Review: Illegal Contact (The Barons #1) 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…

My track record with sports-themed MM romances is a mixed bag. I can’t resist hockey romances, but football just doesn’t interest me. Luckily, this book was light on the technicalities of football, and heavy on the romance.

Noah is likable from the beginning. His story is a dime a dozen - the young idealistic college grad who needs a job asap. I found it easy to connect to him.

On the other hand, Gavin, to put it not-so-lightly, comes across as a total douchebag at first. Though the specifics of his house arrest made it obvious that he wasn’t really an awful person, his early attitude and behaviour did him no favours.

From the moment these two meet, they knock heads. I was hooked. Fans of an enemies-to-lovers theme will be happy with this book.


Gavin and Noah spend the majority of the book trading barbs and insults, and they mean every single one of them. But underneath all of that, there’s also an undeniable heat and attraction that builds slowly as they spend their days together.

The two also develop a grudging respect for each other. Noah, who at first couldn’t give a damn about what Gavin’s job was, realizes the toll that being an athlete, and being in the public eye, takes.

And Gavin, once he realizes that Noah would never sell him out, slowly lowers the walls that he’d spent years building.

Over shared meals and long talks, the two build a tentative friendship, which makes it harder to ignore how much they want each other.

Once the two finally give in, they are on fire. Gavin doesn’t hold back in bed, and preppy Noah lets his dirty side out to play.


Gavin and Noah click - physically and emotionally. The big stumbling block in their relationship is that Gavin is still in the closet. This part of the story resolves itself as you’d expect, but I still felt for the two as they worked out how to get their happy ending.

Overall, I really enjoyed the first book of this new series. It has well-rounded characters, a believable romance, and some hot sex. Recommended!

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