Review: Santino Hassell – Down by Contact (The Barons #2)

Author: Santino Hassell
Reviewer: Barb
Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group InterMix
Genre: Contemporary

Rating: ★★★★★ 


Two rival football players begin a game with higher stakes than the Super Bowl in this steamy romance from the author of Illegal Contact.

Simeon Boudreaux, the New York Barons’ golden-armed quarterback, is blessed with irresistible New Orleans charm and a face to melt your mama’s heart. He’s universally adored by fans and the media. Coming out as gay in solidarity with his teammate hasn’t harmed his reputation in the least—except for some social media taunting from rival linebacker Adrián Bravo.

Though they were once teammates, Adrián views Simeon as a traitor and the number-one name on the New Jersey Predators’ shit list. When animosity between the two NFL players reaches a boiling point on the field, culminating in a dirty fist fight, they’re both benched for six games and sentenced to joint community service teaching sullen, Brooklyn teens how to play ball.

At first, they can barely stand to be in the same room, but running the camp forces them to shape up. With no choice but to work together, Simeon realizes Adrián is more than his alpha-jerk persona, and Adrián begins to question why he’s always had such strong feelings for the gorgeous QB…


From the moment I started this story of two rival football players in the world of Illegal Contact, I was swept along by the author’s creative use of simple words to create complicated emotions and bring us an exciting, heat-inducing, enemies-to-lovers, coming out story that had me riveted to my e-book reader from the first page to the last.

Yes, there are other stories out there with similar themes, and I’ve read many MM romances in which a major NFL, NBA, or NHL star is outed, harassed by paparazzi, rejected by friends, family, and/or teammates. The man may have been clueless up to this point in life, but something or someone sparks his libido and he realizes he’s gay or bisexual and struggles with self-acceptance, with the relationship itself, and or with other factors that impact the relationship. This story actually falls into that category and yet it’s so much more. The characters seemed larger than life and I cared about both of them, especially Adrian, the character-most-likely-to-offend, from the moment the story opened. Simeon, bestie of Gavin and Marcus, whom we met in Illegal Contact, is the kind of character any reader would like. Sweet, sexy, caring, concerned, more than willing to work with the teens at the center where he and rival player, Adrian Bravo, are assigned after their skirmish on national television and their follow-up social networking comments.

Beneath Adrian’s façade is a guy who finds Simeon sexy and fun to be with and it takes a while for that façade to crack and reveal the real person within. It’s difficult to describe how much I enjoyed the story, the pace, the just-right amount of sexy times, and the heartwarming scenes of deep communication and camaraderie between the two men. Santino Hassell hit all the notes in this one and brings us a fantastic romance that’s difficult to put down. Highly recommended.


Berkley Publishing Group – Intermix 

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