<i>Coach's Challenge</i>: Exclusive Excerpt Coach's Challenge: Exclusive Excerpt Avon Gale "Succumb to the passion that might cost them everything..." A Binge Guide to Tamsen Parker's Compass Series A Binge Guide to Tamsen Parker's Compass Series Tamsen Parker "I don’t like to think about where I would’ve ended up without him." <i>The Legend</i>: Exclusive Excerpt The Legend: Exclusive Excerpt Donna Grant "Can Wyatt save Callie’s life—without putting her love in the line of fire?" Get Jenna Bayley-Burke's <em>Just Married</em>! Get Jenna Bayley-Burke's Just Married! Team H & H Join the club and download your copy of Just Married!
From The Blog
June 23, 2017
5 Reasons You Should Listen to Audiobooks
Nicole Leapheart
June 23, 2017
A Definitive Ranking of Patricia Briggs' Mercy Thompson Books
Maggie Boyd
June 22, 2017
10 Dirty Football Terms You Didn't Know Are Legitimate
June 22, 2017
Love on a Deadline in Liora Blake’s Second Chance Season
Janet Webb
June 21, 2017
A Bisexual Reader’s Romance Wishlist
Showing posts by: Santino Hassell click to see Santino Hassell's profile
Jun 9 2017 1:00pm

6 Enemies-to-Lovers Stories for Every Mood

Mature Content by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell

Today we're thrilled to welcome Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell (Mature Content) to Heroes and Heartbreakers. Megan and Santino have explored a lot of tropes we love, but today they're here to talk about one of our favorites—enemies to lovers! They've come to discuss the different types of enemies-to-lovers stories that are out there—and trust us when we say, there's one for every mood! Thanks, Megan and Santino!

While writing the Cyberlove series, we've explored themes ranging from social anxiety to age gaps to barriers due to chaotic families, but Mature Content is our first joint venture into enemies-to-lovers. Writing it was intense, and the buildup of sexual tension led to chemistry that was pretty explosive. It also led to several conversations about how this volatile relationship could develop into something long-lasting with a believable happily ever after.

It also got us thinking about other masters of this trope, and we decided to share a list of our favorite enemies-to-lovers novels!

Work Place Enemies-to-Lovers

Beautiful Bastard by Christina Lauren

Whip-smart banter and sexy as hell, this book is a must-read for fans of push-pull romance. Once you read the first, you’ll want to read the whole series, so dig in!

[Read more...]

Mar 12 2017 1:00pm

Santino Hassell Excerpt: Insight

Santino Hassell

Insight by Santino Hassell

Growing up the outcast in an infamous family of psychics, Nate Black never learned how to control his empath abilities. Then after five years without contact, his estranged twin turns up dead in New York City. The claim of suicide doesn’t ring true, especially when a mysterious vision tells Nate it was murder. Now his long-hated gift is his only tool to investigate.

Hitching from his tiny Texas town, Nate is picked up by Trent, a gorgeous engineer who thrives on sarcasm and skepticism. The heat that sparks between them is instant and intense, and Nate ends up trusting Trent with his secrets—something he’s never done before. But once they arrive in the city, the secrets multiply when Nate discovers an underground supernatural community, more missing psychics, and frightening information about his own talent.

Nate is left questioning his connection with Trent. Are their feelings real, or are they being propelled by abilities Nate didn’t realize he had? His fear of his power grows, but Nate must overcome it to find his brother’s killer and trust himself with Trent’s heart.

Get a sneak peek at Santino Hassell's Insight (available March 11, 2017) with an exclusive excerpt of a selected scene.

“So, what’s your story, kid?”

Nate tilted his head against the window and crossed his arms over his chest. His body sank into the ripped leather of the passenger seat as a warm, damp breeze blew in through the window. It was tempting to lean back into the worn fabric, but relaxing wasn’t going to happen anytime soon. Not with a stranger next to him.

“You can’t be much older than me.”

[Read the full Insight excerpt...]

Feb 28 2017 4:30pm

The Essential Mardi Gras Romance Wish List

What would make for a Mardi Gras romance?

Follow Me Into the Darkness Anthology

Today we're thrilled to welcome Santino Hassell (part of the Follow Me Into Darkness anthology). The anthology focuses around Carnivale and Mardi Gras and so today, Santino is here to talk about the items on his wish list for any Mardi Gras romance! Thanks, Santino!

For many, Mardi Gras is a time for wild parties and nonstop booze. However, it’s also a prime opportunity for romance. Several queer romance authors explored this theme with our collection of carnivale shorts in the Follow Me Into Darkness anthology, but there is room for so much more.

I offer you five reasons why Mardi Gras is the perfect setting for romance. I’ll leave it here and hope a few fantastic authors get inspired while reading this list.

