Review: Going All In by Cassandra Carr, Isabo Kelly, Stacey Agdern

October 29, 2014 Review 1

Review: Going All In by Cassandra Carr, Isabo Kelly, Stacey Agdern

Going All In-
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.

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.

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?

Title: Going All In
Author: Cassandra Carr, Isabo Kelly, Stacey Agdern
Other books by this author that we've reviewed: Velocity, Fondled and Gobbled: Back for More, On Display, Campus Cravings
Published by T&D Publishing
Source: Author
Published: August 28, 2013
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 276
See the title at Goodreads
Stars: four-stars

Going All In  is an anthology featuring three hockey players. Each story can be read as a stand alone and showcase three different couples.

Hedging His Bet by Cassandra Carr

Stars 3.5

Flames 3

Annalise Alonso is having a horrible day: she spills a tray of champagne-filled flutes on Marcus Mitchell.  Marcus is a highly respected hockey player and has tired of the gold diggers out for his money and status.  When he bumps into Annalise he is instantly attracted, but he afraid he won’t have a chance, since he may have gotten her in trouble.  With a little creativity he is gets her phone number and then won’t take no for an answer,

Marcus is a really sweet guy.  He pursues Annalise; justifiably holding her ground about some issues, although I thought she could have been less stubborn overall.  She wasn’t a pushover and Marcus appreciated her more because of the backbone she displayed. I didn’t find their chemistry believable until later in the story. I liked both characters but I just didn’t feel the heat early on, but there eventually is a sex scene where the heat is evident, to everyone’s delight.  Part of the difficulty in not feeling their chemistry may have come from the multiple descriptions without dialog or interaction that provided scenes in character’s voice and memory – not as they were happening.  I think more interaction between the two to develop their story would have made the story feel more authentic to me.  There were some glimpses of other characters in this series of stories, and those were delightful previews of more to come.

Casting the Die by Isabo Kelly

Stars 4

Flames 3

Nathalie Mendez is a fire-starting witch with psychic visions who works as a PT. Her visions show her Alexander Semenov being shot, and she is compelled to share the information to keep him safe. Semenov instantly assumes she is working with a man from his past who wishes him to not perform and throw the games he plays in. Since he has always had a thing for Nathalie,  he decides to use her information and worry about him to his advantage, and pretends to  date her so they can be together often.

I really enjoyed Nathalie and Alex.  I did wish that Nathalie wasn’t so resistant to Alex.  She spends most of the book worried that her secret as a fire-starter would come out that she doesn’t let her relationship with Alex flow naturally.  But that also made for some fun scenes where she is keeps him on his toes and makes him work to win her over.

They characters had great chemistry and I was pleased with Isabo Kelly’s careful handling of the relationship, not heading straight into bed.  They dated and built a foundation for a future before taking things to the next level.  Again there is a scene where all the characters from the other books are present, and it is told from Nathalie’s perspective.  I did wish for a scene between she and Annalise from the first book, as Nathalie had promised to call her but that was not shown.

This is the first book I have read by Isabo Kelly and I really enjoyed it so I will be looking for more by her in the future.  All of the books in this anthology do stand alone, with small scenes bringing the characters from all 3 together, and that works as a clever connection for the three.

Playing Her Game by Stacey Agdern

Stars 2

Flames 3

Chris Emerson is always the center of attention by design: making an effort to pull attention his way so others may stay away from the unwanted limelight. This has gotten him in trouble with his coach who issued the ultimatum: stay out of the papers or be benched.  Shortly after that he meets outspoken advocate and romance writer Melanie Gould, also known as “Girl in the Lace Corset”.  She isn’t shying from the limelight, and the paparazzi are no issue for her to worry about.

I was confused about the coach’s motivations and concerns about the paparazzi – I thought publicity would be good for the team, but perhaps he was worried that Chris would misstep.  Especially where Chris’ tendency to act for the limelight came forward: it was never really explained, although he didn’t seem to enjoy the attention focusing on his activities off the rink. I would have liked more reasoning or explanation about that plot point, although most everything else worked just fine.

I did like Mel and Chris as a couple, fun and quirky with a similar sense of humor they felt well-matched.  We also meet several other secondary characters, although there were some that didn’t seem to serve the plot or develop further, except as placeholders.  While the relationship between Mel and Chris was built solidly, there were some ideas, events and people mentioned or introduced briefly that held no bearing on the story, and I would have been content to have the big questions answered.

Cassandra Carr

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