Review: Illegal Contact by Santino Hassell

August 7, 2017 Adult, Book Review 7 ★★★★½

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

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Illegal ContactIllegal Contact by Santino Hassell
Published by Intermix on August 15th 2017
Genres: Adult, LGBTQ, Romance
Format: ARC
Source: Netgalley
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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…

Santino Hassell is surely becoming a must-read for me when looking for a M/M romance. I’ve previously read his Sutphin Boulevard novel, as well as the first couple books in the Cyberlove series co-written with Megan Erickson and I’ve enjoyed each and every one. Illegal Contact grabbed my attention instantly and easily became my favorite from the author so far!

Our two male leads couldn’t have been more different from each other. On one side you have Gavin, the burly football player who comes off as angry and standoffish when you meet him. The public eye sees him as a one dimensional dangerous and violent football player after a fight with a college student was caught on tape and earned him 6 months of house arrest. Turns out he had good reason for the fight, but in an effort to not out his friend and himself as well, the details are kept private. On the other side you have Noah, a Clark Kent looking, broke college grad hoping to break into social work in the LGBT community. Noah is incredibly smart, thoughtful, but also a no-nonsense type that won’t take any sass from Gavin without dishing it right back. I didn’t expect a sort of enemies to lovers trope but it very much felt that way in the beginning and I was all for it! The sexual tension between these two built and built into a slow burn, dying to be let loose and I was not disappointed when it did. Their romance was HOT and sizzled on the pages.

Unfortunately their romance couldn’t be easy. Sure it flourished behind the closed doors of Gavin’s house arrest but as Gavin was still in the closet, they were unsure what their relationship would do to his football career, a career that meant so much to him. I really enjoyed how this part of the story played out. There are all sorts of factors playing into their relationship and I loved how they all fit into the storytelling to make their love worth fighting for. The ending was absolutely perfect and so well done by wrapping up one story and opening the door to another in the form of one of Gavin’s football player friends. I cannot wait to see what his story can bring in the sequel! Illegal Contact is a deliciously sexy romance not to be missed!

About Santino Hassell

Santino Hassell was raised by a conservative family but grew up to be a smart-mouthed, school cutting grunge kid, a transient twenty-something, and eventually transformed into a grumpy introvert and unlikely romance author with an affinity for baseball caps. His novels are heavily influenced by the gritty, urban landscape of New York City, and his desire to write relationships fueled by intensity and passion.

He’s been a finalist in both the Bisexual Book Awards and the EPIC Awards, and was nominated for a prestigious RITA award in 2017. His work has been featured in BuzzFeed, Huffington Post, Washington Post, RT Magazine, and Cosmopolitan Magazine.

Sara @ Forever 17 Books

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