Breaking Away, by Toni Aleo

breaking away

Grade: B

Doing it at: 21%

Catnip: Hockey Players; Beards; Tattoos; Dancers; Secret Lovers; Shower Sex; Strong Female Lead; Dual Narrative

Shame Scale: Low Shame, but since I’ve come out of the romance closet I’m experiencing less book shame in general

Fantasy Cast:  Brooks Laich*; Ginnifer Goodwin

Book Description:

To Nashville Assassins’ leading scoring center Phillip Anderson, playing hockey has always been easy… as natural as breathing. His life is no different. That’s until his world is turned upside down by the death of his sister. While mourning his loss, Phillip has to find a way to make his very angry sixteen-year-old niece, Claire, happy. Now, as her guardian, he discovers the only thing that seems to heal her lonely heart is dance class. But what he didn’t count on was the attraction he’d feel towards her drop-dead sexy dance teacher.

For Reese Allen, dancing has always been part of her soul. After having her heart broken in New York, she comes home with the determination to make her dance studio one of the best in Tennessee and succeeds. When she sees Claire dance for the first time, she knows the girl is bound for greatness and takes the troubled teen under her wing. Using dance as therapy, she suddenly finds herself bound to the young woman… and her hot-as-sin uncle.

However, Phillip and Reese are happy in their single lives. It’s simple. They do what they want, who they want, and how they want, but from the moment they meet, the attraction is undeniable. Soon, they are more than willing to spend just one night tangled in the sheets. But, one night turns into two, and two turns into three, until they find themselves in a repeated dance of “One Last Time” that has the potential to be something more… if only Reese and Claire allow it.

Can Phillip find a way to thaw the hearts of both the women in his life, or will he be forever trying to break them away from their pasts?

Breaking Away is my second Toni Aleo read, its the fifth book in her Assassin’s Series, which I am (of course) gleefully reading out of order. And you know what I’m really liking about her book boyfriends? These boys are all in, the hedging and mixed feelings are coming from our heroines. It’s a genuine delight to read about guys who aren’t scared of their feelings.

The Assassins series is populated with the players of the fictional Nashville Assassins hockey team, who are apparently all incredibly gorgeous and swoon worthy and great in bed. Reese’s twin sister and her older sister are already both married to players from the team; they’re a hockey family and Reese is the lone standout. Reese prefers to sleep with men she doesn’t know and who she isn’t going to run into again over Thanksgiving dinner. She’s a dance teacher, who gave up her dreams of being a professional dancer over a nasty broken heart, so now she choreographs and teaches and sleeps with good looking men that she picks up at bars. Reese is gorgeous, smart, bendy, and ice cold when it comes to her love life. We like Reese. The unapologetic sexuality of Aleo’s characters is a wonderful thing, this is how the single women we know in real life operate. No shrinking violets and sneaking sluttery for us, thank you very much.

Phillip is best friends with her sister’s husband, and while they’ve met each other many times in the past, they’ve never hooked up or even been very interested in each other. Phillip thinks Reese is a cold blooded man eater, and Reese thinks Phillip is a pretty boy play boy. Neither sees the other as long-term relationship material, not that they’re even looking for long term relationships.

Things collide for Phillip and Reese when he gets custody of his 16-year-old niece, following his sisters death. His sister was an addict, who used him for money, and turned to prostitution to fund her habit when he didn’t give her enough. Just like their mother before her. And now his niece, Claire, thinks that she is pretty much destined to end up the same way. She figures addiction runs strong in the family and why fight the inevitable. I’m not a fan of the Sudden-Moppet trope in romance novels, but much like in Moonlight on Nightingale Way, the author gave us a sympathetic teenager who enhanced the plot instead of dragging it down.

The one thing Claire is interested in is dancing, she’s also really good at it, and when Reese sees her dancing around her bedroom she offers to train the girl. Which is how suddenly Reese and Phillip are seeing a lot of each other and the sexual tension is amping up. Phillip can’t handle how hot Reese is, and when they get drunk together at a club one night she invites him back to her place to fuck her on the couch in her studio. And you guys? It. Is. So. Hot.

He looked up at her, his eyes dark as he fucked her slowly with his fingers, driving her insane. When he pressed his thumb on her taut clit, she screamed out as he licked his lips. She wanted him and when she couldn’t take it anymore, she reached up and tried to guide him inside her, but he stopped her.

“Patience, beautiful,” he teased before he slowly slid into her, filling her so completely and perfectly that it took her breath away.

And picture this guy:

brooks 2

He’s a real hockey player and he’s REAL hot.

Soon, Reese and Phillip are hooking up regularly, each time swearing that this is THE LAST TIME. “Just one more time, this is it, for sure, I swear.” Phillip is falling hard for Reese, and even though she’s fighting it hard Reese is way into Phillip, too. At what point does casual hooking up become something more? And how can they navigate this without involving their families, or messing up the relationship that Reese is building with Claire?

I really loved Breaking Away, Aleo’s got a knack for banter, and is earning all our author love for her sex scenes. She also knows how to hit a girl right in the feels, this one had me a little teary at one point. Read this, read Overtime, probably read the other ones, as well. You won’t be sorry.

Check it out:

Amazon • iBooks

*You know what’s a really fun google image search? Hot hockey player, that’s what!

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