I was really looking forward to Gio after reading the first book in the 5th Street seriesNoah. Although the writing was every bit as good as the first and all the characters I had come to really love in the first book are present and accounted for, this book was a chore for me to get through. I had to keep putting it down and going back to it when I had cooled down a bit as I could only really tolerate it in small doses.
Gio follows on from the events in Noah but is now told from the perspective of Noah's best friend Giovanni Bravo. Gio is going through a tough time. Like Noah, he is an amateur boxer and after a fight in which he is competing goes terribly, tragically wrong, Gio sinks into a deep depression vowing never to compete in the ring again. Gio's friends are concerned about him and when an old friend of his, Felix, offers Gio the chance to train him; the gang encourage Gio to take him up on this offer. Felix Sanchez is a local boy who has done good, becoming the welterweight champion of the world. He too has his roots in the gym on 5th Street and he and Gio go way back.
However, things get complicated when Gio is reunited with a girl from high school he used to have a crush on called Bianca Rubio. Even worse, Bianca is Felix's girlfriend. When they are stuck together alone in Felix's cabin, where Gio has been helping Felix train, the chemistry between them soon reaches breaking point and the two give into their passion for each other. However, when Felix finds out, Gio has to face condemnation from his friends and the pair also face public scrutiny when the media gets their hands on footage of the pair caught in a compromising position. Is their relationship really worth all the grief and can they overcome the problems their actions have caused and finally be together?
I had a really tough time with this book. I really cannot condone the cheating in this and both parties are equally culpable. Although Felix was certainly no saint ****spoiler begins****you know pretty much from the start he has been cheating and lying about it to Bianca and later on you find out that he had even gone so far as to get another girl pregnant****spoiler ends**** it still doesn't justify Gio and Bianca's actions. I really liked Gio in the first book but I think he really let himself down in this one. There is no justification for going after a close friend's girlfriend and even though you soon find out Gio has harboured a secret crush on her since high school it still doesn't get him a pass from me. Bianca also irritated me. She was depicted as being sweet and a little naive but even so some of her reactions to things made me scratch my head a bit ****spoiler begins****she had problems trusting Felix - due to the media attention he got photographed with other women very frequently. Although she has her suspicions (which do turn out to be true admittedly) she was too quick to ignore them at first. When Bianca does get confirmation of the cheating from Felix himself she is understandably angry but by this time she and Gio have been getting more than a little friendly themselves. She uses his confession to push Felix away so that she does not have to touch or sleep with him when Gio is around but why on Earth does she not just dump him then and go be with Gio if that is what she wants?? This bit really confused me as Bianca realises she wants Gio and although I do not agree with the cheating part, why would she then still keep up the charade of being Felix's girlfriend?****spoiler ends****
I think that the subject matter in Gio is always going to be a trigger subject for some. I had a hard time enjoying this book because of all the cheating, lying and sneaking around going on and although there were parts I still enjoyed (mainly seeing the rest of the gang), I could never really fully immerse myself in Gio the way I did with Noah. It is not even the cheating so much as it is the main characters inability to deal with what was happening between them. Bianca definitely had her head in the sand. She wanted Gio but didn't know what to do about Felix. Gio allowed himself to become the third party in their relationship so when he starts to question if Bianca may be using him as revenge on Felix (which she wasn't to be fair) I really couldn't feel sorry for him. Felix was a bit of a dog himself but I did feel bad for him that his girlfriend and very close friend were doing the dirty on him - double betrayal right there. I guess their actions are realistic but they still annoyed me with their carrying on.
Although I was annoyed when reading this book, I still really enjoyed Elizabeth Reyes storytelling abilities and she certainly has a talent for writing realistic characters (even if you want to slap some sense into them at times). I have to give her kudos as well for tackling the subject in a way that doesn't let the characters involved completely off the hook for their actions. I obviously wasn't as engaged with the love story in this like I was with Roni and Noah's in the first book but I am still looking forward to reading more in the series and will be swiftly moving onto Hector because I love that boy and I am looking forward to his story.