Illegal Contact (The Barons, #1)
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…

Illegal Contact (The Barons, #1) Details

TitleIllegal Contact (The Barons, #1)
Author
FormatKindle Edition
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseAug 15th, 2017
PublisherInterMix
Number of pages251 pages
Rating
GenreRomance, M M Romance, Sports and Games, Sports, Contemporary

Illegal Contact (The Barons, #1) Review

  • ~✡~Dαni(ela) ♥ ♂♂ love & semi-colons~✡~
    May 21, 2017
    ~4.25~Please note: gratuitous pictures of American football players will be included in this review. Because obvious reasons. Gavin Brawley lives and breathes football. He's known for being lethal and fast, not for his winning personality. Gavin has anger-management problems. He grew up in the system and knows how to fend for himself. He lets few people in and has no fucks left to give. The last thing Gavin needs is a personal assistant. But he's stuck in his empty mansion for six months with an ~4.25~Please note: gratuitous pictures of American football players will be included in this review. Because obvious reasons. Gavin Brawley lives and breathes football. He's known for being lethal and fast, not for his winning personality. Gavin has anger-management problems. He grew up in the system and knows how to fend for himself. He lets few people in and has no fucks left to give. The last thing Gavin needs is a personal assistant. But he's stuck in his empty mansion for six months with an ankle bracelet, and not the fashion kind. Gavin's under house arrest for punching a dude in the face after chasing him down in his car. There's a story there, but the media doesn't care. Everyone wants to paint Gavin as the violent tight end with a "hardscrabble" past whose temper is even more intense than his game. Noah just needs the money. He lost his job for sleeping with the boss (there's a story there too) and is living with his dad, who's also recently unemployed. Noah doesn't like football. Or football players. But he'll put up with Gavin's crap for six months so he can pay down his mountain of debt. It wasn't fair for him to look this good and to have a dick that big. Life was ridiculous. Except Noah gives as good as he gets. He calls Gavin on his bullshit and tries hard not to ogle his sexy tight end. Gavin wants Noah, but Gav's a closeted, bisexual athlete; he's used to hiding his hookups, and Noah is off limits. Santino Hassell can write the hell out of anything. This book is told in an alternating first-person POV, with each MC given a distinct voice. The dialogue is brilliant and quite humorous at times. Illegal Contact isn't sweet or fluffy, not really, but it is SEXY and real and entirely engaging. "I do love football, but I love you more. And your ass is less likely to decide I'm too old once I hit thirty-three." The slow burn and UST slayed me. The guys don't get together until 70 percent, but there's definite attraction from the moment they meet. Gavin hires Noah because Noah doesn't care that Gavin's a famous athlete; he's not in awe of Gavin, and he's not easily cowed. He has no interest in football. That changes once Noah gets to know the real Gavin, who's more lonely and vulnerable than he lets on, and meets Gavin's teammates and friends: Simeon (closeted and gay) and Marcus (straight but not narrow). It's different when you're cheering for real people. Even though it takes a while for the men to hook up, the emotions run high. And once Gavin kisses Noah, it's all systems go. Damn but can Santino write a sex scene. SIZZLE, baby. Gavin is a MACHINE, and uptight, buttoned-up Noah is needy and wanton in bed. SO FUCKING HAWT, I can't even. I loved how complex the MCs were. We really get to see what makes Gavin and Noah tick. The secondary characters are also fully fleshed out. Gavin's manager doesn't like that Gavin is bi and tries to interfere with Gavin and Noah's relationship (Joe's a douche, but he has Gavin's back). Noah's friend Jasmine is funny and supportive. And Simeon and Marcus are just AWESOME (I hope Simeon's story is next!). The ending is a tentative yet hopeful HEA. Not all problems are wrapped up in a neat little package, and I was okay with that. There's definitely some angst here, a separation, tears, and hurt feelings. But I didn't mind. "Who's gonna put that smile on your face when you're not with me anymore?" . . . ."Nobody," he whispered. "You ruined me for anyone else." What I minded was Gavin hooking up with someone other than Noah halfway through the story. The scene is not on page, but Noah HEARS Gavin going at it and later sees Gavin kissing the other man in the kitchen. That's when Gavin's all, Surprise, I'm bi. I almost DNF at that point. I was all kinds of ragey (see my status update below). In the end, I'm glad I stuck with it, although I don't think that scene was necessary, like at all (there's some spin-off drama with the hook-up, but this really could have been handled another way). It's saying something that I'm rating Illegal Contact 4+ stars despite the hook-up bullshit. I'm still giving Santino the major side eye, but I can't deny that I kind of loved the hell out of this story. Maybe it was #ThatBrawleySmile.
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  • Judith
    May 30, 2017
    4.5 Stars.This book definitely shows how versatile Santino Hassell is an Author.-He can do pnr with the brilliant Stygian,-He can do real life,gritty stories with the Five Boroughs Series,-He can do something a bit softer and very sexy with Illegal Contact.Gavin is a NFL player,under house arrest for an altercation.He's definitely not into the celebrity lifestyle ....he's not into social media,....he doesn't really care what opinions people have of him.....he's grumpy,unapologetic and the last t 4.5 Stars.This book definitely shows how versatile Santino Hassell is an Author.-He can do pnr with the brilliant Stygian,-He can do real life,gritty stories with the Five Boroughs Series,-He can do something a bit softer and very sexy with Illegal Contact.Gavin is a NFL player,under house arrest for an altercation.He's definitely not into the celebrity lifestyle ....he's not into social media,....he doesn't really care what opinions people have of him.....he's grumpy,unapologetic and the last thing he wants is a P.A. invading his life.Noah is a bit of a geek with a whole lot of sassiness.Fired from his previous job, for an indiscretion he's got no intention of repeating,he's back living with his father.Add into the mix he's got mounting debts,he needs a job .....and fast.He's got zero interest in football,in fact he's got no idea who Gavin is when he goes for the job interview.So sparks definitely fly between these two.Gavin's not about to change his ways anytime soon and Noah certainly isn't going to put up with any crap from Gavin.The banter between them was just brilliant.There are more layers about these two men as the story unfolds.....Gavin grew up in the system and wants to give something back to kids in a similar situation he was in growing up.And Noah is definitely not a push over and starts to get very protective over Gavin.This is a slow burn but (sometimes ), and definitely here the sexual tension is just as hot as the actual act.This Author is a master at creating some of the most sexually compatible characters and Gavin and Noah are no exception.This is set to be a fantastic series by one of my absolute favourite MM Authors...Highly Recommended.I received an Arc of Illegal Contact from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
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  • Maria✦❋Steamy Reads Blog❋✦
    July 12, 2017
    ➦Well, this was a new side to Santino Hassell! This book was super playful and sexy and I loved it to bits. I usually expect something more... raw and emotional from this author but this novel is pretty lighthearted and made for a perfect fast-paced weekend read!➦A football quarterback gets in trouble with the law and has to be on house arrest for a certain number of months. He holds interviews for a PA position to help him out with mundane tasks. I hate grocery shopping too, yet I have to do it ➦Well, this was a new side to Santino Hassell! This book was super playful and sexy and I loved it to bits. I usually expect something more... raw and emotional from this author but this novel is pretty lighthearted and made for a perfect fast-paced weekend read!➦A football quarterback gets in trouble with the law and has to be on house arrest for a certain number of months. He holds interviews for a PA position to help him out with mundane tasks. I hate grocery shopping too, yet I have to do it cuz everyone is always so god damn hungry. F**k grocery shopping, seriously.➦How dare these mundane tasks take me away from writing reviews. Ok, back to it. So what happens when a certain sexy arrogant guy comes for an interview and tells our QB off...? They end up living under one roof for 6 months, that's what. ➦I really love books about relationships that have an expiration date on them. With a PA position being a temporary thing and the fact that being in an open gay relationship could harm this QB's career, could these two guys have a future together?➦Boy, were these two hot together! And totally perfect for each other! I also loved all the secondary characters and I can't wait to read the next installment to this awesome new series.
