Release Launch and Reviews: Face-Off at the Altar: Toni Aleo

FACE-OFF AT THE ALTAR (Assassins #9)
Toni Aleo
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Expected  December 29, 2016
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Markus Reeves is sucking. Big-time. Toiling away on a minor-league hockey team hundreds of miles away from home, he's watching his dreams of an NHL career fade away. Add in the lingering guilt he has over the dramatic demise of his relationship with college girlfriend, Mekena, and he's a mess on and off the ice. 

But the family of his heart, the Sinclairs, won't let Markus suffer any longer. When he arrives himself back in Nashville for a trial run on the Assassins, it feels like his life may be making a turn for the better. If only he could get Mekena to forgive him... 

Mekena Preston has been hurting since fleeing Nashville following the horror of Markus's betrayal with her sister. Now a professional photographer, Mekena finds herself in the same place at the same time with Markus to celebrate Lucy and Benji Paxton's wedding. Neither of them has been able to move on—and they're starting to wonder if they really want to. 

They're headed for a face-off at the altar unless they can confront their past and unearth the truth about what really happened on that fateful night.

This is a great mix of the Assassins series and Bellevue Bullies series, and is Markus and Mekena's story. We saw them break up in college due to his perceived betrayal, but now they will be coming face to face again at Lucy and Benji's wedding. 

Markus' life is not going how he planned. He feels stuck in a rut and unhappy. His friends, the Sinclair brothers, and even his female best friend, Baylor, got to follow their NHL dreams while he is in Florida on the Assassins farm team. He misses Nashville and his friends...and Mekena though it still hurts to think about her and the situation that ruined them. He is lonely, lost, not playing as well, and using alcohol and women to cope. He needs a chance and motivation to meet his full potential and regain his confidence.

Mekena was young, quiet, and nerdy in college and never understood why Markus liked her. But her heart was broken and she ran off to hide and lick her wounds. She is best friends with Avery Sinclair so she keeps in touch with their group, but has avoided Markus like the plague. She is now a photographer, but is still hurt, angry, and her social life revolves around her fat cat. Her sister's part in her past drama has even made her family life unstable.

Neither thinks they are ready to see the other, but there are some circumstances about their break up that Mekenna does not know...and even some that will take Markus time to find out. But their attraction is as strong as ever and their feelings never really died. They are both still affected by anger and hurt. Markus has been plagued with guilt and coming to terms with what really happened to him. It is hard for Mekena to trust and believe, but Markus is determined to fight for her this time. He now seems to be kind, supportive, and devoted. But Mekena has always been the smart girl who plays it safe, so he will have to convince her to trust again and take a risk on him. 

Both of their lives are changing with possible new opportunities. Can they let go of their past and be able to work towards a new future together? There are plenty of potential obstacles in their way due to family dynamics, fears, insecurities, and potential career changes and distance. Their feelings are strong and they have a lot to deal with. Is this fate giving them a second chance, or are they destined to be broken apart again?

I enjoyed getting more time with all of the Sinclair siblings and their mates from the Bellevue Bullies and many of our favorite Assassins and their spouses as well. I have such a girl crush on team owner Elli Adler. I love how they are truly friends and family. This book really brought all of the stories together. I got teary eyed at the parts surrounding Lucy and Benji (Rushing the Goal) and seeing more of their progression. I have been looking forward to Markus and Mekena's story for a long time and it did not disappoint.  I really loved them together and truly hoped they could navigate their way to happiness. My only problem with it was the fact that at times it seemed a bit long, especially in the first half. But she also jam packed a lot into this one with both Marcus and Mekena, and also Benji and Lucy. 

It is a second-chance, funny, sweet, romantic love story with some definite emotional situations and drama mixed in. I am looking forward to more in this series and I am hoping for Vaughn and Brie. I love their caustic banter and her history.

I was gifted a copy in exchange for an honest review. 
Markus Reeves hasn’t been playing up to his potential. Frankly, he’s been sucking. But his chance to prove his abilities finally comes when he’s called up to the Assassin’s from the farm team he’s been playing with in Florida. And maybe while he’s back in Tennessee he can do something about the guilt he feels about his breakup with his college girlfriend, Mekena.

Mekena has been hurting since the breakup with Markus. She’s rebuilt her life, turning photography into her career, but not only did she lose her boyfriend in the breakup, she lost her family. She can’t move on and now must face Markus as they find themselves face to face once more as their friend’s wedding approaches.

