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.
Re-read in January 2018
Charlotte Baird is the best friend of Molly Webster, the heroine from Rock Addiction. This book takes place simultaneously and portrays Charlotte's relationship with her overbearing new boss who she refers to as T-Rex. I was intrigued by this side plot in the first Rock Kiss book so I was super happy that it met all of my expectations.
I loved the portrayal of Charlotte and her journey to self-confidence after a horrific incident with an ex-boyfriend. Readers get hints about what happened, but I was not prepared for the details which made me admire Charlotte even more. She is intelligent and shy though she also has a spine of steel when pushed too far. There are many moments where she could have retreated back into her enclosed world, but she kept going and showed how strong she really was.
The aforementioned T-Rex whose real name is Gabriel Bishop is a former professional rugby player who is now known for bring businesses back from the brink of disaster. His first few days at his new company results in staff overhauls and plenty of tears, but he showed a keen sense of business smarts and a good heart. I liked that, while most of this book focused on Charlotte's development, it also deals with Gabriel's own difficult childhood and how it effects his current outlook on life.
Rock Hard has many elements that I adore in Nalini Singh's paranormal books like fully developed characters, romance that sweeps the reader off their feet, and well-written worlds. Even though this book is a contemporary romance, I can see Singh's skills at worldbuilding with her depiction of the company that Charlotte and Gabriel work for, the relationships between the workers, and especially the crazy Bishop family. I am hoping Gabriel's brother, Danny, will get his own story someday.
All in all, a truly entertaining read that is both sweet and sexy. This author is showing how skilled she is at writing romance whether it is contemporary or paranormal. Rock Hard is my favorite of the series so far.
I received a free e-ARC of this book from TKA Distribution via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Van's brother Joel fell in love with one of Van's one night stands. Now, Van is jealous. He wants what he brother has. Danny has been Van's BF and secretly in love with him (yes, of course, you have no idea where this is going, right?!). Van decides he is through with one night stands and wants a forever relationship. With Danny.
I liked Danny, Van not as much. He frequently describes himself as a "man-whore." I just didn't buy their romance. The both of them liked to go out and he'd pick up the "flavor of the day" in front of her. This is Van's description of Danny: "beefy," "deeper voice," and "Her hands are not quite what I'd call sexy because they're too big for my taste." I also didn't like Van's opinion of a Prius (as someone who drives one because I care about the environment/fuel economy): "sissy-assed Prius."
I didn't need to be reminded of Van's "man-whore" status either. "I've had more blow jobs than I can count on my fingers and toes." BUT, the one he got from Danny is "the hottest thing."
What saved this was Danny made him work for it.
This is an anthology full of great short stories by some of our favorite sports romance authors. I even found some new ones I will be reading again in the future! Full of different sports types, these are all great romances from semi-sweet to erotica. A really great read.
Here are the books in their listing by author:
Adriana Locke (Cross)
Charleigh Rose (Yard Sale)
Ella Fox (Out of Formation)
Emma Scott (One Good Man)
Kate Stewart (Sweeping the Series)
Kennedy Ryan (Full Court Press)
L.J. Shen (The End Zone)
Mandi Beck (Sin Bin)
Meghan Quinn (Back in the Game)
Rochelle Paige (Slapped Into Love)
Sara Ney (Switch Hitter)
I had so much fun reading this collection. It was very hard to put down! If you need a book that has something for everyone - may I recommend this one? Such a great anthology with 11 books to keep you company. I will be re-reading this one, folks. I give this compilation a 4/5 Kitty's Paws UP!
***This early copy was given in exchange of an honest review only.