This was another excellent addition to the Five Boroughs series. This picks up a few months down the road from where the last book ended and Michael and Nunzio are wanting to move in together. Ray suddenly finds himself in need of a new place to live. When David suggests they become roommates it seems like a great solution for everyone. Once the two men start living together though things become more complicated. Ray is still really struggling with who he is and who he wants to become and David is struggling with his attraction to Ray, but he can't quite let go of his preconceived ideas of what a partner should be. They stumble around, communicating poorly, while trying to figure things out. This was partly a love story and partly a story about finding yourself.
This was extremely well written and there is something about this author's writing style that stands out. One of his major strengths, in my opinion, is that his stories are all about the characters. They are so well developed that you feel like you know them by the end of the book. Ray and David both felt so "real" to me. They are both every day people and you can recognize yourself, and the people in your life, in them. I felt they were both struggling with issues that many of us have gone through in our own lives. Ray is trying to figure out what he wants to do with his life and he's trying to create expectations for himself when no one else ever has. David is trying to figure out what he really wants in a relationship. Does he want the "ideal" man with the money, the good job and the stability even if there is no passion? And can he count on Ray when Ray's not even sure he can count on himself? I have to admit I had periods where I wasn't sure I liked either of them. Ray was harsh to David in the beginning of the book and David was unfair to Ray towards the latter part. But despite finding myself annoyed with both of them at times, I understood where they were coming from and I understood the choices they were making. By the end though they worked through their stuff and I worked through my stuff and we all loved each other.
The side characters were also well done and added to the story. We see quite a bit of Michael and Nunzio in this and we meet the guys who will be the focus of the next book. In addition, we see Ray's "blue collar" friends who thankfully were a bunch of nice, normal guys not the usual stereotype of homophobic jerks. We also had some charming scenes with David's parents. Again, wonderfully done and not stereotypes. Both of his parents were loving and accepting of him, and his mother in particular, I really enjoyed as a character. (Thank you, thank you to the author for NOT giving us yet another horrible, harpy mom.)
The dialogue is sharp and witty and the author is able to have the characters speak realistically for their age range. It comes naturally and I think it adds to the hip and edgy feel his work often has.
As usual the back drop of NYC was so well done you can picture the park, the handball court, the bakery, etc. and you feel like you're right there with them even if you've never been to New York.
I just discovered this author this year and I quickly went through his back catalog. I like the fact that there is such a strong sense of realism in his characters, and as I previously said, they're everyday people you can relate to. This book can be read as a stand alone but you will miss some of the relationship dynamics if you have not read the previous book Sutphin Boulevard. For me this is another hit out of the ballpark for this author. A definite recommend.
Raymond Rodriguez's days of shoving responsibility to the wayside are over. His older brother wants to live with his boyfriend, so Raymond has to get his act together and find a place of his own. But when out-and-proud David Butler offers to be his roommate, Raymond agrees for reasons other than needing a place to crash.
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.