Review: Illegal Contact by Santino Hassell

Illegal Contact
(The Barons #1)
by Santino Hassell
Publisher: Penguin: Intermix
Publication Date: Aug. 15, 2017
Genre: M/M Romance


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 is kind of a modern retelling of Beauty and the Beast. “Beauty” is a guy named Noah who is hired to be the temporary PA for the “Beast” who is a famous NFL player who was recently put under house arrest for assault. Gavin is not thrilled to have some stranger in his home snooping through his life, micromanaging everything. He doesn’t need anyone to take care of him and babysit him but yet, there Noah is, cooking his meals and scheduling his day for him. To say Noah’s thrilled with the idea would be a complete lie, but he is in dire need of money and plans to suck it up, do his job, deal with the ornery bastard who is his boss, and get paid. What neither of them planned on was falling in love. However, the clock’s ticking away on their time together until the moment Gavin is cleared to join his team and goes back to not only the insane hours of training and playing ball, but also pretending to be straight.

This is my first time reading the author’s work and after reading the acknowledgements it would seem that this genre or storyline is a new one for the author. I’m glad he took a chance on it because I really enjoyed it. I loved Gavin’s character. He was this broody S.O.B who had disdain written all over his face any time he had to deal with Noah or kind of anyone in general other than his friends. The media has painted him as this brutal, don’t give a crap, football player with anger management issues. However, as Gavin is forced to spend time with Noah, he starts to loosen up and the softer side of him starts to show through. I loved that the author didn’t make this an insta-love story. Instead these two characters start off just dealing with each other whenever they need to, to actually understanding the nuances of the other person. They went from enemies, friends, to lovers, and I loved that they had the slow and gradual change in their relationship. Retellings are a hit or miss for me but I feel like Santino Hassell hit the nail on the head with this one. The synopsis doesn’t say it’s a BatB retelling and maybe the author didn’t even plan for it to be but it was awesome. And if it is just a happy coincidence then all the more power to him

Illegal Contact was a great story that had a Beauty and the Beast vibe, a celebrity romance, football players, and some pretty steamy scenes. It was an all around great read and I look forward to reading more of Santino’s work.


Favorite quote…

“I usually hated when people said ‘just saying’ because they thought it gave them an excuse to say whatever the hell they wanted.”




9 Thoughts on “Review: Illegal Contact by Santino Hassell

  1. I like the beauty and beast vibe for sure

  2. oh Lovely review you have here. And I am so glad you liked this one, I do love beauty and beast retellings, they are my favorite. So I am definitely adding this to my list.

  3. I loved this one. I don’t think I got a Beauty and the Beast vibe while reading but I guess I can see that.

    I love Hassell’s books but this book was a bit on the lighter side than his other stuff which is grittier. The series he co-writes with Megan Erickson is really good too.

    For What It’s Worth

  4. So glad to hear it isn’t an insta-love story!!!

  5. I love Beauty and the Beast retellings.

  6. I actually haven’t read M/M in a long time, so thank you for putting this under my radar!

  7. I haven’t read a good sports romance in quite awhile. I’m loving the whole set up with these two and the enemies-to-friends-to-lovers.

  8. I enjoy novels with sports included, and the chemistry between these two sounds sizzling! Hugs…RO

  9. A M/M story that has a Beauty and the Beast vibe? Sold! Seriously, will have to give it a go for sure, thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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