First and First by Santino Hassell
“There’s not one way to to live or to love, and whoever tries to tell you any different will probably be dead in a decade or two anyway, so screw them!”
Santino Hassell has easily become one of my favorite authors in the last year, and it’s because he delivers amazing books like this one! First and First is everything I never knew I wanted.
First and First is about Caleb, a thirty six year old former CFO having trouble finding himself after losing his ex to another man. Oli is a programer whose sex life is open and adventurous. On New Year’s Eve at a party, the two ending up spending a night of mind blowing sex with each other, spinning Caleb’s world and causing him to rethink who he’d always assumed he was.
It’s clear that Oli is not up for a relationship, but Caleb finds more and more often they are spending time together. Oli encourages Caleb to be more free with how he is, yet Caleb still struggles with anxiety at points. A companionship forms, but Caleb knows not to expect anything from Oli….. but should he?
“I said I wasn’t your Prince Charming. You don’t enjoy being banged like a ragdoll because I pranced into your life. You didn’t discover hot sex just because I happen to exist. I don’t want you thinking of me as your savior. As someone you’re beholden to because now you know what you like. You told me what to do that night. You were just drunk enough to stop caring about what I would think of you.”
I loved this book, if the 5 star rating isn’t clear enough. I love the way Hassell writes, how his characters are flawed and yet so lovable. Caleb at many points in this book spoke to my heart, his struggles with anxiety, his self doubt. After spending so many years hiding what he was it made him insecure, which affected his relationships and his sex life because he never learned how to be himself until now.
Oli is a bit of a mystery, I really liked him for David, but without dual POV it was difficult to gage what he was feeling and thinking. Our perspective was only what Caleb saw, and at times what Caleb thought about Oli instead of Oli himself.
Lately I tend to not enjoy books with erotic tones because I feel there is more sex than plot: Santino’s books are the exception to this because he gives readers an amazing combo of hot and plot every single damn time. It’s like the perfect recipe for my reading tastes, the best of both worlds.
This book can be read as a standalone, it features characters from the two previous novels. So while you can read it as a standalone, I do recommend that you maybe consider reading book 2, as those characters are in this a bit more and it could help with context.
An amazing read, I stayed up until 2 am to finish it. I cannot wait to devour more of Santino Hassell’s books.
“But regardless of what you think of yourself, when I look at you, I see someone beautiful. Someone who makes me insane, because all I can fucking think about is touching you. Being close to you. Being inside you. And there’s a reason for that, baby.”