Review: Illegal Contact by Santino Hassell


The Barons #1

As is well documented on this blog, sports romances are definitely my thing. Even though I basically follow no sports aside from hockey in real life, in books, I really enjoy them. Even when they aren’t romances honestly. I was super glad to be able to get to read Illegal Contact by Santino Hassell a bit early and people, you are in for a treat.

Gavin Brawley lives up to his last name. He is a bit of a brawler both on and off the football field, where he plays tight end for the New York Barons. Unfortunately, a recent off the field brawl has left him under house arrest and suspended for several football games. He is going stir crazy and unfortunately, his personality is already a bit rough. Add in his anger with being away from the field and his boredom, and well, Gavin is a very volatile personality.  Unfortunately, his personal business is also falling apart while he is on house arrest since he doesn’t worry about paying the bills. Enter Noah, a recent college graduate looking for some easy money. This job should be easy, even if being around Gavin is not easy. He is hot as heck but his personality leaves much to be desired.

As the old saying goes though, time does help and in this case, the more time Noah and Gavin spend together, the more Noah comes to understand Gavin a bit more. He becomes a lot more sympathetic to Gavin’s house arrest when he learns the real reason behind it too. And frankly, it helped me as a reader too because I hadn’t been too sympathetic to Gavin.

Santino Hassell does a good job of really digging into Gavin’s character though. There are the moments one expects, like learning Gavin has a rough background, but is doing what he can to help kids in the same situation. There are also surprises in the story, enough so to keep the pace of the book moving forward and to prevent either character from becoming cliches.

I was a bit uncertain of Noah honestly. He seemed quite judgmental about Gavin but the more I read, the more I understood that Noah was carrying a lot of baggage into this new job. His last job ended badly, really badly in fact. Noah’s passion is social work and helping others but unfortunately, his last job didn’t quite pan out when his relationship with the boss ended. Noah was heartbroken on many levels and that I could relate to. So to say he is wary of getting involved with Gavin, his employer, is putting it mildly.

There is a great tension between these characters. I liked watching Noah become part of Gavin’s world, starting to understand and appreciate football and the hard work Gavin puts in every day. This was a slow starter of a story for me but in the end, I quite enjoyed it.

Santino Hassell definitely has a way with words when it comes to dirty talk and phew, the love scenes are striking. There is a very, very palpable chemistry between Gavin and Noah. One of my favorite scenes in the book actually isn’t a love scene but is rather when Gavin is playing a game of football at his house during a party that Noah organized. Gavin cannot take his eyes off Noah and I just felt… WOW. This is it. This is the chemistry I look for in a romance.

Illegal Contact is a great start to The Barons series and I am excited to read more from Santino Hassell.

If you’d like to read a fun excerpt from Illegal Contact, follow the link!

Other reviews:

Smexy Books

Diverse Reader

Fiction Vixen

ARC provided by publisher for review.


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