Going All In
Cassandra Carr, Isabo Kelly, Stacey Agdern
Blurb: Professional hockey players Marcus, Alex, and Chris attend their team’s Vegas Night fundraiser unaware their lives will change forever. Can they face their difficulties and win the most important game of their lives – the game of love? These guys are going all in…
HEDGING HIS BET: Cassandra Carr
Marcus Mitchell never thought he’d find the love of his life with champagne dripping from her shirt rather than walking the runway at Fashion Week like the models he usually preferred, but you can’t always plan these things. Annalise Alonso isn’t going to make it easy for him, though—he’s going to have to work for her love. Now, Marcus is taking a shot and hedging his bet on love.
Normally I would say that the lead story is the most powerful but to me it’s not. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it but I felt like the ending was too abrupt and it felt a bit unfinished. For me, I only got a HFN and wanted a more closure to Marcus and Annalise’s story.
Annalise was a strong heroine that even though she was poor, she was proud. She couldn’t believe that a man like Marcus would ever date her much less be attracted to her. It made for some touching moments between Marcus and Annalise in and out the bedroom. I can’t believe that I’m going to say this but for me, there was a wee bit too much going on in the bedroom. Ms. Carr can write a sex scene 😉 but I felt like we got that instead of a cleaner ending.
Overall, I would suggest that you do read this one first because it does set up the series and of course, Ms. Carr knows her hockey! BTW, I was picturing Mark Messier when reading. 🙂
CASTING THE DIE: Isabo Kelly
After she sees his murder in a vision, Nathalie Mendez has to warn star hockey goalie Alexander Semenov of the danger. To keep him alive, she risks exposing her many secrets. But once the die is cast, her biggest gamble involves her heart.
For me, this was the strongest story in the bunch. It had everything that I like in a contemporary sports romance. Heat, a Russian hockey player, food, a nicely woven suspense element and did I mention a touch of paranormal? Yes, there is paranormal in this one and I didn’t see it coming. It was a great surprise for me and I loved it.
Alexander is the quiet one. You know the mysterious Russian that you don’t know what is going on his head. What makes him unique is his back story and the richness of it. Nathalie’s back story was great, too. Ms. Kelly took her time explaining Alexander and Nathalie. Once their histories were played out, neither one of them back down from each other. It only strengthened their resolve to be together.
The suspense element was great. It mixed in with the paranormal and it was trippy but how so good. Ms. Kelly needs to write more about Alexander and Nathalie because I got so caught up in their story that I didn’t want it to end…EVER. While the smexy times were great, that wasn’t the point of this story and they weren’t abundant. It was believing in yourself and having someone in your corner backing you up.
PLAYING HER GAME: Stacey Agdern
Melanie Gould has been dubbed ‘The Girl in the Lace Corset’. But she doesn’t always like to be the loud mouth defender of the romances she writes, and is definitely not good at playing the games relationships require. Of course, she’s never gone head to head with a guy like Chris Emerson. Chris is trying to behave, and someone like Melanie would destroy his plans to stay under the radar. So what happens when the ‘Girl in the Lace Corset’ and the NHL’s most infamous bad boy go one on one? Will they play her game? Will they play his? Or will they both end up in the penalty box?
I loved Melanie and Chris’s story. It was emotional, funny and the most heartwarming. Melanie and Chris were two of the most misunderstood characters that I’ve read in a while. To the outside world, this two would be considered screw-ups, attention getters but in the end its all an act for them. Its their persona for the public but when the door is shut, their masks come off.
What endeared me to their story was Chris. He was a completely different person when he was in his private time and I loved that about him. He wasn’t a dumb jock by any means and it showed when he took Melanie around to different places to eat or drink. 😉 Melanie to me was the typical romance writer that is in books today. The one thing that made her different was the family connection. I loved her sister and even their mother.
Again, while their smexy times were hot, I really felt like with this couple they needed those times. It was more emotional for them; not just the physical part of it. They “got” each other in the end and that was the beauty of their story. 🙂
Don’t pass this anthology up. Its got hot times but the heart of the story is how three different couples meet, come together and fall in love. Yes, there are cultural differences, a paranormal twist, masks that need to be removed but overall, a great read.
Cassandra Carr is a multi-award winning erotic romance writer with Ellora’s Cave, Siren Publishing, Sybarite Seductions, Decadent Publishing, and Loose Id. She lives in Western New York with her husband, Inspiration, and her daughter, Too Cute for Words. When not writing she enjoys watching hockey and hanging out online. Cassandra is the co-founder of two successful group blogs, Romancing the Jock and Dirty Birdies, and participates in several others as a contributor. Recently she was re-elected president of Western New York Romance Writers.
For more information about Cassandra, check out her website at http://www. booksbycassandracarr.com, “like” her Facebook fan page at http://www.facebook.com/ AuthorCassandraCarr or follow her on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ Cassandra_Carr.
Isabo Kelly is the award-winning author of multiple science fiction, fantasy and paranormal romances. After finishing her Ph.D. in animal behavior in Ireland, Isabo settled down to write full time. She currently lives in New York City with her brilliant Irish husband, her two heroes-in-training sons, and her mad dog.
Stacey Agdern is the two time award winning Romance Specialist at Posman Books, an independent bookstore located in Grand Central Terminal. She has a regular column, ‘Dispatches from the TBR Pile’ at ‘HEA’, USA Today’s online romance blog. She has also written reviews and commentary for publications such as Barbara Vey’s ‘Beyond Her Book’ Column at Publishers Weekly’s online site, Heroes and Heartbreakers, Criminal Element, Romantic Times Magazine and Romance at Random. She has given presentations on the effective use of booksellers at regional and national conferences. You can find her on twitter at @nystacey. She lives in New York, not very far from her favorite hockey team’s practice facility.