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  • Lana ❇✾Dirty Girl Romance❇✾
    July 10, 2017
    4.5 STARS Gavin Brawley was one of the most unlikeable people I’d ever met, and yet my brain had no problems conjuring images of us naked, sweating, and doing the unmentionable. Is it any wonder that I'm obsessed with everything Santino Hassell writes? The man weaves literary magic with his newest series. A grumpy football star with a chip on his shoulder and an anger management problem meets his match with a preppy Clark Kent looking nerd and his newest PA and sparks fly! A witty, swoony and 4.5 STARS Gavin Brawley was one of the most unlikeable people I’d ever met, and yet my brain had no problems conjuring images of us naked, sweating, and doing the unmentionable. Is it any wonder that I'm obsessed with everything Santino Hassell writes? The man weaves literary magic with his newest series. A grumpy football star with a chip on his shoulder and an anger management problem meets his match with a preppy Clark Kent looking nerd and his newest PA and sparks fly! A witty, swoony and ridiculously sexy romance, Illegal Contact was pure perfection!New York Barons tight end Gavin Brawley has a chip on his shoulder a mile wide. Growing up dirt poor orphan in the system ensured his anger management problems and football provided him his sanity. He's focused all of his anger, all of his desire and drive into being the very best, and he certainly is. Football loves him, but the public hates him. It the court of public opinion, he's violent, dangerous, and a menace to society. After a recent fight lands him on house arrest and out of the sport he loves so much, his agent insists that he gets a PA to get his life in order. The last thing Gavin wants is somebody in his business 24/7. Only his closest two friends know of his bisexuality and he doesn't need a meddling assistant interfering with his life. He likes it as it is.Noah Monroe is up to his nose in school loans and when a scandal costs him a job he loved and his father gets laid off, he's desperate. So desperate that he allows his friend into interviewing for a position he has no interest in. Noah has no interest in football nor does he like the grumpy giant glaring at him from the couch during his interview. Letting his smart mouth and frustration get the best of him, he thinks he's blown his chance at the only decent job on his horizon, he gets the surprise of a lifetime when Gavin himself calls to offer him the job.Noah and Gavin are polar opposites. Noah is openly gay and Gavin hides his bisexuality from the public in fear of losing his football contract. But beyond that, Noah is sunny to Gavin's dark clouds. Noah dislikes football and football has been Gavin's life and sanity. They shouldn't get along. But beyond the snarky barbs and insults, they begin to form an unwilling friendship that sizzles with an electric sexual chemistry.Illegal Contact is very much a slow burn romance, and it was utterly delicious. I loved seeing Noah slowly but surely unwittingly work his way under Gavin's skin. I loved the way he wove his way into Gavin's soft side and got to see a side of him that only his two closest friends have ever seen. But what I loved most of all was slowly getting to that warm and fuzzy center hidden beneath a concrete wall of anger and muscle of Gavin's.As for the chemistry between these two? Through. The. Roof. HOT. Nobody,” he whispered. “You ruined me for anyone else.” I wanted to cry, but I power-fucked him instead. I was relentless. I was goddamn ruthless. And he loved every second. With his elbows pressed into the bed for leverage, Noah rocked up to meet me every time I pulled out and rammed back into him. This is easily the most romantic book that Hassell has written to date and I loved every page of it. It was angsty, emotional, with a splash of his signature grit, and absolute perfection. I simply cannot wait for more in this series!ARC courtesy of publisher in exchange for an honest reviewFind me on:
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  • ~Mindy Lynn~
    May 24, 2017
    I'm a sucker for a MM sport book. Especially a Football one since that is my sport of choice. There wasn't much actual playing going on, but I didn't mind. I like the idea of a big hot Football players getting dirty with another attractive guy just as much and SH surely delivered that. #ThatBrawleySmileGavin is a NFL player who has recently got himself in quite a bit of trouble when he is caught on film having a physical altercation with a man. This incident lands him on house arrest for six mon I'm a sucker for a MM sport book. Especially a Football one since that is my sport of choice. There wasn't much actual playing going on, but I didn't mind. I like the idea of a big hot Football players getting dirty with another attractive guy just as much and SH surely delivered that. #ThatBrawleySmileGavin is a NFL player who has recently got himself in quite a bit of trouble when he is caught on film having a physical altercation with a man. This incident lands him on house arrest for six months. He can deal with that, but what he can't deal with is also being on athletic suspension that leaves him sitting out a whole season. Gavin lives and breathes Football. It is the only thing that saved him growing up and on the field is where he comes alive. But he's not your usual show boating Football player. No. Gavin doesn't care about his persona or how the media see's him. He has anger issues and a temper that gets the best of him. He also is brash and unapologetic. He is snarky and sarcastic. And I adored him. Being on house arrest in his huge Hampton mansion and unable to leave the place has put Gavin in a position he isn't quite happy with. That position is having to hire someone to be in house and in his space. He isn't comfortable with that. He doesn't believe he needs a PA, but soon realizes he has no choice. Enter Noah... He's just the match off the field that Gavin needed. Noah was recently fired from his job. To say he is having financial problems would be an understatement since he to had to move back home to help his father financially since he lost his job as well. He is desperate to find anything and when his friend tells him about a PA position he applies for it. He doesn't really know what the job will require of him or who exactly he will be working for but he is willing to do anything to get out of his debt and to help his father. What he didn't expect is to work for a grumpy, short tempered, overpaid jock. Noah is full of sass and he's funny, smart, loyal, and can give no f's that his employer is some huge NFL star considering Noah has no love for the game or it's players. Well, expect maybe this player. The sexual tension between the men was intense. The banter was entertaining. The relationship that builds between the two men was a slow burn that I would gladly watch go up in flames over and over again. Both characters are flawed and raw. They both have a realness to them that Hassell always creates with his characters. I absolutely loved this story and I can't wait for the next one. This is going to be a series I will follow to the end. Happy reading dolls! xx ***ARC kindly given to me by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review***
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  • Rachel Reads Ravenously
    July 14, 2017
