Simeon and Adrián have been rivals for four years, ever since Simeon was traded from the Predators to the Barons. When the pair match up in a preseason game, the summer after Simeon came out of the closet, Adrián can’t stop himself from making jokes at the expense of Simeon’s sexual preferences. This leads to an all-out brawl, leaving both suspended for six games and forced into joint community service. Can the pair back away from their rivalry long enough to become friends? or more?
I have to admit, I struggled a quiet a bit when I first started Down by Contact. I was disappointed the story once again relied on an NFL suspension to make it work (which is what happened in the first book of the series). Additionally, both main characters come off juvenile and immature mostly because of their speech. The characters weren’t clicking for me, and I didn’t feel any sexual tension or connections between the pair like I did in the first book. But mostly, the narration didn’t work for me. I did not care for Mr. London’s voice for Adrián, nor his interpretation of Simeon, and at times couldn’t tell the difference between who was speaking.
After taking a short break away from the story and then coming back to it, I found things turning around. As the story progresses, the characters develop and their interactions become more meaningful. I liked the play between Adrián and Simeon when they’re just being themselves. And although everything starts off as a dare and a game, real emotions surface, and I liked that the pair is accepting of what is happening.
What shines in the story is Adrián’s self-reflection and analysis of his actions and ideals. And not just about being queer. But on being a better person. About thinking before speaking. About caring for others. His constant contemplation is thought-provoking. I enjoyed seeing him change most off all, and I’m not just taking about his sexuality. I mean how he becomes aware of his place in the world around him.
As I mentioned above, I struggled with the narration. The narrators are the same as the prior book. Alexander Cendese, who was Gavin, is perfect for Simeon. Rough and tough, but sweet. The voice of Adrián is Eric London (who was Noah), who’s performance is way too calm for the asshole behavior of Adrián. However, as Adrián’s character changes, and the longer I listened to the book, I grew to like Mr. London’s performance more. I don’t know that he ever fit perfectly for Adrián, and he never did a great job with Simeon, but it didn’t prevent me from enjoying the story.
In the end, even though I struggled with Adrián and his narrator for about 50% of the book, he changed, and the narration was a better fit as Adrian became a more thoughtful individual. And as Simeon and Adrián developed a genuine friendship, I grew to like the pair and enjoy their story.
AC narration: B+
EL narration: B-
Review copy provided by Tantor Audio.