Diane's Book Blog
5 Stars
End Game (Bellevue Bullies, #4) by Toni Aleo
End Game - Toni Aleo

Toni Aleo leads the league with END GAME, the fourth book in the Bellevue Bullies series. Senior, Ryan Justice, is hoping to make the NHL draft. Sofia Castilleja is a freshman on Bellevue’s new gymnastics team. Neither one of them planned on letting a relationship distract them from their goals. END GAME takes place in Nashville, Tennessee. This contemporary sports romance is suitable for new adult audiences.

Ah, Ryan Justice swoon. Ryan is Shae Adler’s nephew (Assassin’s series). He is the son of Shae’s twin sister, Grace. He goes through a great deal emotionally in this story. He does some soul searching. He is a great big brother and cousin. He is the oldest of the Adler/Justice kids. As a result, he wants to set a good example, and not disappoint anyone. He is protective, thoughtful, and smart.

Sofia is Ryan’s younger sister, Amelia’s roommate/teammate. She was once destined to be in the Olympics, but an injury shattered that dream. Now she is at Bellevue on a full gymnastic scholarship. I enjoyed her character. She never really had good friends growing up. Her life was all about gymnastics. She is hard working and determined. She is very concerned for her mother who has MS. She wants to make sure she is successful, so she can help provide for her.

I like how the story starts out on Halloween. The matching Halloween costumes of the Adler/Justice clan is classic. It shows how close the two families are.

I love when Sofia and Ryan meet. Ryan is not used to girls not throwing themselves at him. Sofia has no experience with boys and is nervous around them. Ryan is very determined to get Sofia to go out with him. They are adorable together. They have a lot in common and make each other stronger.

The plot was skillfully executed. I love how Sofia’s sponsorship played out. Ryan had some interesting obstacles. I swear Toni Aleo always makes me cry. Her stories are heartfelt and meaningful. This story is a good example of how life doesn’t always take you on the path you wanted but your life can be just as rewarding or possibly more so. I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader copy of this book.

5 Stars
Defending Dani (Alaska Blizzard, Book 1) by Kat Mizera
Defending Dani - Kat Mizera

Kat Mizera’s DEFENDING DANI is an amazing start to the Alaska Blizzard series. It is a spin-off of Las Vegas Sidewinders series. The main characters are both siblings to players on the Sidewinders. Sergei Petrov is the brother of Toli and half-brother of Vlad. Danielle Cloutier is the sister of Zakk.

Sergei has not had luck in the relationship department. He is divorced from his first wife, and his second wife was murdered. He is now a single dad who has been traded to Anchorage, Alaska. Enter Dani. She has been helping Tessa and Toli take care of Sergei’s three-year-old son, Niko, while he settles things in Anchorage. Toli thinks Dani would make an amazing nanny for Sergei. Dani is finishing her master’s degree in athletic training from North Dakota. She was selected to play with the women’s US Olympic team and has time before she needs to move to Colorado for training.

The couple have a rocky start. Sergei has a lot of personal issues he is dealing with. To top it off, he is now playing on a struggling NHL expansion team, that doesn’t seem to gel. Dani loves hockey but knows her career is at an end because women in the NWHL barely make any money so that is not a viable career option. Sergei, Dani, and Niko settle into a wonderful life in Alaska, but several issues arise causing problems.

Kat Mizera does a fantastic job with this novel. The characters are multidimensional and grow throughout the story. The plot is realistic and believable. DEFENDING DANI is skillfully written. I was captivated from beginning to end. I enjoyed the conclusion. I’m looking forward to book two, HOLDING HAILEY. Hailey is one of Dani’s Olympic teammates, and Kane is a teammate of Sergei. I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader copy of this book.

4.5 Stars
Hooked On You (Chicago Rebels #3) by Kate Meader
Hooked on You - Kate Meader

Kate Meader scores a hat trick with book three in the Chicago Rebels series, HOOKED ON YOU.  After never meeting her biological father, Violet Vasquez inherited a third of the Chicago Rebels hockey team, along with her two half-sisters.  She doesn’t plan on sticking around after the season is over.  Meanwhile, the Chicago Rebels captain, Bren St. James, needs a nanny.  With the playoffs at stake, Violet takes the job.  This contemporary sports romance is suitable for adult audiences.


I like Bren.  He is a recovering alcoholic.  His kids mean the world to him.  His ex-wife, Kendra, is a piece of work.  Violet is good for him.  Violet is an amazing character.  She survived breast cancer.  She doesn’t feel like she fits in.  She doesn’t realize the impact she has made on everyone’s lives since she moved to Chicago.  She’s fun and encouraging.  Bren and Violet both grow throughout the story. 


