DOWN BY CONTACT (The Barons #2) by Santino Hassell-Review, Interview and Giveaway
DOWN BY CONTACT
By Santino Hassell
Release Date: January 16, 2018
Genre: adult, contemporary, erotic, M/M, football romance
Amazon.com / Amazon.ca / B&N / KOBO / Chapters Indigo /
ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date January 16, 2018
Simeon Boudreaux, the New York Barons’ golden-armed quarterback, is blessed with irresistible New Orleans charm and a face to melt your mama’s heart. He’s universally adored by fans and the media. Coming out as gay in solidarity with his teammate hasn’t harmed his reputation in the least—except for some social media taunting from rival linebacker Adrián Bravo.
Though they were once teammates, Adrián views Simeon as a traitor and the number-one name on the New Jersey Predators’ shit list. When animosity between the two NFL players reaches a boiling point on the field, culminating in a dirty fist fight, they’re both benched for six games and sentenced to joint community service teaching sullen, Brooklyn teens how to play ball.
At first, they can barely stand to be in the same room, but running the camp forces them to shape up. With no choice but to work together, Simeon realizes Adrián is more than his alpha-jerk persona, and Adrián begins to question why he’s always had such strong feelings for the gorgeous QB…
REVIEW: DOWN BY CONTACT is the second instalment in Santino Hassell’s contemporary, adult THE BARONS erotic, M/M, football romance series focusing on the professional football players of the New York Barons. This is Barons’ quarterback Simeon Boudreaux, and New Jersey Predators’ linebacker Adrian Bravo’s story line. DOWN BY CONTACT can be read as a stand alone without any difficulty. Any important information from the previous story line is revealed where necessary.
NOTE: DOWN BY CONTACT is an M/M romance story line with sexually graphic language, text and situations that may not be suitable for all readers.
Told from dual first person perspectives (Simeon and Adrian) DOWN BY CONTACT follows the enemies to lovers relationship between one-time teammates New York Baron’s quarterback Simeon Boudreaux, and New Jersey Predators’ linebacker Adrian Bravo. Following a less than stellar start with the Predators, Simeon Boudreaux was traded to the New York Baron’s where his star power is on the rise, but in the ensuing time rumors and innuendo about betrayal and playbook theft dogged our hero from the opposing team, but none more so than from one-time teammate and friend Adrian Bravo. Simeon’s recent forced ‘coming out’ prompted a firestorm of media sensation including the homophobic diatribes from a man he once call a friend. Enter Adrian Bravo, New Jersey Predator’s linebacker, and the man with whom Simeon would fall in love. A preseason, on-field brawl between our leading couple finds Simeon and Adrian facing suspension with team ordered volunteer work at a local children’s shelter. What ensues is the building relationship between Simeon and Adrian as they are forced to work together for the benefit of a children’s summer camp, and the potential threat to Adrian’s career when their relationship is revealed.
Adrian Bravo always thought he was a heterosexual male until the day he met teammate Simeon Boudreaux but Adrian had to keep up appearances in front of his team fearing rejection and ridicule at the hands of the media and his so-called friends. Social media attacks against Simeon Boudreaux quickly made Adrian an enemy in more ways than one. Simeon Boudreaux was previously ‘outed’ by several jealous fans who posted sensitive images for all to see but discovering that Adrian Bravo, quite possibly, wanted something more than a rekindling friendship brought hope to a man who was potentially looking for a happily ever after.
The relationship between Simeon and Adrian is an enemies to friends to lovers romance; a second chance friendship that continues to build as they must work together towards a common goal. The $ex scenes are intimate, erotic and intense without the use of over the top, sexually graphic language and text.My only complaint is the lack of condom usage. Although this is a story of fiction, in an era of STDs and AIDS, I believe the author ( or for that matter, everyone) has a responsibility to promote safer $ex.