1. The carnivalesque air makes it feel like life is a game and everyone around you is on your team. It helps that businesses shut down and everyone is out celebrating. You end up hanging out and bonding with people you wouldn’t have known in any other circumstances, which is the perfect opportunity for meet cutes.

2. It’s also the perfect opportunities for shenanigans! Mardi Gras is a time when the unlikely becomes likely. Imagine all the trouble you can write your characters into, and all the ways you can write them trying to find their ways out (while falling for each other). This could lend itself to multiple subgenres including romantic suspense. A sexy Mardi Gras whodunit? I’ll take it. Throw in some paranormal elements and I’m there.

[Read more...]

Jan 11 2017 1:10pm

Megan Erickson & Santino Hassell Excerpt + Cover Reveal: Hard Wired

Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell

Hard Wired by Megan Erickson, Santino Hassell

My FallenCon agenda is simple: sit on a couple of panels and let people meet the real me. Jesse Garvy—mod of a famous Twitch channel and, if I ever come out of my shell, future vlogger. I definitely didn’t plan to sleep with a moody tattooed fan-artist, but he’s gorgeous and can’t keep his hands off me. There's a first time for everything, and my first time with a guy turns out to be the hottest experience of my life.

But the next day, I find out my moody fan-artist is Ian Larsen AKA Cherry—someone I've known online for years. And he'd known exactly who I was while shoving me up against that wall. Before I figure out whether to be pissed or flattered, the con ends.

Now we're back online, and he's acting like nothing happened. But despite the distance between us, and the way he clings to the safety of his online persona, we made a real connection that night. I don't plan to let him forget.

Get a sneak peek at Megan Erickson, Santino Hassell's Hard Wired (available February 13, 2017) with an exclusive excerpt of a selected scene.

“Finish your other drink. I want to show you something.”

Jesse did as commanded, tilting his head back and wincing, but he swallowed it in one gulp. I leaned in closer, pressing my body to his broader more muscular one, and tangled my fingers with his. He was so warm, and he smelled so good, that I wanted to keep him close.

He dropped the glass to the table with a comical grimace. Jesse wasn't much of a drinker, but he was still sharp. Even so, I leaned in and whispered, “Are you sober?”

[Read the full Hard Wired excerpt...]

Oct 25 2016 9:30am

Books and Movies That Feature Breakups—and Makeups!

Interborough by Santino Hassell

In romance, it's all about the journey, not the destination. However, Satino Hassell (Interborough) makes the argument that, even after the “I love yous”are said, the journey still continues, and revisiting or following couples after the HEA—with all the hiccups that come with it—is half the fun. Santino shares some of his favorite breakup/make-up books and movies and reminds us that finding love after a hurdle makes that love even stronger. Thanks, Santino!

My favorite part of most romance novels tends to be the chase. What happens during the moment when someone first realizes they feel more than friendship (or hate) for their love interest? How does sex progress their relationship, and how will they make it to a happy ending? Those questions keep me on the edge of my seat. However, I recently started thinking about romances revolving around pre-existing couples. I often find myself wondering what happens after the characters say “I love you” (especially when you have a pairing who are polar opposites).

In my upcoming release Interborough (book 4 in the Five Boroughs series although it can be read as a standalone!), I return to David Butler and Raymond Rodriguez—two men who couldn’t be more opposite but who are passionately in love despite the obstacles life keeps throwing their way. They never break up in the novel, but their lives have drastically changed since they got together in Sunset Park (Ray working two jobs and going to school is a biggie). I wanted to see how get over the bumps in the road leading to an Even Happier HEA.

[Read more...]

Oct 22 2016 12:00pm

Santino Hassell Excerpt: Interborough

Santino Hassell

Interborough (Five Boroughs) by Santino Hassell

The Raymond Rodriguez from a few years ago wouldn't recognize the guy he is today. He's left his slacker ways far behind him and is now juggling two jobs and school. But the balancing act doesn't allow much time for the man he loves.

David is doing his best to be supportive, but problems at work and his own insecurity leave him frustrated-in more ways than the obvious-whenever he goes to bed before Raymond gets home. The heat and affection between them is still there, but they barely have the time or energy to enjoy it. And it doesn't help that Raymond is still hiding David from his colleagues.

The stress mounts so high that a vacation in paradise is filled with turmoil instead of harmony, and culminates on their return to the five boroughs with broken promises and heartache. They have to figure out how to stop allowing their differences to overshadow their love. It's the only way they'll make it to forever.

Get a sneak peek at Santino Hassell's Interborough (available October 24, 2016) with an exclusive excerpt of a selected scene.

Public Speaking was the usual shit-show. We were assigned a group presentation, and I spent a large percentage of the planning slumped in my desk with my hood up. With little input from me, they went full steam ahead with a plan to do our presentation as a debate on Common Core. It sounded boring as fuck, but I’d listened to Michael, Nunzio, and David rant about it often enough to be familiar with the pros and cons of the state standards. My group just seemed relieved when I nodded in agreement, as if they’d expected me to put up a fuss.

