Taking Shots by Toni Aleo

17504320In TONI ALEO‘s exhilarating Loveswept debut, the first in a series featuring the hockey hunks of the Nashville Assassins, a reformed bad boy helps a charming, willful woman face off against the demons of her past.

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.

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(I actually am reading this from the box set of the first 5 novels in this series, b/c I got it on a great sale and it was hockey romance and some friends loved it.  Check it out on Goodreads here and Amazon here.)

My Review:
2.5 stars — Well crap.  I have a few friends that really enjoyed this book, and so I was really looking forward to it.  It started off a bit rough for me — for an Indie book being picked up by Loveswept, I guess I was a little disappointed that there were still quite a few editing mistakes (both grammar/typo-wise and timeline issue-wise), or just things that I felt should have been polished better.  I mean, for a bit at the beginning they weren’t using any contractions and it just felt uber formal or something.  So that wasn’t a good start.

And theoretically I should have really loved Elli.  I tend to fall for those heroines with self-esteem issues (bonus points if it’s a larger girl).  But can I just say that I almost hated her instead?  I mean, she had her good moments, it wasn’t all bad.  But OMG, we got to the climax and she and I were just done.  Like broken up, I was through with her, and there was nothing she could do to get back into my good books (and quite frankly she didn’t do enough to make up for things).  For one, I was really not impressed with a size 10 girl being a supposed fat chick.  But now that I write that, I’m feeling kind of disappointed in myself, b/c everyone’s allowed to have their insecurities.  But to go on and on about it so much, it was just frustrating.  So maybe that’s more my own personal flaw and not the book’s.

But it was like Elli just went through this lobotomy as the book went on.  She could be mean!!  And I know there’s insecurity, and I know she was totally screwed up by her past and her awful family, but WOW!!  Her reactions were too much for me.  If I was Shea, I would have run a long time ago, and I honestly don’t understand how he could put up with all of that without barely an apology.

Shea, on the other hand, was (for the most part) a total sweetheart.  He was almost too good to be true.  Thank goodness he occasionally flew off the handle sometimes b/c otherwise it just wasn’t believable.  But otherwise I really liked him.  Which is probably what made it so much worse!  He did NOTHING WRONG and he still almost apologized more than Elli did!  It was ridiculous!

And I did not understand his relationship with his sister Grace!!  And what is with the violent and mean women??  SHE KICKED HIM IN THE STOMACH!!!  Who does that??

And Elli’s mother and sister?  OMGosh, no.  Two dimensional evil.  Maybe I would have believed it if she didn’t have a fabulous father…then why wasn’t the father doing more to keep the mother in line?  I don’t get it!  My brain actually hurts.

And holy cow was this book long!!  And I don’t mind long books, but there was a lot of minutiae in the book that could have totally been cut out as unnecessary.  Again…I get it when Indies have a problem getting good editing, but Loveswept is owned by Random House…there’s no excuse.

So if you couldn’t tell I had a bit of an emotional reaction to this book.  *sheepish grin*  Woops.  Sorry.  Another ranty review.  Crap.  😦  But it’s like I was kind of meh at the beginning…then I started to really like Shea and even Elli…then things slowly started going downhill…then they PLUMMETED…and then it ended without Elli being redeemed.  So yeah.  That’s it.  I’ll still give another book in the series a try since maybe it was just these characters, or first book-itis.  And b/c, well, I have 4 more books in the box set.  But I need to give my heart a break first.


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