    4.5 stars! “I’m your boss. You’re my assistant. We’re not anything else.” Gavin Brawley is one of the NFL’s biggest players, and after an assault charge he’s been confined to his home for six months, monitored by an ankle bracelet. Being benched means Gavin needs to hire an assistant to manage his entire life, something he’s not exactly happy about.Noah Monroe is in desperate need of a job, after him and his father lost theirs they need to make ends meet. The last thing Noah wants is to be a 4.5 stars! “I’m your boss. You’re my assistant. We’re not anything else.” Gavin Brawley is one of the NFL’s biggest players, and after an assault charge he’s been confined to his home for six months, monitored by an ankle bracelet. Being benched means Gavin needs to hire an assistant to manage his entire life, something he’s not exactly happy about.Noah Monroe is in desperate need of a job, after him and his father lost theirs they need to make ends meet. The last thing Noah wants is to be a PA to a cranky NFL player, but despite his reservations, he takes the job. Tension is high between the two of them, and things don’t start off smooth. But the more time they spend with each other, the better it gets until a tentative friendship and mutual respect is formed. “Better to have an insolent nerd with no interest in football than a kiss-ass fan who will tell all to all their friends.” Illegal Contact is the sports romance you’ve been waiting for! Football is never my first choice (like ever), so I was surprised when I ended up loving this football romance. Well, I shouldn’t have been because Santino Hassell is everything that’s good in the MM romance genre. The voice he gives to his characters is so strong, Noah and Gavin felt like real people to me, one’s I could turn my head and talk to.This is an I hate you/I love you kind of romance. The beginning starts out with much badgering and barb trading, but I loved the journey from dislike to mutual admiration. They always say there’s a thin line between love and hate and this book encapsulates that phrase excellently. I loved Noah and Gavin equally, neither one of them got on my nerves at any point and I was rooting for them both to get what they want.This is the next big series in MM romance, so you’d be an idiot not to pick up this book! “You are trustworthy. And I’m tired of always hiding.” ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review Follow me on ♥ Facebook ♥ Blog ♥ Instagram ♥ Twitter ♥
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  • Ele
    May 25, 2017
    5 stars!This book had all the potential to become an overdone MM cliché, with the standard alpha male football player, and the damsel in distress twink who's stuck with him as his PA. Except it wasn't. Because Santino Hassell y'all.Gavin: Sarcastic, grumpy, loyal, lonely, distrustful, giving. He's Noah's "gorgeous blond cat" .Noah was a huge surprise. Snarky, witty, smart and hard working. But not perfect. Noah's flaw was that he broke his own work ethical code and now he's doing it again with 5 stars!This book had all the potential to become an overdone MM cliché, with the standard alpha male football player, and the damsel in distress twink who's stuck with him as his PA. Except it wasn't. Because Santino Hassell y'all.Gavin: Sarcastic, grumpy, loyal, lonely, distrustful, giving. He's Noah's "gorgeous blond cat" .Noah was a huge surprise. Snarky, witty, smart and hard working. But not perfect. Noah's flaw was that he broke his own work ethical code and now he's doing it again with Gavin, so basically he's in a constant fight with himself before he gives in. Noah was Gavin's equal. He called him on his bullshit from the word go. He outsnarked Gavin and kept him in check. He steadily made himself indispensable. This is one of the two reasons this book stole my heart.The second reason is the last 20%. I loved the last part of this book so much I want to marry it. It slayed my life. Because passion, intensity, delicious angst, scorching hot sex, decisions, and so many feels. And right when shit hits the fan and I thought "oh man, not this", the characters' reactions surprised me once more. The conflict is real, nothing manufactured about it, and I loved the way the characters communicated and actually talked before making decisions.I was afraid that under the circumstances, the ending would be somewhat lukewarm. But no. It's fireworks and joy. It's real and fabulous. But my guess is that we 'll see more of #DatBrawleySmile in the future.The secondary characters are well crafted and in need of their own story. I can't wait!Very highly recommended!
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  • .Lili.
    January 3, 2017
    My first reaction when I heard about Illegal Contact by Santino Hassell was:Sports Romance Santino Hassell style!Add the opposites attract factor-It was on! And this book didn't disappoint!The story starts off with Gavin being under house arrest for getting into a physical altercation. He's got a bad boy reputation- cocky, volatile, and unrepentant. During his house arrest, it's decided he needs a personal assistant. Someone to run his errands and keeps his affairs in order. His enthusiasm at h My first reaction when I heard about Illegal Contact by Santino Hassell was:Sports Romance Santino Hassell style!Add the opposites attract factor-It was on! And this book didn't disappoint!The story starts off with Gavin being under house arrest for getting into a physical altercation. He's got a bad boy reputation- cocky, volatile, and unrepentant. During his house arrest, it's decided he needs a personal assistant. Someone to run his errands and keeps his affairs in order. His enthusiasm at having a stranger in his home is about as high as watching his team play without him- not much- that is until Noah walks in to interview for the job. Noah who's not afraid to go toe to toe with Gavin. Noah interviewed for the job for one reason only: money. Having recently lost his job, student loans and the added pressure of helping his dad get back on his feet forced him to take the position he's dreading working. What ensues is a high level of UST, snark, romance, heartbreak, and a fabulous end.My highlights:-Gavin. Underneath the thorny exterior lay a man who was lonely and reading his evolving feelings for Noah gave me butterflies. -Noah. Sassy, snarky, loyal Noah. He disliked Gavin from first sight but as the different layers of Gavin began to unfold Noah couldn't help but fall. -UST. This is probably one of the best slow burns I've read. It kept me engaged and on my toes. I was glued and dying for them to get together. -The secondary cast of characters was all kinds of awesome even a particular man who made me see red.-The dialogue. It was natural and funny. It flowed seamlessly. -The climax/conflict. It broke my heart- because I'm sure it happens. It made me rage at the unfairness. -The end. Sigh, talk about healing a girl's heart and making it sing with joy. The end brought forth a smile and all kinds of mushy feelings. I also want to give a special shout out to what I consider: "The Best Last 30% of a Book." The last part of this book was jammed pack with all the feelings you want have when reading a romance novel. It was stupendous. You guys, I can't recommend this enough. Santino Hassell again has delivered complex, flawed characters that make us swoon. I just can’t get enough of his raw, edgy romance style. 5 Stars!**Review cross-posted soon at Gay Book Reviews.
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  • Pavlina Read more sleep less blog❤❤
    May 15, 2017
    5 AMAZING stars ❤I have read before books from Santino Hassell but this is my first from him alone and I can't help myself from being blown away by his beautiful writing and awesome characters!Illegal Contact is a story of passion, tension,slow burn and temptation. It has everything I wanted in a story, amazing plot,slow burn,super hot and sweet romance.Another thing that I loved about this story is the fact that the characters felt realistic! Gavin and Noah's relationship is complex, both of th 5 AMAZING stars ❤I have read before books from Santino Hassell but this is my first from him alone and I can't help myself from being blown away by his beautiful writing and awesome characters!Illegal Contact is a story of passion, tension,slow burn and temptation. It has everything I wanted in a story, amazing plot,slow burn,super hot and sweet romance.Another thing that I loved about this story is the fact that the characters felt realistic! Gavin and Noah's relationship is complex, both of them are so different.Gavin is cocky and in the begining a little bit angry and dificult so I don't blame Noah for not liking him at first.On the other hand we have Noah who is sweet,cute and smart. I freaking loved their romance, it's so intense and the slow burn is perfect.There are some really hot moments between them!Overall it was a sweet,passionate and romantic!I highly recommend it to everyone!!    