[Read the full Interborough excerpt...]

Apr 16 2016 12:00pm

First and First: Exclusive Excerpt

Santino Hassell

First and First by Santino Hassell

Caleb Stone was raised on the Upper East Side, where wealth and lineage reign 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.

Get a sneak peek at Santino Hassell's First and First (available April 18, 2016) with an exclusive excerpt of a selected scene.

I woke to howling wind and a stretch of warm, smooth skin pressing against my back. After two days, the sensation was a surprise.

“What time is it?” The pillow muffled the words, but I couldn’t bring myself to move my face away from the lump. We were caught in a cocoon of softness, and I didn’t want to spoil it. “Oli?”

[Log in or register to read the full excerpt...]

Feb 16 2016 12:30pm

Well, This Is Awkward: Unconventional First Meetings in Romance

Strong Signal by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell

Today we're thrilled to welcome Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell to Heroes and Heartbreakers. Their recent release of Strong Signal, features two gamers who meet in a video game, but fall in love in the real world. Today, Megan and Santino are here to talk about other unconventional meet-cutes in romance. Thanks, Megan and Santino!

Our recent release, Strong Signal, features two gamers (or gaymers as Kai calls himself) who meet in a video game. It's definitely not love at first sight when their avatars meet, but what happens in the game definitely does not stay in the game. Kai and Garrett end up investigating each other's real selves, revealing a famous streamer and an isolated soldier, and end up conecting in a very real way.

Unconventional meetings in romance novels are fun, unexpected, and sometimes humorous. Here's a list of some of our favorites:

Upside Down by Lia Riley

The first time Talia spies the hero, he’s dressed up in a koala costume and in a fist fight. It’s an amazing way to show how passionate the hero is. The scene is simultaneously awkward and funny, and endeared me to the characters and Riley’s writing immediately.

[There's more ...]

Feb 4 2016 1:00pm

Follow Me Into Darkness: Excerpt

Santino Hassell, Roan Parrish, J.R. Gray, J.C. Lillis and Kris Ripper

Follow Me Into Darkness by Santino Hassell, J.C. Lillis, J.R. Gray, Kris Ripper, and Roan Parrish

Carnivale is a time for decadence, for revelry, and for mischief. A time when we shed the figurative masks we wear in everyday life in favor of new ones… ones that allow us to be a little bolder, a little more adventurous, and perhaps a little truer to ourselves. Follow Me Into Darkness is a compilation of original tales of queer romance by five of the premier authors of contemporary romance.

Hurricane by Santino Hassell

Interesting things never happened to Zay. He was the wallflower everyone forgot about as soon as the booze began to flow, and Mardi Gras had never been an exception. But after a chance encounter with a devil-may-care grifter, this year's celebration brings adventure and whirlwind romance.

If We Be Friends by J.C. Lillis

Seventeen-year-old Ven should be flying high—he's playing the title role in a new TV drama about Hamlet's teen years, and tonight they're having a Mardi Gras cast party in a possibly-haunted castle. But Ven's lost all his mirth since his boyfriend suggested they “take a break,” so he plans to skip the bash and brood in his trailer all night. Then the exasperating guy who plays Horatio challenges him to a Shakespearean soliloquy-off, and Ven knows his actorly honor is at stake. He says yes to the duel, trudges off to the the party to meet his fate—and finds that more awaits him onstage than a battle of wits and words.

Masked by J.R. Gray

Blistering heat and half-naked masked men as far as the eye can see, but Heath runs into the one face it’s taken him fifteen years to forget. Javier is plagued with a life of regret, but when a second chance confronts him, can he let go of his hang-ups and seize the moment?

The Queen’s Reflection by Kris Ripper

Isah plays the role everyone expects: malleable and cautious, a true queen. But what others see as a queen’s appropriate modesty is really just a disguise for what Isah has never told anyone, the thing no one can ever know.

This body, dressed in the queen’s gowns, is a lie.

Once a year, at carnival, Isah dons someone else’s clothes and becomes them for a night. A young cook in stained whites, or a stableboy in worn breeches. As long as no one gets too close the pretense holds.

Until two strangers look past all the characters and Isah finally exposes the person behind the mask.

Touched by Roan Parrish

Sometimes when he touches people Philippe Rondeau sees their future. It’s erratic and inconvenient, but mostly he’s learned to deal with it. Sure he hasn’t found true love yet, but he has friends and lovers, and is kept busy running his family’s jazz club in Prohibition-era New Orleans. But now it’s Mardi Gras and all bets are off. In the space of one night, Philippe falls under the spell of jazz musician Claude and learns a terrible secret about his powers. If Philippe is certain of anything it’s that the future can be tricky, but the chance at love makes it all seem worthwhile.

