ARC Review: Illegal Contact – Santino Hassell

Illegal Contact
Book cover: Gavin holding a rugby ball

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…

I received an ARC of Illegal Contact from Netgalley. So many people who focus on romance books were talking about this on my timeline, so I thought it’ll be a good book.

This book is #ownvoices for bisexual representation.

The relationship is an m/m romance between a bisexual character and a homosexual character. It’s so very much hate-to-love. Like seriously, both of them look down at each other so much at the beginning. I didn’t think anything would come out of it at all. The romance is also really cute, especially since both Noah and Gavin have a lot of assumptions about each other, and they discover that their first judgement of the other was wrong.

The writing style is in a dual perspective, which let’s the reader find out about both of the main characters opinion on each other and their own life. Since there are quite a lot of misunderstandings between Gavin and Noah, this let’s the reader always know exactly what both of them want and think.

I loved how much the book focussed on the relationships that the two main characters had with their friends, as well as the close relationship that Noah had with his father. It was wonderful to read about friends supporting each other and just being there for each other. The minor characters are multi-dimensional and have their own story arcs, which is always a bonus for me as a reader. Simeon was one of the characters that I most enjoyed reading about (and he had so little page time!) and I was going to say that I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read a sequel to this book but then I saw that he is the main character to the sequel, so I’m pretty sure that I will read.

The book criticises some aspects of the sports industry, such as the racism, homoantagonism and the health risks that the players are supposed to take. Since, I don’t watch a lot of sports or partake that much in the sports industry in other ways, I certainly learnt a lot about it by reading this book.

There’s one part in the book where Gavin refers to another team as being the Slytherin of the NFL and I just want to say, being in Slytherin doesn’t mean you’re evil, but yeah I know that a lot of people use this reference, so I understand it. I liked the reference to the Instagram account that posts pictures of men reading on trains. I also smiled when Noah said he was buddy reading a book, because I thought that was so cool.

There’s a lot of talk about sex in this book and also a lot of sex itself, so if you don’t like reading books with explicit sex scenes, I wouldn’t recommend this book to you.

Illegal Contact is an adorable romance with a lot of sex scenes, so it’s totally not a book for children. However, if m/m romances are up your street and you’re looking for a cute hate-to-love romance, I’m quite sure that you’ll love this book. It’s a chillaxing book (Gavin doesn’t like the word chillax, but I do, so it’s got to be in this review)!

Trigger warnings: homoantagonism, biantagonism, threat of forced coming out.

4 stars

Are you interested in reading Illegal Contact?


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