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  • Jaime
    May 30, 2017
    Illegal Contact is book one in Santino Hassell's newest series, The Barons, and this story may well be one of his most romantic yet! When I started this story, I had no idea where Mr. Hassell would go with the storyline, rest assured his first venture into sports romance is a huge success - Super Bowl worthy!The MC in our story are football superstar, The Barons tight end, Gavin Brawley and Noah Monroe, a recent college grad looking for a job when he interviews to be Gavin's personal assistant. Illegal Contact is book one in Santino Hassell's newest series, The Barons, and this story may well be one of his most romantic yet! When I started this story, I had no idea where Mr. Hassell would go with the storyline, rest assured his first venture into sports romance is a huge success - Super Bowl worthy!The MC in our story are football superstar, The Barons tight end, Gavin Brawley and Noah Monroe, a recent college grad looking for a job when he interviews to be Gavin's personal assistant. You see, Gavin has found himself on house arrest in his Hamptons mansion and will be unable to leave the property for several months - he is also on a suspension from The Barons while he serves his sentence out. This is what leads the secretive man to bring an assistant into his life and home. I don't think he planned on meeting his match; someone who wouldn't  bow-down, didn't  think he was a god, and couldn't careless about football. It's quite hilarious as we watch these two scrimmage for top dog.The immediate desire and attraction between these two is evident to the reader, even if the characters take a little bit to catch up. This lapse just makes the UST practically jump from the pages of the book as you can imagine our guys vibrating with need...yet, trying to fight it. As with most forbidden things, all it takes is just one taste and these two are on fire!!"He was so addictive. Like candy. Or drugs. One taste of him had me fiending and my heart beating out of my chest." These two make their own little bubble and the time of Gavin's punishment moves quickly. When the real world starts to encroach in their happiness, hard choices have to be made and secrets have to decide to stay secret or come into the light.  Mr. Hassell appropriately dedicated this book  "For the scared, the closeted, and the hopeful" and all of these realities play out for Gavin and Noah. Gavin has to make a choice and risk losing football, the only thing that has held him together in his life...or he can choose to stay closeted and lose Noah, the man he has fallen in love with."I do love football, but I love you more. And your ass is less likely to decide I'm too old once I hit thirty-three."Could he hope that maybe he will get to keep the man and the sport? Would that be too much to ask...you are going to have to read this amazing book to find out!I thoroughly enjoyed this book from beginning to end. The romance between our MC was not smothering; yet, it was clearly evident to all who were around them. Noah was the reason that #ThatBrawleySmile existed and Gavin wanted nothing more than to keep Noah in his life and his bed. A bed that got a LOT of action as our guys tore up the sheets and shook the walls down during their hot as hell sex scenes! Just a warning some parts of this book may make you blush profusely if you read in public!5+ Stars for this amazing story, I adore Gavin & Noah and am sure you will as well! I can't wait for the next book in this exciting series! Review Copy of Illegal Contact provided by Intermix for an honest Review.
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  • Sarina Bowen
    March 11, 2017
    Loved it! So honored to get an early copy. Bring me more Barons!
  • J *deep in the heart of Texas*
    June 5, 2017
    4.5 Stars!Sometimes, when I'm having a really shitty day and I want to feel even worse about myself, I'll go on NetGalley and request books I'll likely never be approved for. *insert Illegal Contact*So imagine my surprise when I got an e-mail saying I was approved for this one. Merry. Freakin'. Christmas. To. Me. And THANK YOU Berkley Publishing Group.What could be better than a new Santino Hassell book (that's not paranormal :))....well duh, a Santino Hassell book about football! I found this b 4.5 Stars!Sometimes, when I'm having a really shitty day and I want to feel even worse about myself, I'll go on NetGalley and request books I'll likely never be approved for. *insert Illegal Contact*So imagine my surprise when I got an e-mail saying I was approved for this one. Merry. Freakin'. Christmas. To. Me. And THANK YOU Berkley Publishing Group.What could be better than a new Santino Hassell book (that's not paranormal :))....well duh, a Santino Hassell book about football! I found this book to be a cross between his collaboration with Megan Erickson and his Five Boroughs series. It didn't have the grit and heaviness of the Five Boroughs series, but the characters were still very Santino raw and real. It also wasn't as high angst as some of the Five Boroughs and Cyberlove books. Hmm, you know what.....it was pretty perfect. I was a little afraid I might not like my friend Gavin. But he came through when it mattered. Can't wait for Simeon's book! ARC kindly provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
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  • Wendy
    June 1, 2017
    I am a sucker for geeks, jocks and sports themed books, so I just knew this one was gonna be a big hit for me.....and since I am always right...I loved the story, the MC's and the sidecharacters !!Gavin Brawley is a famous football player...a tight end to be precise. He is also snarky, growly and has some anger management issues. These issues are actually the reason for him being on house arrest with an ankle bracelet, for the next 6 months.Since Gavin is not real good at taking care of himself I am a sucker for geeks, jocks and sports themed books, so I just knew this one was gonna be a big hit for me.....and since I am always right...I loved the story, the MC's and the sidecharacters !!Gavin Brawley is a famous football player...a tight end to be precise. He is also snarky, growly and has some anger management issues. These issues are actually the reason for him being on house arrest with an ankle bracelet, for the next 6 months.Since Gavin is not real good at taking care of himself and not able to go anywhere, he is forced to hire a PA.... He ends up hiring Noah...Noah is a bit of a geek, he has lost his previous job, because his boss was an asshole and he  is drowning in debt. He needs a job stat !These two really don't get off on the right foot. Now Noah might not like the arrogant football player,  but money is money and he is seriously lacking... So he can suck it up for the next 6 months.....he hopes.Being cooped up together in Gavin's big mansion, these two slowly get to know each other and they realize, that first impressions aren't always right. They actually end up being friends...Now Gavin has known Noah is gay from the beginning and he has even flirted with him, but Noah didn't take any of it seriously... He should have though, because Gavin is not as straight as Noah thought he was, and when the truth comes out...all bets are off !! These two really had it going on ;) "You'd let me come in you ?" "Use you intil I fill you up?" I loved that this book didn't have any insta-love. You could really see the two of them growing closer.... I also loved the last chapters. There isn't a huge HEA, nore like a HFN and a very realistic one. I loved it and I loved how these two suprised me near the ending.....especially Gavin.I can't wait for the next book to get here. Highly recommended !!!And thank you Vir for the awesome buddyread !! You rock <3 I received an ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This review has been posted on Dirty Books Obsession
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  • Jewel
    June 1, 2017
    Illegal Contact illustrates exactly why I love Santino Hassell's writing. He writes with a realism and grittiness that never feels trite. And, it would seem, that no matter what genre he is trying out, when I sit down to read his words, I lose time. Gladly.I'm not a sports fan. At all. I don't watch football, hockey, or any other sport. And much like Noah, I find football payers to be overpaid gladiators. But I get that, for some, football is as close to religion as they get. It's more than a lo Illegal Contact illustrates exactly why I love Santino Hassell's writing. He writes with a realism and grittiness that never feels trite. And, it would seem, that no matter what genre he is trying out, when I sit down to read his words, I lose time. Gladly.I'm not a sports fan. At all. I don't watch football, hockey, or any other sport. And much like Noah, I find football payers to be overpaid gladiators. But I get that, for some, football is as close to religion as they get. It's more than a love or a hobby or a competition. I don't watch sports, but I do enjoy a good sports romance. Even overpaid gladiators deserve happy endings and, well, when it comes down to it, we all love what we love, be it football or Star Trek or whatever else.I loved Illegal Contact. Loved. Both Gavin and Noah felt real and flawed and so well drawn. And their cautious beginning all the way to their HEA just drew me in. It very easily could have bored me, considering that the setting is pretty much just Gavin's mansion, but it didn't bore me at all. I found the characters - primary and secondary, alike - to be interesting and the story compelling. And the last quarter, or so, just killed me ded. Just f'ing wow. The passion. The feelz, people! So, football -- Gavin Brawley has a reputation of not having any fucks to give, regarding to how the general public views him. Football is his life and as long as he can play, he doesn't care what anyone says or thinks about him. You see, Gavin grew up in the system, and if it weren't for football getting him out of there, who knows what would have happened to him. Well, with his anger management issues, we can guess that it would not have been good. After growing up where he did and then seeing just how everyone treats him like he isn't even a real person, Gavin simply does not trust easily. There are too many people out there that would try to get a piece of him, just for kicks and cash. And I can't imagine what that must be like. He doesn't have many friends, just a couple guys on his team are it. To everyone else, he is a commodity or entertainment. Which brings us to Noah Monroe. I loved Noah. I loved how Noah couldn't care less about football or that his prospective employer was an NFL player. I loved how he spoke his mind to Gavin and also how his assumptions about Gavin were so far wrong. Noah, like everyone, assumed that Gavin was a bully and that working for him would probably not be worth the trouble. But, Noah needed the job and he was not afraid of a challenge. Even when it felt overwhelming.Noah hasn't always had good judgement, though. Goodness, no. His previous employment ended after he had an affair with his boss. His boss turned out to be slimy and well, he slithered out of any consequences, while Noah ended up out of a job. But Noah is ready to put that behind him and work for Gavin for 6 months to give him some cushion so that he can look for work in his chosen field of social work. Through Noah, I fell in love with Gavin. Noah brought out the human being in Gavin. Not that it wasn't there before, but no one had ever really bothered to look or give Gavin any incentive to show that side of himself. In reality, Gavin was a guy who gave a damn about the kids in the system that wrote to him, he just didn't know how to really show it. And Gavin is loyal to the people he cares about. Fiercely loyal and protective. You just won't find a more stand up guy, in that regard. And because Noah went out of his way to treat Gavin like a real person and would give as good as he got with the snark and was never afraid to speak his mind, Gavin wanted more of that. Wanted more of Noah.And. I. Loved. It. Every word, every page. Santino Hassell got it right -- again. ---------------------ARC of Illegal Contact was generously provided by the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Mirjana ***Let's Sound It Out - - - Mary-On-A***
    January 5, 2017
    I will read the words that he writes.
