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.

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Overtime, by Toni Aleo


Grade: B

Doing it at: 47%

Catnip: Hockey Players, Beards, Second Chance Love, Hate to Love You, Addiction, Serious Problems, Sports Stuff, Strong Female Lead, Brother’s Best Friend, Reformed Bad Boy

Shame Scale: Super low shame, the cover is obviously romance, but look at that guy.

Fantasy Cast: The glorious and sadly unknown to us man on the cover, Charlize Theron

Book Description:

Down and out with an injury keeping him away from the game, Assassins’ defenseman Jordie Thomas lives for the blades of his skates on the ice and the feeling of oblivion off it. With no choice but to heal, he’s forced away from the sport that runs through his veins. With everything at stake and darkness setting in, he quickly finds himself spiraling even further out of control. As his life begins to come crashing down around him and his contract with the Nashville Assassins on the line, he’s given an ultimatum. Ready or not, Jordie is forced to face his past, the fears that consume him, and the one woman he let walk away. 

Kacey King had her professional dreams come true, yet her heart was battered and broken. With an Olympic gold medal around her neck, she’s ready to look forward to the future but without the one man she wanted in it. She’s missing the key pieces of her heart she left months ago with the only person who was capable of destroying it, causing her to falter in all her plans to move on. 

In the game of life, there are winners and losers, and neither Jordie nor Kacey want to be on the losing bench. If only Jordie could convince Kacey he’s a changed man and that he wants her right by his side as his MVP for the biggest and best parts of a life they build together. With emotions running high and the game on the line, can two proud people find happiness with each other, or will their hearts and souls be left in the cold? Will they see that sometimes having someone by your side who knows the good, bad, and broken is better than going it alone and losing everything through the back of the net? They are out of time on the game clock and fighting for the win of their lives. 

But overtime was made for an Assassin like Jordie. 

Mary: Full disclosure. We bought this book for the cover model. 100%. Look at him:


I don’t even want to admit to the lurid, depraved, bottomless depths of Tumblr I have explored, trying to find a dirty lookalike for this guy.

Dear Toni Aleo, *Slow Clap* Also, how about you HABO (Help A Bitch Out) and tell us who this model is so we can stalk him incessantly on Instagram.

Cleone: Seriously, this is maybe our best cover model of all time, if we didn’t want to avoid angering Jay Crownover we’d tweet this at her RE: this is how you do it (plus she redeemed herself with #HotCop).

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M: And also, hockey is kind of hot. I guess. I’m not really a sports person, but I think out of all of the sports, hockey has some of the better looking players (not counting the dental issues).

C: Hockey has Henrik Lundqvist. It is definitely hot. Plus I adore the Rachel Gibson Chinook series, so hockey has serious catnip for me.

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Him, by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy


Grade: A-

Doing it at: 55%

Catnip: Hockey Players, Friends to Lovers, Childhood Crush, Summer Camp Romance, All the Feels, Tattoos, All of the P, None of the V, Dual Narrative, #TeamAnal

Shame Scale: Low shame. This was a sweet book.

Fantasy Cast: Kris Letang, David Rundblad

What do we taste like?: the rain, beer, something addictively masculine

Book Description:

They don’t play for the same team. Or do they?

Jamie Canning has never been able to figure out how he lost his closest friend. Four years ago, his tattooed, wise-cracking, rule-breaking roommate cut him off without an explanation. So what if things got a little weird on the last night of hockey camp the summer they were eighteen? It was just a little drunken foolishness. Nobody died. 

Ryan Wesley’s biggest regret is coaxing his very straight friend into a bet that pushed the boundaries of their relationship. Now, with their college teams set to face off at the national championship, he’ll finally get a chance to apologize. But all it takes is one look at his longtime crush, and the ache is stronger than ever. 

Jamie has waited a long time for answers, but walks away with only more questions— 
can one night of sex ruin a friendship? If not, how about six more weeks of it? When Wesley turns up to coach alongside Jamie for one more hot summer at camp, Jamie has a few things to discover about his old friend…and a big one to learn about himself. 

I recently read The Deal, by Elle Kennedy – which was also about a hockey player – and liked it a bunch. So when I saw that she was collaborating with Sarina Bowen on a M/M hockey romance, that was pretty much all I needed to hear to pre-order it. I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll keep on saying it: M/M romance is super hot you guys. All of the P, none of the V. It’s all rock hard abs and tight buns, with nary a boob in sight.

This one starts out with Ryan Wesley (Wes) and Jamie Canning, two college hockey players on opposite sides of the country, realizing that they’re both about to play in a big important championship series (sorrynotsorry, I don’t know if it was a real series or not because I could give a fuck about sports), and might see each other after four years of silence. Jamie and Wes were best friends growing up, spending summers together at hockey camp in Lake Placid, but Wes cut off all contact with Jamie when they went to college. Jamie has always been pretty butt sore about it (hehehe), and they’re both wondering if their teams are going to play each other in the series, and what it’s going to be like to see each other.

