Melissa reviews Illegal Contact (The Barons #1) by Santino Hassell Expected publication: August 15th 2017 by Berkley Publishing Group (InterMix), 251 pages.
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…
An ARC was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Why I read this book: It’s Santino Hassell, do I really need to say more?
Gavin and Noah – Noah and Gavin. How cute was Noah? Seriously, he was no wilting flower here and the fact that he is not a football fan and therefore not star struck being so close to THE Gavin Brawley made him such a snarky and “takes no shit from anyone” MC that I wanted to just jump up in the air (with fist pump too) and scream – “You tell him, Noah!”
Gavin knows he is fortunate to be able to play pro football, he is fully aware of the fact that few players ever make it to the big leagues; he takes his job and training seriously. He had a rough life growing up and it’s made him leery of people who want to just take advantage of him. When Gavin’s friend and fellow team mate gets into a tricky situation with a “hookup” and a cell phone video, Gavin gets into trouble and is sentenced to house arrest for 6 months. Enter Noah Monroe, a young man who recently moved in with his dad to help support him (his dad lost his job) and also finds himself looking for employment. When he is called in to interview as a personal assistant, he had literally no idea what he was getting himself into. He doesn’t even know who he would be working for, LOL.
These two do NOT get off on the right foot and it was snark at first sight, hehe. Watching these two banter back and forth, with Noah clueless at first as to the fact that Gavin is checking him out, I was simply captivated and soooo wanted to skip ahead to see these men finally get it on, but I resisted. Gavin is attracted to Noah and doesn’t want to be, firstly because Noah works for him and he doesn’t want Noah to feel as if his job is on the line. Secondly, Gavin knows that he is becoming dependent on Noah helping him be organized during his house arrest and if things go south between then, Gavin is going to be alone.
But all that doesn’t matter when Gavin becomes jealous of Noah’s friendship with a local mechanic, and Noah is simply a goner when he realizes Gavin isn’t as straight as he thought.
Finding they can’t fight their feelings anymore, they both agree to have a secret romance during Gavin’s house arrest. And it’s all so amazing and perfect and right, and Noah and Gavin are so happy!! Yeah, that doesn’t last because Gavin’s manager finds them together and has a total shit fit. Noah’s eyes are really opened to the fact (with the managers help) that Gavin is in the closet and they have been living in a bubble during his house arrest. What does Noah really see happening once Gavin returns to the field? Certainly not Gavin proudly showing Noah off to all his teammates and the rest of the public. Noah doesn’t want to live in the closet, but he isn’t going to force Gavin into outing himself either.
I thoroughly enjoyed this story and can’t wait for the next book in the series! Highly recommend. This was wonderfully written with characters that felt real (given certain life circumstances) and they were fully developed. Even the mechanic! I do hope he gets his story. 😉
(9 pots because there was no epilogue! Santino, are you trying to kill me? Tisk, tisk – I live for epilogues, I crave epilogues!! To just end Gavin and Noah’s story without… 😛 )
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.