  • Vir
    June 2, 2017
    I am still delighted. I just finished Illegal Contact and the magnificence of what I have read and the way I felt reading it is unbelievable.I know this story won't work the same for everyone. I mean, Im using the word "delighted" here... and I know reading is a very subjective thing. Each one of us has different tastes and, fortunately, a lot of books to choose. But, for this reader, Illegal Contact was an amazing story so elaborate and so simple at the same time that I was completely in tune I am still delighted. I just finished Illegal Contact and the magnificence of what I have read and the way I felt reading it is unbelievable.I know this story won't work the same for everyone. I mean, I´m using the word "delighted" here... and I know reading is a very subjective thing. Each one of us has different tastes and, fortunately, a lot of books to choose. But, for this reader, Illegal Contact was an amazing story so elaborate and so simple at the same time that I was completely in tune with characters, the plot and the writing. The highest rate for this brilliantly written super slow romance.This is not the typical geek-meets- jock book. It's not your usual enemies-to-lovers story. It is both but none at the same time and is Santino Hassell who makes the difference.I am not particularly a sports books fan. I read them as well as I could read rockstars books or serial killer stories... and what I want to say with this is that you will love this book even if you don't know a thing about football. As you will see, Noah has zero knowledge about it and he is so cute, I may die.And that said,  the important thing here is that I LOVED THE BOOK! I'm totally and utterly in love with Gavin and Noah. So different voices, so distinctive POVs. So... So... So... (I have no words and, that, coming from me, is saying a lot)At first, I didn´t know if it was the writing, the characters introduction or just the vibe of the book, but it looked terrific since the very first pages and this awesomeness I´m talking about is present all the way to the HEA.Gavin. The dark one. The moody. The angry guy. The poor kid and the rich and problematic adult. The cocky football player. The conflictive celebrity. The sarcastic jerk. The closeted bisexual hottie.He is all this. But also, Gavin the loyal friend. Gavin the helpless kid abandoned at birth. He is a complex and intense character. But all his hostility is melted with a compassion off the charts. He is a contradiction himself and a very beautiful and enjoyable one. The perfect definition probably comes from Noah " Gavin. The meanest player in the league, according to the media, but the one with the most agrgressively overprotective and caring heart "Noah. The geek. The sweet. The dreamer. The more-poor-than-the-rats social worker. The smart-ass gay from Queens. The nerdy savior. And beneath all the sweetness and well being there is also a brave guy who faces whatever life through at him. And he has a temper too. A big one I must say. Gavin refers once to him as " ball of resentment and anger " and also as " sexy-ass geek with an attitude ", and he was very accurate with both expressions if you ask me. He is warmth personified. Hotness and warmth. He is so kind and sexy. So smart and funny, and totally adorable... Sighs, sighs, and more love sighs.The millionaire jock and the crusader geek seems incredibly different at first sight, but you can see since the beginning they are not. They fight for the same reason in life. Well, that's not true. One of them fights and the other shields all his feelings behind an ugly shield of resentment, anger, imbecility and sarcasm. Yup. Gavin is a jerk, and I felt in love with him right after his first line so, maybe I am a bit messed up but is impossible not to love him.Both of them grew up poor and unhappy (even though Noah had a family who loved him) and that fact is the nexus between them. Noah's way out of that unhappiness was becoming a social worker to help underprivileged groups (gays mostly) and Gavin's out was football. Noah decided to do it to be capable to save other people, Gavin did it to save himself. But in the end of this journey, both wants the same. Both are unselfish and altruistic. And two incredible, deep and "rich" characters.The dialogues are fluid, natural. They are funny as hell. The book is riddled with fantastic conversations and smart-ass comebacks (mostly from Noah). The humor in Illegal Contact is superb.I've been highlighting like crazy all the reading. I was mad because I knew I couldn't use all my marked quotes and that´s the reason I´m not quoting (even if I´m suffering for it). The thing is the highlights made pretty clear to me that it was being an amazing book. And it was. Till the last word I read.This is a super slow romance. Very, very slow. In my case, it worked perfectly because most of the times I prefer the banter,, the chasing, the unresolved sexual tensión tan the sex itself. And this book has it all, so when you finally get to the sex... well, I´m just saying, it worth every minute of intensity, glances, jelousy and awesome conversations.So, thank you Netgalley for the copy. Thank you Santino Hassell for the perfect book and, thank you Wendy, for the buddy read. For being there all the way, miles away from me (literally and figuratively because you are the Flash of the books) but hearing my crazy ideas and insight about Gavin and Noah.Highly recommend! This review has been posted on Dirty Books Obsession
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  • Eliza
    June 6, 2017
    Where has this author been all my life?! F*cking loved! Review to follow. 
  • CrabbyPatty
    May 17, 2017
    When football is your salvation and your entire life revolves around football ... being on house arrest during football season is hell. Gavin Brawley is not your cordial congenial football "personality" who makes nice with broadcasters and fans. ("My personality was enough to detract from my looks, and always had...") He's brutal and focused on the field, fiercely loyal to his football family and everything else is a distant second. Yup, he's an asshat but damn it, he's overcome a lot of serious When football is your salvation and your entire life revolves around football ... being on house arrest during football season is hell. Gavin Brawley is not your cordial congenial football "personality" who makes nice with broadcasters and fans. ("My personality was enough to detract from my looks, and always had...") He's brutal and focused on the field, fiercely loyal to his football family and everything else is a distant second. Yup, he's an asshat but damn it, he's overcome a lot of serious shit and he's still standing.Noah, a nice guy with no job or car, a huge student loan and issues, becomes Gavin's PA out at his ridiculously huge Long Island estate, despite not having a clue who he is and not being particularly fond of his attitude: "You get paid to play a game," I repeated. "You're not a savior of the people. You're an overpaid jock." [Gavin:]"And yet you're over here trying to get a job running errands for this overpaid jock."Illegal Contact is a long, slow hot burn as these two dissimilar men spend time together, at first begrudgingly with a side of belligerent and then moving into a friendship and then (finally) something more. I love how it takes time for their relationship to develop and their dynamic is alternately sizzling and kinda sweet. There's a steamy physical relationship here but it feels more relaxed and less angsty than those in the "Five Boroughs" series: "...my miserable ass really fucking liked him. In the hand holding kind of way, not just the ass-pounding way. Although I wanted to do that too."There's a lot of issues to overcome for this pair; Gavin's in the closet, at least until he's done with football and Noah's got issues having to do with a relationship with his former employer and doesn't want the same with Gavin: Noah wants the full "Brawley treatment. Hard and demanding and ruthless as he took me. I wanted it - probably more than I'd ever wanted anything expect to pay my damn student loans - but I couldn't."In a nutshell ... I straight-up frickin' loved Illegal Contact and can't wait to read Simeone's story in the next book. 4.5 stars.I received an ARC from the Publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.Review also posted at Gay Book Reviews - check it out!