I enjoyed HOOKED ON YOU.  It was an entertaining read.  The characters faced relevant obstacles.  I love the Ferris Bueller’s Day Off scene.  That was classic.   


I have enjoyed the plot of the Chicago Rebels series.  It is unique and charming.  The new management at the Chicago Rebels is unconventional.  I love that the team supports and appreciates them.  I recommend reading these books in order.  I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader copy of this book.

5 Stars
Melt for You (Slow Burn, Book 2) by J. T. Geissinger
Melt For You - J.T. Geissinger
  1. T. Geissinger triumphs with MELT FOR YOU, the second book in the Slow Burn series. Joellen Bixby has a crush on her companies’ CEO, Michael Maddox. She gets help from her new neighbor, Cameron McGregor, captain of the Scotland national union rugby team, to get Maddox’s attention.  Unfortunately, Cameron has fallen for Jo in the process. This contemporary sports romance primarily takes place in New York.  It is suitable for adult audiences.


I knew I was going to love this book just after reading the first page.  The story starts out with the heroine’s top ten reasons why the Holidays Suck.  It was hilarious.  I love Joellen’s humor.  Even her dreams were funny.  I like her character.  She underestimates herself.  She has no idea that she is appealing, which is understandable, considering how her mother treats her. She has worked at Maddox Publishing for ten years and been in love with Michael for just as long.


Cameron McGregor is a fun character.  He is vibrant.  He sees Joellen for who she truly is.  He respects her.  He has a great outlook on life.  He is good for Joellen.  I love how they interact with each other.


Joellen’s boss, Portia, was a fascinating character.  You hate her.  She is a witch, to put it nicely.  You don’t always know what to expect from her. She ends up surprising you.


MELT FOR YOU is skillfully written and entertaining.  It is a story that is hard to put down.  It has multiple examples of why you should not judge people until you get to know them.  I loved that the epilogue starts off with another top ten list (also amusing).  I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader copy of this book.

5 Stars
Marek (Cold Fury Hockey #11) by Sawyer Bennett
Marek: A Cold Fury Hockey Novel (Carolina Cold Fury Hockey) - Sawyer Bennett

Sawyer Bennett melts the ice with book eleven in the Cold Fury Hockey series, MAREK.  I was anxiously waiting to read this story since book 10, REED.  Marek Fabritis is friends with Reed.  In book ten, Reed went with Marek to help stop the wedding of Marek’s ex-girlfriend, Gracen Moore.  At the wedding, Marek discovered that he and Gracen have a three-year-old daughter, Lilly, that he never knew about.  Marek’s story continues after the wedding. 


The plot was exceptional.  It was realistic and heartfelt.  The characters were believable.  Marek understandably was angry after his discovery.  He didn’t handle the situation well and had a lot of growing up to do throughout the story.  I like Gracen.  She sacrifices a lot for the people she loves.  She’s a good mom.  She should have told Marek about Lilly, but the reason she didn’t was plausible. The two never got over each other.  They have issues to overcome.  I like that they had a second chance.


I’m glad Marek stopped the wedding.  Owen was not a good guy.  We discover some interesting things about Owen and his intentions throughout the novel. 


I like that Josie’s ex/co-worker Aiden McCune made an appearance in this novel.  I thought it was interesting especially considering the things that happened with him in book ten. 


I love the epilogue.  Lilly is too cute.  It was the perfect ending for the story.


If you haven’t read the other books in the Cold Fury Hockey series, MAREK could be read as a stand-alone.  However, I do recommend reading REED first.  There are many things that happen in the novel that are significant to this story.  That being said, I do recommend the entire series.  Sawyer Bennett’s writing is impeccable.  Each character’s story is unique.  I have loved every book in this series.  I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader copy of this book.


5 Stars
ISAN (International Sensory Assassin Network #1) by Mary Ting
ISAN - Mary Ting

I love Mary Ting’s ISAN (International Sensory Assassin Network). Seventeen-year-old, Ava has a special DNA marker that allows a unique drug known as Helix to enhance her abilities. She is given a choice of remaining in juvenile detention or joining ISAN (International Sensory Assassin Network). After being captured by a rebel group she is told that her life is a lie. She has no idea who she can trust. This dystopian novel is suitable for young adults.

