Review: Citywide (Five Boroughs Novella Collection)

Author: Santino Hassell

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

Rating: 4 stars

Buy Links: Riptide & Amazon

Type: Novellas in a Series

Received from Publisher


Blurb: A record-breaking heat wave engulfs the Five Boroughs, and emotions run as hot as the temperatures.

In Rerouted, Chris Mendez is trying to live a drama-free life. That doesn’t include another threesome with Jace and Aiden Fairbairn. But then a citywide blackout leaves them trapped together, and Chris is forced to re-examine everything he thought he knew about relationships and his own heart.

In Gridlocked, former Marine Tonya Maldonado is keeping real estate heiress Meredith Stone on permanent ignore. Mere isn’t Tonya’s type. Not even close. Who cares if she kisses like a dream and has the filthiest mouth this side of the East River? But then a security detail at a summer party ends with her saving Mere’s life and discovering they have more chemistry than she’d ever imagined.

In Derailed, Stephanie Quinones escapes the heat and her complicated love life by going on a company retreat. Trouble is, it’s a couples’ retreat, and she lied about having a boyfriend. Unfortunately, the only person willing to play pretend is her on-again/off-again fling, Angel León. They’re currently “off again,” but after a week in the woods, Stephanie realizes she wouldn’t mind them being permanently on.


Review: Citywide is an anthology of three stories set in the Five Boroughs series, with the stories running in a consecutive timeline.

Starting with Rerouted, Chris has been dodging Jace and Aiden ever since he realised how deep his feelings for them were. His luck in avoiding them runs out when Aiden’s brother, Caleb begs Chris for help restoring computer data at QFindr’s head office that was lost in a power surge caused by the intense heatwave that has hit the city of New York. Initially set to say no, a deceased car convinces Chris the money he’d get for the job would be worth the pain of seeing the two men he has come to care about, even though he knows that for them he’s just a fun addition to their bed. A citywide blackout ends up stranding the three men together in the building, forcing them to confront what they mean to each other and if there is a future for all three of them together.

The blackout may have ended in Gridlocked, but there’s still plenty of heat to be found. Tonya and Meredith had a brief but passionate encounter a year ago at QFindrs Photoshoot. Now working as as security at QFindr’s current event, the Ex-Marine is determined to ignore the attraction she feels for the rich socialite, no matter how stunning Mere is. Then Tonya finds Meredith in a scary situation and sees a deeper, stronger side to the woman she thought was no more than an entitled social butterfly.

In Rerailed Stephanie and Angel have been friends and sometimes lovers since they were teenagers. Angel has been in love with Stephanie for just as long, but Stephanie’s need to be unencumbered and uncommitted is slowly breaking Angel’s heart. They could be so good for each other if only Stephanie could allow herself to see it. Then Angel discovers that Stephanie has been pretending she has a fiancé, whose name just happens to be Angel, at work to avoid awkward comments on her being serially single. Things taken an even more interesting turn when Stephanie’s boss invites him along to a partners included weekend work retreat. The weekend would either be a fun excuse to goof around with each other or, just as likely, it could end in heartbreak. Then again, maybe the pretence of being a couple will turn into something real.

Running through all three stories is an arc that ties the separate stories together, involving trouble found at QFindr during the blackout.

Rerailed was frustrating at times, okay, Stephanie was frustrating at times – talk about stubborn! – but I really liked both characters a lot and just wished Stephanie could get out of her own way and see that Angel’s love for her was nothing but supportive, not the cage she feared a committed relationship would be. However, understanding how Stephanie’s past had given her that mind frame, and that it had served her at the time, made the whole push-pull thing she had going with Angel believable and made her come across as relatable, rather than manipulative. This was easily a 4 star story for me.

Gridlocked didn’t engage me like the other two stories did. I didn’t really warm to Tonya and was surprised that I actually found Meredith to be a more interesting character than Tonya. This was a 3.5 star read for me because, although I liked them well enough, more so towards the end of the story, I just didn’t really fully connect with either Tonya or Meredith. I don’t think that was due to anything more than me just not personally clicking with them. Some of that is probably down to not having got to know their characters in the previous books in the series as much as I had the characters from the other two novellas in this anthology; I felt like I already knew Chris, Jace, Aiden, Stephanie and Angel so much better. Even so, I did end up becoming invested enough in Tonya and Meredith’s story to want to finish it, and I put that down to the quality of the writing.

Rerouted is a 5 star read all the way and was my favourite of the three novellas. I really enjoyed the dynamics between Chris, Jace and Aiden – they are fun and sexy and loving. I adore those three so much and I wish they had their own full length book, because I wanted more of them! They compliment each other so well as a threesome, with chemistry to burn, and I desperately wanted to see them find a way to make a relationship work between the three of them.

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