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  • Avon Gale
    May 28, 2017
    Review to come but basically this is PERFECT
  • Melissa
    June 14, 2017
    I was provided an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.OMG!! No epilogue? Santino, are you trying to kill me? Tisk, tisk - that oversight deducts a half star rating, leaving this at 4.5. I live for epilogues, I crave epilogues!! To just end Gavin and Noah's story without (view spoiler)[showing Gavin returning to the football field after his house arrest is over, or showing the fallout from Gavin coming out as bisexual and in love with a man, to not give me MORE is just...just wrong I was provided an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.OMG!! No epilogue? Santino, are you trying to kill me? Tisk, tisk - that oversight deducts a half star rating, leaving this at 4.5. I live for epilogues, I crave epilogues!! To just end Gavin and Noah's story without (view spoiler)[showing Gavin returning to the football field after his house arrest is over, or showing the fallout from Gavin coming out as bisexual and in love with a man, to not give me MORE is just...just wrong! (hide spoiler)]Okay, little rant over with. :-D Now, Gavin and Noah - Noah and Gavin. How cute was Noah? Seriously, he was no wilting flower here and the fact that he is not a football fan and therefore not star struck being so close to THE Gavin Brawley made him such a snarky and "takes no shit from anyone" MC that I wanted to just jump up in the air (with fist pump too) and scream - "You tell him, Noah!" Gavin knows he is fortunate to be able to play pro football, he is fully aware of the fact that few players ever make it to the big leagues. He had a rough life growing up and it's made him leery of people who want to just take advantage of him. When Gavin's friend and fellow team mate gets into a tricky situation with a "hookup" and a cell phone video, Gavin gets into trouble and is sentenced to house arrest for 6 months. Enter Noah Monroe, a young man who recently moved in with his dad to help support him (his dad lost his job) and also finds himself looking for employment. When he is called in to interview as a personal assistant, he had literally no idea what he is getting himself into. He doesn't even know who he will be working for, LOL.These two do NOT get off on the right foot and it was snark at first sight, hehe. Watching these two banter back and forth, with Noah clueless at first as to the fact that Gavin is checking him out, I was simply captivated and soooo wanted to skip ahead to see these men finally get it on, but I resisted. Gavin is attracted to Noah and doesn't want to be, firstly because Noah works for him and he doesn't want Noah to feel as if his job is on the line. Secondly, Gavin knows that he is becoming dependent on Noah helping him be organized during his house arrest and if things go south between then, Gavin is going to be alone.But all that doesn't matter when Gavin becomes jealous of Noah's friendship with a local mechanic, and Noah is simply a goner when he realizes Gavin isn't as straight as he thought (view spoiler)[Noah hears Gavin having wild sex with what he assumes is a woman, but then he sees the man come to the kitchen after and give Gavin a big kiss. Yep, Gavin not so straight. :) (hide spoiler)]Finding they can't fight their feelings anymore, they both agree to have a secret romance during Gavin's house arrest. And it's all so amazing and perfect and right, and Noah and Gavin are so happy!! Yeah, that doesn't last because Gavin's manager finds them together and has a total shit fit. Noah's eyes are really opened to the fact (with the managers help) that Gavin is in the closet and they have been living in a bubble during his house arrest. What does Noah really see happening once Gavin returns to the field? Certainly not Gavin proudly showing Noah off to all his teammates and the rest of the public. Noah doesn't want to live in the closet, but he isn't going to force Gavin into outing himself either. (view spoiler)[Yep, breaking up is hard to do. And they are both miserable. They have both declared their love for the other, and they know how they feel - but reality doesn't care about feelings. They mutually separate with much tears and goodbye sex. Gavin has admitted that he loves football more than Noah, but it's not until he loses Noah that Gavin sees he is wrong. He loves Noah way more than he ever loved football, and he goes and gets his man! By outing himself to an online news reporter he has worked with before. Noah and Gavin reunite, and then it's The End!! I was so mad! I just needed a little bit more. Why couldn't there have been a short epilogue, or just something more. A small 5 sentence paragraph would have sufficed. You know, it could have even been written as a news article or something: "Noah Monroe - a constant supporter and fan of his long time boyfriend, Gavin Brawley, was seen cheering in the stands as Gavin makes the winning touchdown. It was clear that Gavin immediately sought out his boyfriend in the stands and heedless of those watching, blew him a kiss." Now, that wasn't hard, was it Santino? (hide spoiler)]
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  • Corina☞BookTwinsReviews
    June 4, 2017
    OMG, omg, omg, omg, omg!!!!I can't believe this happened.It's so rare to find a book that hits me right were it counts.There is this elusive unicorn in the book world, a book that is perfectly balanced, emotionally grabbing, funny and flirty, with genuine and likable characters, AND it makes me want to read it again, and again, and again.Illegal Contact (The Barons #1) by Santino Hassell was just that.Heart-meltingly beautiful, utterly satisfying and total perfection.Illegal Contact is a footbal OMG, omg, omg, omg, omg!!!!I can't believe this happened.It's so rare to find a book that hits me right were it counts.There is this elusive unicorn in the book world, a book that is perfectly balanced, emotionally grabbing, funny and flirty, with genuine and likable characters, AND it makes me want to read it again, and again, and again.Illegal Contact (The Barons #1) by Santino Hassell was just that.Heart-meltingly beautiful, utterly satisfying and total perfection.Illegal Contact is a football M/M novel about a mean son of a bitch tight end Gavin Brawley and his PA.Not only did the blurb check all my boxes it also promised an unique plot. A PA that would turn his boss's life upside-down. I love the strong willed and smart mouthed assistant that has no trouble standing up to the boss. A no-nonsense attitude, with a strong-willed personality does it for me every time.  And that's exactly what Noah Monroe was.And I LOVED him for it!!!From the very first sentence I was enthralled by Gavin and Noah, and utterly invested in the plot. The back and forth, the sexual banter and flirting, the final culmination had me vibrating with excitement.When everything works, when a balance has been struck between plot line and romantic tension, and when characters are so easy to fall in love with - I'm in book heaven.Gavin was deliciously bad. He was the mean one on the field and off the field. He could have cared less about what anyone thought of him. All he lived for was football. Fans and media equally feared and love-hated him. They appreciated his raw talent and his dedication to the team but were also repulsed by his explosive rage and aggression and easily condemned him for it.But that's exactly what I loved about Gavin's character. He had a personality that stood out from the crowd with a fuck-you attitude that has always been kryptonite for me.And OMG Noah. My darling!!! He was the apple of my eye. He was a nerdy and hotter version of Clark Kent. A perfectionist and unwaveringly committed to Gavin. His loyalty, tenacity and devotion endeared him to me from the very first sentence. Noah took part of my heart and didn't give it back. I imagine that's how Gavin must have felt. :DThe combination of a nerdy Noah and an athletic power house like Gavin was unbelievably sexy, fascinating and riveting. I started this book and ended it without leaving my chair. It's very seldom that a book speaks so deeply to me, but I had an  idea that it would. The first time I read an excerpt of Illegal Contact I knew I had to read this book. Because I fell hook, line and sinker.I'm ecstatic that Illegal Contact was just the first book of a new series by Santino Hassell. And now I can't wait to read Simeon's story - he was a complete darling and a very naughty boy.ARC generously provided in exchange for an honest review.For more of my reviews:My Blog: Happily Ever AfterFacebook Blog PageTwitterSubscribe to Blog
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  • Sue (Hollywood News Source)
    June 13, 2017
    Illegal Contact is just the perfect romance to get me out of my slump. I just love it so much.The story follows football player Gavin who's in a house arrest for six months, because of a brawl. He's a closeted bisexual. Even though, he wasn't out to the public it wasn't portrayed as this big looming secret he has to hide and protect. He wasn't ashamed to be bi and he has very supportive friends. I like that aspect. Another favorite part of mine is the supportive characters, I wouldn't mind a nov Illegal Contact is just the perfect romance to get me out of my slump. I just love it so much.The story follows football player Gavin who's in a house arrest for six months, because of a brawl. He's a closeted bisexual. Even though, he wasn't out to the public it wasn't portrayed as this big looming secret he has to hide and protect. He wasn't ashamed to be bi and he has very supportive friends. I like that aspect. Another favorite part of mine is the supportive characters, I wouldn't mind a novella about Marcus and Jasmine. I'm also excited to see Simeon's story, he's such a funny character.ALSO I LIKE GAVIN A LOT. LOWKEY WEAK FOR CHARACTERS THAT DIDN'T HAVE NOTHING BUT HERE WE ARE. Romance: It's a hate-to-lovers trope. Santino did that again. I love how he writes tension and unfiltered sex scenes. 10/10 would recommend this.