ISAN reminded me of a combination of the television series Alias (2001-06) and the Matrix movie series. It is creative, full of action, and mysterious. I like Ava. She has some interesting powers like being able to store architectural blueprints in her mind to help her on her missions. She is a good leader. She has had a difficult life. I like that she is strong-willed.

The plot was amazing. A lot of interesting twists occur throughout the novel. ISAN was skillfully written and thought-provoking. The story had a captivating ending. I cannot wait for the next book in the series. I highly recommend this book to science fiction lovers. ISAN would make a great movie or television series. I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader copy of this book.

5 Stars
Shutdown Player: Seattle Sockeyes Hockey (Game On in Seattle #10) by Jami Davenport
Shutdown Player: Seattle Sockeyes Hockey - Jami Davenport

Jami Davenport lights the lamp with SHUTDOWN PLAYER, the tenth book in the Game On Seattle series. After a failed marriage to a stereotypical puck bunny, Jared Roderick is ready to settle down with a nice girl. He thinks he finds the woman of his dreams when he meets, Stephanie Clarke. However, Steph has some secretes and a former boyfriend who is not willing to let her go. This contemporary sports romance is suitable for adult audiences.

We first meet Steph in book 9, PENALTY PLAY. Steph used to work with Vi. She was in an abusive relationship with Gino. It’s terrible what he put her through, the guy doesn’t know when to give up. I love that she is embraced by the Sockeye family. It’s great that Izzy hired her at Party Crashers. I like how she meets Jared through her second job with Agnes.

Both Jared and Stephanie understandably have issues because of their previous relationships. Candy and Gino really pulled a number on them. As a result, they are both keeping secrets from each other, which winds up causing issues.

Steph and Jared make a cute couple. I love that they both read hockey romances. I also, like their favorite authors, add in Jami Davenport of course.

The plot was believable and heartfelt. I appreciated how the characters developed throughout the story. The epilogue was a perfect conclusion to the story. I enjoy Jami Davenport’s writing style. It flows well and is easy to envision. I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader copy of this book.

5 Stars
Dark Queen (Jane Yellowrock #12) by Faith Hunter
Dark Queen - Faith Hunter

I loved Faith Hunter’s DARK QUEEN, the twelfth book in the Jane Yellowrock series. Leo, the vampire Master of the City of New Orleans, is preparing for his blood challenge by the emperor on the European vampires. Since Jane is Leo’s Enforcer, she has a lot to prepare for. To top it off, she has some family drama to deal with.


I enjoyed the characters. They are diverse and have a lot of depth. I find Jane’s conversations with Beast amusing. I really appreciated the flashbacks to Jane’s youth. I love that she began remembering things from her life past. I enjoyed the addition of Ayatas FireWind.


DARK QUEEN was skillfully written and exciting throughout the novel. There were twists and a lot of action in the story. The “blood battle” was a fascinating event. The rules and dynamics between the combatants were well developed and exciting. Leo did some surprising things throughout the story. I loved the epilogue. I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader copy of this book.

5 Stars
Misadventures of a Rookie (Misadventures #11) by Toni Aleo
Misadventures of a Rookie - Toni Aleo

Toni Aleo lights the lamp with MISADVENTURES OF A ROOKIE.  Malibu Suns hockey player, Gus Persson, is not used to being turned down.  Sun’s ice girl/sports therapist, Bo St. James, has no problem shutting down the cocky defenseman, or does she.  This contemporary sports romance is suitable for adult audiences.


I loved MISADVENTURES OF A ROOKIE.  The characters were likable and well developed.  I appreciated the similarities between Bo and Gus’ mother. I loved the banter between Bo and Gus.  I enjoyed the conversations with Gus’ parents.  Many of them were highly amusing; others were serious.  Gus is a great guy.  He is not what Bo expected. The characters go through a lot in this story.  It is understandable why Bo is initially weary of Gus. The two have amazing chemistry and grow throughout the novel.


The plot was skillfully executed.  There are some wonderful life lessons and viewpoints throughout the story.  I found all the ER visits interesting.  The ending was perfect.  MISADVENTURES OF A ROOKIE had a different feel then Toni Aleo’s Assasins series and Bullies series, but I loved it as much as I do her other novels.  Fans of Toni Aleo will not be disappointed.  I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader copy of this book.

