ARC Review by Jude: Illegal Contact by Santino Hassell


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…

Goodreads | InterMix Publishing | Amazon
Release Date: August 15th


*A copy of this was provided via NetGalley

4 Stars
I’m always impressed by Hassell’s work. There aren’t many authors in our genre who pull off gritty, sexy romance with as much authenticity as he does. His unique voice, and take on characters, works seamlessly with the kinds of men he writes. Particularly here, for Gavin, a character who I can’t imagine working if written in anyone else’s hands.

I read this book in less than a day while on a beach vacation; I could not put it down, even after the power went out and I knew my Kindle was going to die (and we had no idea how long we’d be out of power!) (Sixteen hours for those wondering). Thank god I had this book to read, because it definitely helped me escape the reality of a tiny cottage and eight people (four under the age of nine) with nothing to do.

This book works in particular because I didn’t see how Noah and Gavin could fit together at all initially. I knew going in that Hassell was an author I could trust to make a difficult character someone you could root for. But the two of them, despite their chemistry, didn’t seem like they could come together on a level beyond that chemistry. I must say, as well, that I appreciate that I saw Hassell’s trademark grit shine even through banter and eventually, real sweetness between the characters.

It’s a credit to the author that when it begins to happen, it doesn’t feel forced or contrived. It, despite seeming impossible, worked. The slow burn works deliciously here, so that when they eventually act on their attraction it was so welcome and delicious!

I loved the secondary characters in this book — I am so excited to see more stories in this series.


Santino-Hassell-Image-300x300Santino 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.

Social Media:
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Genre: Contemporary Orientation: Bisexual Orientation: Gay Pairing: M/M Publisher: InterMix Review Tag: Celebrity / Famous Person Tag: Enemies to Lovers Tag: Part of a series Tag: Slow Burn Tag: Sports

Jude Sierra View All →

Jude Sierra is a Latinx poet, author, academic and mother who began her writing career at the age of eight when she immortalized her summer vacation with ten entries in a row that read “pool+tv”. Jude began writing long-form fiction by tackling her first National Novel Writing Month project in 2007.

Jude is currently working toward her PhD in Writing and Rhetoric, looking at the intersections of Queer, Feminist and Pop Culture Studies. She also works as an LGBTQAI+ book reviewer for From Top to Bottom Reviews. Her novels include Hush, What it Takes, and Idlewild, a contemporary LGBT romance set in Detroit’s renaissance, which was named a Best Book of 2016 by Kirkus Reviews. Her upcoming novel, A Tiny Piece of Something Greater will be available in May of 2018.

Twitter: @JudeSierra
Instagram: /judemsierra/

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