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  • ~Kristin~
    June 14, 2017
    5 StarsI just finished and I absolutely loved, LOVED, this book!!RTC... **ARC kindly provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review**
  • Pixie
    May 9, 2017
    This review is about to be spoilery as fuck so stop reading if you don’t want me to give EVERYTHING away.The thing I have determined I like the most about Hassell’s writing is he’s clearly a man that gets people. He understands what the “romance” reader wants and gives it to you…just not in the way that’s typical of the genre. I’ll be honest I groaned when I saw that his new series was going to be a sports themed, footballer book. Overdone was my immediate thoughts. On paper I can see how this b This review is about to be spoilery as fuck so stop reading if you don’t want me to give EVERYTHING away.The thing I have determined I like the most about Hassell’s writing is he’s clearly a man that gets people. He understands what the “romance” reader wants and gives it to you…just not in the way that’s typical of the genre. I’ll be honest I groaned when I saw that his new series was going to be a sports themed, footballer book. Overdone was my immediate thoughts. On paper I can see how this book was sold, “edgy” football player who grew up in the system on house arrest for assault, bisexual with a gay best friend. OH THE RAGE, alpha male, textbook anger issues….on and on. Then P.A. twink with a heart of gold. And technically that is the book…well except Noah’s no twink but I’ll get to that.The thing that makes even the most basic, over done m/m romance different is how Hassell writes the characters. Noah and how he wrote him made this book for me. Out of the two characters I think he was the most unexpected and the depth that Hassell wrote into him was amazing. Noah was the standard “good” character. He earned a degree in social work and through an unfortunate turn of events has probably burned a bridge towards working in a field that has earned him a ton of student loan debt. Add in a father who has recently been laid off he’s the “sweet one” you root for. He’s the one with the heart of gold. For all practical purposes in m/m he’s also the “weak” one. Noah was written beautifully in that fact that while yes, he is a good person, yes he tries and often succeeds in doing the right thing he also has a fault. We find out early that Noah had a sexual relationship with his previous boss, it became known and he was fired. Internally he struggles with his attraction to people who often hold power over him, bosses and we even find out later on he had relationships with two of his professors, when he starts to fall for Gavin. He’s aware of this behavior, understands how self-destructive it is, attempts to not fall into his usual traps & ultimately fails. I personally thought this was genius because throughout the book there were points where it would have been easy to fall back and let Noah be the victim. Let him not take ownership of his career mishaps, convert him to the role of vulnerable weak twink. Unfortunately I find that typically that robs a character of their masculinity for some reason. Something about how Noah was written allowed him to not only seem like Gavin’s equal but actually kept him more as the man in charge in my mind. Gavin…he was the asshole I love to…honestly love. Gavin’s a lot of the guys I grew up with so his sarcastic silence is appealing to me. I got the Gavin smile thing, people don’t understand when you grow up like he’s grown up sarcasm and anger end up being a default. The thing I liked about him is that Hassell actually made him the more vulnerable one. He kept putting himself out there for Noah to claim, understanding that Noah needed to be the one to choose. He understood the power dynamic between the two of them and was conscious of the fact that for things to balance out Noah had to choose him. I also adored that Hassell kept things real with how the football and bisexuality weren’t something that was going to allow for an easy HEA or HFN. There was no insta-luv here. It was two grown ass men who due to random circumstances fall for each other. They didn’t go in thinking “oh I love you so we can overcome this”. Honestly I don’t think the two of them even thought things through until they were deep into it and then had to think like adults. The adult conclusion was it couldn’t work. Gavin was an NFL player and unfortunately could not be with a man. The two didn’t have a falling out. Noah wasn’t blindsided. No one was at fault, it was life, and the two tried to make a very hard decision which was to part ways. Now we all know I am of the camp that I don’t particularly think a romance with no HFN or HEA isn’t a romance. And we all know I have been rooting for Hassell to be the author to buck that trend. And at around 70% I thought this was going to be the book he did it with….and I was going to track his ass down and force him to write me the ending I deserved had he done so. While the HFN wasn’t the typical epilogue of they reunite, get engaged, married, buy a dog and adopt a baby I thought again it was super realistic. I’m about to reread this damn book so I’m sure I’ll update my review later. And to end on an uber fangirl note “if I could I would give this book ALL the stars”
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  • TheCrazyWorldOfABookLover
    June 9, 2017
    Sweet and funny, though pretty predictable. Full review to come.
  • Jordan
    June 27, 2017
    WOW! WOW! WOW!! 5+ Stars for Santino's best novel yet! And that's no exaggeration. Aside from the Director's Cut ICOS books, this is by far Santino's best. I don't know what's in that Texas water, but oh boy, it's freaking working. Illegal Contact was so sickeningly sweet and romantic at times that I had to put the book down and regain control of myself. I'm sure we all know Santino's skill at writing some downright sexy as hell erotica but this was just pure romance and it was beautiful!The fi WOW! WOW! WOW!! 5+ Stars for Santino's best novel yet! And that's no exaggeration. Aside from the Director's Cut ICOS books, this is by far Santino's best. I don't know what's in that Texas water, but oh boy, it's freaking working. Illegal Contact was so sickeningly sweet and romantic at times that I had to put the book down and regain control of myself. I'm sure we all know Santino's skill at writing some downright sexy as hell erotica but this was just pure romance and it was beautiful!The first chapter honestly had me on the fence about Gavin. He was angry and frustrated and really just acted like he was one second away from blowing a gasket at all times. But, of course, Santino is the master of all characters complex and messy, so I knew that there had to be more to Gavin than that. And I was right. Gavin was a rising NFL star and the Baron's starting tight end with a sexy grin and an attitude. Unfortunately, his loyalty to his team (his family) had a way of getting him into trouble. On house arrest after being sentenced for Assault, Gavin was unable to leave his giant 9k sq. foot mansion located out in the middle of buttfuck nowhere. Enter Noah, the cute as hell social justice warrior and Clark Kent look-alike. Noah was feeling on the fence about working for the Football player as his personal assistant but he really needed the money and he was facing increasing debt from school loans, credit cards, and the recent addition of his father's expenses. Despite being his employee, Noah isn't afraid to tell Gavin like it is and tell him to go shove it when he's being an idiot, which it turns out, really turns Gavin on. Who'da thought?Noah and Gavin start a bickering, rough, and avoidant kind of flirting, each trying to push the other enough to make them give. But what started as a game quickly became more for both of them. The kind of romance that Gavin and Noah had was painfully hilarious and sweetly serious all at the same time. Gavin knew just how to push Noah's buttons to make him react and Noah knew just how to set Gavin off in all the sweetest ways. The romance in this one kind of sneaks up on you, too. 60% through and I could feel the attraction to each other but I had no idea it was going to turn out to be this kind of romance. The last 15% or so reveals a completely new side to Gavin that I hadn't even known was there. This is by far one of Hassell's best books and a must-read if you're a fan of his other works!These last two books that Hassell has written have really made me smile because it seems like he's getting his mojo back and I love it! These characters were everything that I hoped for and more! I can't wait to get my hands on book 2 of this series but I know I'm going to have a long wait ahead of me. For now I'll just have to make do with Gavin and #DatBrawleySmile, amiright?
