5 stars adult - 18+ Angst Level Book Boss/employee class difference Closeted co-workers to lovers Contemporary Enemies to Lovers Football Gay Geek/Jock GFY/OFY Heat Index Hidden Lovers Homophobia Humor m/m Mid level angst Morgan NetGalley Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Opposites attract Part of a Series Scorching/high heat Sports Sports Standalone Thanksgiving

Illegal Contact (The Barons #1) by Santino Hassell

release day review

Amazon Link


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…


This was soooo much fun! I was a bit leery of this, I have to admit. Sometimes Santino Hassell’s writing is a bit dark and melancholy and I’m not always in the mood for that. I’m also really not a football fan, but I am a huge “geek/jock” fan and “opposites attract” fan so I figured I’d give it a go.  (I love that Noah absolutely HATES football at first!)

I’m very glad I did!

This was super funny at times, but also really tender. There’s a fair amount of very hot sex once we get past the sexual tension stage.

The football was kept to a minimum (in my opinion) yet was clearly part of the story in a meaningful way.

I loved that our guys TALKED to each other. There wasn’t any “big misunderstanding” beyond the figuring out who is interested stage and I appreciated that when the end “conflict” arose, it was done with eyes open and a decision mutually made.

The fairly predictable ending is still very heartwarming and though we aren’t given much to go by, the HEA felt pretty solid. I’m really hoping we’ll see their story “finalize” more in the coming books and I also hope Simon’s story is next!

Highly recommended for fans of sweet and sexy romance, football fans, geek fans, and those who like some laughs and dirty talk with their romance.

5 of 5 stars


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