Release Date: December 9, 2013
Published by LoveSwept – Random House
Review Copy from NetGalley
Erik Titov…I don’t know whether to hug you or hit you. Maybe both.
It was great to jump right back into Toni Aleo’s hit series, The Assassins. I, like many of you, have been waiting on this one for quite a while. I absolutely love sports romance, especially hockey, and Aleo’s boys are some of my favorite to read. The characters are real with struggles and imperfections; they have to work for what they want. They’re cocky, tough, and definitely keep things interesting. The fourth installment doesn’t disappoint.
It’s pretty much business as usual for Erik Titov, notorious man-whore and womanizer. I guess that makes him the Assassins’ leading scorer on and off the ice? It’s no secret he likes his women, but when he allows Piper Allen to get under his skin after an amazing night together, he finds himself in a frenzy of females trying to purge her from his system. Erik quickly learns that his personal and professional lives aren’t mutually exclusive – excessive tabloid publicity causes Assassins’ owner Elli Adler to put him on probation until he can get his act together. Too bad the damage is done – Piper drops quite the baby bomb and turns his world upside down. But he can’t fall for a nice girl like Piper, she’s too good for a guy like him. Fortunately for us Piper totally disagrees.
I really struggled with Erik during this story. I can’t remember ever being so singularly frustrated by a character. Erik is the epitome of a head case where relationships are concerned. I mean I could completely understand his unease about his family history and being able to commit to a relationship and not destroy it, but I didn’t like his disrespect and outright crude treatment of Piper even when I could see why he was doing it. At times he knows what he wants and needs yet denies himself out of fear. I almost couldn’t reconcile his professional confidence with his personal doubt; it made him a very complicated guy. I hated to see him torture himself over and over and over where Piper is concerned. It’s more than a little exhausting, and I’m not sure how Piper managed to keep it together. She has way more patience than I do, but I guess it speaks volumes about how much she loves him. He’s a complete idiot and still she waits. And waits. Gets hurt some more and waits. Make no mistake – she’s not a doormat. She makes some pretty bold moves and decisions when it counts. She’s a lot stronger than her family gives her credit for, that’s for sure. Don’t even get me started on those people…grrr. Sometimes I wanted to shake them.
My overall favorite character might surprise you – it’s Cooper, Erik’s dad. What a great guy! Such a rock, he’s always there for Jakob and Erik no matter what. When he and Erik have that heart to heart where he reminds Erik who his best friend is…I think I almost cried. Erik’s so lost and trying to cope with his feelings, and Cooper is just full of so much love and support. I wish everyone could have that kind of relationship with at least one of their parents. It was a warm, fuzzy moment in the middle of a lot of heartache.
In Blue Lines we see a lot of Erik’s best friend, Phillip. Since he is (was?) Erik’s wingman with the ladies as well as his roommate and teammate, they spend a lot of time together. I’d be totally lying if I didn’t say I’m hoping Toni Aleo writes his story next. I just really feel like he needs someone a little more stable and permanent; his back story breaks my heart. I look forward to him finding some happiness in a way only Aleo can deliver – hot, sweet and non-stop action. In fact, I’m off to scour the internet to see what I can dig up about Assassins #5 right now…
RATING: ONE SNEAKER, ONE BAD ASS HOCKEY BOOT