Guest Post: Illegal Contact by Santino Hassell

Today I am so pleased to welcome Santino Hassell to Joyfully Jay. Santino has come to talk to us about his new release, Illegal Contact. Please join me in giving him a big welcome!

Five Reasons to Read Sports Romance Even If You Hate Sports

I’ll be totally honest, there was a time in my life when I hated the sportsball. It wasn’t just about a lack of understanding (although, I didn’t fully get all the rules of football until recently. Shout out to my awesome beta, Sheryl!), or even me finding it boring, it was more about me being contrary. Other people liked the popular thing so I REFUSED to like the popular thing!

Guys, I did the same thing with Harry Potter for ages. I used to be a contrary mofo.

However, there’s something about sports and fans of sports that always tugged at my interest despite my inner desire to turn up my nose at it. Why? Because they have passion. They love sports the way I love books. They clamber for a game the way I clamber for an episode of Game of Thrones. They’re as heartbroken when their teams lose as I am when one of my favorite characters is killed, or a book takes a disappointing turn. Not only that, but people bond over their shared love of sports.

There’s a part in ILLEGAL CONTACT when Noah, the smart-mouthed personal assistant of Barons tight-end Gavin Brawley goes off on a rant about football being “just a sport”. Gavin responds by saying for some people, football is a religion. It’s an escape. After being surrounded by football fans for a significant amount of time, I’d have to agree. So here are my top five reasons for reading sports romance (even if you don’t really watch the sport).

1 – Attractive Humans. I realize this is very basic, but let’s be real. Football pants were created by a person who loves looking at nice butts. There is no other reason they exist in their current form.

2 – Comradery between athletes. If you enjoy books with a “band of brothers” vibe, whether we’re talking about the vampires in Black Dagger Brotherhood or Sue Brockmann’s books about Navy Seals, you might find that same loyalty and comradery in sports romance. At the end of the day, these guys have to work and train side-by-side constantly, and that builds some strong ties that can either lead to supportive friends (especially needed in a queer romance about professional sports), friends-to-lovers, or…

3 – Rivalry. Everyone loves a good enemies-to-lovers story, but that is so much hotter when two opponents are facing each other on the field. It’s not just glaring at each other across a board room or low key disliking each other because of differences, it’s being put on a field and going up against each other in a very physical way. I can imagine how high those tensions would run. I can imagine it so vividly, that this is the theme of Illegal Contact’s sequel—Down by Contact. Where social media trash talk spirals into game day explosions.

4 – Opposites attract. It’s not always the jock and the nerd (although Illegal Contact has a bit of that dynamic), but there is also the suit and the jock, the trainer and the jock, the jock who prefers to stay low key and the jock who loves being the center of attention, the kicker and the QB…. Sports romance is shock full of scenarios where this trope can be maxed out.

5 – I’ll say it again—the passion. There are few things in the world people are as passionate about as sports and art (whether it’s music or literature), and when people care… they really care. With all of that passion and dedication comes tension, anticipation, and a competitive spirit that is hard to replicate in other circumstances.

As one former non-sports rom reader to another, I feel you on your hesitance, but if you like that list—give it a shot. The other great thing about sports romance? The focus may be on athletes, but it’s athletes finding love not necessarily detailed play-by-plays of the actual games.


IllegalContact3The rules of the game don’t apply off the field in this first Barons novel.

New York Barons tight end Gavin Brawley is suspended from the team and on house arrest after a video of him brawling goes viral. Gavin already has a reputation as a jerk with a temper on and off the field—which doesn’t help him once he finds himself on the wrong side of the law. And while he’s been successful professionally, he’s never been lucky when it comes to love.

Noah Monroe is a recent college grad looking for a job—any job—to pay off his mounting student debt. Working as Gavin’s personal assistant/babysitter seems like easy money. But Noah isn’t prepared for the electrifying tension between him and the football player. He’s not sure if he’d rather argue with Gavin or tackle him to the floor. But both men know the score, and neither is sure what will happen once Gavin’s timeout is over…

Buy link: Amazon


Santino Hassell’s novels are heavily influenced by the gritty, urban landscape of New York City, and his desire to write relationships fueled by intensity and passion. He’s been a finalist in both the Bisexual Book Awards and the EPIC Awards, and was nominated for a prestigious RITA award in 2017. His work has been featured in BuzzFeed, Huffington Post, Washington Post, RT Magazine, and Cosmopolitan Magazine.


  1. You don’t have to convince me because I’m a huge football fan. My current crush is Dak Prescott of the Dallas Cowboys…lol. I’m also a huge fan of all books by Santino Hassell and I can’t wait to read this one! Oh, and I can be a contrary mofo too. Just recently got a Facebook account. :)

  2. I’m still on the fence about sports romance, despite Santino’s very persuasive argument for them. I’m way behind on Santino’s backlist-currently reading Strong Signal, have read both Community books out so far (Insight was phenomenal!) and will be reading the Five Boroughs series next. I hate waiting for the next book to come out so I wait to start most popular series/trilogies.

    I’m not really contrary by nature, but I absolutely refuse to do Facebook and can’t wait for it to fail. Maybe because I was born before 1990 and remember life without the internet. I don’t like how it’s become so prevalent and exclusive of folks like me. “Oh, you don’t have a Facebook account? Sorry, then you can’t participate in this contest, or giveaway, or discussion…” My aversion to sports romance is based on the glut of CR books out there with this trope, and some authors seem to jump on whatever is currently having it’s 15 minutes. Hopefully that’s not the case with Santino, because so far I enjoy his writing. I follow his posts and am catching up on his books, but I’m an erotic PNR/UF girl at heart.

  3. I’m typically not a sports romance fan, but there are always exceptions. I did like the Avon Gale Scoring Chances series. I am, however, a Santino fan so I will have to try this. I have all his series except In The Company of Shadows and I haven’t read Down By Contact yet.

  4. I want this book now lol

  5. Growing up in Alabama, and going to school at The University of Alabama, sport (especially football) is part of my genetics:) When Santino first started talking about writing a football book… let’s just say I feel like I’ve been waiting on this forever. And it comes out on my birthday – happy birthday to me!

  6. I’m neither here nor there about sport romances…as long as it isn’t hockey. #Cantstanditdontcareforit #AndthatsOKbecauaethereareothersportsIcanreadabout

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