ARC Review: First and First by Santino Hassell


28427134Caleb Stone was raised on the Upper East Side, where wealth and lineage reigns, and “alternative lifestyles” are hidden. It took him years to come out to his family, but he’s still stuck in the stranglehold of their expectations. Caleb knows he has to build his confidence and shake things up, but he doesn’t know how… until Oliver Buckley enters the picture.

Oli is everything Caleb isn’t—risk-taking, provocative, and fiercely independent. Disowned by his family, Oli has made his own way in the world and is beholden to no one. After a chance encounter on New Year’s Eve, Caleb is smitten.

As Caleb sheds the insecurities that have held him back for years, he makes bold steps toward changing his career and escaping years of sexual repression. But for Caleb to take full control of his life, he has to be brave enough to confront his feelings and trust Oli with his heart.

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Pre-order it at Dreamspinner Press / Amazon DE / Amazon US.

My Review:


Mr. Hassell has done it again. He’s written another amazing story with realistic characters that I found hard to put down. And that even though I didn’t like Oli and Caleb that much in the previous books. Somehow I fell in love with them both.
And it didn’t even take long to start liking Caleb, because seriously, he hates himself enough.. there’s no way I could hate him too.

Caleb is always too aware of what he does, worrying about what someone else thinks of him and being true to who he really is, because it’s harder getting hurt if you don’t show people your vulnerable side. I understood him so well!

“The possibility of having fumbled like an oaf while trying to be sexy and wild was enough to ruin the simple pleasure of the shower and make my nausea return.”

At the beginning of First and First Caleb is really closed off and self-conscious. He always was the good son. The one who followed all the rules, never rebelled or did anything to disappoint his father, well until he came out to him.
He never had the possibility to date other guys or experiment when he was growing up because of his fear to come out, and now that he’s finally out he feels insecure about his lack of sexual experience. It’s hard for him to let go and just enjoy being intimate with someone until he meets Oli at a New Year’s party.

“Just be yourself,” Oli said easily. “Even if it’s the you that you’re normally too afraid to be.”

Caleb is too drunk to remember being insecure and anxious. He just let’s go and it’s brilliant!
Throughout the book the reader gets little flashbacks to Oli’s and Caleb’s first night together. And they’re hot!
The sexual chemistry between Caleb and Oli was intense to say the least. These two just fit together so perfectly, and not only when they’re together in bed either. They both grew up in rich families were affection wasn’t really part of the upbringing so they understand each other.

I loved the story unfold and see Caleb slowly coming out of his shell and getting more secure in who he is. To not be afraid to tell Oli what he wants and needs.
Oli on the other hand remained a mystery until more than halfway through the story. I found him fascinating and wanted to know more, but he didn’t make much sense with his back and forth. On the one hand he’s really comfortable with Caleb but then would completely freeze when there was talk about possible feelings. It all made sense why he reacted this way, when he finally opened up though.

First and First is a fantastic story about self-realization, growing into your own skin and learning to trust. Both characters are flawed and so human. I absolutely loved it.
Not only has this story two amazing main characters, but it also features a whole cast of amazing side characters. I particularly LOVED Meredith, Aiden and Charles. The last one being someone I really, really want need to know more about! I hope he gets his own story. 😉

Mr. Hassell is a fantastic storyteller, First and First is just further prove of that, and I can’t wait to read more by him! Highly recommended!

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Genre: Contemporary Publisher: Dreamspinner Press Review Tag: Part of a series

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