Taking Shots: Toni Aleo

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In 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.

“I think you are beautiful,” he kissed her again, before pulling back to look deep in her eyes, “I love every imperfection on you, because they make you perfect, Elli.” He kissed her nose as her eyes went wide, and tears rushed to her eyes. “You’re perfect to me.”  

Ok, I am just gonna put it out there and say I had a MAJOR love/hate relationship with this book. Seriously there were times I wondered if I would even make it to the end. This 4 star rating worked hard to seal it's place on my post.  We battled back and forth with each other, and well at the end as you noticed it won. Seeing as no matter how annoyed or frustrated I got, Taking Shots kept me up until 5 in the morning. I couldn't put the book down, it refused to let me close my eyes or even move on. However, I will be honest and say you will read about why I shuffled back and forth and why on multiple occasions I almost put this book to the side and moved on and no it had absolutely nothing to do with Toni's writing. I absolutely adored that, which is another reason Taking Shots earned it's 4 star rating, any book that can have me annoyed and warring with myself over whether I should continue or walk away and then has me hanging on until the end totally deserves it's rating.

Ok, so I know you are wondering why in the hell I struggled with this book, especially since it has received some amazing reviews right...well Elli, of course. Isn't it always the dang heroine? At least for me it is. By 10%, I was so over Elli I wanted to run so far away and never ever look back. The insecurities regarding her weight was the focus of 75% of the book, and seriously, it really just took away from the story for me. I kept getting distracted and frustrated. It became overwhelming, smothering almost. 

After hanging in there and meeting Elli's family and hearing about her ex, I totally got it. I also know that no matter what size you are, weight is a major issue for woman and no matter what size you are there are always those insecurities, especially since society and men have a certain standard, expectation you could say, about how a woman should look.  Elli began to grow on me as I began to understand her a bit better. I love that Toni created her to have a real life insecurity that women can relate too. I also adored the fun loving Elli, when she wasn't obsessing so much over her weight. As I said earlier it just became too much, it seemed the story focused more on her weight then on the romance. I can see having insecurities and those insecurities taking over your life, but a whole books worth is just too much. Too much unneeded drama and not enough happy times for this reader.

The moments that focused on the romance part of Elli and Shea's relationship and not so much on her weight had major potential. I adored those moments; I adored the fun loving couple. The cocky hockey player falling for the shy photographer. I had fun watching them navigate through unchartered land. Elli hasn't dated or been with a man in any sense in over 6 years, and Shea, well Shea doesn't believe in anything past a few hours of a good time. These moments showed their fun interactions and off the charts chemistry. I could totally see why Toni paired these two up.

My favorite part of this whole story, what sealed the 4 star deals, was Shea.  Hell he should get five plus stars because while his character sometimes seemed a little too good to be true he was simply amazing. LOVED him, he truly made this story. This man made sure every day to make sure she knew he loved her for exactly who she was, and not based on her looks. He found her stunning and not only told her but also showed her every chance he got. If only there were more men like Shea. He was patient; man was he patient. If I were Shea I would have never made it through that relationship with as many ups and downs as it had. Elli withheld important parts of her life, she constantly questioned what he said to her, and towards the end I seriously wanted to bitch slap her and ask her what the hell are you doing. UGH, seriously Elli, Shea NEVER ONCE gave you any reason to doubt, any reason to think otherwise. However, your family now they have given you every reason NOT to trust them. Elli screwed up over and over, making the wrong decision each time, I know a story needs some drama, but this drama made absolutely no sense and was not need in my humble opinion. There was no lead up to warrant that kind of reaction. My heart broke as I watched Shea slide down hill and it seemed no matter what he did he couldn't make it right, especially since she wouldn't listen to a word he said. This is where I hated Elli the most. I was able to get over her weight issues because I got why she had them, what I couldn't get over was her callous behavior towards Shea.  It made absolutely no sense to me.

So you see why I was torn. Would I suggest this book to others? Yes, I would, but with a warning that while this book comes with a HOT sweet alpha hockey player, it also comes with an insecure photographer who rarely gets it right when it comes to Shea. So prepare yourself to be frustrated and feel the need to throw your ereader a time or two. Toni's style of writing captivated me, and I will definitely pick up the others in this series.

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC copy of Taking Shots to read and review for my honest opinion.


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