Patrick Whitt and Tucker Malik have known each other ever since they went to football camp together as kids. Growing up with completely different backgrounds was just one of the reasons the guys rubbed each other the wrong way. Malik thought Whitt was spoiled and had everything and Whitt had his reasons for not liking Malik, some of which he couldn’t even place. The men are now both in the NFL on rival teams and their competition is still fierce. Until one night that chemistry explodes in a completely different way. Now, the men can’t stop thinking about each other for entirely different reasons.
Malik and Whitt are now each other’s secret—keeping their hookups hidden from everyone. While their chemistry remains explosive, they almost reluctantly start to like each other. But both men know they can’t be together for a long list of reasons, so when they finally get each other out of their systems, they will simply walk away. If only it was that easy.
Illegal Contact is the third book in Riley Hart and Neve Wilder’s Playing for Keeps series. The timeline crosses over the first two books in the series and then continues on. If you have read those previous books, you will see scenes that already happened from a different POV, which I personally always enjoy. However, even if you haven’t read the other books, I do think this one can still be enjoyed on its own if you don’t mind not knowing all the backstories of everyone on page.
I really enjoyed Malik and Whitt’s story. I wouldn’t say they are enemies, just that they never liked each other. Whenever they are in the same place they can’t help but notice each other and their rivalry is strong. When a situation one night puts Malik and Whitt in extraordinarily close proximity, they begin to look at each other in a whole different way—although it’s still difficult for them to put aside their rivalry. Neither of them can fully understand what is happening between them and they wish they could channel their feelings to want someone else, because being attracted to each other is so inconvenient, but that isn’t happening so they lean into the time they have together.
The conflict here is mostly internal. While the NFL does play a part for some external conflict, the driving force is the men themselves, which also worked for me with this book. Malik has a close, incredibly supportive family where Whitt’s wealthy family likes everything to be just so for optics. It takes work for the men to find common ground outside of the bedroom and, at first they don’t even realize that this would be something they have to do, because if you told them they were going to fall in love with each other they’d never believe it.
The setting for this book takes place all around football and I am always ready for a new sports romance. The authors’ note states that the book is a romance first and that while they did their due diligence with regard to football research, the relationship comes first and some creative liberties were taken. While I hear that, there were times were the football dialogue felt forced and, with a series set around the NFL, I would have preferred that not to be the case.
The ending gives Malik and Whitt a fun, show stopping HEA and, if you are here for the tropes and the beats of a romance you can count on, Illegal Contact is the book for you.