I had been dying to get my hands on Simeon’s book ever since he was introduced in Illegal Contact (one of my FAVORITE reads of 2017). Santino Hassell did an incredible job with the first Barons novel, so of course I needed more of these football players in my life! Down by Contact has everything you can expect in an M/M sports romance from Santino – authentic characters, incendiary chemistry, and steam that will burn up the pages as you read. But there are also deeper parts to the story, like the struggle with one’s sexuality and homophobia, that Santino handles in an honest, heartfelt way. If you loved Illegal Contact, you’ll want to get your hands on this amazing follow-up!
As the Barons’ quarterback, Simeon Boudreaux is charming, adorable, and loved by all – except one. When Simeon comes out as gay to support his teammate, there’s one person who can’t help but taunt and incite him: former teammate and now rival, Adrián Bravo. To say these two don’t like each other would be an understatement – they are constantly at each other’s throats, both on the field and on social media. When a brawl goes too far, Simeon and Adrián are forced to work together at a football camp for kids. The proximity forces them to get to know one another better, become friends and possibly more. But can Adrián accept his newfound sexuality and feelings for Simeon?
It took me a while to warm up to Adrián – he is a dick, to say the least, and the way he verbally attacks Simeon can very easily be labeled as homophobic. His confusion and frustration about his attraction towards Simeon causes him to act this way, though it doesn’t excuse it. We get to experience both his and Simeon’s struggles as an openly gay professional football player, which Santino handles flawlessly. Adrián’s personal growth is a highlight of the story, as he recognizes the mistakes he’s made and the wrongs he tries to make right.
As far as love to hate and hate to love romances go, you can’t get better than Simeon and Adrián’s relationship. Their hostility, their witty and sarcastic banter, and then their growing friendship and love, everything served to make Down by Contact an incredible read. You don’t need to read Illegal Contact in order to start Down by Contact, but I’d highly recommend it anyway, because it is an incredible book. These are top-notch M/M romances for me, and I can only hope that we can get more of this series!