Two rival football players begin a game with higher stakes than the Super Bowl in this steamy romance from the author of Illegal Contact.
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…
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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