Book and Author Spotlight: Concourse by Santino Hassell

(Five Boroughs #5)
by Santino Hassell
Release Date: May 1, 2017

About Concourse
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.

Read my five-plus-starred review of Concourse.

Add Concourse on Goodreads.

Purchase Links

About 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.

Learn more about the Five Boroughs series on Riptide Publishing.

About Santino Hassell
Santino was raised by a conservative family, but he was anything but traditional. He grew up to be a smart-mouthed grunge kid, then a transient twentysomething, and eventually transformed into a guy who spends his days and nights writing romance with an edge.

Santino is a dedicated gamer, a former fanfic writer, an ASoIaF mega nerd, a Grindr enthusiast, but most of all he is a writer of LGBT fiction 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.

Connect with Santino

A Q&A with Santino Hassell
1. Concourse is the first sports-themed romance novel you've written—not counting your upcoming football-themed series. What made you decide to go in this direction and why have Val be a boxer in particular? Did you always intend for his all-important match to end the way that it did?

Val came to me as a character who is very focused and calm, which evolved into me seeing him as an athlete. A lot of people think of athletes as raging with testosterone and adrenaline, and maybe that’s true during a match or on the field, but you also have to have focus and dedication to be disciplined enough to perform competitively. That part of Val affects him as an amateur boxer, but also in his friendships. He’s dedicated to his friends and his family, and is very goal oriented. 

As for the match at the end… well, I knew there would be drama, but it wasn’t until later in the draft that it came to me how it would all culminate. I wanted all his concerns and hesitations about boxing to come to a head. 

2. Ashton is a social media star with a large following. Be honest. Who do you stalk on social media most and did you sign up for alerts on new posts like Val does with Ashton? If you could wish for one famous person to follow you online, who would it be and why? 

Oh man, this question is a trap! I’ll be honest and hope he never sees this (because he does actually follow me on social media), but the only person I have alerts for is Juan Forgia—my cover model for Sutphin Boulevard, Sunset Park, and Interborough. He’s hot, charming, and just a fun person. Now, I’m shamelessly stalking Chal Harn and Javier Báez (my Chris inspiration). Ain’t he cute? Look at javy23baez, guys!

3. Have you been to all five boroughs in NYC and which one would you...

take someone to on a first date? Brooklyn. Pacific Standard is a great bar for a first date IMO.
recommend tourists visit? Manhattan at first first but not only, because all the tourist stuff is there.
go to for a vacation? Queens if they want to stay awhile without breaking their pockets.
leave someone you disliked stranded at? Staten Island. You take that ferry, and you like it.
live the rest of your days in? Brooklyn, baby.

4. Among your current Five Boroughs main characters, who would you...

hook up with once? Oli.
marry and settle down with? Nunzio!
keep in the friend zone? Raymond. Then I could just look at him and enjoy that experience without running him off somehow.
set up on a blind date with your best friend? Chris! He’s a minor character (for the moment), but he is charming, sweet, and adorable. He’s a great date. 
set up on a blind date with your worst enemy? Raymond. He’s pretty and funny as hell, but can you imagine that pillar of salt on a blind date with a stranger?

5. You're currently working on four different series. How do you switch from writing one novel in one series and then writing another novel in another series, and so on? Do you wait till you’re finished with one book before moving on to the next or do you write more than one at the same time?

I wait until I finish one book and move on to the next. The only time I write simultaneous books is when I’m co-writing something. My brain has to do things… in sequence. I have to write chapters in the order they go in (unless I’m revising), I have to write books in the order they’re due in, and I need detailed outlines. It’s the only way I can get through all my deadlines.

6. You've co-written two well-loved series. If you could choose anyone to write with for a third go-around, not including Ais and Megan Erickson, who would it be and why?

Roan Parrish and I have kicked around a few ideas…. *sly smile* We both like deconstructing characters down to the bones, so after several conversations of us discussing tropes and archetypes, it went from there. There isn’t even a set idea on the table though, so this would be way down the road.

7. Given that your most recent releases are all part of ongoing series, do you miss writing standalones and what is it that you miss most?

It’s hard for me to write standalones because I get very attached to the side characters. Even with my standalone novel Stygian, I went back and wrote a bunch of shorts that take place after the book ended!

8. What's the best advice you've ever received as an author, and what advice would you give aspiring writers who look up to you as their inspiration?

To accept the fact that sometimes you won’t make your deadline. Sometimes you will have to ask for an extension. That it happens to everyone, and you’re not a failure if it happens to you. This year, that advice has meant a lot to me. 

As far as what I would say to aspiring authors, I’d tell them to write what’s important to them even if they have to whittle it down to a theme. Readers can always tell when your stories have heart, and the best part of being a writer is getting a letter from a reader explaining how much your stories meant to them.


Thank you so much to Santino Hassell for graciously and generously taking the time to answer my questions and to Kelly Miller of Riptide Publishing for facilitating.

To celebrate the release of Concourse, one lucky winner will receive a $25 Riptide credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on May 6, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

Follow the Concourse blog tour.


  1. Loved the interview. I'm really looking forward to reading Concourse this week! kimcurington(at)yahoo(dot)com

  2. Congrats and thanks for the Q&A, and good review. It amazes me how you do it with all you're writing. The series has been good so far, and this sounds like a great addition. I enjoy your raw, real characters and the urban setting you put them in. -
    TheWrote [at] aol [dot] com

  3. Really fun interview!

    vitajex@aol dot com

  4. Great interview! Thanks for sharing with us =D
    humhumbum AT yahoo DOT com

  5. Thanks for the great interview!

  6. Thanks for the interview!


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