Review: Concourse by Santino Hassell (Five Boroughs #5)


Note: This ARC was provided by Riptide Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

Regardless of the past, I’d tried to put a sharp stop to all our not-so-platonic interactions after we’d slept together. I wouldn’t touch him. I wouldn’t fall for him. Even if he was the only person who could make my heart beat faster with nothing more than a sideways glance and a teasing smile.
Maybe one day his effect on me would fade, and I’d actually be able to keep my hands off him, but that time hadn’t come yet. It was as impossible as ever. As soon as I was around him, as soon as he touched me and grazed his mouth to mine . . . I wanted him.

This is me, nearly two weeks after having read this novel and I'm still at a loss for words. I don't want to sound too much like a fangirl--but I doubt I'll be able to control myself--because this was just so. Damn. Good. Seriously! I've loved all five of the Five Boroughs books, but there's something about the odd-numbered ones--Sutphin Boulevard, First and First, and this newest one, Concourse--that just feel a teeny, tiny bit more...extraordinarily gripping. With Concourse, Santino Hassell shares with fans and readers the friends-to-lovers story of social media celebrity Ashton Townsend and aspiring amateur boxer Valdrin Leka, both twenty-four. Ash was introduced to readers in First and First and was also part of the QFindr campaign in Interborough, but whatever glimpses we saw of him back then were nothing compared to truly getting to know Ashton and seeing him through the eyes of Val.

Ashton Townsend and Valdrin Leka have known each other since they were ten, having become the best of friends through the years. Ash found the love and acceptance of family from his nanny and her family--the Lekas--that he couldn't get from his own, who saw him as an aberration and a disappointment. Ash doesn't lack for attention; he can easily get that by posting a new selfie or updating his status. However, it's Val's undivided attention that he craves for most, along with his love and affection. Val has been known to push Ash away more than once, and for varying lengths of time, he's capable of keeping his distance. But when Ash finds himself agreeing to something that feels like it's costing him his self-respect, it's Val that's there to give him the support and solace he needs. When they give in to their long-held feelings, their differences and Val's secrets threaten to irreparably break them.

Oh, Val, Val, Val. My heart went out to the guy because he was undoubtedly torn by what he's felt for Ash since they were teenagers and his own guilty conscience for a secret that he's kept from his best friend for far too many years. There's also the fact that Ash is a distraction that Val doesn't think he can afford, what with his need to concentrate on his boxing training. He's got the natural talent, but it's the lack of desire that's getting to him, more than anything else. How does this all tie in? Well, that's why you're going to have to read the book, yeah? Val is a complicated young man, and while it would be easy to label his indecision and the whole back and forth thing concerning what to do with his not-so-platonic feelings for Ash as frustrating, his reasons aren't that easy to overcome. I get why he was so conflicted, with the burden of responsibility for all those he loved weighing on him.

Ah, Ash, Ash, Ash. I could relate to Ash in a lot of ways. Being the odd duck in a family or a group isn't as rare as you would think and I'm pretty sure we all know someone who's in the same position. If my heart went out to Val, it broke for Ash. He had money and he had fame, but what he was looking for was far more basic and you would think much easier to lay claim over. He had a public persona for fear that the Ash that he really was wasn't too palatable. There were times that Val would pull him in only to push him away again, and I desperately wanted to give Ash a hug because Val was the one person who meant the most, whose acceptance and respect mattered greatly. Theirs isn't just a story of embracing the love that's always been there, but it's also about being honest with yourself and realizing what--and who--it is you want most and fighting for it. Concourse garners five-plus stars. ♥

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Read my reviews for the Five Boroughs series:


Sutphin Boulevard (book one) - five-plus stars - My Review
Sunset Park (book two) - five-plus stars - My Review
First and First (book three) - five-plus stars - My Review
Interborough (book four) - five-plus stars - My Review
Concourse (book five) - five-plus stars - My Review (posted above)

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Release Date: 01 May 2017

Date Read: 21 April 2017

Learn more about Santino Hassell.

Purchase Concourse on Riptide Publishing | Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Kobo.

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