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First and First  - Santino Hassell

I totally have a thing for Oli's voice...I mean have a thing...Oli's voice just...well, it gives me butterflies in the tummy and goosebumps and seriously I could listen to that voice all day and still want more. It's not just that I like Oli's voice which you know...bonus when you're listening to an audiobook, but for me as soon as I heard him speak it worked, it clicked into place and my brain was in total agreement that this was how Oli would sound.

 

Michael Ferraiuolo is again the narrator for this installment of Santino Hassell's 'Five Boroughs' series and I have to say I'm truthfully hoping this doesn't change. I freely admit I'm not from New York and have never had the opportunity to spend time there so in terms of dialects/accents I'm by no means any kind of authority and can honestly say that my liking this narrator as much as I do has nothing to do with how much he does or doesn't sound like someone from New York. For me, he ticked those basic boxes in my 'what I want from an audiobook' checklist. He was consistent, his voices were unique I had no trouble discerning which character was speaking, emotions were conveyed when the characters were speaking. It just all worked for me and in the case of Oli...he nailed it.

 

I've been playing catch-up with this series via the audiobooks and I was really excited to get to this one. Oli was a character that grabbed my attention from the word go back when he made a play for Ray in 'Sunset Park'...did I want him getting it on with Ray, not really but I liked that he was there because I hoped that he would be a motivator for David to get his butt in gear with Ray and truthfully I liked that he was direct and said what he wanted didn't play games. Plus we got just enough of a peek at him to lock him into my brain as someone who would be interesting. Who he'd end up with at that point, I really had no idea, but I have to admit that it was Caleb...well that totally intrigued me, because Caleb in some ways seemed to be Oli's polar opposite.

 

Caleb is David's ex and by the time I finished 'Sunset Park', while I was definitely feeling better about David, even though I still wasn't happy that he'd cheated on Caleb when they were together, I was still finding it hard to see Caleb as any kind of a victim for me, he came off as a bit of a cold, manipulative douchebag. But, I also felt like Caleb and David together were a train wreck waiting to happen. You can love someone with all your heart but that doesn't mean they're the right person for you and by the end of 'Sunset Park' I very much felt like Caleb and David just never really belonged together, in  a nutshell they just weren't good for each other or too each other.  So 'First and First' was my chance to get more Oli and take a second look at Caleb, which turned out to be a very good thing.

 

I like Michael & Nunzio and David & Raymond really are adorable, but at this point Caleb & Oli are my favorite couple in this series. I like the dynamics between these two the push/pull of their relationship and how they challenge each other. Oli with his sexually adventurous nature and his ability to get Caleb to really examine what it is he wants all while he challenges Oli to use his adventurous nature outside of the bedroom and to look closer at his feelings.  One thing that neither Oli, nor Caleb can ignore is their attraction to each other and the sexually charged air that exist when they're together. The fact that by the end of this book not only were Caleb and Oli my favorite couple but I really like Caleb. I still don't think he's perfect but he does seem like someone that I'd be happy to know and be friends with and that I think speaks volumes to what an amazing job the author has done with this story...more so really than anything else that I could say. 

 

'First and First' is the third book in this series and so far each book just gets better and better and there's no way that I'm stopping whether it's the audio book or the e-book I am so on board for whatever and whoever comes next in this series. Santino Hassell has created a world that's realistic and filled with all the passion and emotion that you'd expect to find and who knows this might be only chance to spend time in New York with a bunch of hot men!