I had a very hard time getting into the first half of this book. I adored the idea behind it. I think we probably all have that “one that got away” and even if you don’t regret where you are in your life now, you always wonder what would have happened. Well, these two characters never let go after nine years apart, and finally made the dream of reconnecting a reality. They never stopped loving each other, even though they weren’t together. They had many different trials they both endured, but their hearts were always with the other unknowingly. In theory, I love this. Love it! I’m a mushy romantic. There’s really nothing sweeter than seeing this happen for them. But it sort of felt…like too much. There were too many long drawn out descriptions of their love for each other. You feel it the first time through the novella (which is included, and I think she’s absolutely brilliant for doing that), or even the first few times it’s mentioned solely in Laces and Lace. I think the repetition made it feel a little boring, as if Aleo was drilling it into your head how much they care about each other. As the book progresses and they go through a few ups and downs, you’ll appreciate that love and need, but it still felt like “too much” at the time.
My one final point that I didn’t love was that it wasn’t as entwined with the Assassins as the others are. You see the characters, but it’s not as involved, which made me a bit sad. Every book is about a different couple, but there’s always this presence of the others. You get to where you sort of expect to see them and have those connections. They start showing up much more in the last half, but it never had that full “Assassins” feel to me.
BUT! All of that being said, this book is still phenomenal. It’s going to hit home much more than any other book in the series because of the life Lacey has led. Her mother died of breast cancer, she fights it herself, and her struggle with confidence and fear of the future is mentioned throughout. It will touch you, because chances are, breast cancer has somehow affected you or someone you know in real life. She’s strong, she’s brave, and she’s beautiful, just as so many others in the world are that fight it. You won’t be able to not love Lacey, even when she frustrates you a bit with her choices. And Karson. Karson is the ultimate romantic. Big strapping athlete with words that will make you swoon and turn to mush? You’ve got it. Sigh. I love him. Seriously, love him. These characters were both very easy to care for, and I loved that there was such a back story with them, which you get to experience within the novella.
Once the book picks up steam and dives into their relationship, I was hooked. It has it all. The angst, anticipation, tension. The fighting and making up. The backstabbing and sneaky intentions of other characters. The fear of cancer and what that could mean for them. The hockey, which you’ll love even if you aren’t a hockey fan. It’s pure Toni Aleo, and if you’ve read one in this series, you know what I mean when I say – You will not put it down. You won’t be able to. As in, it’s impossible, seriously. Toni Aleo is one of my favorite authors and this series is one of my favorite series. I can’t get enough of her writing, and that proves true yet again with this one.
Overall, I was very iffy about the first half. I liked watching Lacey and Karson find each other again and make that decision to not let go, but it felt a tiny bit too drawn out. Once I hit that second half, it all picked up and I found myself falling head first into their story. These characters endure so much, but their love and devotion is awe inspiring. Laces and Lace is so heartwarming, fun, sexy, and above all else, so so very romantic.