Review: Down by Contact by Santino Hassell

Posted January 22, 2018 by Sophia Rose in Reviews / 30 Comments

Review: Down by Contact by Santino Hassell
Down by Contact

One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

Series: The Barons #2
Genres: Contemporary Romance, M/M Romance, Sports Romance
Published by Intermix
Released on January 16, 2018
Pages: 220
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher

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The Delight

My first encounter with the author’s writing was Illegal Contact, the first book in this series.  I was very taken with the characters and the dynamics of their lives and romance.  I remember hoping Gaven’s friend, the larger than life Simeon was going to get his own book.  Wish granted, and what a roller-coaster story it was because Simeon meets his match- and they can’t stand each other…


Down by Contact is The Barons’ book two.  It flows right out of book one, but would work standalone just fine.

An enemies to lovers on the grid iron story had all sorts of appeal for me.  Though, true confessions here, it was an iffy thing for the first few chapters when I was ready to toss Simeon, Adrian, and their book into an icy lake.  Those boys had all the appeal of being locked in a car with squabbling kids who either wanted to pick a fight or one up each other.

But, then they started working past that stuff and were into the real heart of the matter.  Attraction, lust, and, in Adrian’s case, understanding his own sexual inclinations.  It was a combo of heartwarming, sweet, and spicy hot.  I thought it was a good piece of writing to take an inappropriate, thoughtless bully and in the end- well, actually the middle- of the story make me adore him as much as Simeon and make me root for them.  This pair had me smiling and laughing so much at their playfulness in and out of the bedroom.  I loved seeing them become bantering friends with the frisson of attraction and then seeing it slip into romance.

Real life issues and concerns were not set aside and had to be dealt with.  The author definitely had an agenda to get the word out about bullying, inappropriate humor, the pressures on pro athletes, and coming out.  It suited the story and challenges all of us to think before we speak- or tweet.

In the end, I was left superbly curious about Adrian’s obnoxious teammate Rocky and hope to see more of him.  Definitely something going on there.

All in all, Down by Contact was a solid sequel and this series promises to continue going strong.  It’s a fascinating peek behind the curtains at the world of pro football, those who play, and brings to life some fantastic characters and romances.  I definitely recommend the series to those who enjoy LGBTQA Contemporary Romance.

My thanks to Penguin-Random House for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.


Romance Roundabout #20 LGBT
Literary Pickers #20 Enemies to Lovers
New Release #5 




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I was born and raised near Sacramento, CA. I have read since I was four years old and developed tastes that run the gamut of literature. I went away to college and have a degree in education, a certificate in family history research, and a certificate in social work. I worked for a non-profit agency with low income families for 20 years which included being responsible for the children’s library and promoting/teaching adult literacy. I have lived in Southeast Michigan for the last 18 years and I am currently a book addicted homemaker with a cat and husband who keep me grounded. Recently, I made it a challenge to review each book that I have read as a favor to author friends who said reviews are important. I have done reviews for Good Reads, Amazon, eBay, and Smashwords, but mostly at Goodreads and Amazon.

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  • o_O I didn’t know about his single dads’ series. It sounds good.

    Oh this pair really got under each other’s skin. It was a good enemies to lovers even in sports since they play for rival teams. LOL

  • it looks quite good and well done there so why not?

  • Though, true confessions here, it was an iffy thing for the first few chapters when I was ready to toss Simeon, Adrian, and their book into an icy lake. Those boys had all the appeal of being locked in a car with squabbling kids who either wanted to pick a fight or one up each other. – GOOD GOD YES! They were driving me absolutely nuts at the beginning of this story, and I was so afraid I wasn’t going to like it.

    Rocky’s story is next!

    Great review, Sophia!

    • Whew boy! I took a deep breath when we finally got through the worst of it. LOL

      Oh, very good news. I was hoping Rocky would get a story. You made my Monday, Angie!

  • I’ve hear good things about this series and Santino Hassell. I should really look into it.

    • He’s definitely a bright new romance writer that really connects the readers and the story. Hope you get the chance, Quinn! 🙂

  • I really like it when books in a series work as standalones as well. This sounds really good.

    • I agree, Mary. Having some versatility to just pick up whichever book in the series first catches my eye is a good thing. Particularly with Hassell’s writing b/c he gives each book a totally different type of romance and thematic focus.

  • I’ve been seeing this one around!

    • Oh, no doubt. I’m glad to see this author getting some props for his work. 🙂

  • I really do need to read more in the LGBT genre, since I don’t read enough of it. And ever since listening to this author’s interview over at SBTB I have been wanting to try out this work and this book seems just right.

    • Yes, this is a good one for seeing exactly what he has to offer as a writer. His Five Boroughs series is emotionally intense and might have appeal, too, Renee. 🙂

  • *snort* Sorry. They were killing me for about three chapters and then they finally started focusing on something other than their hated rivalry and issues from the past. They actually talked it out and discovered they could get along for two minutes. LOL

  • shootingstarsmag

    Oh, I love LGBT+ fiction and this is a series I NEED to read. I have read other books by Santino though, and he’s fantastic.


    • Its been a great series so far, Lauren. Hope you get the chance at these. I still need to try his Five Boroughs series and finish up his psychic romance series.

  • Yes, please! This sounds like my kinda read! Simeon and Adrian sound like they would great to follow through their relationship. Great review!

    • Oh good! Love seeing the excitement to try a new one. This pair were pretty good together once they got over their issues. 🙂

  • Karen

    Loved this one!!!

    For What It’s Worth

    • It was just so Simeon and I was glad of that. 🙂

  • Nice that the character you hoped would get his own book got one :). Enemies to lovers stories can frustrate me at times, like what you describe happened in the first few chapters here. but this sounds like a lovely read once they start going past that stuff and get into the heart of the matter. I like it when the author can strike a good mix between sweet, heartwarming and hot. You sure made me curious about this series, I’ll have to look up the first book. Great review!

    • I absolutely love it when I finish a book in a series and the very next book is about the character I was most interested in for getting his/her own story. 🙂
      Oh yeah, this pair. I wanted to squirt them with a hose when they got all fired up at each other. But fortunately, they started communicating and understanding took place. Whew!

      Yay, glad to make you curious about Santino’s books. 🙂

  • I see so many readers loving Santino Hassell’s writing. I feel like I need to try him very soon. This sounds good and I noticed that the audio is available at my library. I may have to fit it in soon.

    • Oh, that’s neat that your library has it on audio. You should check and see if his The Community series are available. There are psychic gifts in those.

  • Bookworm Brandee

    Wow, this does sound like a well written story. That Hassell took these guys from not all that likeable to having you root for them is rather impressive. And I like that the story has so many relevant issues incorporated. Yep. I’m going to have to give this series a go!

    • Yes, I was impressed how I had a big turnabout from nearly putting it aside from irritation at the characters to totally adoring them was impressive. I think making it relevant gave it the right depth so that the book wouldn’t be one of the many ho-hum reads this year.
      Hope you like them, Brandee!

  • I’ve been seeing this one around…may have to try it. Great review 🙂

    • I think you’d get a kick out of this pair, Sharonda. Simeon was already quite the character in book one, but Adrian was a big surprise. Didn’t think I’d end up liking a bully.

  • Oh goodness on them at the start. lol Amazing it was able to turn around for ya!

    • Oh yeah, they were tap-dancing on my last nerve for a while there… but then they got over it and hit the heart of the issue. 🙂