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review 2018-02-15 19:10
#Audiobook Review: Down by Contact by Santino Hassell
Down by Contact: Barons Series, Book 2 - Eric London,Tantor Audio,Santino Hassell,Alexander Cendese

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.


Story: B 

AC narration: B+

EL narration: B-


Review copy provided by Tantor Audio.

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review 2018-01-23 21:13
Are you ready for some football?
Down By Contact (The Barons) - Santino Hassell

Simeon and Adrián may not be on the same team now, but there was a time when they were and while it wasn't for long Adrián thought they'd started building the foundation for a friendship. Then Simeon left and went to the 'Barons' while Adrián remained a 'Predator'. It's been years since they parted ways but Adrián's still angry over what he considers to be Simeon's defection. 


In the world of football the the Barons and the Predators are rivals and for some it's personal but for all it's not friendly. Things come to a head when Adrián makes an illegal tackle during a football game that results in an injury for Simeon and a lengthy suspension for both of them that sees them doing some coaching at a local youth center.  


As Simeon and Adrián are forced to work together coaching at the youth center they discover that maybe their problems can be worked out but more importantly they also discover that they like each other...a lot!


Things heat up between Adrián and Simeon as they challenge each other to what they both claim out loud is 'just a game' trying to see who can unnerve who first with their sexuality. "It's just a game." they each say but their hearts aren't hearing what their mouths are saying and what's 'just a game' turns into something far more serious as each man finds themselves caring and stepping up to protect the other from public scrutiny. 


I honestly wasn't sure when I started reading this one. I really enjoyed the first book and it hooked me from the very beginning but this one took a little longer for me to warm up to.


I  probably liked Simeon a little more in the beginning but that's partially due to the fact that we met him in the first book so he was already a familiar character to me and Simeon was just generally an easily likable character. 


While Adrián may have taken a little more time and effort to warm up to in the end he came through and turned out to be my favorite. Once Adrián accepted what he realized were some truths about himself, he was all in and when push came to shove he knew what his priorities needed to be and consequences be damned he went after what he wanted most of all...a life with Simeon as his partner and never let it be said that Simeon didn't totally endorse this plan because he was as all in as Adrián. 


One of my favorite things about reading a Santino Hassell book is that along with main characters that have depth and dimension he also gives us a supporting cast or secondary characters if you prefer who add to the story with their own character and color. I loved Simeon's mother as I'm sure many other readers did and while Adrián's parents weren't quite as awesome...they came through for their son and got their act together and sometimes even parents need a second chance. It was so good to get a peek at Gavin, Noah, Marcus and a few others from 'Illegal Contact' along with the host of new characters that we met in this story...Sheila & Yaritza who ran the Youth Center, the two kids from the youth program and someone who I have to admit I'm more than curious to see get his own story...Rocky Swoops, if every there was a candidate for a second chance story he's it.


For me it wasn't the slow start that detracted from this story it was the ending...while not all of it worked for me. I can't deny that it was nice to see an ending that showed not what would or even could be, but what should be possible...a world where love is love and that's what really matters.


I loved the first book and really enjoyed this one...needless to say I'm definitely on board for what comes next.



A copy of 'Down by Contact' was graciously provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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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 2018-01-05 19:15
Emergency Contact by Elle Brownlee Review
Emergency Contact - Elle Brownlee

When Liam's best friend has to leave town on business, he asks for a favor—be an emergency contact for his cousin who is new in town. Liam doesn’t think twice before he accepts. He's great with numbers and confidently plays the odds, because nobody ever uses those emergency contacts, right? Wrong. The very next Sunday, cousin Garrett shows up at Liam’s apartment, fresh-faced, devastatingly gorgeous, and nothing like Liam had dismissively assumed.

Garrett arrived in New York City hoping to make it in the modeling world, and Liam isn't sure what to do with him. While he eventually warms to welcome the distraction, he’s not prepared to have his steady, predictable world overturned. Liam is sure Garrett will soon tire of him and find someone closer in age and less eager for the quiet, settled life Liam prefers. But Garrett is too sweet-natured and naïve to recognize Liam’s dismissal, and he’s not as shallow as Liam presumes.

Although Garrett sees a future for the two of them, Liam manages to push him away. It is only then Liam sees the Garrett-shaped hole in his life.




I really like the characters in this book but the lack of communication on both their parts gets old. It would have been a richer book if we could have seen them be vulnerable to each other for a few chapters at the end.


I like a Math based character a lot but whoa does Liam have trust issues.


