Welcome to my weekly feature that focuses on audiobooks. It’s time to…
Audiobook Review: Down by Contact
Author: Santino Hassell
Narrators: Alexander Cendese + Eric London
Audio Speed: 1.25x
Series: Barons #2
Genre: Contemporary Sports Romance, LBGTQ, m/m romance
Source: Tantor Audio
3/10/2018 Edited to Add: Please note, this review was written and posted prior to the occurrences brought to light in recent days (https://goo.gl/Y7WB7F). The book was read and reviewed in good faith and as presented at the time. The posting of this review in no way condones the actions of author.
Simeon and Adrián have been rivals for four years, ever since Simeon was traded from the Predators to the Barons. When the pair match up in a preseason game, the summer after Simeon came out of the closet, Adrián can’t stop himself from making jokes at the expense of Simeon’s sexual preferences. This leads to an all-out brawl, leaving both suspended for six games and forced into joint community service. Can the pair back away from their rivalry long enough to become friends? or more?
I have to admit, I struggled a quiet a bit when I first started Down by Contact. I was disappointed the story once again relied on an NFL suspension to make it work (which is what happened in the first book of the series). Additionally, both main characters come off juvenile and immature mostly because of their speech. The characters weren’t clicking for me, and I didn’t feel any sexual tension or connections between the pair like I did in the first book. But mostly, the narration didn’t work for me. I did not care for Mr. London’s voice for Adrián, nor his interpretation of Simeon, and at times couldn’t tell the difference between who was speaking.
After taking a short break away from the story and then coming back to it, I found things turning around. As the story progresses, the characters develop and their interactions become more meaningful. I liked the play between Adrián and Simeon when they’re just being themselves. And although everything starts off as a dare and a game, real emotions surface, and I liked that the pair is accepting of what is happening.
What shines in the story is Adrián’s self-reflection and analysis of his actions and ideals. And not just about being queer. But on being a better person. About thinking before speaking. About caring for others. His constant contemplation is thought-provoking. I enjoyed seeing him change most off all, and I’m not just taking about his sexuality. I mean how he becomes aware of his place in the world around him.
As I mentioned above, I struggled with the narration. The narrators are the same as the prior book. Alexander Cendese, who was Gavin, is perfect for Simeon. Rough and tough, but sweet. The voice of Adrián is Eric London (who was Noah), who’s performance is way too calm for the asshole behavior of Adrián. However, as Adrián’s character changes, and the longer I listened to the book, I grew to like Mr. London’s performance more. I don’t know that he ever fit perfectly for Adrián, and he never did a great job with Simeon, but it didn’t prevent me from enjoying the story.
In the end, even though I struggled with Adrián and his narrator for about 50% of the book, he changed, and the narration was a better fit as Adrian became a more thoughtful individual. And as Simeon and Adrián developed a genuine friendship, I grew to like the pair and enjoy their story.
My Rating: B
AC Narration: B+
EL Narration: B-
Review copy provided by Tantor Audio
About the Book:
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’ sh*t 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…