4 Stars
Shot on Gold (Play by Play, #14) by Jaci Burton
Shot on Gold (A Play-by-Play Novel) - Jaci Burton

Jaci Burton is a medal winner with SHOT ON GOLD, the fourteenth book in the Play by Play series.  Will "Mad Dog" Madigan is excited to go back to the Winter Games for the second time as a member of the U.S. Hockey team.  He meets U.S. figure skater Amber Sloane, who is competing for the third time.  Both are determined to win gold but decide to have some fun together along the way.  This contemporary sports romance is suitable for adult audiences.


Jaci Burton does a great job with her character development.  Being a Chicagoan, I like that Will grew up there.  He has a supportive family.  He is a good guy.  Amber has had a lonely life.  Her mother put a lot of unnecessary pressure on her.  I like that she meets Will and becomes more social.  The two have great chemistry and make a cute couple. 


SHOT ON GOLD is a great book to put you in the mood for the Olympics or any winter sporting event.  Jaci Burton does an excellent job describing the various sporting events that take place during the novel. I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader copy of this book.

Scoring the Player (Indianapolis Eagles, #2) by Samantha Lind
Scoring the Player (Indianapolis Eagles Book 2) - Samantha Lind, Juliana Cabrera, Jenn Wood, Reggie Deanching
Samantha Lind wins with SCORING THE PLAYER, the second book in the Indianapolis Eagles series. Indianapolis Eagles Hockey defenseman, Brian Kelly, has a reputation as a lady’s man. That is until he meets, Kinley Williams. This contemporary sports romance is suitable for adult audiences. Brian is a teammate of Scott Taylor form book one, JUST SAY YES. Kinley is the best friend of Becca Phillips, also from book one. This is the first book that I have read by Samantha Lind. I enjoyed her writing style. After reading about Scott and Becca in this story, I want to go back and read book one, JUST SAY YES. However, I had no problem following SCORING THE PLAYER as a standalone. Samantha Lind did a nice job with her character development. The characters are likeable and believable. Brian is a good guy. He has a hard time figuring out if people like him or are interested in him for his fame and money. He has a great relationship with his family. Kinley is a sweet heroine. She selfless and cares about others. The two face some interesting obstacles including a long-distance relationship. Kinley is in Alaska and Brian lives in Indianapolis. His family is in Minnesota. The story was skillfully written and flowed well. It held my interest throughout. I’m looking forward to book three, PLAYING FOR KEEPS, expecting to be released in 2018. I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader copy of this book.
5 Stars
Reed (Cold Fury Hockey #10) by Sawyer Bennett
Reed: A Cold Fury Hockey Novel (Carolina Cold Fury Hockey) - Sawyer Bennett

Sawyer Bennett continues her winning streak with REED the tenth book in the Cold Fury Hockey series.  Reed Olson is celebrating the off-season after winning back-to-back Stanley Cup championships.   After a long shift at the hospital, Reed’s new neighbor, ER doctor, Josie Ives, knocks at his door to ask him to keep the noise down.  The two quickly become friends, making Reed question his usual “type."  This contemporary sports romance is suitable for adult audiences.


I loved this book.  Reed and Josie have amazing chemistry.  I like that they start out as friends.  They are fun and help each other grow.  I appreciated the way they met.  I love that Josie calls Reed out on his normal type of woman. Her various Barbie names are amusing.  Both characters are extremely likable.  I didn’t want their story to end.  I’m hoping we’ll see more of them in future books in the series. 


The couple have some interesting obstacles to overcome, especially with Josie’s ex, Aiden.  Aiden is a thought-provoking character.  He is extremely insightful.  You are never sure how you should feel about him. 


As always, Sawyer Bennett’s writing style is impeccable.  The story flows well.  REED is believable and heartwarming.  The book is interesting from cover to cover.  After the scene that occurs between Reed’s teammate, Merek Fabritis and his ex-girlfriend, Gracen, I cannot wait to read their story next, Marek (Cold Fury Hockey, #11).  I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader copy of this book.

4 Stars
Breaking the Ice (Juniper Falls #2) by Julie Cross
Breaking the Ice (Juniper Falls) - Julie Cross

Julie Cross lights the lamp with BREAKING THE ICE, the second book from the Juniper Falls series.  Juniper Falls princess/cheer captain, Haley Stevenson, needs help with her Civics class.  She decides scholarly hockey player, Fletcher Scott, is the perfect person to help her pass the class.  However, Fletcher likes to stay out of the lime light, which will be impossible if he’s hanging out with Haley.  This contemporary sports romance is suitable for new adult audiences.  It takes place in northern Minnesota.


