just haven’t met the right one. But I’m going to give it a fair chance.

requierobl: I think the authors did a good job with it, and the sex was pretty hot.

I felt a bit perverted though, since I wanted Caleb to follow a certain suggestion. You’ll probably figure out what when you read the scene.

blnokimi: Well, now I am looking forward to it. If it can make a perv feel like a perv, it has to have something going for it.

Tuesday, April 26th

blnokimi: I read the first 3 chapters of First and First and I like it so far. Caleb is so much more interesting here and I guess I can say the same for Oli.

requierobl: I think F&F might be my favorite, even though it felt so short and Oli was a bit of a mystery through the entire book.

I’ll be interested in what you think, although I can kinda see you getting a bit annoyed with Oli.

blnokimi: One thing I like about this is that Caleb is intimidatingly gorgeous, but he’s stunned by how good Oli looks. Usually one is cute and the other is handsome or they both just look good and it’s not really a big deal.

Also, his relationship with his sister is interesting.

requierobl: I find his entire family interesting

Caleb has a bit of low self-esteem

blnokimi: “a bit”?

I understand why, though

Wednesday, April 27th

blnokimi: So, I just started c17 and I still haven’t encountered anything that would make you feel like a perv. Now I’m wondering if Oli is going to suggest they swing with Aiden (who I love, by the way).

requierobl: It happens near the end

blnokimi: Goodness, I was right?

requierobl: Kinda

blnokimi: I’ll read patiently until I get there.

requierobl: I was like “yes please” but they were like “nope”

blnokimi: I’d love to read Caleb getting worn out by Ray, though.

requierobl: Three-some with David!

I wasn’t expecting Caleb to be such a perv. He’s still a bit shy, but I see a lot of kinky sex in Caleb and Oli’s future.

blnokimi: Oh. yeah.

Wednesday, April 27th (Later)

blnokimi:  Finished! Liked it. So, Clive? Charles? Or Aiden & Jace? Who’s the next book going to be about?

requierobl: I have no idea

blnokimi: I think Clive

Maybe Ashton, but I really think Clive

requierobl: I’ve heard that he’s planning more than five books, so I guess they will all get a turn

My guess is Charles, since he was the most involved after Aiden and we know that his relationship is going bad

But Aiden and and Jace would be hot. I wouldn’t mind a threesome.

blnokimi: So, if it’s Charles/Clive, do you he’s going to keep it in the family and hook him up with someone else in their circle, maybe Clive/Charles/Ashton? Or do you think a new character will be introduced?

requierobl: Maybe? I could see Clive with Ashton or Charles, but I can’t see Ashton with Charles.

blnokimi: SAME!

I was surprised it was Jace that asked about the 3p

requierobl: Well, he’s the one that’s truly into the “scene”

Aiden mostly goes along with it to please him, or at least he did in the beginning

blnokimi: I love Aiden

requierobl: I wanted a Caleb/Aiden sex scene

Basically from the beginning

blnokimi: I know you did. Me too.

One of the things that bothered me about this story is that I couldn’t picture everyone’s height in comparison to everyone else’s.

Aiden was the tallest and Jace was the shortest…

requierobl: I barely knew how Caleb looked, I had to go back to the previous book to find a description

blnokimi: I only remember that he was supposed to be gorgeous w/ brown hair and gray at his temples

requierobl: I didn’t even remember if he was considered conventionally good looking, since I have such a shitty memory

blnokimi: I’m interested in why you thought Oli might annoy me.

requierobl: But seriously, I needed the book to be longer. It even made me like the previous one a bit more.

He was hot and cold a lot, and I thought you didn’t like those type of characters

Or at least ones who refused to communicate

blnokimi: Ray and David are my fav, mostly because I love Ray.

You are so right

almost verbatim

requierobl: I feel like I hardly knew him even at the end

blnokimi: Same. I will say, this one made me laugh more than the first two combined.

requierobl: I didn’t find it to be that kind of book

More like xxx

I wanted more sex scenes

It feels like it had a lot more characters than the first twp

blnokimi: I wanted more sex in the 2nd one. I had a feeling from the beginning that Caleb wasn’t going to turn into another Oli, so the idea of more sex, especially with Oli leading just didn’t appeal to me. I’m really glad that he said no to Ashton taking him. I don’t think I could have continued if he went along with it just to be with Oli.


after they worked everything out, yes, more sex

requierobl: Yes, that

blnokimi: I do hope we get more Aiden and Jace, though

requierobl: There was something off to me about the 2nd book, and I wasn’t that invested in the sex scenes, even though I adore the sort of dynamics that David and Ray had from the start.

