Review: Taking Shots by Toni Aleo

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This is only the first book of many in Toni Aleo‘s “Assassins” series. Normally, I like sports-themed romance novels, but this is just another way-too-long book that could have been better edited. While Toni Aleo’s writing style is easy to read, I really don’t care for the multiple exclamation points in her characters’ dialogues and how Shea Adler (the hero of the story) sometimes “sounds” like he’s talking like a girl.

Shea: [speaking about his contact lenses] “We can do this without them, right?… I won’t be able to see your beautiful face for a little bit, but I’ll have a new pair soon. Then I can stare some more.”

That was just in his first meeting with his heroine-counterpart, Elli Fisher. Shea’s dialogue got better as the book droned on and on and on and on, but I still could not get past the feeling that I don’t really like this book. Then I hit on the reason why: Toni Aleo made her major male characters more likable than her female ones.

1. Shea – highly emotional and gosh darn too perfect that one would think he’s really fictional (which he is). He cried over losing his first real girlfriend and he cried at least twice when Elli left him. Took care of Elli when she went through her annual sickness (what she was sick with, Aleo didn’t say). He cleaned up her vomit, for christ’s sake, and that was after Elli lashed out at him and broke up with him.
2. Jakob – Shea’s best friend, fellow hockey player, and teammate in the NHL. He’s looking for true love and fell in love with Elli’s best friend, Harper, also during their first meeting.
3. Elli’s daddy, Michael – the only one in Elli’s primary family who loves and dotes on her.
4. Elli’s uncle, Bryan – Elli calls him “Papa.” Bryan also loves Elli like she was his own and plans to leave the NHL team he owns, the Tennessee Assassins, the team that Shea plays for, to Elli when he retires.
5. Elli’s brothers – Minor characters only. I forget their names. Elli calls them stupid. They’re portrayed as such in the book. They also tease her in front of Shea during their first family get-to-know-the-new-BF dinner as a couple. I think they’re pretty harmless, though. They’re not really that stupid if Elli likes their kids (her nieces and nephews).
6. The only exception to the general description above is Elli’s ex-fiance, Justin – pure asshole. Well, of course, he is. There has to have been someone to break Elli’s self-esteem and confidence.

The major female characters, on the other hand? Toni Aleo made them unlikable, needy, etc.
1. Elli Fisher – At first, I can relate to her. She’s overweight (her weight issues are due to hyper-thyroidism), rich but hardworking, shopaholic, needy for affection, and self-conscious about her body. Then, she turns into an emo. Cries whenever Shea leaves town. A nag when it comes to buying a house with Shea (she has to have everything, regardless of what the price is, even her beloved WHITE hard wood floors). Loooves pink (guess that portrays her as a girly-girl). Has major trust issues – attempted to leave Shea oh because he really doesn’t love her and oh because she saw Shea’s lips being kissed by a puck bunny and by evil sister. She doesn’t really get to the bottom of why those 2 instances happened – just ups and leaves. But she loves him too much. Boo freakin hoo. Annoying as all get out.
2. Grace Adler-Justice – Shea’s twin sister. Gets jealous way too much for a twin sister could be.
3. Olivia Fisher – Elli’s mom. The ultimate evil mother.
4. Victoria Fisher – Elli’s sister. The ultimate evil sister.
5. Harper – Elli’s best friend. Likes making Jakob chase her. She just wants one-night stands, but Jakob “changes” her. She cries hysterically and obsessively when Jakob got hurt in a game, then she turns right back around and starts complaining about him for being a baby as he’s recuperating in her apartment.

After analyzing WHY I didn’t like this book, I had to re-evaluate myself and see whether or not I fit into these pigeon-holes Toni Aleo has stuck her female characters in. Are women all crazy? Probably, yes. That still doesn’t mean I like reading about them consistently in a 500-plus page book.

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