ARC Review: Down by Contact by Santino Hassell (The Barons #2)

33637825Down by Contact
Author: Santino Hassell
Series: The Barons #2
Release Date: January 16, 2018
Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group
Get it Here: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository


Two rival football players begin a game with higher stakes than the Super Bowl in this steamy romance from the author of Illegal Contact.

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…


Basically, I loved this book, and I’m mad I haven’t stumbled upon this author sooner. Down by Contact gripped me from its first page. It’s a hate-to-love romance between an out and proud gay football player for the Barons, Simeon, and a bisexual football player from a rival team, Adrián, who hides his sexuality behind veiled comments. The dialogue was on-point, the romance had a beautiful build-up, and – dare I say it – the conflict was even really good. I basically devoured this book and stayed up until 4 am in the morning to finish this glorious love story. I’m definitely going to go back and read the first book in this series, Illegal Contact, because Gavin and Noah’s story will probably be just as good.

The hate-to-love progression is done so well. It follows a beautiful progression, and with believable dialogue that employs slang perfectly. We start the book out with Adrián making a homophobic comment about Simeon on Fox News and Simeon tweeting out against him. They’re both angry at each other and this shows on the field, when Adrián punches Simeon and sprains his throwing arm. To fix this situation, their agents plan for them to teach football for a sports program to kids. Together. Obviously, both of them are stunned and more than a little hesitant. But they try to work together either way. And then… sparks fly.

“There was a hardness and a sweetness to Simeon that intoxicated me with every touch. It made me pant for him, salivate for him, and think of nothing but my aching need to feel his body completely bared against my own.”

down by contact graphic

I do not own any of these photos.

Simeon is such a sweetheart, and definitely my favorite of the two. He’s pretty easygoing, loyal, and not ashamed of who he is. He has a wonderful and supportive family, as well as a team that doesn’t give him crap about his sexuality despite working and playing in a hypermasculine environment. I love how Simeon isn’t afraid to call Adrián out on his homophobic comments and subtle microaggressions. It’s really easy to let these comments and actions go, but noticing and pointing them out is what makes a difference. Adrián in turn learns a lot.

Adrián took a while to grow on me because of his problematic actions in the beginning, but I started liking him after he recognized his love for Simeon. After that, he grows up a lot more and starts taking responsibility. At first he’s always making crass jokes and behaves like a vapid, entertaining jock. But he’s actually quite sweet and sensitive, especially towards his loved ones. Adrián also goes through a lot in this book, as he reconciles his feelings for Simeon despite thinking he was straight his entire life. He soon realizes that his antagonistic attitude towards Simeon after leaving his team was his way of lashing out. Adrián also has to deal with his controlling father, who raised him to be a winner in everything he does. I loved seeing his character development and his evolution from jerk to loving boyfriend.

“‘I need you to tell me I won’t ruin your career be being in your life. Because no matter how hard I try to be discreet, I know somehow… I’ll screw it up. ‘Cause that’s me, boo. I’m a mess. A loveable mess, but still a goddamn mess.”

I believe the author Hassell is bisexual as well, making this book #ownvoices (although I’m not completely sure). Simeon is from New Orleans and is black (1/4 white? His father was half-white). We get so explore some of the hardships of Hurricane Katrina as well from his perspective. Adrián is Puerto Rican and lives in New York. Their families are both refreshing and loving, and Simeon’s friends are wonderful. The interactions with the kids at the program are also awesome. 😀 All the relationships were so wholesome in this book and I’m SUCH a fan.

I also wanted to add a song that I heard from in one of my Uber driver’s car last month. Simeon and Adrián would definitely be the football players taking a knee on the field!

5 stars for the love story, for the characters and their personalities, and the social commentary that is done so well in this story.

CWTW label

suicide joke (called out, thank you Simeon!), explicit sexual content, homophobia, racism

Note: I took my rating down due to the fact that this author is not who they say they are. This makes me highly uncomfortable, and I struggle to support a book with an author/authors that act this way.


3 thoughts on “ARC Review: Down by Contact by Santino Hassell (The Barons #2)

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