Title: Delayed Call
Author: Toni Aleo
Series: Assassins #11
Publisher: Self Published
Release Date: 3/20/2017
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance, Romantic Comedy,Sports Romance
Page Count: 399
Heat Level: 3.5 flames out of 5
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Vaughn Johansson is the Nashville Assassins’ star player. He’s brash, cocky, and talented. And he isn’t afraid to let anyone know it. He lives his life on his own terms, never forming romantic attachments, and only allowing his very closest to see his true, caring self.
Brie Soledad has the weight of the world on her shoulders. As the staff reporter for the Assassins, she balances her high-profile job and its heavy travel schedule with being the sole provider for her adult brother with Down syndrome. Sure, she’d like to find love. But who has time for that when there are bills to pay?
Brie has been the match to Vaughn’s gasoline since the day she first held out her microphone to him. They strike sparks off each other, keeping their friends, the team, and the Assassins fans in stitches. Brie’s refusal to fawn over Vaughn sets his teeth on edge and his blood boiling. Especially in that body part…
Brie’s been let down by love before, but she knows she deserves nothing less than real, forever love. Vaughn’s past has left deep, hidden scars, and there are some secrets he cannot bear to reveal. As much as Brie wants him, Vaughn may be too big a risk for her wary heart to take. But he is at his best under pressure. When the delayed call is in effect and he has no choice but to score, Vaughn always delivers.
I’m functioning on minimal sleep today and Delayed Call is to blame. I absolutely ate up this book. The characters were likable- entertaining and lively. The story was comfortable but with enough deviations from stereotypical plot points to avoid monotony, and I laughed. I laughed so much.
Delayed Call is the 11th book in Aleo’s Assassins series but can be read as a standalone. I’ve only read one novel and a short by the author and I had no trouble following along with the characters or team dynamics. As a hockey fan, the book contained a solid amount of details to satisfy me but not so many that would deter a reader who isn’t into the sport. Beyond a sports romance, it’s also an enemies to lovers story. Of course that means conflict from the jump and this couple doesn’t disappoint with the disgruntled comments and volatile interactions. The pacing was steady for the most part. There were bursts of exciting moments as conflicts reached their peak, but there were also moments the pacing slowed as the main characters warred over how to handle situations and the budding romance. Though the stop and start of the relationship slowed the plot a little, it never felt like the story stalled out and the consistent character growth kept my attention.
I generally enjoy the damaged character angle because it allows for marked development throughout the storyline. Once the full backstories come out, Brie’s failure to trust and Vaughn’s refusal to commit makes sense. Yes, it’s frustrating, but the author never sweeps their issues under the rug or makes them magically disappear. The growth feels natural, hiccups and all. I really liked that the stereotypical plot points weren’t used to resolve the conflicts. It kept me engaged and invested in the characters. While I loved many aspects of Brie and Vaughn’s story, the dialogue was the clear winner for me. I am a sucker for good banter and Delayed Call had some of the best I’ve read in a long time, maybe ever. The characters all played off one another and I laughed frequently. The conversations flowed incredibly well- whether serious, playful, or squabbling- and it brought the story and characters to life.
I’m not normally a re-reader of books, even if I’ve enjoyed them, but Delayed Call is certainly worthy of that. This sports romance was very well-balanced. It had the full range of emotions, stellar main and secondary characters, plenty of steam, “aww” inducing sweet moments, a whopping dose of humor, and of course HOCKEY. If you’re in the need of a pick me up, this is the book to pick up.