I’ve been on a hockey sports fiction kick lately and the Bellevue Bullies series was something I stumbled upon and I’m so glad I did. I read the first three books back-to-back. Each book follows one of the Sinclair brothers as they attend Bellevue University playing for the Bullies hockey team in pursuit of a career in the NHL.
Boarded By Love by Toni Aleo (Bellevue Bullies #1)
“Jude Sinclair here, hockey player for the Bellevue Bullies and lover of all ladies. Hockey’s in my blood, and not to sound full of myself, but
I’m good at it…really good. The draft is within my reach—it’s mine to take—but that’s not the only reason people know my name. They know me because of my way with women. They know the score, and I aim to please. I just tend to stay away from repeat performances. In other words, I don’t do relationships beyond my family and friends. I’m happy with life. However, I should warn you that my story and how I see it playing out is about to change due to a certain redhead on campus.
She’s beautiful. Stunning. Breathtaking.
She’s my game changer.”
“He’s trouble from the moment I see him. I don’t know what I’m thinking, but from the moment I meet his gaze, I’m his. It’s a scary feeling.
I’ve never trusted anyone outside my aunt and uncle—and even that took months. I didn’t have it easy growing up. My mom was usually strung out, and she didn’t give me a second thought. Drugs and the men who paid her were more important to her. It was horrible, but I’m stronger today. Because of my past, security is what I need most. Money assures me that I can take care of myself today, tomorrow, and next month. I don’t want to ever be hungry or go without again, so I work hard for every penny.
Oh, by the way, I’m Claire Anderson. I’m a hard-studying sophomore at the University of Bellevue, dancer for the school dance team, and a burlesque dancer at a club, but that’s my secret.
You may think you know how our story ends, but you have no clue. It’s not easy falling in love… or living happily ever after. At first it may seem so, but when is anything worth having ever won without a fight?
Especially when you’re boarded by love.”
In Boarded by Love, the first book in the Bellevue Bullies series, the oldest brother, Jude, falls for a girl with a scarred childhood who has a secret. I loved how Claire was super independent and obsessive about supporting herself based on her past. Jude was such an arrogant but charming alpha male with a real tender side.
After reading all three books, it’s evident that the Sinclair boys are obsessed with themselves, their looks, their hockey skills, but it’s all in an endearing way that makes the reader swoon. Their love story was tumultuous and passionate. I enjoyed the hockey scenes and Claire’s dancing. This first novel was a good foundation for the rest of the series, introducing the secondary characters and setting up family drama that continues throughout the series.
Clipped By Love by Toni Aleo (Bellevue Bullies #2)
Things are heating up for the Sinclair boys! With one already in the NHL, Jayden Sinclair is hoping to be next!
This has been the toughest year of my life. I watched my brother go into the draft without me, my mom got divorced, and the weight of my family’s issues is heavy on my shoulders. I feel like it’s my job to fix everything while working my butt off in school and trying to make my game better. I have to go into the draft. It will give my family the support they need, and it will prove that I’m good enough. But to get there, I have to show I can be the best captain for the Bellevue Bullies. The spot is mine—no one can take it. First though, Jude is making me go on a brother’s weekend. Innocent enough, I guess…until I see her. She’s the biggest competitor I’ve ever faced. Not only for my spot but also my heart. It’s hard to ignore someone like Baylor Moore.
I don’t lose. I can’t. My dad has bred me to be the best in anything I do. I am driven, I am smart, and I am going to be the first woman in the National Hockey League. No two ways about it. I’ve worked too hard. I’ve been through too much not to have what I want. I know I can do it. I will make my dad proud, and no one will stand in the way of that. That is, until I let him in. He scares me. He makes me feel. And he could very well be the one person who can make me want more than just to win.
We both have the same goal. Victory. But how do you compete against the person you want to win? It’s not easy. Love isn’t something you can control. It isn’t like a puck that can be handled by a stick. No, it has a mind of its own and does what it wants.
