Down by Contact by Santino Hassell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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…

First 5 star favorite of the year!

This book!

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Two hot-as-sin football players from two rival teams fall in lust and then love with each other in the second installment of Santino Hassell’s Barons series. I just can’t say enough about how awesome this series has been for me. I really enjoyed the first book, Illegal Contact, so my expectations were pretty high. Fortunately for me, Santino Hassell delivered a heartfelt, emotionally charged love story between Simeon Boudreaux and Adrián Bravo.

I had my reservations going into this book. The Predators were set up as the Barons’ rivals since the first book. In fact, one of the inciting incident in that book involved Simeon. And let me just say that the Predators aren’t exactly a cuddly team. They’re clearly set up as antagonists, and Adrián being a predator made me wary especially since he’s done some things that really made me mad. So yes, even though I love some enemies-to-lovers stories, I was worried, Adrián won’t be redeemed.

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Santino Hassell not only redeemed him, he managed to endear Adrián to me. I was falling in love with Adrián at them time as Simeon. He was, for all his bravado at the beginning, showed real vulnerability. He went above and beyond in proving himself worthy of Simeon’s love.

And Simeon of course was just as endearing and vulnerable as Adrián. I’ve loved his character since Illegal Contact and I don’t think it was possible to love him even more but in this book, I did. He was the same confident guy in Illegal Contact but Down by Contact showed a different side to him. His love for his mother and football and his friendship with Marcus and Gavin are some of the most beautiful elements in this book. Their banter and the way they were there for Simeon was my favorite thing.

But what really makes this book special was the romance between Simeon and Adrián. It was sweet and hot and so swoony. Their banter was hilarious and that grand gesture towards the end made me go…

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If you’re going to pick up one MM book this month, choose Down by Contact. And while this can be read as a standalone, I really, really would recommend reading Illegal Contact first. There are so many gems about Simeon there. Plus, you get to meet Gavin and Noah as well.

Seriously, you guys need to get on this series NOW!

ARC provided by the publisher

Gaaaaaaahhh!! *licks cover*