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
To say that Delayed Call by New York Times bestselling author Toni Aleo, is one of my favourite hockey romance novels of all time would be an understatement. It will never top book #7 in her series, which is Overtime but that’s because it was that novel which made me fall in love with her fictional team the Nashville Assassins, but you know what? It’s a damn close second place.
Delayed Call tells the story of Brie Soledad and Vaugh Johannsen. One is a short and feisty reporter for the hottest team in the NHL and the other is the teams biggest hot shot and arguably the biggest pain in the arse – at least, he is for Brie in every interview she tries to carry out with him.
But there is a fine line between love and hate, is there not? Try as they might the two argue like cat and dog at every possible opportunity. A chance meeting in their shared apartment building and a challenge that neither of them will back down from brings about something which neither of them saw coming.
Toni always finds a way to make the world of the Nashville Assassins come to life, so much so you find yourself wishing they were a real team (sorry Preds!). The way she writes makes the stories so easy to digest and will leave you unable to put it down. Her style of writing makes you want to keep turning the page to find out what happens next, with just enough plot twists to keep you on the edge of your seat and completely out of control of your own emotions.
With this book I found myself on a rollercoaster of emotions, from laughing out loud at the way these two bickered, to sobbing along with Brie as she struggles to come to terms with her brothers ailing health. What Toni writes could be real, it isn’t all cupcakes and rainbows, hearts and flowers. She touches on subjects which don’t often appear in many romance novels and that to me, is what makes her writing so very special and what leaves me eager for more.
The Nashville Assassins are not just a hockey team and their wives are not just your run of the mill women. Each of them has a wonderful and carefully thought out backstory and it’s obvious just how much time Toni puts into creating her characters.
Vaughn is not what he may appear on the surface, he is wonderfully complicated and at times you find yourself wanting to reach into the pages of your book and shake him for being so silly. “Just say it back damnit!” I found myself yelling at my Kindle multiple times while reading the book. “Wake up and smell the coffee, it’s right there! He’s right there, stop hating him and see who he really is!” It’s incredibly frustrating – but just the right amount of frustrating to keep you turning the page over and over again.
I would highly recommend this particular instalment in the Assassins series, of course I’d recommend them all to anyone who is just getting started with hockey romance novels. I’ve read a good 30 or so by various different authors but it’s Toni’s books I keep coming back to over and over again and there is a damn good reason for that. She creates a world you never want to leave.
This book deserves a solid 5/5, but don’t just take my word for it, give it a read and find out for yourself.
[Disclaimer: I have in no way been compensated for writing this review. All opinions are my own and are absolutely 100% genuine.]