Get a sneak peek at Santino Hassell, J.R. Gray, J.C. Lillis, Roan Parrish, and Kris Ripper's Follow Me Into Darkness (available February 4, 2016) with an exclusive excerpt of a selected scene.

Hurricane by Santino Hassell

“C'mon. I haven't steered you wrong yet.”


“Just one wish, and then we go. What will it hurt?”

Nothing. Unless he robbed me. But his hands were gentle on my shoulders and his voice was a siren song in my ear, and at the moment I couldn't believe he would hurt me. He'd have done it already. That was what I told myself even as the other parts of my brain, the parts that often kept me isolated and withdrawn, screamed at me to stop trusting him and leave.

[Log in or register to read the full excerpt...]

Dec 14 2015 2:30pm

Male/Male Romance Authors Love NYC: The 26 Best New York-Set Movies and Romance Novels

Carey Grant and Katharine Hepburn in Holiday

Heroes and Heartbreakers is thrilled to welcome not one, but three authors to the site today. Writing is a collaborative effort and so we're so happy to have Santino Hassell (Sunset Park), Karen Stivali (Moment of Silence), and Damon Suede (Pent Up) here to collaborate on a guest post. All three authors have recently written New York-based male/male romances and are here today to talk about some of their favorite New York-set movies and books. Thanks, Santino, Karen, and Damon!

As writers who also identify as New Yorkers, there's no hiding that NYC is close to our hearts. From the glitzy to the gritty, there are endless ways to find love in the five boroughs, which is why we can't stop talking about the city as a setting for romance.

We asked readers to recommend their favorite books or movies set in the Big Apple, and threw in our favorites. If you need a last minute gift idea, or simply want to stock up for your own holiday binge watching, take a look at these recs!

[Let's get rec'ing...]

Oct 1 2015 2:00pm

Queer Romance Month: Top Queer Romance from Top Queer Romance Authors

Treasure by Rebekah Weatherspoon

Today we're thrilled to have not one, not two, but SIX great queer romance authors! KJ Charles, Amy Jo Cousins, Megan Erickson, Alexis Hall, Santino Hassell, and Audra North have spent a lot of time organizing Queer Romance Month, and now they're hear to spread the word! Looking for a great LGBTQ+ book to read? The organizers of Queer Romance Month are here today with some recommendations. Thanks, all!

K.J. Charles

Treasure by Rebekah Weatherspoon

A lovely NA 'opposite sides of the tracks' lesbian romance, with two students, one from a wealthy family disappointed in her, and one stripping her way through college. It's sweet, hot, funny and heartwarming. All my favourite things in romance. 

Business Makes Strange Bedfellows by E.E. Ottoman

Lovecraftian horror meets lesbian vampire romance, with a reanimator scientist and a vampire private detective in a wonderfully Gothic setting.

[Queer Romance month is kicking off ...]

Jul 20 2015 12:00pm

Sutphin Boulevard: Exclusive Excerpt

Santino Hassell

Sutphin Boulevard (Five Boroughs #1) by Santino Hassell

Michael Rodriguez and Nunzio Medici have been friends for two decades. From escaping their dysfunctional families in the working-class neighborhood of South Jamaica, Queens to teaching in one of the city’s most queer friendly schools in Brooklyn, the two men have shared everything. Or so they thought until a sweltering night of dancing leads to an unexpected encounter that forever changes their friendship.

Now, casual touches and lingering looks are packed with sexual tension, and Michael can’t forget the feel of his best friend’s hands on him. Once problems rear up at work and home, Michael finds himself seeking constant escape in the effortless intimacy and mind-blowing sex he has with Nunzio. But things don’t stay easy for long.

When Michael’s world begins to crumble in a sea of tragedy and complications, he knows he has to make a choice: find solace in a path of self-destruction or accept the love of the man who has been by his side for twenty years.

Get a sneak peek at Santino Hassell's Sutphin Boulevard (available July 31, 2015) with an exclusive excerpt of a selected scene.

WE TOOK two trains to get back to the West Side of Manhattan, and the entire time Nunzio’s gaze was on me. The Medici bedroom eyes were near infamous for those who knew him, but I’d never had them aimed at me other than on that one drunken night.

Since high school he’d always been the playboy, even though I had become sexually active first. I’d gone for whatever I could get as a teenager, but Nunzio had always set his sights on the hottest and the most unattainable. One look into those Sinatra-like baby blues and even the straightest of the hottest jocks or thugs at our school in South Jamaica melted in front of him and wound up with their knees in the air. Everyone I introduced Nunzio to always went on about how fuckable he was but I’d known him for so long I’d never truly understood what they meant until I’d felt his hands and mouth on me.

[Log in or register to read the full excerpt...]