Review: Down by Contact by Santino Hassell

Down by Contact
(The Barons #2)
by Santino Hassell
Publisher: Intermix
Publication date: Jan. 16, 2018
Genre: M/M romance

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…



Wow. I’ve read an enemies to lovers stories before but Santino Hassell took it to a whole new level with this novel. To say that these two hate each other would be an understatement. When Simeon was first drafted into the NFL he was a player for the Predators. While the other guys on the team were hostile, Adrián was always nice to Simeon. He looked up to Adrián and considered him a mentor. However, when Simeon was traded to the Barons, Adrián started talking a bunch of trash about him. Even worse, when Simeon came out as gay, Adrián went full-blown aggressively homophobic on him, verbally attacking him both during interviews and on social media. So, to saw these two hate each other is just barely scratching the surface. Needless to say, when these two get suspended for an on-the-field brawl and find themselves paired up for community service, neither of them are thrilled at the prospect of spending the next couple of months with the other.

One thing I loved about this novel is that Adrián is a major douche bag. Now, you’re probably wondering why I liked that. Mainly it’s because he was so over the top in his blatant disrespect for Simeon while trying to play innocent… and yet by the middle of the book I found him endearing. The author was able to take a character that was less than likeable and found a way to flip it into making you care about him. He made you wonder why Adrián disliked Simeon so much. He made you root for Adrián when he starts to realize that his extreme feelings for Simeon weren’t hate, but rather lust.

This is a nice slow burn romance. Mainly because Adrián has no idea he’s bisexual until it hits him square in the face. Once he realizes he’s attracted to Simeon, he doesn’t go all “I’m not gay!”, instead, he accepts it. Maybe he’s not ready to come out yet to the public, but he’s not in full-blown denial. Once it clicks for him, he’s all in. Even though it took him a little bit to figure out his feelings, once he realizes he likes Simeon in that way, boy do the pages start to steam up. I mean, we got some scenes between these two before Adrián is fully on board with his sexuality, and while that was sexy, nothing beat when the two were on the same page.

I really enjoyed Down By Contact. Maybe even more so than Illegal Contact. I loved that Simeon was completely on board with who he was. I also liked that he recognized the conflict within Adrián and tried to push him to that realization. Their romance was not an easy or smooth road, but it was definitely up there on the sweetest romances list. Once these two were on the same page they were just down right adorable.


Favorite quote…

“If this was a picture of a man and a woman holding each other in the middle of a rainstorm, it would have been a New York One Picture of the Day. Because it was two me, it was call for a full-on investigation and smear campaign.”


Previous reviews from The Barons
Illegal Contact



16 Thoughts on “Review: Down by Contact by Santino Hassell

  1. I always enjoy a good sports story, and seems like this one was riveting and interesting. I also like when the romance takes time to build. Glad you enjoyed this one and Happy Monday! Hugs…RO

  2. I totally agree with you! The HATE! OMG lol It really works though. And I liked this one a bit more too.

    have you read the Cyberlove series (He co-writes with Megan Erickson) yet? I think you would really like that one.

    I know you left a comment on my blog about reading my review but can’t remember for which book.

    For What It’s Worth

    • I have not. This series has been the first, and so far only, books I’ve read by him. I know that he co-wrote another series, but I haven’t had the chance to read it yet.

  3. lol I bet the douche bag would win me over too

  4. People sure seem to loooove these

    • Because they are so good! Yes, it’s a sports romance, but the author writes in such a real and gritty way that you feel like you’re right there with them. No crazy fluff or filler.

  5. Enemies to lovers is one of my favorites, and my! I am loving the sound of this one. Haven’t read anything from the author yet but heard really good reviews about 🙂

  6. When I am in the mood for a angsty read, I will be reading this one. I love the sound of the aggression these two have for each other!! And I hear this author is fantastic.

    • This is only the second book of his I’ve read but I’m kind of sold at this point. I really need to get my hands on his other work because I’ve really enjoyed this series.

  7. bookwormbrandee on 17 January, 2018 at 8:09 pm said:

    I love it when an author can change my mind about a character and it sounds like Hassell did an impressive job if he managed it with Adrian. This sounds fantastic. I have Illegal Contact waiting on my shelf. I guess I better hop to it. Glad you enjoyed this one so much.

    • Girl, don’t make that book wait any longer! LoL I honestly wasn’t sure about this author since so many people sing his praises. When that happens, I tend to always fall on the minority side. 🙁 It happens all the time. However, that has not been the case with Hassell and this series. I can’t wait to see who the next book will focus on.

  8. I looooved this book! Santino did the hate to love trope so so well. Adrian and Simeon were both fantastic and I loved them together. Great review!

  9. Lauren Becker on 20 January, 2018 at 10:16 pm said:

    Oh, I love Santino but I still need to start this series. I’m glad you really loved this one though. Sounds like a fantastic enemies to lovers book.


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