We are reintroduced to Barons’ tight end Gavin Brawley, and his personal assistant Noah Monroe (Illegal Contact #1); running back Marcus Hendricks and his fiance Jasmine; and second-string quarterback Noah Monroe; Simeon’s agent Mel Hawkins’, and Adrian’s agent Casey Rose; several young teens and counselors at the Grant Street Center, Simeon’s mother Joanne Boudreaux, Adrian’s parents, as well as Adrian’s embattled teammate Rocky Swoops.
DOWN BY CONTACT is a sexy, sassy and spirited story line; an inspiring and heart warming romance about passion, perception, discrimination and love. The premise is encouraging and energetic; the romance is sensual and provocative; the characters are dynamic and realistic.
Click HERE for Sandy’s review of book one-ILLEGAL CONTACT
Copy supplied by the publisher through Netgalley
Reviewed by Sandy
TRC: Hi Santino and welcome to The Reading Café. Congratulations on the recent release of DOWN BY CONTACT.
TRC: We would like to start with some background information. Would you please tell us something about yourself?
Follow: Facebook Goodreads / Website / Twitter
Santino: First of all, thank you so much for interviewing me! I guess the most succinct way to explain my background as a fiction writer is to explain that I’ve been writing since I was a teenager. As a kid, I was the type to keep journals full of songs and poetry, then it upgraded to me writing short stories about my friends and I. All of it was wishful thinking and how I wished my life was different. Later, I moved onto writing fanfiction and original fiction. Once I found out there was a whole market for queer romance, I jumped down the rabbit hole and haven’t looked back.
TRC: Who or what influenced your career in writing?
Santino: I was really influenced by writers like Jordan Castillo Price, Amy Jo Cousins, and more recently Molly O’Keefe. Writers who tackle interesting issues and perspectives with characters who have a very strong voice. Also, I’m really drawn to grittier romances about people who have to fight to get their happy endings, which is why my own writing tends to trend in that direction.
TRC: What challenges or difficulties have you encountered writing and publishing your stories?
Santino: One of my main challenges, and I think the challenge of queer romance writers in general, is my desire for my books to not be treated as a separate subgenre because the characters aren’t straight. This isn’t something that can be changed by one person, or even a few people, but eventually I’d love for these books to be shelved right alongside M/F romance novels.
TRC: Would you please tell us something about the premise of DOWN BY CONTACT and The Barons series?
Santino: The premise of The Barons is essentially “troubled athletes finding love”. Book 1, Illegal Contact, saw the main character suspended and on house arrest following a public brawl, and in Down by Contact the main characters are also in hot water after getting in a fight on the field with each other. Football is such an aggressive sport filled with these athletes who are driven by competitiveness and ego that I wanted to explore that in the series.
TRC: What type of research/plotting do you do, and how long do you spend researching /plotting before beginning a book?
Santino: Before I started the Barons, I read several memoirs of athletes and agents to get an idea of how the sport works on the inside. Besides knowing what goes on during the game, I wanted to know what happens in negotiations, between players and their agents or managers, and definitely in the locker room.
TRC: How do you keep the plot(s) unpredictable without sacrificing content and believability?
Santino: Humans are so unpredictable as a species that sometimes the story tells itself depending on the characters I’ve created. If you start with creating characters from the ground up, with all their background, influences, and life experiences, you have totally different people who will react differently in various scenarios. So, in book 1, Gavin reacted to a friend being threatened by… chasing that person down. He was driven by loyalty and overprotectiveness. In book 2, both Simeon and Adrián are driven by competitiveness and pride—it drives them to engage in a social media feud that gets physical, and ultimately causes them to get trapped together where they take start up a sexier kind of challenge. They basically cannot help but try to one-up each other.
TRC: How did publishing your first book change your writing process?
Santino: I pretty much figured out what works for me in terms of drafting. Basically, that I NEED a detailed outline to survive a draft!
TRC: What was your hardest scene –ever–to write?
Santino: Honestly, some of my most challenging scenes are always action oriented. In The Barons, writing the football scenes always end with me double checking my descriptions, rereading about fifty times, and then asking my beta readers to pay close attention to the details. I’m always terrified of getting something wrong.
