Early Bird Review | Down by Contact by Santino Hassell

Down by Contact

Down by Contact by Santino Hassell
The Barons #2
M/M Contemporary Romance

InterMix | January 16, 2018

About the Book:  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…

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Five absolutely phenomenal stars!

There’s something about reading a slew of not so great books that really makes the good ones pop!  If this were any other author I might say my expectations level was down but, because of the author, I knew when I picked it up I’d be invested in the story.  The level of heat, grit, and macho affection Santino Hassell always brings to his books make them fan-friggin-tastic.  Now, after this read, I think it’s very possible Down by Contact has now beat out Illegal Contact as my favorite Santino Hassell book!

I think the magic was in how we as the readers had already gotten a feel for Simeon’s personality.  We already knew him and loved him as the wisecracking goofball from Illegal Contact.  That Simeon still exists in Down by Contact, but there was something calmer about him too.  It was the perfect character growth.  Not only did he go through something life altering in the first book, he was also now dealing with Adrian Bravo.   There was no holding back Adrian’s antics but he sure forced Simeon to try!  Seriously, Adrian was a trip!  Sometimes I wanted to throttle him, but mostly he made me laugh.  He was sooo blind to his own feelings and everything that was happening, but there was also something adorable in him.  Adrian knew he was adorable too, he told everyone, but he also backed it up.  I fell for him pretty quickly.  The two of them together were beautiful.

Now, it’s my opinion that you can’t read a Santino Hassell book without some angst, and we all know that unnecessary angst is not my favorite thing.  Still, somehow in Down by Contact it worked for me.  There were times I wanted to beat both these boys, but I also understood them both and felt compassion for them both.  Not to mention that this angst, the hate and heat between Adrian and Simeon, just made all of their sexual and romantic interactions so much better!

I was honestly hooked from page one.  I’m addicted to The Barons series, and I have no idea what’s coming next but I know I want it.  –I’m kinda hoping it’s Rocky… and for someone who says they don’t like angst, I know that’s incredibly bizarre!

Also, really quick, how sexy is that cover model, right??  I mean, YUM!

Thank you to InterMix for providing a copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review


Birdie: I’m a huge fan of sports romance.  I can’t resist them!  Where did the idea come from to set this series in the sports world?

Santino: After years of being lukewarm about sports, I suddenly got really into college football. I also became friends with a high school football coach who was so passionate about his job and the athletes that I was floored by the dedication. For some people, football is everything. It’s a way of life. I couldn’t help but want to explore that intensity.

Birdie: I read in an interview that you’re a fan of Jordan Castillo Price’s PsyCop series, and it just so happens to be my favorite UF series (and the first M/M I ever read).  Now I daydream about a JCP/Hassell collaboration.  Are there any M/M authors that inspire you when you write, or any favorites you daydream about collaborating with?

Santino: I was actually really inspired by JCP when I wrote my psychic trilogy, The Community. But in terms of collaboration, I’m already writing with Megan Erickson and Piper Vaughn, and have plans to write with Avon Gale and Roan Parrish as well!

Birdie: While I read, I always focus on the characters I relate to.  Of all the characters you’ve written, which ones remind you the most of yourself and why?

Santino: I relate a lot to Michael Rodriguez of Sutphin Boulevard. That whole series starts with him, and he’s a reoccurring character throughout. He was pretty consistent in terms of caring deeply for close friends and family, but just struggling to go out of his comfort zone and immersing himself in this wider social circle that evolved around him. He’s also very grumpy and impatient, and struggles with depression.

Birdie: Are there any rituals or supplies that you must have with you for a productive writing session?

Santino: I isolate myself, put on some very low key moody music (sometimes instrumental these days), have a cup of coffee, and get ready to write. In the past, I’d still have social media in a browser, my phone nearby, and chat signed on, but I’ve realized I was creating a situation where distraction was imminent. My 2018 goal is to not be consistently plugged in.

Birdie: Finally, for fun, You’re warming the bench at a Baron’s game. Which player do you want sitting next to you and why?

Santino: Simeon, for sure! He would be their biggest cheerleader, and so enthusiastic but simultaneously hilarious. The best part about writing Simeon was his sense of humor. I had fun giving him amusing one-liners.

A huge thank you to Santino Hassell for answering a few questions on Birdie Bookworm.  We truly appreciate your time, and we look forward to escaping this world through your imagination!

Series Order

Illegal Contact Down by Contact

About Birdie

Don’t look for her in any bar, club, crazy raging party, or anywhere there may be a large gathering of strangers. She’s more likely to be found tucked into the corner of the couch watching one of her favorite shows, or preferably under a comforter with her current novel.

9 Responses

  1. Great review and this makes me really psyched to read the next book in the series. It’ll happen before the end of the year for sure (its on my list of about 100 books that are being prioritized above other books and I’m totally planning on reading the Klune backlog and anything for Five Boroughs and Barons that come out this year).


      1. The third is my favourite (I could gush about First and First for forever, wasn’t as good with a reread which I just did this past month, but I did def love it) but if you didn’t feel it was worth it to continue after reading the second book…Sunset Park which is my second fave…I would say maybe don’t (because if someone doesn’t like what is commonly a favourite in a set of books and have already read two and there are six or so out with two more slated, I just think life is too short you know?)


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