Illegal Contact (Barons Novel, Book 1)
by Santino Hassell
5 #DatBrawleySmile CROWNS
I found Santino Hassell as a writer through the Cyberlove series he co-writes with Megan Erickson, and while I have gone on to buy the Five Boroughs books, I’ve yet to dive into a book written solely by this author. Like I expected, though, he didn’t disappoint. Santino Hassell brings an authentic and realistic voice to the MM romance world, and I devoured Noah and Gavin’s story, not just because of the romance but also because of the personal journey of these characters.
These two together are great. The bantering, the sexual tension, and the aggression between them sets up an epic build to an eventual emotional and sexual release. This rising action has more purpose then to build of the physical aspect of their relationship; it is also serves to expose what motivates and drives these characters. Readers get to see what is behind Gavin’s surliness, and they get to witness what holds Noah back. Readers also get to see what truly caring for others looks like not only with Gavin and Noah but also their friends. The logic and maturity they show when facing their future is one that is heartbreaking and sad (it will make readers want to scream over how ugly the world is), but once again exemplifies how much these two care for one another. The people these two evolve into as a result of their time together just serves to exemplify how love and companionship makes a person better, more complete and more fulfilled in his/ her life.
One of the reasons I am an avid Santino Hassell fan is the voice her delivers with each story. The dialect he uses for the characters rings with realism, the integration of current trends and allusions to current events connects readers to the characters and worlds he creates, and his books bring to light real issues that plague the LGQBT community. He doesn’t shy away from the ugly or the hurtful, but his books also show incredibly strong characters with the fortitude to face the ugly for the person he/she loves. There is no truer example of this than Illegal Contact. The added celebrity of Gavin only serves to magnify the issue since the public feels the need to weigh in on his life and choices. Even with the realistic aspect of his stories, I have always found that his endings not only give the characters an HEA they deserve, but it leaves readers with a hope for the future, for a better day where we can all be supportive and accepting of each other and focus on the aspects of a person that actually matter.
I’m in love with this new series from Santino Hassell. The entire cast of characters are fantastic, and Gavin and Noah (especially Gavin) stole my heart! I cannot wait to come back to this new world he has created.
ARC received in exchange for an honest review.
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 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.