Garrett is wonderful but even he needs to speak up more.


I would read more books by this writer.

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review 2018-01-05 14:44
I usually enjoy the Jack Ryan series, but this one was very disappointing.
Tom Clancy's Point of Contact - Mike Maden

Tom Clancy Point of Contact, Mike Maden, author; Scott Brick, narrator

I stayed with this book until the end due to the exceptional talent of the narrator. He was the reason that I gave it two stars rather than one. Scott Brick is the saving grace of this novel because he does a fantastic job as a reader, using just the right amount of expression and tone for each character. The book itself leaves a lot to be desired. Characters pop up serendipitously and seem poorly developed. Then they often disappeared without any credible explanation, while others reappeared so much later on, it was hard to relate them back to the proper moment in time.

Every possible theme was included by the author. There were spies, corrupt government officials, criminals and thugs, violence, alcohol abuse, intimation of inappropriate sexual comments and behavior, loss and grief, and there were outlandish suspicions of each other coupled with ridiculous accusations and incredible assumptions.

When the book opens, Jack Ryan is on assignment to rescue hostages on a ship in the North Sea. From there, he returns home, disappointed because he believes that he screwed up in the liberation effort. He thinks he needs to have more training from The Campus. Then, when he is suddenly sent to Singapore to do some forensic accounting and fraud investigation for a Senator, Wes Rhodes, on a potential investment there, he believes this white-side op assignment is in retribution for his failure to react properly on the ship. However, when the mission turns into a black-side op adventure, it is wrapped up in a convoluted story about an effort to destroy the stock markets of the world and bring about economic disaster.

Ryan travels to Singapore with Paul Brown, initially described as a nerdy kind of guy, known for his ability to detect fraud. Secretly, he has been tasked by Senator Rhodes to do clandestine work involving planting some software on the mainframe of the company being investigated. When that software is launched, unknown to Paul and the Senator, the worldwide markets will collapse like dominos.

It took almost the entire book to figure out the story line, and then, even at the end, there were so many holes in the narrative I was left with a barely plausible conclusion. Just when it seemed like something might be making some sense, leading in a logical direction, the author brought up some other thread that made the plot veer off on another path requiring the total suspension of disbelief.

As an example, when chasing down a lead about an unknown factory location, Jack was intentionally involved in a serious vehicle accident in which he suffered injuries leaving him unconscious. Yet, when he awoke, he was miraculously not injured seriously enough to prevent him from continuing on with his secret mission. Oddly, although the accident was an attempt to prevent him from continuing his investigation, he was not captured or killed and was allowed to go on with his work. Even when he was apparently caught red-handed doing something highly illegal in a country that has some barbaric methods of punishment for infractions, the authorities were never informed.

Even more inconceivably, Paul Brown suspected the President’s son of doing something improper and then held him at gunpoint, eventually attacking him and knocking him out. Jack Ryan is the President’s son, and yet Brown’s behavior is treated as if this was to be expected and was not highly unusual. Then Gavin, a member of The Campus, like Jack, believes Paul’s ridiculous story about Jack’s love affair with Lian Fairchild whose father owns the company being investigated. Why did Paul and Jack keep secrets from each other even though they were all engaged in highly technical work with a situation that was becoming very suspect? They placed each other in danger because they displayed a remarkable lack of common sense.

When Paul Brown gets caught using the company computer in an unauthorized way, he somehow gets away with it, only to be captured a bit later on. Then, while all of the interested parties are attempting to stop the world markets from going into an intentional tailspin causing economic disaster, an impossible cyclone opportunely bears down on Singapore. With severe injuries, the characters bounce back up each time, and like superheroes, continue onward.  All the themes began to seem contrived.

The book is disjointed and tedious at times with extraneous, unnecessary details that are very confusing and are often dropped in seemingly to simply add volume to the book. Themes remained undeveloped without ever being brought to a satisfying climax. Different threads of the story were opened and left hanging or weren’t developed until so much later in the narrative, there was no way to reconnect them. Who were the Koreans? Who were the Bulgarians? What part did the Singaporeans play in this debacle? How did they all connect? Why was there a secret warehouse? Who was managing it? What happened to Yong Fairchild? What was his purpose? The premise that Paul or Jack could clandestinely get into the computers of a company that was very technologically advanced was astounding. The fact that both of them could escape detection, at various times, defied reality.

There was simply no way to knit this story together in a cohesive, convincing way.

There was little action until very near the end and then it was action that was overdone, unrealistic and inconclusive.


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