It’s always a huge thrill for me to read an author for the very first time, especially one who comes so highly praised by so many, but to find myself in awe of their every confidently written word from the start, to see myself connecting and falling in love with their characters in such a way that I am compelled to read a book twice, back to back, just because I can’t let go… Ah, that is a rare joy and one that makes me want to shout their name from the rooftops! Santino Hassell’s radiant prose captivates, entices, inspires, electrifies, and as his characters continue to reveal their complexity page after page, a story with a deceptively simple premise develops into one that packs a hefty punch at every turn. I adored this book, there’s no other way to say it, and already cannot wait for the next one in the series.
I hated how easy it was for people to set me off. Especially once someone identified my triggers and then spent their time poking and prodding until I flew off the handle.
Barons tight end Gavin Brawley has never been known for shying away from a confrontation or for his jovial personality, but after video footage of him punching a man in public goes viral, he finds himself suspended from the game he loves above all else, under house arrest for six whole months, and with his name smeared by the press. With an ankle monitor limiting his ability to perform even the most trivial of daily chores, Gavin is forced to hire a live-in assistant—a person who’d keep his affairs in order and make sure he didn’t starve. But as opposed as he is to the idea of living under the same roof with a stranger, from the moment he lays eyes on Noah Monroe and is then met with an unimpressed attitude instead of hero worship, he knows he’d be a temptation he would never be able to resist.
Nothing turned me on more than a person who wasn’t afraid to stand up to me.
Noah never expected that a string of bad decisions in his life would lead him to become a glorified babysitter to a cocky football player, but with a mountain of student loans to repay and an unemployed father to help, he is forced to accept the first well-paying job that comes his way. From their first meeting, however, the brawny blond does not hide his animosity towards him, and when he finds out that Noah is not a fan of the sport, their every interaction becomes a battle of wills.
“If you’re poor, sports are the equivalent of religion.”
“You get paid to play a game. You’re not a savior of the people. You’re an overpaid jock.”
“And yet you’re over here trying to get a job running errands for this overpaid jock.”
Over time, however, and as they get to know each other more and more, a close friendship forms between them, albeit hesitantly at first, and Gavin begins to trust Noah with his private life. Because the ‘meanest’ player in the league has kept a huge secret from the public, and it’s a secret that could change everything between the Barons tight end and his assistant.
“I’m pretty sure those shorts are meant to be worn under . . . other shorts.”
“Why would I care about being modest in my own house?”
“Well, because I’ll be here with you.”
Gavin cocked a brow. “If you think I’m going to try to spare your delicate baby eyes, I suggest you readjust your expectations. FYI—after showering, I air dry.”
As we watch the two young men slowly fall in love and empower each other to overcome all of the stereotypes placed against them, it is difficult not to become overcome by the sheer beauty of their connection, and all the ways they better one another. But with Gavin’s career on the line, they must decide whether what they’ve found in each other is worth losing it all.
“Tell me, if that happened, if you lose the only thing you’ve ever loved, the thing that’s held you together for all these years, that you wouldn’t resent me. You wouldn’t resent our relationship.”
While presenting the characters’ gender as one of the main obstacles to their relationship and framing their sexuality in the context of the world we live in, the author does not delve too deeply into that aspect of the storyline. He never loses sight of the beautiful love story developing before our eyes between two people who are opposites in every possible way, yet so perfect for one another. Their very differences add an irresistible spark to their every interaction, and unadulterated fire to their most intimate moments, the many layers to this story making this one of the most fascinating and enjoyable reads of the year for me. I walked away desperate to return to Santino Hassell’s writing as soon as possible.
I’m sitting here watching them and how obviously smitten they are (don’t make fun of my word choice), and I’m so fucking jealous. Because if I was a different gender, that could be us. We can’t have what they have because the world is awful and people are hateful. It’s really hard to let that slide.