BREAKING THE ICE is a fun story.  Haley and Fletcher are opposites.  She is popular and outgoing.  Whereas, Fletcher likes to go unnoticed and keep to himself.  Haley bulldozes herself into Fletcher’s life.  I like Haley and Fletcher together.  They both misjudge each other.  I like that they eventually open up to one another. 


My heart went out to Fletcher.  His allergies are extreme.  I know people with less server conditions and sympathize with what he goes through.  Between his family and health issues, it is understandable why he wants to stay under the radar.  


BREAKING THE ICE was skillfully written and flowed well.  There were unexpected twists and pertinent issues.  BREAKING THE ICE is a wonderful addition the Juniper Falls series.  I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader copy of this book.

5 Stars
Something So Irresistible (Something So #3) by Natasha Madison
Something So Irresistible (Something So Series Book 3) - Natasha Madison

Natasha Madison’s scores a hat trick with the third book in the Something So series, SOMETHING SO IRRESISTIBLE.  I loved Max Horton’s and Allison Grant’s story.  Allison is the daughter of Parker Grant and Cooper Stone (book one), and the sister of Matthew Grant (book two).  Max is Mathew’s teammate and sort of nemesis.  The story takes place a few years after book two.  This contemporary hockey romance is suitable for adult audiences.


I appreciate when an author can sway your original opinion of a character.  I did not like Max in book two.  I adored him in book three. I enjoyed learning his back story.  He grew up a lot.  He regretted his past mistakes, especially where Mathew was concerned. 


We first met Allison when she was a little girl.  She is now twenty-three and working as the New York Stingers Public Relations Representative.


Initially, Alison and Max cannot stand each other, which is understandable due to Max and Mathew's history.  I love that they call a truce, becoming friends.  They have fabulous chemistry. They make each other better people.  


I enjoyed the dynamics between all the characters within the series.  I like that the story was told from both Allison’s and Max’s point of views.  The plot was interesting and carefully thought out.  The story was skillfully written and exciting from start to finish.  I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader copy of this book.

4 Stars
Penalty Play (Game On in Seattle #9) by Jami Davenport
Penalty Play - Jami Davenport

Jami Davenport is on a winning streak with PENALTY PLAY the ninth book in the Game On in Seattle series.  NHL defenseman/single dad Matt LaRue is conservative as it gets, but he can’t fight his attraction to tattooed covered Violet Strider.  Meanwhile, Vi is worried her past could hurt them. This contemporary sports romance is suitable for adult audiences.


I enjoyed PENALTY PLAY.  The story was thought-provoking and clever.  Matt and Vi are a classic example of opposites attract, although fundamentally they have similarities.  They are both good people that put their loved ones ahead of themselves.   Both characters had a lot of depth and grew through the novel.  They learned from one another becoming more well-rounded. 


My heart went out to Vi and what happened to her in her past.  I like that she became a better person for it, instead of a becoming bitter.  Matt’s ex-wife is a piece of work, especially where their kids are concerned.  I’m glad they found Vi.  I like that she was uncomfortable around the kids at the beginning.  It was realistic considering her background. 


The story was well-written and fits in nicely with the rest of the series.  As an animal lover, I appreciated how the story ended.  I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader copy of this book.

4 Stars
Head Coach (Hellions Angels #2) by Lia Riley
Head Coach: Hellions Angels - Lia Riley

Lia Riley’s HEAD COACH is top-shelf.  Sports reporter Neve Angel and Hellions’ head coach Tor Gunnar are nemesis.  However, a game of air hockey might change it all.  This contemporary sports romance is suitable for adult audiences.  The story takes place in Colorado. 


I looked forward to reading Neve’s and Tor’s story ever since book one, MISTER HOCKEY.  The two have an interesting relationship, enemies that are attracted to each other. The plot was clever and believable. There were a lot of interesting twists throughout the story. I liked the wedding aspect of the novel.  I love when Neve went dress shopping.  Kendall was just what she needed.  I thought the traffic app aspect was smart.  The moose was entertaining.


Lia Riley does a great job with her character development.  Neve is smart and feisty.  She has some self-esteem issues.  Tor is a good man and father.  He is reasonable. He is usually good at reading people.  I like that Neve and Tor always respected each other.  Both love their jobs and realize that a relationship between the two could cause a conflict of interest. 


I like how the story ended.  It felt well concluded.  Because of the tidbits told about Patrick Donnelly that happened in this book, I cannot wait for book three, VIRGIN TERRITORY, to hear his story.  I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader copy of this book.