It was hard to root for Markus in the beginning, but as his side of the story came out, my feelings took a complete 180. I haven’t read a book that dealt with the events he was faced with quite like that. It was refreshing, a change of pace, and made for an interesting turn of events.

Makena’s hurt clouds a lot of her actions throughout the book. At times it was easy to sympathize with her, while at others I just wanted her to move passed the pain. But she couldn’t let it go until she had answers, because Markus had meant so much to her.

Their second chance was something I was rooting for early on. Especially as Markus’s narrative made what split them apart not seem as cut and dry as Mekena’s feelings made it. I love a good second chance, and this one had all the best aspects: heartache, time, and conversations to figure out where they went wrong the first time.

This was a great return to the Assassins world. My only complaint is that it really felt like two books -- both in length and in storyline. I would have been pleased as punch if this *was* two books, and I am rarely one to say that about a single couple. Each half of the book was great, but together felt like too much within one cover. Had I stopped reading at the resolution of the first plot arch, read something else, and returned to their story for the second half, I think I would have enjoyed both halves much more.

The Assassin’s family takes some time to warm up to Markus’s arrival on the team, well, everyone except Ellie, who is always warm and welcoming to everyone on her team. This is always such a great team to return to, with their plethora of kids running around and they are only growing as the series continues.

I was gifted a copy in exchange for an honest review. 
Watching as Elli crossed the ice, saying hi to everyone she passed, Mekena knew she had to go. Standing, she wobbled a lot, but she still made it to the entry to the ice. She could do this. It wasn’t that hard. Just like walking—on water. No big deal.

Oh, God, she was going to die, and everyone was going to see it.

Swallowing hard, she stepped out on the ice and figured she could ride the side of the boards to him. Elli was already there, gushing over the kids and kissing all over the guy Mekena assumed was her nephew. And holy hot genes. Dark hair, bright blue eyes, and a jawbone that could slice the ice. He was beautiful, just like his uncle and his momma. Tall, too, and thick. Obviously a hockey player. That should have given her a little more confidence to skate over there, but instead, her fingers dug into the siding as she slowly made her way toward them.

When Elli looked up, Mekena let go of the sides and waved. “I’m a little slow. I’m coming!”

Elli said something to Ryan, whose eyes lit up when he looked over at her. As he detangled himself from the kids that were trying to climb him like a wall, she figured he was coming to help.

Oh, no, that was embarrassing.

No, she could skate. She had it!

Letting go of the siding, she went with ease. And at first, things were good. She was skating! But as well as it was going, it suddenly went very bad. She felt her knee bend funny and then her body start to fall. And as the ice came into view, she let out a cry, waiting for the ice to break not only her glasses but her nose too. Maybe her teeth.

But she didn’t fall.

No, instead, someone had her by her hips, pulling her up and to her feet.

“Whoa there, girlie. I thought you knew what you were doing?”


Everything inside her went hot. Not from embarrassment but from pure, burning desire. Trying to catch her breath, she looked up at him, his eyes so dark, his mouth so close to her cheek as he smiled.

Crap. Crap on a cracker.


“Yup, it’s me,” he said, grinning as he stood her on her feet. “Saving your life.”

Click on photo to learn more about each title from the author's website

They are all about different Assassins players and couples but the characters do cross over.

    http://amzn.to/101H3l6   http://amzn.to/1xVr2s8

Falling for the Backup(#3.5), A Very Merry Hockey Holiday (#6.5), and Wanting to Forget (#6.6) are novellas.
Marcus was introduced in the Bellevue Bullies Series that is a college spin-off of The Assassins Series and characters cross over
Bellevue Bullies Series
Click on photo to learn more about each title from the author's website

Toni Aleo

My name is Toni Aleo and I’m a total dork.

I am a wife, mother of two and a bulldog, and also a hopeless romantic.

I am the biggest Shea Weber fan ever, and can be found during hockey season with my nose pressed against the Bridgestone Arena’s glass, watching my Nashville Predators play!

When my nose isn’t pressed against the glass, I enjoy going to my husband and son’s hockey games, my daughter’s dance competition, hanging with my best friends, taking pictures, scrapbooking, and reading the latest romance novel.

I have a slight Disney and Harry Potter obsession, I love things that sparkle, I love the color pink, I might have been a Disney Princess in a past life… probably Belle.

… and did I mention I love hockey?


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