TRC: Do you believe the cover image plays a deciding factor for many readers in the process of selecting a book or new series to read?
Santino: I definitely think it’s important to catching a reader’s attention. As a reader myself, I’m inundated by hundreds of books when I step into a bookstore or go on Amazon, so an amazing cover will stand out from the rest and grab me. After that, the blurb will be the deciding factor on whether I buy.
TRC: When writing a storyline, do the characters direct the writing or do you direct the characters?
Santino: I try to direct the characters but, as trite as it sounds, they don’t always follow the script. Usually, they develop in such a way over time in the draft that their actions shift and change, and I have to revise my outline. For example, in Down by Contact, I did not initially intend for Adrián to be smitten with Simeon first, but it happened organically.
TRC: How do you select the names of your characters?
Santino: I don’t have a super scientific process. I tend to go by background, region they grew up in and their parents’ personalities, and use something believable based on all those factors.
TRC: The mark of a good writer is to pull the reader into the storyline so that they experience the emotions along with the characters. What do you believe a writer must do to make this happen? Where do you believe writer’s fail in this endeavor?
Santino: Creating characters that are multi-faceted is important in that regard. Characters need their own histories, motivations, and life experiences so they feel real. In books where I’ve struggled to form an emotional connection with the characters, it was because they were two-dimensional and had no motivations other than overcoming the main conflict in the story.
TRC: Do you listen to music while writing? If so, does the style of music influence the storyline direction? Characters?
Santino: I do listen to mood music while writing. In the past, I’ve listened to the type of music that I thought my characters would be listening to. Now, I tend to listen to something mellow and calming that won’t distract me. It usually leads to me picking a station on Spotify.
TRC: What do you believe is the biggest misconception people have about you? About authors in general?
Santino: A misconception about me… is probably that I have a plan and know what I’m doing. Most of the time, though, I’m winging it. In terms of an overall misconception about authors—I would say many people I meet seem to believe authors just write in their spare time as a hobby. Usually people who aren’t voracious readers are the ones who make comments implying professional authors just casually pen novels on the side for fun. They have no idea how time-consuming and stressful the craft can be.
TRC: What is something that few, if anybody, knows about you?
Santino: I plan to start writing M/F romance and one day try my shot at YA!
TRC: On what are you currently working?
Santino:I’m currently starting book 3 in The Barons series—Use of Hands. You meet the hero in Down by Contact. His love interest was introduced in book 1.
TRC: Would you like to add anything else?
Santino: Thank you so much for having me! I hope everyone loves Simeon and Adrián.
Favorite Food: Spaghetti
Favorite Dessert: Cookies
Favorite TV Show: Shameless, at the moment
Last Movie You Saw: Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Dark or Milk Chocolate: Milk Chocolate
Secret Celebrity Crush: Clive Owen
Last Vacation Destination: New Orleans
Do you have any pets? 2 cats, 1 dog
Last book you read: Relay by Layla Reyne
TRC: Thank you Santino for taking the time to answer our questions. Congratulations on your new release.
Santino Hassell’s publisher is graciously offering a paperback ARC of DOWN BY CONTACT to ONE lucky commenter at The Reading Cafe.
1. If you have not previously registered at The Reading Cafe, please register by using the log-in at the top of the page (side bar) or by using one of the social log-ins.
NOTE: If you are having difficulty commenting after logging onto the site, please refresh the page (at the top of your computer).
2. If you are using a social log-in, please post your email address with your comment.
3. LIKE Santino Hassell on Facebook
4. LIKE us on FACEBOOK and then click GET NOTIFICATION under ‘liked’ for an additional entry.
5. LIKE us on Twitter for an additional entry.
6. Please FOLLOW us on GOODREADS for an additional entry.
7. Please follow The Reading Cafe on Tumblr
8. Giveaway open to USA only
9.. Giveaway runs from January 18-23, 2018