ILLEGAL CONTACT by Santino Hassell
A copy was provided by the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Release date: August 15th 2017
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…
It’s been a while since I read a NA novel, let alone a m/m romance, and I’m glad that my first m/m NA book in a while could be this ownvoices one. I’ve been hearing amazing things about this book all over my twitter feed, so I was ecstatic when my request on Netgalley was approved. I had high hopes going into this and I was not disappointed.
I really enjoy a good hate-to-love romace when done right, and let me tell you- that trope was done perfectly in Illegal Contact. Gavin and Noah were such different characters, and I could tell after their first meeting that their banter was going to be A+. I loved Noah right from the beginning, but as we got to know Gavin throughout the story, he quickly grew on me too. Gavin and Noah’s banter was amazing, and I loved that they weren’t afraid to call each other out on shit. The sexual tension between them, right from their first encounter, was so obvious, and as well as this being a hate-to-love romance, I’d also say it was a bit of slow burn, too. It’s one of those books where you can just feel the tension between them and you’re anticipating the moment they finally do something about it. The readers can tell for a while that they’re slowly falling in love with each other, which makes it all the better when they finally admit it. Their relationship is just so precious and soft and they were just such a perfect match for each other.
I really enjoyed Hassell’s writing and will certainly be reading more of his work. The dialogue was witty, funny and although it could be crass at times, it was so well-done and realistic. One of the problems I find in NA is sometimes the sex scenes are written in such a cringe-worthy way. That was certainly not the case here. It’s very easy to tell that Hassell is an ownvoices writer, and the sex scenes were written amazingly. It would take a lot of effort to not be blushing by the end of them.
Although the main focus of the book was the budding romance between Gavin and Noah, there was still a lot of discussion about some other important topics such as poverty, privilege, consensual relationships and homophobia in the NFL. I think each of these was handled and discussed well, and were incorporated into the plot well, too.
We didn’t get to learn much about the side characters, but we got to see enough of them that I’m definitely interested in continuing the series to learn more about them. I loved Simeon from the little pieces of him we got to see, so I can’t wait to see if we see more of him in the future.
Overall, this was a really great m/m romance book. I really enjoyed not only the characters and the plot of this one, but Hassell’s writing as well. I’ll certainly be keeping an eye out for more of his work. If you’re a fan of slow burn romance and the hate-to-love trope, this is 100% the book for you! I’ll definitely be recommending this to everybody I know that loves NA.
Thanks for reading!