Review: Blue Lines (Assassins #4) by Toni Aleo

Narrated by Lucy Malone.

I’m a sports enthusiast, so when I see a romance novel that combines two of my loves, my curiosity is instantly piqued. Although I had not read the prior books in this series, Blue Lines worked well as a standalone, as each book centers on a different couple tied to the Nashville Assassins Ice Hockey team. Prior characters do continue to develop throughout the entire series though, so if you plan to read more than one book, they are best read in order.

This was an audiobook that took time to warm up to as the hero, upon first glance, completely embodies the one-night stand, hot-shot athlete, player image. It eventually, however, won me over as the underlying causes of his seemingly unforgiveable behavior were explained. The highly talented narration by Lucy Malone also added further enjoyment to the overall experience.

Erik Titov is one of the Assasins stars, and spends his time off the ice mostly partying with the multitude of girls his fame brings flocking to his feet. He’s the love-them-and-leave-them type though. Believing that he is incapable of love, and would only hurt anyone who tried to love him, he never goes back for seconds.

Piper Allen has been in love with Erik Titov for a long time, but he’s never shown any interest in her. With her sister married to his brother, they certainly have interacted enough for her to know if he was. Then one night, he cozies up to her in a bar, and one thing leads to another. After their one night stand, however, he refuses to return her calls.

When Piper finds out she’s pregnant, she has no idea what to do. Still reeling from his rebuff, and knowing the family dynamics her secret would unleash, she is remiss to do anything. So she does nothing for six whole months! It’s not until she starts to show that she is forced to make a decision. She then breaks down and tells her best friend, the owner of the Assasins.

This unleashes turmoil in Erik’s life. He’s given an ultimatum: clean-up his partying ways or leave the team. Erik is devastated; not only is Nashville his home, but his brother is also on the Assassins team. Moreover, he is one of their star players who expected to be made captain – not put on probation. Then he gets the surprise of his life, when Piper shows up on his doorstep with the baby news.

Knowing he can’t turn her away, without ruining his chance to stay on the Assassins, he concocts a deal. Marry him, and pretend to be a couple for a few months until the baby is born, and then once his career is salvaged, get divorced. Piper accepts, but is completely unprepared for Erik’s callous ways. Although he’s attracted to her, he refuses to treat her like his wife in any way, afraid that he will hurt her in the end, which he routinely tells her and only exacerbates the hurt. Piper is an extremely patient woman though and is determined to get to the bottom of why Erik is so insistent on remaining distant. Soon the attraction leads to physical intimacy, but will Piper ever be able to break through Erik’s emotional walls, to find what she truly craves?

I have to admit this was an incredibly difficult listen for me in the beginning. Erik’s treatment of Piper was deplorable, and I just couldn’t understand why she would bail him out by agreeing to his farce of a marriage. I give credit to Toni Aleo for being clever enough to craft a plot that excuses the seemingly inexcusable. The family dynamics also add an interesting layer to this damaged soul romance.

For the entire review, including a detailed narration review, see AudioGals where it was originally published.