Title: Illegal Contact (The Barons, #1)
Author: Santino Hassell
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group / InterMix
Release Date: August 15th 2017
Reviewed by: Ele
Heat Level: 4 flames out of 5
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
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…
This book had all the potential to become an overdone MM cliché, with the standard alpha male football player, and the damsel in distress twink who’s stuck with him as his PA. Except it wasn’t. Because Santino Hassell y’all.
Gavin: Sarcastic, grumpy, loyal, lonely, distrustful, giving. He’s Noah’s “gorgeous blond cat”.
Noah was a huge surprise. Snarky, witty, smart and hard working. But not perfect. Noah’s flaw was that he broke his own work ethical code and now he’s doing it again with Gavin, so basically he’s in a constant fight with himself before he gives in.
Noah was Gavin’s equal. He called him on his bullshit from the word go. He outsnarked Gavin and kept him in check. He steadily made himself indispensable. This is one of the two reasons this book stole my heart.
The second reason is the last 20%. I loved the last part of this book so much I want to marry it. It slayed my life. Because passion, intensity, delicious angst, scorching hot sex, decisions, and so many feels. And right when shit hits the fan and I thought “oh man, not this”, the characters’ reactions surprised me once more. The conflict is real, nothing manufactured about it, and I loved the way the characters communicated and actually talked before making decisions.
I was afraid that under the circumstances, the ending would be somewhat lukewarm. But no. It’s fireworks and joy. It’s real and fabulous. But my guess is that we ‘ll see more of #DatBrawleySmile in the future.
The secondary characters are well crafted and in need of their own story. I can’t wait!
Very highly recommended!