Title: Taking Shots
Author: Toni Aleo
Series: Assassins #1
Release Date: October 4, 2011
No matter how hard she tries, Elleanor Fisher never thinks she’s good enough, from her job to her weight to her love life. After enduring years of abuse at the hands of an ex-boyfriend, Elli has been drifting through life in a daze. Until, that is, she meets Shea Adler on a promotional shoot for the NHL’s Nashville Assassins. Before Elli knows what’s happening, the gorgeous Shea breaks the ice and shatters her world.
A brilliant athlete inside the rink, Shea Adler is tired of the life he’s living outside of it: the women, the money, the drinking. But everything changes when he meets Elli. After laying eyes on this feisty, witty, beautiful woman, he feels like he’s just taken the hardest hit of his life. No matter how skeptical she is, Shea knows they are meant to be together–if only he can convince Elli to put her insecurities aside before she misses out on a shot at love.
As a huge hockey fan, I was very much looking forward to finally diving into the Assassins Series with Taking Shots. I’ve heard great things about Toni Aleo’s work and I love a good hockey hottie book boyfriend. Shea and Elli’s story was not at all what I expected, but much more down-to-earth. I appreciated how accessible it made the characters despite their wealth and well-known names. While Toni Aleo definitely delivers some serious hockey talk and lot’s of exciting sports moments, we also get to see Shea in his every day life with Elli. From the moment they met, Shea and Elli shared a palpable connection and Toni Aleo did a great job bringing it to life. Their chemistry sizzles from the start, eventually turning into some seriously scorching moments. Taking Shots had a great balance of humor, heat, and heart making it easy to lose myself in this fictional world that Toni Aleo so clearly brought to life with her words.
“ ‘Auntie Elli, why are you open-mouth kissing Big Daddy Adler?’ Well, shit.”
Shea Adler is every girl’s dream man. He’s handsome, successful, intelligent, rich, sweet, kind, funny, and unwaveringly loyal. He wears his heart on his sleeve and doesn’t play games when it comes to his feelings for Elli. Toni Aleo had me swooning from start to finish with this character. I absolutely adored his relationship with his twin sister Grace. It revealed a lot about his character and served as a way to explore his vulnerable, emotional side. Shea’s doubts and fears came through in his interactions with Grace, giving this character the dimensionality and genuine feel that had me falling so hard for him. Seeing Shea with his niece and nephew was simply icing on the cake, melting what was left of my heart into a puddle of Shea-obsessed mush.
“That’s not what drew me to you; it was your eyes… and your ass.”
Where Shea was open about his quickly evolving feelings, Elli kept her heart locked up tight, afraid of being hurt again. Despite her elite social status, Elli is very much the girl next door. Toni Aleo wrote this character to be lovable and relatable – her insecurities and flaws genuine and familiar. Admittedly, there was a point where her self-deprecation and lack of trust in Shea got to be too much. Shea was always touting her for being strong despite her horrible family and bastard of an ex-fiance, yet near the end of the book I felt like that strength was nowhere to be seen. It undermined Elli’s authenticity and undid some of the great growth with had seen with this character. Regardless, I really did adore this character and easily found myself invested in Elli from the beginning.
“You’re acting like an idiot!”
“Damn right. Love does this to a person!”
Toni Aleo obviously wrote this story with a lot of heart. I loved the feeling of family that was so effortlessly captured with these characters and the real life issues that drove the emotional component of the story. There were a few places where the plot really didn’t move forward and it slowed down the pacing of the book significantly. This also contributed to the length of the book, which was definitely longer than it needed to be. With some editing, not only could the length have been much more manageable, but the overall pacing and plot progression could have positively benefited. If I’m not mistaken, Taking Shots was a debut novel so I tried to take these issues with a grain of salt as these things take time and experience to perfect. Overall, Taking Shots is a great introduction to the Assassins Series. It’s clear that these characters have the makings of a fun and entertaining hockey universe and I look forward to more of their fantastic dynamic and getting to know the rest of the team.
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Don’t miss the rest of the Assassins series:
Trying to Score (Assassins #2)
Empty Net (Assassins #3)
Falling for the Backup (Assassins #3.5)
4 & Counting (Assassins #3.7)
Blue Lines (Assassins #4)
Breaking Away (Assassins #5)
Laces and Lace (Assassins #6)
A Very Merry Hockey Holiday (Assassins #6.5)
Wanting to Forget (Assassins #6.6)
Overtime (Assassins #7)
Rushing the Goal (Assassins #8)
Pucks, Sticks, and Diapers (Assassins #9)
Face-Off at the Altar (Assassins #10)
Delayed Call (Assassins #11)
Twenty-Two (Assassins #11.5)
In the Crease (Assassins #12)
The Assassins Series 5-Book Bundle
Includes: Taking Shots, Trying to Score, Empty Net, Falling for the Backup, & Blue Lines