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text 2018-03-12 22:21
Reading progress update: I've read 12%.
Mature Content - Megan Erickson,Santino Hassell

Zane is something 

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review 2018-03-09 22:41
First and First (Five Boroughs #3) by Santino Hassell Review
First and First (Five Boroughs Book 3) - Santino Hassell

Caleb Stone was raised on the Upper East Side, where wealth and lineage reign and "alternative lifestyles" are hidden. It took him years to come out to his family, but he's still stuck in the stranglehold of their expectations. Caleb knows he has to build his confidence and shake things up, but he doesn't know how... until Oliver Buckley enters the picture.

Oli is everything Caleb isn't--risk-taking, provocative, and fiercely independent. Disowned by his family, Oli has made his own way in the world and is beholden to no one. After a chance encounter on New Year's Eve, Caleb is smitten.

As Caleb sheds the insecurities that have held him back for years, he makes bold steps toward changing his career and escaping years of sexual repression. But for Caleb to take full control of his life, he has to be brave enough to confront his feelings and trust Oli with his heart.




After reading about Caleb in Sunset Park, I was eager for his romance,. I am thrilled he gets to comes to terms with his own sexual needs in this book.


While I am not a huge fan of sex parties in my romances, Hassell, as ever, write a compelling story set in a believable world.


All the gang is here for the series and that is a wonderful thing. We get to spend time with Charles who I hope gets his own book.


However, Caleb and Ollie are both so emotionially shuttered that it is hard to get to the intimacy part of the romance and for me the book ends too soon. We need more time with them committed and together.


Good overall but needed more emotionial connection.


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review 2018-01-17 00:00
Untitled - Santino Hassell Untitled - Santino Hassell Santino Hassell writes excellent, character-driven romance. I've mentioned this before. I've also mentioned a certain addictive quality to his books, and this wasn't an exception...but I did have to put it down several times.

I feel like I'm recycling an old review here, but his characters are messy. As in not-at-all-perfect. Simeon is this sweet, open, affectionate charismatic lover boy having trust issues from a former encounter and its subsequent fallout. But he's not careful. I loved him as much as I did in book #1, as much as the fictional fans do. Lots of good love and support surrounding his character, including my faves-Marcus and Gavin. He had me laughing from early on. And bless any man who loves his mama and aunties like this one.

“I’ve never seen you this bummed out,” Gavin said. “I’m starting to think you’re legit in love with this guy despite him being an actual worse asshole than me.” (God I love Gavin)
Why did I have to put it down several times? Because Adrian's journey was painful. I HATED him for a good portion of the book, but I could keep reading it because he was also intensely self-aware. Well...mostly. You think, how on earth? oh, but Hassell pulls it off, naturally. His redemption isn't really swift, it's peeled back bit by bit, thankfully, and that's what made this story so intensely satisfying. Seeing Adrian's tender side is rewarding. And it's so effective because we feel incredibly protective of the open and lovable Simeon. Loved the full circle. Loved the grand gesture.

I loved it. And whoever doesn't like it can go straight to hell.
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review 2018-01-16 02:48
Review: Down by Contact by Santino Hassell
Down By Contact (The Barons) - Santino Hassell

My review cross-posted from Wit and Sin


Down by Contact is insanely addictive! Like the first Barons book, Illegal Contact, Simeon and Adrián’s story is so compelling that you’ll want to be sure you have plenty of time to devour it in one sitting. Santino Hassell’s writing has power and passion and his characters are so vibrant that there’s no way this story won’t stick with you.

I dare readers not to fall in love with Simeon from the start. He’s so charming that he lights up the page and it’s easy to see why almost every one he meets is instantly at ease with him. In the previous Barons book, Illegal Contact, Simeon came out as gay in solidarity with his best friend and teammate, Gavin. Coming out hasn’t harmed Simeon’s reputation in any visible way, but the invasiveness of the media and the online taunting from his former teammate now rival, Adrián, is wearing on even the generally positive Simeon. Simeon isn’t perfect, but he’s a pretty perfect hero. He’s kind, generous, and has a spine of steel. He doesn’t let anyone walk over him, but he’s also willing to forgive. I absolutely loved him and couldn’t wait for him to fall for someone who’s his match.

While Simeon made me swoon, Adrián isn’t immediately endearing. And though it might sound weird to say it, I enjoyed the fact that Adrián is deeply flawed at the start, because he grew into a hero worth rooting for. Adrián is aggressive and doesn’t think before he speaks, throwing out comments he doesn’t even realize are homophobic and deeply hurtful. He also carries deep resentment toward Simeon for leaving the Predators to play for the Barons. Part of Adrián’s animosity also stems from the fact that he’s bisexual and doesn’t realize it. I really liked that Simeon was able to open Adrián’s eyes about his behavior. Adrián isn’t a bad person, which is why his change over the course of the story is organic. It was great to see him realize just what he had been saying and the impact it had. He not only starts to think before he speaks, but becomes a better, more aware person, one who is happier and more at peace with himself.