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  • BWT (Belen)
    May 24, 2017
    I loved Noah and Gavin, their friends, the plot set up, the banter, pretty much everything...Gavin Brawley's entire life is football. He's brutal on the field and known for his caustic personality. In short, he's an asshole. I wasn't charming or endearing like other pro football players who earned millions in endorsements. Gavin has some anger issues and, when he defends his best friend (and quarterback) Simeon from a blackmailing punk, he winds up on house arrest.When Gavin's forced to hire a I loved Noah and Gavin, their friends, the plot set up, the banter, pretty much everything...Gavin Brawley's entire life is football. He's brutal on the field and known for his caustic personality. In short, he's an asshole. I wasn't charming or endearing like other pro football players who earned millions in endorsements. Gavin has some anger issues and, when he defends his best friend (and quarterback) Simeon from a blackmailing punk, he winds up on house arrest.When Gavin's forced to hire a personal assistant he ends up choosing Noah Monroe, who's broke in a bad way, up to his eyeballs in student loan and credit card debt, and desperate for job. Even if that means working temporarily for someone who's as big a dick as Brawley.But sometime between initially disliking each other and giving each other shit, they become friends, and then more. Noah becomes one of the people Gavin can really count on. Seeing how this relationship plays out is spellbinding. He loved my shows of force. Loved when I took him instead of having him. Each bruising grip and impatient shift a promise to fuck him within an inch of his life. The dual POV is terrific, and Santino is brilliant at fleshing out his characters, and not just the main characters, but all the secondary characters too. Gavin and Noah's relationship is complex, the story is pretty much no romance for the first half, followed by some delicious UST, and then the relationship hits around three-quarters through. The pacing in this is brilliant. The story itself is gritty, realistic, sexy as all hell, and just about perfect. "You ruined me for anyone else." The only thing that marred the perfection, for me, was that the HFN / tentative HEA, which left me thirsty for more! I need it!I can hardly wait for Simeon's story in Down By Contact !Advanced Review Galley copy of Illegal Contact ( Barons #1) provided by Berkley Publishing Group via Netgalley in exchange of an honest review.This review has been cross-posted at Gay Book Reviews.**~~**~~**~~**~~**~~**~~**~~**~~**~~**~~Initial thoughts: I'm thinking 4.5 stars...it would be five, because I loved Noah and Gavin, their friends, the plot set up, the banter, pretty much everything...except the ending. I'm dying here, Santino! How could you leave me hanging like this?? I need more info! I need more! This HFN / tentative HEA, has left me thirsty for more!
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  • ♥~♥Geri Reads ♥~♥
    May 2, 2017
    ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
  • Andrea
    June 9, 2017
    Listen, I don’t even like enemies to lovers that much but this is Santino Hassell so I read it anyway. AND IT WAS SO GREAT OK. I devoured this in a few hours, I didn’t even sleep. Gavin and Noah make my heart happy. Gavin is a grumpy, distrustful, bisexual football player for the New York Barons who’s under house arrest for beating someone up. He lives and breathes football, and after growing up in the foster care system he has some anger issues. After sleeping with his boss, Noah is fired, livi Listen, I don’t even like enemies to lovers that much but this is Santino Hassell so I read it anyway. AND IT WAS SO GREAT OK. I devoured this in a few hours, I didn’t even sleep. Gavin and Noah make my heart happy. Gavin is a grumpy, distrustful, bisexual football player for the New York Barons who’s under house arrest for beating someone up. He lives and breathes football, and after growing up in the foster care system he has some anger issues. After sleeping with his boss, Noah is fired, living with his dad, and looking for a job. He is so knee deep in student loans debt he’ll even suffer for six months as a personal assistant to Gavin’s grumpy ass. Like I said, this is enemies to lovers’ trope. The reason I’m not a huge fan of this is because I think most of the time it’s done wrong. Like one person in the relationship has all the power and it borders on abuse. BUT THIS WAS SO GOOD. Noah doesn’t like football (he doesn’t even know who Gavin is when he meets him), he doesn’t take Gavin’s shit, and he call him out on all his crap, I love him. Also, this story is filled with tension. This is the ultimate slow-burn romance. By the time they finally got together I thought I was going to combust. These two characters have so much chemistry and their dialogue was natural and funny.The secondary characters are very fleshed out, and I am dying to read Simeon’s book. Sadly it doesn’t come out until next January. Anyone who likes romance books needs to try Santiano’s books because they’re all pretty amazing. Okay? Okay. Thank you to Netgalley for this review copy. -----------------------I DON'T EVEN LIKE ENEMY-TO-LOVERS AND I LOVED THIS
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  • Julie (*Happily Ever Chapter*)
    June 27, 2017
    3.5 starsI originally heard of Santino Hassel from the Cyberlove series that he co-wrote with Megan Erickson. I absolutely love that series so I've been giving more and more of his books a try. I LOVE his "The Community" series, so I jumped on this one as soon as I saw it. Illegal Contact is the first book in a brand new series called The Barons. The Barons are a football team in the NFL. We all know how much I love a good sports romance, especially when it's a sort of enemies to lovers story!No 3.5 starsI originally heard of Santino Hassel from the Cyberlove series that he co-wrote with Megan Erickson. I absolutely love that series so I've been giving more and more of his books a try. I LOVE his "The Community" series, so I jumped on this one as soon as I saw it. Illegal Contact is the first book in a brand new series called The Barons. The Barons are a football team in the NFL. We all know how much I love a good sports romance, especially when it's a sort of enemies to lovers story!Noah was definitely my favorite. He doesn't take anyone's crap and fiercely loyal. He is also really funny and caring. I did like Gavin too, but he took a while for me to warm up to. I like a grumpy MC with a soft side, but it took a while for that soft side to show. He can be a real ass sometimes but he's a very protective and loyal friend. Gavin also has some anger issues and a short temper. These guys had some really intense sexual tension, but they have a very slow burn relationship and it takes a long time for things to actually happen. That's not normally a bad thing for me, but I don't love when other lovers are thrown in someone's face. Of course, that's just a personal preference. They weren't even close to being together or anything but they were already lusting after each other pretty hard. When we did get to the steamy scenes between the two of them, they burnt up my Kindle. lol! They had great chemistry together. I actually really liked that it took a while for them to physically get together because it let them get to know each other more and care about each other. Gavin was such a prickly person that it took a while to break down those walls, and it was really worth it when they did.Even though I had a couple little issues with this one, I still really enjoyed it and can't wait for the next one! There are some great secondary characters in this one that I can't wait to learn more about, ahem, Simeon! I need Simeon's story! lol* I received an ARC of this title via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. *
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