David is Raymond’s opposite in almost every way—he’s Connecticut prim and proper while Raymond is a sarcastic longshoreman from Queens—but their friendship is solid. Their closeness surprises everyone as does their not-so-playful flirtation since Raymond has always kept his bicurious side a secret.
Once they’re under the same roof, flirting turns physical, and soon their easy camaraderie is in danger of being lost to frustrating sexual tension and the stark cultural differences that set them apart. Now Raymond not only has to commit to his new independence—he has to commit to his feelings for David or risk losing him for good.
With my OCD tendencies, I prefer to read a series in sequence even if they’re all standalone. So I had to pick this one up knowing that First & First is around the corner. Not that anyone was twisting my rubber arms because I was dying to get to Ray and David’s story after all. Let’s just say it sped up the process, yay for me!
Ray and David were first introduced in Sutphin Boulevard. Ray is Mikey’s brother and David is um, Mikey’s co-worker, we’ll leave it at that. They can’t be any more opposite in their background and upbringing, yet somehow they get each other enough that a friendship was born. From that friendship, a complicated dynamics started emerging. David is attracted to Ray, and Ray, well, he’s never been with a guy before. Regardless, there’s something that there that neither can ignore. And this is about navigating around and dealing with those feelings, told from dual POV.
I love Ray, flaws and all! There is courage to his thoughts even when he didn’t think so himself. For all his gruffness, I saw the tenderness. There is the underlying vulnerability that he tries to mask, and it just made him more endearing. He’s simple in his needs yet he’s not simplistic. I did like David as well, seeing how considerate, caring and nurturing he was, even with his contradictory thoughts. It’s like he can’t help but be this caring person even at his own expense. Indecision or not, David just wanted to find love and be loved. I love how Santino took me on their emotional journey of self-discovery and finding love. I think he handled it delicately, thoughtfully and realistically. Then let’s not forget their times together! HAAAAAWT!!!
I will admit I wasn’t always able to connect with David at all times. I know some of the things he’s done from the other book but I still reserved my judgment because I figured I didn’t have his full story. I did see a growth in him albeit peripherally, seeing that he was only a side character then, and now that I know his story, I guess I still felt conflicted a few times about his thought process. But I understood; he had to go through what he had to go through. Also, I did not anticipate that one other character would play more prominently but I suppose I also understood his role. Their conflict moved the story and showed their growth.
I must say, from an even more personal perspective, I think Santino has set the tone for this book from the dedication alone, which I totally loved. I think he captured this generation well (wait, only someone in a different generation will say that, won’t s/he? O well… says the Gen X-er), from the generational lingo to the mindset. What I think he also captured well is the cultural aspect to it, and social standing, in some ways. Being from an immigrant family myself, I’m aware there will always be a cultural influence to your thinking that you don’t even realize you cling on to but comes out in certain situations. Just sayin…
I think Santino just became an auto-click author for me. Let the fangirling begin!
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