Monday, May 27, 2013

Triple Review: Assassins Series by Toni Aleo

Assassins Series, books 1, 2, 3
Toni Aleo
All three re-released together by Loveswept April 23, 2013

Taking Shots (Assassins #1): 

Elli Fisher has never thought she was good enough, let it be her job, her weight, her love life, nothing. That is until she meets Shea Adler. After doing a promotional shoot for the NHL team, the Assassins, she meets the hunky hockey player who shoots a puck, shattering her world.
Shea Adler was tired of the life he was living outside of the rink. The girls, the money blowing, the drinking, everything had to stop and it all did when he met Eleanor Fisher. He had never met anyone like her. She was feisty, witty, shy, and simply gorgeous. When he laid eyes on her, it was as if he was taking the hardest hit of his life into the boards, and he had to have her. Elli is a little skeptical of Shea, but he knows that they were meant to be together, and he needed her in his life.
Can Elli throw her insecurities out the window and love Shea with everything inside of her, or will she let a past relationship, and her family ruin any chance of her being happy.

Trying to Score (Assassins #2)

Fallon Parker’s dream has always been to turn her family’s wine company into a runaway success and eventually start a cellar of her own. Since graduating from college, she has worked relentlessly to make that dream a reality, especially after taking a chance on love—and losing. By the time Fallon becomes an official sponsor of the Nashville Assassins, she feels like all her hard work is finally paying off. And then the man who broke her heart skates back into her life.

On the ice, Lucas Brooks is the NHL’s leading scorer—at least when he’s not in the box. Off the ice, he’s a mess, with all his anger and misery bottled up inside. He threw away the most important person in his life and has regretted it ever since. But when Lucas returns to Nashville in a trade, he’s determined to convince Fallon that he’s a changed man. The attraction is still there. The tension is electrifying. But the odds are stacked against them—especially after Lucas finds out that Fallon has been keeping a devastating secret.

Empty Net (Assassins #3)

Audrey Parker was in a horrible place.
She hated her job, her sister was getting married and moving out, but worst of all, she was in love with a total jerk. No matter what she did, every guy she met hurt her. All she wanted was her happily ever after. Her Prince Charming. Her Lucas Brooks! She didn’t know how to change her life but she knew she needed too.
Feeling like she was about to hit rock bottom, Audrey wakes up next to Tate Odder.

Tate Odder had lost everything.
After being brought up from the Assassins’ farm team, the Florida Rays to the Nashville Assassins, Tate hopes he’ll forget everything he has lost. He doesn’t. Each day gets harder to live in a place he doesn’t know. Even being the first rookie goalie to shut out an opposing team three times during the Lord Stanley Cup Finals, he still felt empty. With the loss of his parents and sister still heavy on his heart, Tate isn’t sure how to live like everything is okay.

But when he wakes up beside Audrey Parker, things start to change. She turns his life upside down with her kooky sense of humor and her bright clothing. She is intelligent and beautiful, and for once, he doesn’t feel empty.



I'm reviewing these books together because I read them all in a row - but they really are stand alone books with a few common characters and one common theme: Hockey. I think of all the sports-themed romances, hockey is my favorite. There's just something so manly about it - you can't help but think "alpha-male" when you think of a hockey-player.

In Taking Shots, we are introduced to the Assassins hockey team and its captain Shea Adler. He immediately falls for Elli, the team photographer, but she is reluctant to start anything with him due to past insecurities. Both of them have issues and it just made them feel more real - not overly perfect, but still super-sexy despite their flaws. The overbearing and manipulative family became a little too much to take, but luckily they really aren't in the book all that much. I enjoyed this book so much, I was so happy to have the next in the series to read right away.

 So - maybe my expectations were a bit high after loving the first one so much, but I was disappointed with #2 in the series, Trying to Score. I found Lucas to be too cocky, Fallon to be too stubborn, the secondary characters were flat, and the story was way too long. I'm usually a big fan of the "secret baby" romance trope - but I don't like it when it is deliberately kept a secret and a child grows up without a parent because of another parent being spiteful - which is exactly what this felt like.I lost respect immediately for Fallon for hiding it and then for Lucas for being with her again (as it almost always ends up in romance novels). However, Ms. Aleo's solid writing redeemed what could have been a train wreck - the characters, despite being unlikable to me, felt real and compelled me to finish.

I wasn't thrown off by not enjoying #2 - I took a short break to cleanse my literary palate - and then moved right into #3 - Empty Net. And was so happy I gave the Assassins another shot.
How cute was this story? In a sea of older man-younger woman romance novels, it was so refreshing to read one that switched that up. Once again, Ms. Aleo writes honest, flawed characters that just come alive right off the page - but where in book 2 they frustrated me to the point of unlikability, the insecurities of both Audrey and Tate just made them more endearing to me. I found their trepidation tip-toeing through the early stages of romance to be heart-warming and I just wanted to hug them both. #1 is still my favorite of the series (all of which can be read as stand-alones), but this one is a close second.

Taking Shots - 4/5 stars
Trying to Score - 2.5/5 stars
Empty Net- 3.5/5 stars. 

Covers- 4/5 stars

Note - I received a copies of these books from the publisher in exchange for honest reviews.

1 comment:

  1. Great review. I tried reading Taking Shots and just couldn't seem to get into it. I love the concept of these stories though. Glad to hear that you enjoyed them... minus the second one. :)
    Kristin @ Book Sniffers Anonymous