Reviewed by JustJen
Title: Illegal Contact
Author: Santino Hassell
Series: The Barons #1
Heroes: Gavin Brawley/Noah Monroe
Genre: MM Contemporary
Length: 251 Pages
Release Date: August 15, 2017
Available at: Amazon and Barnes & Noble
Add it to your shelf: Goodreads
Blurb: 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…
Ami’s Review: Confession: I know that Santino Hassell is popular among the population of MM readers. But, aside from a couple of titles, I haven’t read most of his work. I keep wanting to, but never felt the push — and I DNF’ed that first book of his Cyberlove series with Megan Erickson because it wasn’t my cup of tea. Having said that, I was really curious with this one because it seems to have a “lighter” side of romance compared to his Five Burroughs or paranormal series.
Well, I’m glad that I made that decision. I practically devoured Illegal Contact in (almost) one-sitting — I have to sleep, okay! — it was definitely a book that kept me engaged throughout. Enemies-to-lovers is a tricky trope for me because I need to be convinced that two people that started with animosities can fall in love.
And I thought Hassell delivered! There were enough gritty, butt-heading moments, with both Gavin and Noah delivered their piece of minds to the other, but still showed the process of evolving respect and mutual romantic feelings. It wasn’t instant love for these two and I loved that it took time before Gavin and Noah tackled the sex part of their relationship.
I admit that the personal development seemed to be more apparent for Gavin though. Gavin started this book a bit rougher, with anger issues, and definitely didn’t want to make things easy for Noah. As the story goes, I could see how Noah seemed to soften him. I saw Gavin’s kindness and caring for others … even if I never doubted his loyalty, considering the reason why Gavin was under how house arrest in the first place.
I had more trouble to see Noah’s though … because I couldn’t really see him differently from the Noah being introduced in the beginning of the book … except that maybe he started to pay attention to football *laugh*.
Nonetheless, I though both characters were written well. I also loved the secondary characters, most notably Gavin’s friends Simeon and Marcus. I would love to have more pages just to ensure the happily-ever-after part but maybe I can get more update about them in Simeon’s book. So yes, sign me up for this series, please.
Overall Impression: I really liked it
Jen’s Review: What happens when the star football player is forced into seclusion and taking on a PA with no interest in football to handle his life and everything that he can no longer do outside of his home? A combustible enemies to lovers story!
Gavin is the star who is known as the bad boy on the team. He is gruff and uncaring on the outside, but he is extremely loyal to his best friends and teammates, Simeon and Marcus. He has had a rough life, but football saved him in more ways than one. It is everything to him. But then, it is taken away when a fight lands him on house arrest for six months. There is a lot more to that part of the story as to the why, but that isn’t really the focus here. When he is forced by his manager to hire a PA, he is extremely reluctant, but in walks Noah.
Noah has had a string of bad luck in regards to his employment. While this isn’t his chosen field, he needs the money to pay student loans and help his now unemployed father. He has little to no interest in football and has no clue who Gavin is. This, of course, rubs Gavin the wrong way, but Noah’s ability to stand up for himself sparks something in Gavin, and he gives in and hires Noah. Much of this story is them trading barbs while trying to get the job done. They have great chemistry, long before their relationship becomes more than professional. There is plenty of great banter and slow build up as Noah and Gavin grow closer. When they finally get to the sexy stuff, it is well worth the wait.
I loved watching Gavin’s hard shell gradually melt as the months went on. Gavin has some major trust issues (rightfully so due to previous circumstances), but Noah gains it little by little. Their attraction also grows, but there are a few things standing in the way on both sides, though they are hard-pressed to prevent it from happening.
These guys were fabulous together and made a perfect match. Noah is perfect for Gavin, is everything Gavin needs and knows just how to handle him, without even realizing it. Thankfully, they see it before it’s too late. My only tiny gripe is that the ending which had so much buildup, seemed over in a flash with little to no fanfare. I would have liked to have seen that played out a bit more.
There are some fabulous side characters in this as well who help push them in the right direction. Noah’s bff, who ends up dating Marcus, and Simeon, who is hiding in a similar closet to Gavin. I’m so excited for the next book focusing on the sexy Cajun, Simeon, and look forward to seeing these guys again.
Overall Impression: I loved it!
*We received a copy of this book from the publisher in return for a fair and honest review.*