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…
*I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in return for an honest review.
There is nothing I love more than a story where a dislikable character is redeemed and wins your heart. Adrián, my dear sweet cinnamon roll, did so in spades (as is evidenced by me calling him a cinnamon roll, which he definitely is not at the start of the book).
I really enjoyed Simeon in Illegal Contact, so I was very excited for him to get his own book and to see what kind of pairing Hassell would create that would work with his personality. Both characters were well fleshed out, and written in such a way that we got to see their seemingly simple, face-value, personas unfold organically. Hassell doesn’t tell us who these men are beneath who they present themselves to be publicly — he shows us over time, particularly as they get to know each other and begin to learn about and from each other.
I think it is a reason I loved so much. At the start of the book he’s offensive, his humor is crude and a lot of his interactions with Simeon are colored by anger left over from what he perceives as Simeon’s actions when he left the Predators. As the book unfolds we get to see a few things: Adrian doesn’t seem to understand exactly how offensive (or for what reason) his humor is. He’s driven by anger in some parts of his life but isn’t a truly angry person, and finally, that he’s willing to learn and change. I loved that. Not that the book, or Adrián realizing he’s attracted to Simeon is easy, but at a certain point, he accepts it in a way that felt lovely. I will say that the space between their rivalry and them really being together felt a little uncomfortable for me — I’m not even sure why. But I actually skipped the initial sex scene between them because of that discomfort. Honestly, that is my only quibble with this book, and I really think that it’s something personal and that most readers will enjoy.
Adrián paired well with Simeon, who is also just innately good inside. He’s also reckless, sexy and very sensual. Hassell does a really good job with these aspects of his personality. As we got to know him in Illegal Contact, at times I wondered what drove Simeon to be so reckless with his career, particularly when paired with his good nature, humor, and joy. I think this is really one of my favorite aspects of this book. It is very much Hassell’s signature voice and style; this books captures a wonderful dichotomy, a sweetness and a sharpness that was very satisfying.
It was also very sexy. That never hurts. 🙂
Santino Hassell was raised by a conservative family but grew up to be a smart-mouthed, school cutting grunge kid, a transient twenty-something, and eventually transformed into a grumpy introvert and unlikely romance author with an affinity for baseball caps. His novels are heavily influenced by the gritty, urban landscape of New York City, and his desire to write relationships fueled by intensity and passion.
He’s been a finalist in both the Bisexual Book Awards and the EPIC Awards, and was nominated for a prestigious RITA award in 2017. His work has been featured in BuzzFeed, Huffington Post, Washington Post, RT Magazine, and Cosmopolitan Magazine.
Genre: Contemporary Orientation: Gay Pairing: M/M Publisher: InterMix Review Tag: Celebrity / Famous Person Tag: Enemies to Lovers Tag: Part of a series Tag: PoC Tag: Sports Down by Contact Santino Hassell The Barons
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.