Neither of us saw it coming, and we really don’t know if there is a way to score, especially when you’re being Clipped by Love.
Clipped By Love is my favorite of the three books. Jayden meets a hot girl on vacation that plays a mean game of hockey. Unfortunately, their one night together goes awry and they separate to their own part of the world never to see each other again. Or do they?
Jayden is set to be picked first in the NHL draft and Baylor has her sights set on becoming the first female hockey player in the NHL. I loved their story. Jadyen and Baylor were so perfect for each other but one fateful night creates a storm between them filled with pain, misunderstanding and an unbelievable amount of tension. I liked how Jayden was more invested in Baylor, and as the most sensitive of the three brothers, my heart was breaking for him as they both struggle to keep their relationship together despite the many challenges.
There was a lot of girl power and knight-in-shining-armor moments as Baylor works to succeed in a male-dominated sport. It was sweet. It was hard to read. It was gritty, but real.
This story had a very happy ever after and I was swooning a majority of the time.
Hooked by Love by Toni Aleo (Bellevue Bullies #3)
Things are out of control for the Sinclair boys! With two already in the NHL, Jace Sinclair is ready to follow in his brothers’ HUGE skates in the last Bellevue Bullies novel…
Jace Sinclair here, and I’m amazing. There is no other way to describe me. I am the leading scorer for the Bellevue Bullies, I’m the captain, and people love me: my family, my teammates, my coach, and the NHL. I already have one foot in the draft and I’m ready. This is my last year in college–it’s basically a conditioning year to get me ready for the NHL, to further my game, and I have to be focused. But then, it’s also my last year to have fun and not give a damn before my life really starts. Which means I’m gonna run through every girl I meet. That’s my plan. Because my one and only love is hockey. It keeps me warm even when it’s freezing. It’s always there when nothing else is. And it pushes me to be the best I can be. It’s my love.
That is, until I see her against a tree with a guitar.
The last thing I wanted was to meet anyone. My heart is on the bench because I’ve watched my mom get broken by the person I call my father, and I don’t want that for myself. I don’t want to be hurt by anyone. I can’t give them that power.
But my heart is begging for ice time, and I can’t control it around her.
* * *
I’ve always been in the background. No one has ever had time for me and that’s fine; I’ve learned to cope. Coming from a family where hockey is life, the last thing I want is some big, burly hockey player charging at me. I don’t have time for it, but Jace Sinclair isn’t one to be deked around. The thing is, I came to the University of Bellevue for one reason and one reason only. To make my dreams of being a singer/songwriter come true. To work in the industry and pay my dues. Become who I really want to be.
I didn’t want to meet anyone. I didn’t want to end up freezing the puck with him. It’s not what I want.
I have demons.
I have issues.
Living in the shadows, no one even knew until it was too late. But Jace wants to know.
He wants me.
And that scares me the living hell out of me.
We were so worried about what would happen if we fell, but we never thought what could happen in the process of falling. We never saw it coming. But it’s here, and the repercussions are not pretty. We should have known that there is no way out of the zone when you are being Hooked by Love.
The third book in the series follows the youngest brother Jace as he tries to finish his last year of college as a self-proclaimed manwhore, enjoying the fruits that college has to offer. Then he meets Avery and he’s down for the count.
I appreciated this novel because of the raw subject matter. Jace struggles with his daddy issues and Avery struggles with depression and anxiety, and the pain of her past. Their relationship was fragile but lovely, and I was rooting for them the whole time.
It was bittersweet once I finished all three brothers’ stories because I was definitely hooked. Plus, I freaking loved the rest of their family. Thankfully, their sister gets her own novel in the Assassins series, Rushing the Goal.
I really enjoyed these stories and I’m now a huge fan of Toni Aleo. If you’re in the mood for a sports romance, give Toni a try. You won’t regret it.
STARS: 5 out of 5