Medical student Alejandro’s hot Latin looks get him plenty of attention, but his deep faith and admiration for his father keep him on a righteous path, with no time for something as frivolous as love. He strives to do the right thing—study diligently, take care of his siblings, represent the family well—so why does he feel so unfulfilled? Enter Lucia’s friend and teammate Maddie Brooks, who shines at blocking the ball and acing the serve. Too bad this graduating senior isn’t so confident about her life off the court. Her longtime boyfriend has just bailed on her, and med school applications loom large. Oh, and a nerve-wracking tryout for Team USA also approaches. Maddie meets Alejandro when he visits Lucia at school, and she’s soon drawn to his sharp mind. Alejandro is similarly intrigued by Maddie’s talent and strength. But will personal biases and family politics smother the slow burn of their attraction? Unless Maddie can learn to believe in herself, and Alejandro can become his own man, their kindling romance hardly stands a chance. Will either of them be bold enough to try something new? Find out in this emotion-rich story that refuses to shy away from life’s hardest questions. Because love is worth the risk.
Source: ARC from author
My Rating: 5/5 stars
Listen up, people!! If you haven’t started Jennifer Lane’s Blocked series yet, get to it! Aced was a one sitting, take it to the bathroom with you, stay up until 4 a.m. to finish it read.
Maddie Brooks is having a seriously bad month. Her boyfriend of three years inexplicably dumped her, at least one of her pre-med classes is whipping her, and if she doesn’t crawl out of her funk and get back on the court, she isn’t going to make the National Volleyball Team. Trouble is, her funk is a little more than a funk and if it weren’t her friend and teammate, Lucia Ramirez she would probably never leave her apartment. Lucia is persistent and she comes with a bonus, her smokin’ hot brother, Alejandro.
Alejandro Ramirez has no time for anything other than his studies and looking after his siblings as his father has directed. As a part of his directive, Alejandro takes it upon himself to show up at Lucia’s school, in the middle of a volleyball game to find out if she is having sex with her boyfriend out of wedlock. Yeah, the timing for that conversation could have been far, far better and both Lucia and Maddie let him know. As if to drive the point home, Maddie continues the conversation with Alejandro about his lack of social grace and tact and what in hell could have prompted such an inappropriate conversation.
Alejandro isn’t just taken aback by Maddie Brooks, he is totally bowled over. She is gorgeous, intelligent, a supremely talented athlete, and has the ability to turn everything he knows and believes in upside down. Just talking to Maddie soothes some of the anxiety Alejandro always feels and being near her is exciting beyond reason. In little to no time, Alejandro feels protective of Maddie and takes every opportunity possible to be near her. Much to his little sister’s great displeasure J For Alejandro, Maddie is a revelation and though she makes him question his beliefs, his feelings for her run deep and he is willing to reevaluate if it means getting the chance to be with her.
Life with Alejandro is crazy-good and Maddie considers him to be a bright spot in her otherwise bleak world. Though she adores Alejandro, Maddie has a past that is hard to overcome and though she is working on it, she still needs time and a great deal of understanding. Alejandro has assured her he isn’t going anywhere but there is a lot of baggage on each side and sometimes, fate just steps in and misbehaves in the worst possible way. In this instance, fate is a wretched bitch and Maddie (along with all of Alejandro’s family) is forced to face her worst fears in the most heinous way possible.
The Bottom Line: What I said at the beginning is all true. I couldn’t put this book down, I took it to the bathroom with me, and finally made it to sleep at 4 a.m. when I finished this book. Lane is in fine form with this read and the series got a lot stronger with Aced. Maddie’s story is both heartbreaking and inspirational, Alejandro starts out very, very badly but truly does evolve on so many levels, and the return of Lucia and Dane and the Secret Service agents just enhances everything. All of the characters are tied to one another and it really serves the overall plot of Aced and the Blocked series quite well. Without giving away any spoilers, all of the characters have some excellent moments in this read and show excellent growth. As a reader who adores a character-driven read, Aced really hit the mark for me.
Excerpt from Aced (Book #2: Blocked Series):
Maddie perched her hand on her hip. “Really? Your sister’s over there crying. What the hell are you smiling about?”
I felt a blessed letup of the concern consuming me since the phone call, and I slid my hands into my pants pockets. “Lucia told me you’ve been an incredible friend…that you’ve looked out for her. And you scolding me for upsetting her proves it. Thanks for being her friend.”
The fire in her burnished eyes seemed to cool a bit. “Oh.” She stroked the small feathers in her necklace, which drew my gaze to the curves of her breasts, visible beneath her vest. She was exquisite. I glued my eyes back to her face before she seemed to notice my stare. The juxtaposition of her defined jawline and her soft, full lips intrigued me. I’d known she was a talented athlete after watching her play in the NCAA championships, but I hadn’t realized how lovely she was until now, up close. She smelled clean and calming.
“I’m glad Lucy has someone like you here.” I continued. “I’m sorry I made her cry, but those things had to be said.” And now that I had said them, I wondered if my responsibility to my father was fulfilled. When he’d asked me to take care of my siblings, I hadn’t realized it would be so difficult.
About the author and where to find her:
Get psyched for romance with psychologist/author (psycho author) Jennifer Lane! By day she’s a therapist, and by night she’s a writer. She can’t decide which is more fun. Jen adores creating sporty heroines and hot heroes in her college sport romances. Volleyball wonder Lucia Ramirez found her love match in Blocked despite the glaring political spotlight aimed on her family. In Aced, the second book in the Blocked series, it’s her brother Alejandro’s turn to get lucky in love. Aced launches in December 2015. A swimmer and volleyball player in college, Jen writes swimming-based romances as well: Streamline, a military mystery, and the free New Adult novella Swim Recruit. Stories of redemption interest Jen the most, especially the healing power of love. She is also the author of The Conduct Series, a romantic-suspense trilogy that includes With Good Behavior, Bad Behavior, and On Best Behavior. Ultimately, whether writing or reading, Jen loves stories that make her laugh and cry. In her spare time she enjoys exercising, attending book club, and visiting her sisters in Chicago and Hilton Head.