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Pucked, by Helena Hunting


Grade: B

Doing it at: 14%

Catnip: Hockey Players; Teammate’s Sister; Trouser Snake; Canadians; Beta Hero

Shame Scale: There is A LOT of penis talk in this one, I loved it, but was scared to read it on the bus.

Fantasy Cast: Henrik Lundqvist; Kat Dennings

What do we taste like: He tastes like chocolate, and more faintly, coffee liqueur

Book Description:

With a famous NHL player for a stepbrother, Violet Hall is well acquainted with the playboy reputation of many a hockey star. So of course she isn’t interested in legendary team captain Alex Waters or his pretty, beat-up face and rock-hard six-pack abs. When Alex inadvertently obliterates Violet’s misapprehension regarding the inferior intellect of hockey players, he becomes much more than just a hot body with the face to match.

Suffering from a complete lapse in judgment, Violet discovers just how good Alex is with the hockey stick in his pants. Violet believes her night of orgasmic magic with Alex is just that: one night. But Alex starts to call. And text. And email and send extravagant—and quirky—gifts. Suddenly, he’s too difficult to ignore, and nearly impossible not to like.

The problem is, the media portrays Alex as a total player, and Violet doesn’t want to be part of the game.

I bought Pucked as a present to myself during a bad day at work, you can generally judge how stressful my life is by how many books I’m popping into the family library. Currently I’m at book buying level, “Hey Cleone, would you like some Xanax?”, but the upside is that I got Pucked out of this. I’m into hockey player romances, I’ve read the whole Chinook series, by Rachel Gibson and loved them (Gibson is pretty great in general). I also was recently clued in to the existence of Henrik Lundqvist, and I like any opportunity to think about him.

Pucked is funny, you guys. The heroine, Violet, is awkward and goofy and bad at controlling the words coming out of her mouth. As the girl who once ended up talking to her video store District Manager about my underwear, I can relate. Spending time with her inner monologue made me LOL more than once:

I further my own embarrassment and his by cupping my breasts and squeezing. “They’re nice for real ones, huh?”

Cockblockers are everywhere tonight, thwarting my attempts at poor decision making.

Alex is sweet, he’s a perfect beta hero, not too controlling, great manners and sense of humor; but still manly enough that its easy to imagine him manhandling you into bed. The silliness gets a little over the top at times, but this book is so fluffy and the author clearly likes all the characters so much that I just rolled with the silly.

Violet’s stepbrother, Buck the Yeti, is a pro hockey player who has recently been traded to a new team due to some …indiscretions … that were very publicly broadcast. Violet likes him enough, but in general she thinks that hockey players are man-whores with less than stellar IQs. So, when Alex Waters, team captain and legendary player, starts chatting her up at the bar after a game she doesn’t want to like him. But he’s smart, and funny, and really flipping hot. To add to all that appeal she realizes that the reason he looks so damned familiar is because she was “jilling off” to his milk ad earlier in the day.

I don’t know why it’s so hot. I mean, milk isn’t really a sexy drink, but whatever.

Which is how she ends up ” mouth fucking” him outside the bar, Violet has described the kissing as such and I LOVE it. And that’s how later that night she ends up having hot, funny, unexpected sex with him in his hotel room after he’s stripped her out of her Spiderman pajamas and shown her his monster cock.

Now, spoilers to follow, scroll from hot hockey gent to hot hockey gent if you want to be surprised!

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After the mouth fucking and trouble-walking-the-next-day-banging,  Alex woos her hard. He’s sweet, unsure if she likes him, and really wants to get to know her better. Both in a mouth fucking and a personality way. Violet tries to resist because she really doesn’t want to date another slut hockey player. The internet is full of rumors about how many ladies he’s bagged and she doesn’t want to become one of many. She works in finance, she wears superhero underpants, she’s a GOOD GIRL. She doesn’t want to be some Puck Bunny. But Alex is calling, texting, emailing, and sending her adorable gifts – like a stuffed beaver wearing a Waters jersey. Violet isn’t made of steel. Plus there’s the hot sex that she wants to have more of, like stat.

Violet and Alex start hooking up every time he’s in town, having dirty fun sex and really enjoying each others company. Alex is uncut and Violet nicknames his monster cock Snuffie after Snuffleupagus, which is adorable and made me giggle. Everything is going well, they’re falling hard for each other and even getting caught screwing in the locker room by his entire team doesn’t mess up the good thing they’ve got going (locker room sex is on my to do list now in case you were wondering).

What DOES screw things up is Alex trying to keep their relationship secret because he’s trying for a big endorsement deal. Not cute, hockey God.





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Pucked was a fun read, it was everything I want in a romance: funny and hot and sweet. Hunting gave us our HEA without too much back and forth. There was the proper amount of groveling from Alex when he makes a boneheaded mistake. With a pretty Rom-Com worthy public proclamation.  This is a solid B read; with summer finally upon us I urge you to take this one with you for reading in the sun and swooning over guys who have solid skills with their … sticks.