Review of Taking Shots (Assassins #1) by Toni Aleo

Book Cover

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Taking Shots (Assassins #1) by Toni Aleo

Book Description

Elli Fisher has never thought she was good enough, let it be her job, her weight, her love life, nothing. That is until she meets Shea Adler. After doing a promotional shoot for the NHL team, the Assassins, she meets the hunky hockey player who shoots a puck, shattering her world.

Shea Adler was tired of the life he was living outside of the rink. The girls, the money blowing, the drinking, everything had to stop and it all did when he met Eleanor Fisher. He had never met anyone like her. She was feisty, witty, shy, and simply gorgeous. When he laid eyes on her, it was as if he was taking the hardest hit of his life into the boards, and he had to have her. Elli is a little skeptical of Shea, but he knows that they were meant to be together, and he needed her in his life.

Can Elli throw her insecurities out the window and love Shea with everything inside of her, or will she let a past relationship, and her family ruin any chance of her being happy.


Book Review

Taking Shots is the first book in Toni Aleo’s Assassins series, where each book focuses on a hunky hockey player for the Nashville Assassins and the woman he comes to love.  If you like a romance book that slowly depicts a couple’s developing relationship, as they each battle their insecurities, then you will enjoy this book, even if hockey isn’t one of your favorite sports.

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Eleanor Fisher, called Ellie, is a professional photographer as well as a die-hard Assassins’ fan.  She attends every game, has awesome seats to watch the home games, and is most likely team captain Shea Adler’s most dedicated fan.  When she gets a chance to be the official photographer for the Assassins team, she jumps at the opportunity to be around the players of a sport she loves.  On her first day taking pictures of the team members, she finds herself blushing as she considers how gorgeous Shea is when she is photographing him.   When he flirts with her, she is too shocked to even reply.

In her eyes, someone like Shea Adler could never be interested in her.  First of all, Ellie has low self-esteem because of her family and a past relationship. Readers are given bits and pieces about her family and past but the full story isn’t revealed all at once; instead it is parceled out over the course of the story to keep the reader’s interest.

Secondly, Ellie has major issues with her body image that I found surprising and saddening.  When she was in her teens, she was a size two.  Later, she developed hypothyroidism and gained a lot of weight. Although she has lost some of the weight, she isn’t happy that she is now a size ten and, in her opinion, still overweight. So being a size 10 means you’re fat? I think not.
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There is nothing wrong with being a size 10, but I think, today, young women feel so much pressure to be “stick thin.”  Unfortunately, Ellie places too much importance on a person’s physical attributes in the beginning of the story, but, her attitude does change as her character begins to grow.

Shea is a wonderfully, caring, honest man who doesn’t understand why Ellie sees herself in such a negative way. Whenever he can, he always compliments her and works to boost her self-esteem.  He also doesn’t understand her cautiousness about taking their relationship beyond just kisses and dates.  During a heavy make out session, Ellie pulls back, terrified to allow Shea to see her body, thinking he will be disgusted by the sight. This hesitation about letting Shea close to her occurs repeatedly, and her inability to accept the fact he thinks she’s beautiful eventually began to annoy me.

However, Shea is patient with her.  Because of the connection he has with Ellie, he is willing to take things slowly.  They spend a lot of time conversing, where Shea openly share details and stories about his life and his family. Unfortunately, Ellie doesn’t share anything about her family and tries to avoid discussing her past.  When her parents learn that Ellie is seeing Shea Adler, they are persistent in having the couple over for dinner.  Ellie does not like being around her family and doesn’t want to expose Shea to them either.  Over dinner it becomes clearer to Shea one of the reasons for Ellie’s insecurities. Everyone in her family, with the exception of her father, seems to derive pleasure in criticizing Ellie, especially her mother.

What makes the entire experience even more disastrous is that almost everything Ellie has avoided sharing with Shea is revealed by family members. Not only is Ellie embarrassed and horrified, but Shea is absolutely shocked by what he learns about Ellie’s past, and he realizes how much about herself she has kept hidden.
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By the end of the dinner, he is angry and frustrated with Ellie, as I think anyone would by this point. However, what confuses me is why Ellie agreed to bring Shea to dinner, knowing this could happen.

These revelations, however, help Shea to gain insight about what has made Ellie so afraid of getting close to someone.  Furthermore, this scene was an integral part of the book because it enables Ellie to begin lowering the barriers she has erected to protect herself from getting hurt. Now that Shea knows more of the truth and still wants her in his life, Ellie decides it’s time to give herself fully to him.

As their relationship deepens, Shea finds he has fallen in love with Ellie. Even though he gathers the courage to tell her how much he loves her, he is disappointed that she doesn’t say it back.  What amazes me about Shea is his level of commitment to Ellie. He’s willing to wait for her to fall in love with him. I keep wondering what’s really holding her back. So a previous relationship didn’t work out? Why should that deter her from finding happiness with someone else?  Only when a drunken Ellie finally tells Shea the details about her last relationship can I finally understand her caution and fears. I wish I had learned this information earlier because it would have helped me to have more patience with Ellie.

Shea is one of the most heart-melting heroes I have encountered. The strength of his love for Ellie makes him a perfect match for her as she deals with those pesky inner demons that whisper to her she’s not worthy of Shea. It is his loving commitment to her that helps her grow and flourish.

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However, the progress to happily-ever-after is halted when a major incident occurs that shatters Ellie’s trust in Shea.  I became frustrated with Ellie again because she just runs away instead of listening to Shea’s explanation.  So the angst continues in the midst of heartbreak.  Other readers may think her reaction was justified, but I think by this point in the story, Ellie should have been bold enough confront the issue and deal with it after ascertaining all of the  facts. Instead she runs away and leaves the entire issue unresolved until the end of the story.

Overall, I enjoyed this book, and I am certainly glad to have had the opportunity to read a story like this that really depicts the intricacies of making a relationship succeed.  On the other hand, at times, I felt the pacing was too slow, and the story was dragged out longer than it needed to be. I also found there to be entirely too much “giggling” over the course of the plot.  There is nothing wrong with the use of giggle, but I found this descriptor overused to the point that it became an annoyance for me.


I think fans of contemporary and New Adult romances will find this to be an enjoyable read. I am certainly willing to give the next book in the series a try.

I received a copy of this book from Random House Publishing- Loveswept via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.




Learn More about the Assassin Series by watching this Series Trailer


About the Author (From Goodreads Profile page)

My name is Toni Aleo!

I am a wife, mother, and hopeless romantic. I have been told I have anger issues, but I think it’s cause of my intense love for hockey! 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 daughters dance competition, hanging with my best friends, taking pictures, and reading the latest romance novel. I love things that sparkle, I love the color pink, and did I mention I love hockey? I am currently working on Empty Net, and I hope to have it out by November! I hope to hear from you on here, my Facebook, or my twitter! Thank you so much!

Author Links

Website | Twitter | Facebook

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Music to Complement the Book

These songs were referenced in Taking Shots (credit goes to Toni Aleo)


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One comment on “Review of Taking Shots (Assassins #1) by Toni Aleo

  1. Pingback: Book Tour for Blue Lines (Nashville Assassins #4) by Toni Aleo: Review & Giveaway | Sun Mountain Reviews

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