Title: Illegal Contact (The Barons: Book One)
Author: Santino Hassell
Publisher: InterMix/Penguin Random House
Length: 259 Pages
At a Glance: Illegal Contact is definitely some of Santino Hassell’s best work. Go grab this one! It should absolutely be on your steamy summer reads list.
Reviewed By: Jules
Blurb: 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…
Review: When Santino Hassell announced he was doing a football romance, I couldn’t wait to get my hands all over it. I’m a giant sports romance fan, and a huge fan of Hassell, so I figured it was gonna kick ass. Verdict: It totally does. There’s action, snark, beautiful football players, a sexy PA, great romance, and, of course, tons of heat. Illegal Contact is one of my fave reads of 2017, so far. I basically read it in two sittings; it was impossible to put down. The premise, the characters, the story—every element is a total win.
As I said, I’m a lover of sports romances, but this one had a unique premise. The fact that one of the MCs is suspended and on house arrest for the entire book might make one wonder how Hassell was going to get the sports in there… Don’t worry. It’s in there. Illegal Contact is packed with plenty of testosterone. There are tons of football references, which I loved, since training camp just started, and I’m a huge football fan—Go Hawks!—lots of gym time, and an unforgettable and amazing scrimmage scene. We also get lots of time with Gavin’s teammates and best friends, Simeon Boudreaux and Marcus Hendricks, who are both fabulous. And, Gavin’s character is so well developed and well written that at the end of the day, I really did feel like I’d been in the head of an NFL athlete.
Gavin Brawley—how awesome is that name?—is SO fantastic. I loved him from the moment I met him, and more and more as the story went on. As the starting tight end for the New York Barons, Gavin’s is pretty much a household name. Unfortunately, though, it’s not really because he’s a fan favorite. People have unfairly labeled Brawley as an asshole, mainly because he doesn’t like talking to the press or ‘playing the game’ that other popular athletes play. He loves playing football, with every fiber of his being. The game he doesn’t want to play is all the bullshit his agent and manager want him to do to improve his image. Gavin could give a fuck about his image. At least, that was the case before Noah Monroe came into his life.
Desperate for a job, but unable to find a social work position, Noah applies for the job as Gavin Brawley’s personal assistant. It’s not what he went to school for, and definitely not something he would have typically chosen, but he has a mountain of debt, and his dad needs his help, so he sucks it up and takes the position. Noah is also amazing, you guys. And, he’s SO good for Gavin. They may dislike each other for the first month or so, and maybe Noah wasn’t excited about the gig, but the fact is, he’s very good at the job. When the sparks start to fly between the two of them, Noah has to decide if he can trust his own judgement, as this is not the first time he’s gotten involved with someone at work.
I love, love, love these guys together. The tension is fabulous. And, when they finally break down and go for it…. Oh. My. God. They’re on fire. But, it’s not just that their sexual chemistry is off the charts…they’re also just so much fun together. The snark and attitude early on, and the fact that they’re both completely unapologetic about who they are. Like all of Santino Hassell’s characters, they are so real and relatable. Noah shows Gavin the fiery Queens boy beneath the Clark Kent exterior, and Gavin shows Noah his vulnerability and his capability for caring. And, no one can resist #DatBrawleySmile.
Do not miss this book, guys. The writing is so fantastic and engaging. It’s everything you would hope for and more. I’m still a 5B girl, I don’t know what it will take to unseat Sutphin Boulevard as my all-time fave, but Illegal Contact is definitely some of Santino Hassell’s best work. Go grab this one! It should absolutely be on your steamy summer reads list.
You can buy Illegal Contact here: