BLOG TOUR: REVIEW AND EXCERPT: Face-Off At The Altar by Toni Aleo

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Markus Reeves is sucking. Big-time. Toiling away on a minor-league hockey team hundreds of miles away from home, he’s watching his dreams of an NHL career fade away. Add in the lingering guilt he has over the dramatic demise of his relationship with college girlfriend, Mekena, and he’s a mess on and off the ice.

But the family of his heart, the Sinclairs, won’t let Markus suffer any longer. When he arrives himself back in Nashville for a trial run on the Assassins, it feels like his life may be making a turn for the better. If only he could get Mekena to forgive him…

Mekena Preston has been hurting since fleeing Nashville following the horror of Markus’s betrayal with her sister. Now a professional photographer, Mekena finds herself in the same place at the same time with Markus to celebrate Lucy and Benji Paxton’s wedding. Neither of them has been able to move on—and they’re starting to wonder if they really want to.

They’re headed for a face-off at the altar unless they can confront their past and unearth the truth about what really happened on that fateful night.

 #NewRelease #SportsRomance #ToniAleo #AssasinsSeries

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Review

Face-Off At The Altar is the perfect name for Markus Reeves and Mekena Preston’s story, but I would argue that the individual they’re up against is more so themselves than anyone else, even though someone else’s actions were the catalyst for Markus and Mekena’s heartbreak and months of unhappiness.

Ever since Markus’ betrayal, his life has imploded, leaving him with feelings of worthlessness and a collection of subpar hockey moves that has his dreams of playing in the NHL just out of reach. For the past 18 months, Markus has been stuck in his head, using booze and women to fill the hole in his life left by the only girl he’s ever wanted more with and turning him into a man and a hockey player who is so much different than the one he used to be…the one other players respected and other people wanted to be around.   

Instead of hearing Markus’ side or figuring out how things happened the way that they did, Mekena runs away from her problems, not allowing herself to deal with her failed relationship and risking so much more than just her future career, and even though she’s found a passion in her photography, all other aspects of her life are at a stalemate, holding on to too much anger, consuming herself with sadness, and leaving her without the ability to move forward.   

Both Markus and Mekena need to unload their anger and sadness and focus on what makes them happy but when their happiness is so wrapped up in what they mean to each other, dealing with the fallout of Markus’ betrayal and figuring out what truly happened that fateful night becomes more important than ever.

Markus and Mekena’s story is a heartbreaking and heart-mending journey – one filled with a set of circumstances that readers will never see coming, and it’s that information that will have readers unsure of what and how to feel as well as placing the hero and heroine in a very precarious position because there’s no going back once the truth is unveiled and what that means to both Markus and Mekena as well as a handful of other people is life altering and difficult to ascertain how it will work out for all those involved.

It’s so easy to tell how passionate Toni Aleo is about hockey because her Assassins series uses the sport not only as the backdrop of every story line, but it also defines the hero in a multitude of ways. Hockey is Markus’ number one love, and it’s also the one aspect of his life that he can have the most control over as long as he’s playing his best, and when he gets his shot to play with the big boys, that’s when readers see the old Markus – the one his friends know and love and the one who would give everything he has in order to play the sport he loves with the girl he loves by his side.

I love that the backdrop for Markus and Mekena’s story is Benji and Lucy’s wedding because I adore the Sinclair siblings and their spouses and if they see Markus as another member of their family then it makes sense that all of the facts of Markus’ night with Skylar have been withheld and without knowing those details, Markus and Mekena will not be able to face one another and move forward either together or separately.

4 Poison Apples

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“You are, by far, the most patient man I know.”

Baylor grimaced as she took Dawson from Markus’s outstretched hands. He smiled as Dawson looked at him innocently. He knew the little guy didn’t mean to puke all over him and he wasn’t upset, but he was trying to figure out a way to get to the house and shower before he had to talk to Mekena. He highly doubted that baby puke would be an aphrodisiac. Maybe it would be? Huh.

He wasn’t going to try, though. 

As Baylor cuddled Dawson against her, Markus waved her off. “It’s no big deal. He’s a baby.”

She smiled shyly. “Yes, but Ashlyn pooped on you too.”

He grinned as he shrugged, trying not to laugh. It was a tough rehearsal for Dawson, Ashlyn, and Markus. Puke and poop were big-time stars during the hour of watching the Sinclairs and Grace Justice try to put together a wedding. He wasn’t sure what was funnier, Jace glaring as Jordie walked with Avery, or Ashlyn farting and then realizing she had just shit all over him. It was a toss-up, but then Dawson decided to puke down the front of his shirt, and he figured he was now a substitute for a baby rag. “I volunteered.”

“Still, we’re really sorry,” Avery said, holding Ashlyn close as she rocked her back and forth. “I understand if you don’t want to watch her ever again.”

“Nonsense,” he said, laughing as he tucked his hands into his pockets and looked around. He spotted Mekena at the front of the altar, taking pictures of random things. He wasn’t sure if she was done, but maybe he could slip away. “How much longer until y’all are done?”

“We’re done, but Lucy and Benji have some pre-wedding pictures they’re having done with Angie.”

“So Mekena isn’t done?”

Avery smiled. “Nope, she’s got a bit.”

“Can you pass a message for me?”

“Sure.”

“Let her know that I went back to the cabin to shower and clean up?”

“Yeah, of course. I’ll tell Jace to tell her since I’m taking Ashlyn to bed.”

“Cool, thanks,” he said, kissing her cheek and then Baylor’s, before rubbing Dawson’s head. “I’ll see you guys in the morning.”

Before he could get far, though, Baylor smiled. “Thanks again.”

“Anytime. I mean that.”

Avery smiled. “Thanks.”

“Also, good luck,” Baylor added.

Flashing them both a big grin, he nodded. “I need it.”

Heading out the back, he made it back to the cabin quickly. When he entered, though, Mr. Right was sitting on the windowsill howling. “Whoa, man. What’s up?”

Meoooooowwwwwwww, he wailed, with his mouth wide open as his hair stood on end.

“Bro, I don’t know what to say. I don’t speak your language. Are you singing? Do you want me to sing too? Meoooowwwwww,” he said, and Mr. Right looked back at him, almost with a glare. “We should add some beat to that and make a remix,” Markus joked as the cat wailed. Deciding that was a good idea, he pulled out his phone and started to beatbox as the cat wailed, recording it on his SnapChat. The cat must have realized what he was doing because he looked back, scowling, and Markus hid his phone. He didn’t want to admit it, but Mr. Right kind of freaked him out.

My name is Toni Aleo and I’m a total dork.

I am a wife, mother of two and a bulldog, and also a hopeless romantic.

I am the biggest Shea Weber fan ever, and can be found during hockey season with my nose pressed against the Bridgestone Arena’s glass, watching my Nashville Predators play!

When my nose isn’t pressed against the glass, I enjoy going to my husband and son’s hockey games, my daughter’s dance competition, hanging with my best friends, taking pictures, scrapbooking, and reading the latest romance novel.

I have a slight Disney and Harry Potter obsession, I love things that sparkle, I love the color pink, I might have been a Disney Princess in a past life… probably Belle.

… and did I mention I love hockey?

 

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