Adrián and Simeon may hate each other at the start of Down by Contact, but the former friends turned enemies have one hell of a love story. When the tension simmering between them explodes into a fistfight on the field, they’re both suspended and forced to teach teenagers how to play football. Having to put the kids first means they have to put aside their animosity, which of course leads to the barriers between them coming down. It’s clear from the start that these two have incredible chemistry and I couldn’t wait for Adrián to realize that his feelings for Simeon run far deeper than he ever could have imagined. The sexual tension between them is incredible, and when it boils over Down by Contact gets insanely hot. In bed and out, Adrián and Simeon make a fantastic couple. That doesn’t mean the road to happily ever after is an easy one. Adrián not only has to come to terms with the fact that he’s bisexual, he and Simeon have to make hard decisions about their burgeoning relationship that could impact the careers they love (and those are only the non-spoiler obstacles). Mr. Hassell makes every bump in the road worth it, because the ending of the story left me grinning.

Down by Contact is the second book in Mr. Hassell’s Barons series, but it can easily be read as a standalone (though you’d be missing out on a great story if you skip Illegal Contact). I absolutely loved Simeon and Adrián’s romance. It’s sexy and sweet, but also interesting and layered. I cannot wait to re-read it!

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Source: witandsin.blogspot.com/2018/01/review-down-by-contact-by-santino.html
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review 2018-01-16 00:00
Untitled - Santino Hassell Untitled - Santino Hassell Review originally posted at Sinfully.

There is no question that Santino Hassell has another hit series on his hands with The Barons. Once again a Barons player, the out and proud Simeon Boudreaux, who we met in [b:Illegal Contact|34346381|Illegal Contact (The Barons, #1)|Santino Hassell|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1493270535s/34346381.jpg|54486205], finds himself with time on his hands after being suspended and injured as well. Too bad he’s being forced to spend it with the man who used to be a teammate, but now is nothing but a homophobic trouble maker, and who started the whole fracas, Adrián Bravo. These two have a history, but each of them have a different take on it. Adrián hates Simeon and Simeon isn’t sure why. A lot of times that hate comes out as homophobic comments and macho posturing as the two, and their teammates, trade barbs on social media.

Although this one lacked the emotional punch for me that I got out from Illegal Contact, I thoroughly enjoyed Simeon and Adrián’s relationship whether it was antagonistic or hot and heavy. I loved Simeon in the first book and he’s just as wonderful as we get to know him a bit more here. He has a great support system in his friends and his mother, a heart of gold and a love of life, and he’s not afraid to put Adrián in his place.

I wasn’t so sure how I felt about the game of “gay chicken” they were playing at the start, but Simeon had his reasons and Adrián was a willing player. Things are bumpy still, but the two forge sort of truce and start to get along more than not as they work off their time at a community center. After they eventually drop the façade that it was all a game, when it came down to it, Adrián proved himself as more interested in Simeon than in fighting or labeling his feelings as anything but what they were. Underneath all the BS, it turns out that Adrián is a smart and delightful counterpart to Simeon.

Adrián is really surprised by the realization that his hurt feelings over Simeon’s leaving the Predators and all the bitterness that followed were more than just professional or platonic anger. While his bisexuality comes as a revelation (Simeon's the only man he's been attracted to) he’s not all that put off. He knows what he feels for Simeon is real and he is ready to be all in, though I wish we had a little bit more of his thoughts and reasoning on leading up to it. Adrián goes from really unlikable to being an incredible, supportive and sympathetic character. Brought up to be a manly man and a winner by his ballplayer father, he knows that any coming out is not going to be easy personally or professionally, but I loved that he didn’t use that as an excuse.

The story was surprisingly light after the first chapters where the two men were at each other's throats. When they’re together, they are a fun and playful couple complete with good banter and sizzling chemistry, who can be just as tender as they can rough. They don’t shy away from serious conversation either, communicating pretty well with a few small hiccups.

I don’t need to sing the praises of Santino’s writing more than I have in the past. I love his simple, straight-forward style even when some of the slang sends me to Google. There were some good secondary characters, including the kids from the community center, the men’s parents and Simeon’s Barons family from the first book. This story will work as a standalone, but I don’t suggest missing out on Illegal Contact. Also, if sports aren’t your thing, most of the action takes place off the field. I’m glad to see that there appears to be at least one more story to come and I’ll be ready and waiting for it.

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