I want to know how Aiden and Jace became lovers

blnokimi: same

I loved Ray and David’s dynamic and I loved watching their relationship develop, but David annoyed me to no end

requierobl: Their dynamics kind of reminds me of other books with three-somes, so I wonder if their book would get a real m/m/m romance

blnokimi: I don’t know

requierobl: I think I’m just obsessed with three-somes

blnokimi: maybe


I don’t see Aiden going that far for Jace–no permanent 3rd parties

I think that would threaten their relationship

requierobl: Unless they both fall in love

But I get what you’re saying

blnokimi: but Aiden’s only okay with it because it’s only physical

This book was both funnier and sadder than the other two

requierobl: I get the sadder part

blnokimi: I was really hurting for Caleb and him trying to hold onto Oli, but not scare him away

I can’t even tell you what I thought was funny, but I know I laughed a lot

requierobl: Wanted to strangle Oli sometimes

Plus, family was really screwed up

blnokimi: Crazy

The father was a trip

requierobl: Although, at the end, I felt like Caleb’s dad wasn’t actually that bad

blnokimi: Compared to Oli’s dad, yeah, but he just shut out Mere

requierobl: Yeah, what a misogynist

blnokimi: I did like how, even though he was so worried all the time, something about Oli made Caleb brave in situations when he would have definitely folded in on himself before

requierobl: Because they were equals? And from a similar background?

blnokimi: I think that’s part of it, but also because, just like he told David, he didn’t have time to build a wall, and Oli knew things about him that he could barely remember, so the only thing he really had to worry about was spooking Oli by getting too attached and that’s what he worried about the entire time

requierobl: I do love that type of relationship angst

blnokimi: plus, Oli pushed him to make things real by saying them out loud, so he was just always in a position where he didn’t want to push Oli away but he also didn’t want to repeat what happened between him and David. Regardless of what Oli said, he really only had one line he didn’t want crossed

so Caleb just had to figure out how maneuver the Oli obstacle course

requierobl: Kinda curious why Oli fell in love, it really felt like it was mostly about the sex

blnokimi: I think so, too, but I think that’s his weapon

it’s both how he connects with people and how he keeps them at a distance

requierobl: Really wanted that pov

Anyway, did you stay up late to finish the book?

blnokimi: it would have been nice, but I don’t think the same angst wouldn’t have been possible if we knew what was going on in Oli’s head.

I pulled an all-nighter

requierobl: Wow

It would have offered some closure to have at least one scene at the end from his pov

blnokimi: I started reading at 10 and finished by 3 or 4. It’s the only book I dozed off while reading

requierobl: I do that all the time

blnokimi: maybe, but I think it would seem like too much would have to be crammed in to make it not seem weird that it only came at the end

it’s the only one of the 3 books

requierobl: Nah, I’ve read books like that where it worked

blnokimi: i’ve lost count of how many times my tablet has hit my face

requierobl: What are you reading next?


blnokimi: Argentine Winter. Even though I didn’t want to, I loved Fellfire Summer, so I’m excited to go back to that world.

requierobl: A m/m fantasy?

I never heard of it, and I could have sworn I knew most of them.

blnokimi: yes

i pulled an all-nighter on that too

then I read the two side stories

I loved it, didn’t want to, but good is good.

requierobl: Will have to read it

blnokimi: It’s free

requierobl: Yep,

Added it to my ereader

requierobl: Did you read Captive Prince?

blnokimi: Nope. Doesn’t seem like my thing.

If Argentine Winter is as good as the first one, I’m going to rip right through it and will need a new book soon.

I should probably read something that’s already on my shelf.

I’ve always enjoyed talking to Requierobl about BL, particularly because, while our tastes are similar, there’s enough of a divergence that it makes for interesting conversation rather than it simply being a gush fest–not that there’s anything wrong with that. It also helps that we’re both perverts and can converse without embarrassment about such things.

I’ve been thinking about it and I’m still unsure of what I was laughing at so much. If I had to guess, I was probably tickled by things that weren’t meant to be funny, but were very much so according to my sense of humor. Most likely, I was laughing at someone getting their comeuppance.

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