Down by Contact by Santino Hassell
5 Tell Him CROWNS
Santino Hassell delivers another must-read, sexy as sin, MM romance that I couldn’t put down, and while the first one had grittier tone, Down by Contact, because of Simeon has a much lighter feel while still tackling important social issues.
The chemistry between Simeon and Adrian is off the charts. Simeon has that charisma that entrances readers from the very beginning. He is affable, kind, and understanding. His heart is as big as his charming smile. What really makes me fall for this man is his understanding and need to allow Adrian to accept his sexuality and announce it publicly on his own. He never wants to push him, but he also demands respect for himself and what they are to each other. The balance creates one of my favorite Hassell heroes. Just as charismatic as Simeon is, Adrian is absolutely endearing. I love his boy-like demeanor and his constant humor. At the beginning, there are times that readers will want to punch him for his homophobic behavior and comments, but seeing it through the point-of-view of Simeon makes it forgivable, and his actions at the end of the novel seal the deal.
These two together are magic, pure and complete magic. They feed off of one another, making their banter some of the best I have read. Their chemistry, both emotionally and physically, is electric. They are so in-tune with each other, and I was either fanning myself or smiling ear-to-ear every time these two were together.
The pacing of Down by Contact is completely perfect. Santino Hassell has crafted characters who are lovable, sympathetic, charming, and he gives them time to grow, change, and evolve. Simeon gives Adrian space to realize on his own how he feels. He is understanding and compassionate. They talk and seek to understand each other, and through this readers see a couple start to form, making us fall in love with them as a couple as much as we with them individually. That ending, though, that ending had my grinning HARD. I was so proud of this character, so proud of them for owning everything. It is just PERFECT!
I adore this football world Santino Hassell has created. Each story has been sexy and entertaining while also tackling homophobic issues in the NFL as well as the world, giving readers romance with substance.
ARC received in exchange for an honest review.
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…
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I extended one arm so I could lightly touch the corner of his mouth. “You’ve got something right there.”
The dark wings of his brows crashed down in consternation, and a flood of conflicting emotions danced across his striking face, but none of them was indignant or annoyed or disgusted—the reactions I was used to getting from straight men when I touched them and they weren’t interested. Or sometimes even when I touched them because of interest that was obvious to me and not to their own selves. Denial was powerful in most men, but Adrián Bravo settled on intrigued.
I brushed the pad of my finger against his lips, wiping the syrup away even though it left the remnants of sticky residue. Touching his mouth sent my thirst into hyperactive overdrive, and my mind betrayed me. Filled with images of dragging him closer for a messy kiss where I used my tongue to get him clean right before dragging him to the bathroom to get really nasty.
Where was my common sense? My inner angel to tell me to stop craving this bastard just because he had a pretty face and, according to him, a talented dick? Hadn’t I learned my lesson? My dick going from half-mast to fully risen proved otherwise. I would absolutely go down on him in the bathroom if the opportunity arose. I could hate him even while he was in my mouth.
He wasn’t reacting as much as I wanted him to, so I dropped my hand next to his and upped the ante.
“You got some on your fingers too.”
“Yeah? You gonna get all mother hen on me about that too?”
He thought he was so cool and collected. It was kind of cute how much he underestimated my competitive spirit.
“Not quite mother hen, but . . .”
I grabbed his hand after a quick scan of the diner, and brought it to my lips. His arm locked up briefly, a spasm going through his fingers, but he didn’t fight. Not when I parted my lips, and not when I enveloped the syrup-covered digits with my mouth. I sucked the syrup off, suctioning harder than I needed to for the current situation, and flicked my tongue.
We locked eyes. There was no hiding how dilated his had become. The way his breathing had picked up, or the bouncing of his knee.
I slid my mouth off, leaving his fingers coated in saliva, and grinned.
“I won this round, Bravo.”
Adrián grabbed a napkin with trembling hands and roughly wiped his fingers.
“Yeah. I guess you did.”
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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…
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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.