In Review: Illegal Contact (The Barons #1) by Santino Hassell

Posted August 14, 2017 by Kim in 5 Stars, In Review / 3 Comments

In Review: Illegal Contact (The Barons #1) by Santino HassellIllegal Contact by Santino Hassell
Series: The Barons #1
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, LGBTQ
Publication date: August 15, 2017
Publisher: Penguin/InterMix
Format: eARC, 251 pages
How I got it: From the publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Buy it: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes
My rating:
Heat level: One FlameOne FlameOne FlameOne Flame

New York Barons tight end Gavin Brawley is suspended from the team and on house arrest after a video of him brawling goes viral. Gavin already has a reputation as a jerk with a temper on and off the field—which doesn’t help him once he finds himself on the wrong side of the law. And while he’s been successful professionally, he’s never been lucky when it comes to love.

Noah Monroe is a recent college grad looking for a job—any job—to pay off his mounting student debt. Working as Gavin’s personal assistant/babysitter seems like easy money. But Noah isn’t prepared for the electrifying tension between him and the football player. He’s not sure if he’d rather argue with Gavin or tackle him to the floor. But both men know the score, and neither is sure what will happen once Gavin's timeout is over…

I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

in review my thoughts

Despite having read and enjoyed Santino Hassell’s Cyberlove series, co-written with Megan Erickson, I’ve never made time to read any of the books he was the sole author of. Clearly this has been a huge oversight on my part. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve wanted to read some of his other books and I’ve even purchased them. It’s the actual reading of them that has tripped me up. As I was reading Illegal Contact, I realized what a mistake this was. I feel a binge coming on. I want to eat all his words.

Illegal Contact isn’t my first M/M sports romance and it isn’t even the first I loved. I won’t waste time comparing it to the others because they’re all so very different. It was real and gritty and I was totally addicted. Because these are adult characters and not the college-aged crowd I’m used to reading about in the M/M books I tend to gravitate towards, it was far less about figuring out and accepting who you are and more about just being that person.

This book just really worked for me. I loved the characters — when it was all said and done, anyhow. It did take some time for Gavin to grow on me. He was a bit too arrogant and self-centered for me in the beginning, but I came around. And, I mean, he also grew a bit over the course of the book. I was Team Noah from the start, however, and couldn’t wait for Gavin to realize he was, too. This book had a delicious slow burn that I loved and, if I’m being totally honest, some “other guy” scenes I didn’t appreciate quite as much. While those scenes definitely pulled me out of the story at the time, they didn’t do any real lasting damage to my opinion of the characters or the book.

As much as I enjoyed this book, as addicted as I was to the chemistry and banter — and eventually more — between Gavin and Noah, it shouldn’t be at all surprising I’m anxiously awaiting the second book, Down by Contact. I’m definitely looking forward to getting Simeon’s story. Assuming it’s as hot, sexy and real as Gavin and Noah’s book, I’m pretty likely to love it, too.


“Do I like football? No. I buried myself in books and make-believe worlds to escape my childhood. But do I understand why other people care so much about it? I guess you can say I do now. If I learned anything from meeting you, it’s that.”

“Fuck good ideas. I’m tired of imagining how your tongue would feel in my mouth.”

“How do you expect me to keep my mitts off you when your kisses always feel like invitations to tongue baths and blow jobs?”

He was so addictive. Like candy. Or drugs. One taste of him had me fiending and my heart beating out of my chest.

“Football isn’t the only thing that’s held me together. And it’s not the only thing I love.”

About Santino Hassell

Santino Hassell was raised by a conservative family, but he was anything but traditional. He grew up to be a smart-mouthed, school cutting grunge kid, then a transient twenty-something, and eventually transformed into an unlikely romance author.

Santino writes queer romance that is heavily influenced by the gritty, urban landscape of New York City, his belief that human relationships are complex and flawed, and his own life experiences.

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Which Santino Hassell book(s) should be next on my list?

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