Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Book Review: Down by Contact by Santino Hassell

Down by Contact (The Barons #2)
by Santino Hassell
Release Date: January 16, 2018
Source: Publisher
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…

I'm fairly new to the whole m/m genre, but I have been so intrigued by sports m/m romances after reading Him by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy. I have heard great things about this series, so I was excited to finally try out a book by Santino Hassell!

Recently coming out as gay to the whole world, quarterback Simeon Boudreaux has the support of his teammates and society. Well, except for rival player Adrian Bravo. Adrian will take any chance he can get to knock Simeon down a few pegs and has become obsessed with attacking him. When a game between the rivals goes too far and a brawl breaks out, Adrian and Simeon are suspended and forced to work at a football camp for kids. Together. Adrian is livid and fights with Simeon every chance he can get. But the more time the two spend coaching the teens and really caring for them, the more they see each other as friends. And something more.

While this is the second book in this series, I decided to read it without reading the first book. It took awhile to catch on to who was who and what their backgrounds were, but I got along just fine as I got further into the book. I do think I would have gotten more out of this book if I had read book one first, but I still was able to enjoy these characters. It was fun watching Adrian and Simeon's rivalry play out and watch Adrian put on such an angry face around Simeon because he was just trying to ignore the growing attraction he felt for him. While this is only my second m/m book, I was surprised to find the same trope of a gay man and a guy who was confused about being gay falling in love. I really hope this isn't going to be an overused trope, but I guess it does add more conflict to the story because one of the characters wants to deny the attraction because they have never had those feelings for a man before.

Since this is a hate to love romance, it was really hard to like Adrian's character for awhile. Adrian was so mean to Simeon and took every chance he had at putting him down. Other characters did acknowledge this fact, though, and questioned Simeon's decision when he started to show feelings towards Adrian when he so publicly ridiculed him in the past. I wanted to see more redeeming qualities for Adrian throughout the whole book, though, and not just at the end when he finally accepted his feelings for Simeon.

Overall, I really did enjoy this enemies to lovers romance between two football players. I loved this cast of characters and really can't wait to pick up book one and see the couple that started it all fall in love. If you're a fan of m/m sports romances, you definitely have to check out The Barons series!

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