Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Illegal Contact by Santino Hassell

The rules of the game don’t apply off the field in this first Barons novel.

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…

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Book 1
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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

4.5 stars

This light and fluffy sports romance reveals a whole new side of Santino Hassell. There isn’t a hint of hipster, a touch of horror, or a whiff of urban fantasy in this relatively simple story about a football player and his blue collar personal assistant.

This is the first traditional, formulaic romance I’ve read by this author. The story itself isn’t terribly fresh or original. A sports hero meets an impoverished nobody and falls in love. As in almost every m/m sports romance, Gavin is closeted and risks losing his career if his secret is revealed.

However, while this is predictable and the tropes are a little tired, the story is saved by Hassell’s wonderfully drawn characters. The clash between Gavin’s privileged celebrity life and Noah’s basic struggles to pay the rent after college makes for great drama and fabulous banter.

Both of these two are more complicated than they first seem. Gavin is a closeted diva with a bad attitude and a huge chip on his shoulder. Noah has just as much of a chip on his shoulder but he needs the job as Gavin’s assistant desperately enough to put up with Gavin’s ridiculous demands. I loved watching Noah slowly worm his way into Gavin’s life as he earns his trust and ultimately, his affection. As Noah’s confidence grows, so does his personality and his attitude. Noah and Gavin are entertaining together and their chemistry is very hot.

This is the first book in a new series and we are introduced to a quirky and engaging cast of characters that I can’t wait to see in future books.

I have to say that I absolutely loved these two men. They were very different, yet alike in the most interesting ways.

Gavin is a 'jerk' or that's what everyone thinks of him as, but he really is this tender hearted, amazing friend who does things for people without wanting or needing anything in return, just because it is the right thing.

Noah is hilarious to follow as he goes from this stumbling and lost man to his fully sassy and funny normal self. The two of them are just... hilarious. It was a wildly amusing story.

Hassell has this crazy ability to make his characters so realistic with flaws that normal people have and struggle to deal with. The tension between the men was intense while their banter helped keep it from becoming too much.

I loved the secondary characters as well. It was great to see these other players help get Noah into the sport that is so important to Gavin while Noah shows Gavin there is so much more to life. I can't wait to see where this series goes.

I am not a big fan of books with sports in them but this one hit the mark for me. I loved Gavin and Noah. When football was being talked about I would skim the book, the story to me was more about Gavin, Noah, and Gavin's teammates. I enjoyed the secondary characters and can't wait to read their books in the series. I read this book in one sitting and I hated to see it come to an end. I will have to admit the line that sticks out the most to me was when Gavin asked Noah if he could just stick in the tip... I don't know why that line stuck with me but it did. LOL.

Mary Jo☆☆☆
The main character in this book, Gavin, identifies as bisexual but he never interacts with any females other than his agent. When he has a booty call, it's with a guy.

Gavin is the reigning bad boy of the NFL, having been suspended for a year by the league because of a road rage incident which also left him on house arrest for six months. Needing a personal assistant, he reluctantly hires someone. Noah is that someone.

Noah didn’t want this job, didn’t want to be a “nanny” to a celebrity but with his student loans coming due any day now, he doesn't have much of a choice.

The issues that have faced Gavin from childhood are many, but we never see any of them resolved or him interacting with many people outside his core group of friends.

This is the first book in a new series, and I will definitely be looking out for the next one. I love the way that the Baron world is introduced and how we get to know the setting for the story and the team very naturally all through the book. Much better than a surfeit of information in a block.

A sports romance, but with a good twist and two intriguing lead characters. Gavin's past makes an interesting focus when he and Noah first get to know each other, but best of all is Noah's lack of fandom – it is a fun way of getting the information to be revealed. Backed up with some solid support in Simeon, Marcus, Joe, Mel, and Jessica – who will, I'm sure, feature in future books – we get a really well-rounded story.

Thank you, Mr. Hassell, and please release book two soon!

Santino Hassell was raised in Brooklyn by a strict Catholic 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.

Connect with Santino

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Illegal Contact (The Barons #1) by Santino Hassell to read and review.

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