Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Book Review: All Lined Up (Rusk University #1) by Cora Carmack

Release Date: May 13, 2014
Info about author: Goodreads - Twitter - Website
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Age group: New Adult
Pages: 320
Buy the book: Amazon

Rating: 5/5

Description (from Goodreads):

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Cora Carmack follows up her trio of hits—Losing It, Faking It, and Finding It—with this thrilling first novel in an explosive series bursting with the Texas flavor, edge, and steamy romance of Friday Night Lights.

In Texas, two things are cherished above all else—football and gossip. My life has always been ruled by both.

Dallas Cole loathes football. That's what happens when you spend your whole childhood coming in second to a sport. College is her time to step out of the bleachers, and put the playing field (and the players) in her past.

But life doesn't always go as planned. As if going to the same college as her football star ex wasn’t bad enough, her father, a Texas high school coaching phenom, has decided to make the jump to college ball… as the new head coach at Rusk University. Dallas finds herself in the shadows of her father and football all over again.

Carson McClain is determined to go from second-string quarterback to the starting line-up. He needs the scholarship and the future that football provides. But when a beautiful redhead literally falls into his life, his focus is more than tested. It's obliterated.

Dallas doesn't know Carson is on the team. Carson doesn't know that Dallas is his new coach's daughter.

And neither of them know how to walk away from the attraction they feel.

MY THOUGHTS (with pictures of my favorite [fictional] football player ever, Tim Riggins):

The moment I heard All Lined Up being compared to Friday Night Lights, one of my favorite shows of all time, I knew that I would have to read it. I've been wanting to read more New Adult literature for a while now, but I've had a hard time deciding from where to start. I do not mind the sexual content, but I don't want it to be too explicit because that usually makes the books unbelievable for me. I also don't want to read about abusive relationships, especially when the female characters are willing to forgive the abuse for the guy that they "love". I had read one Cora Carmack book before (Losing It) and quite enjoyed it, so I felt safe going to this one.

Let me just begin by saying that All Lined Up will most likely reach my top 10 books read in 2014 list, it was that good. It is not only romance, but also a story about a girl learning to love herself the way she is. It is also a story about a fragile, difficult relationships between a daughter and a father who are often too much alike for their own good.

Dallas is an aspiring dancer whose dreams of dancing in a good school have been put on hold by her football coach father who does not think she is old enough to be on her own. Dallas's father has raised her alone and it is very clear that deep down, he is not ready to let her go. The relationship between them is difficult, but it is also loving, and it is clear that whatever decisions Coach Cole makes, they are made for the best of her daughter.

Dallas has grown up with football always being part of her life. Her father has a passion for fixing teams, meaning that they would move to towns with up and coming football teams, coach Cole would coach the team to the top and then look for the next team that needs help. This means that Dallas has moved around Texas for her whole life, often feeling like a second best to his father's passion for the sport.

When Dallas's father is appointed to the position of the head coach at Rusk University, Dallas applies for the dance program at the school. The program feels like a joke to her and despite her dream of getting rid of football after high school, it becomes clear to her pretty much from the start of the freshman year that there is no escaping football, not in Texas and especially not as the coach's daughter.

Carson has just transferred to Rusk, only to get the place of the second QB of the team. He is determined to train harder than anyone else, give 110% to football and avoid all distractions just to get a scholarship and be able to stay in Rusk. Then he meets Dallas, a girl that takes his breath away with her honesty and he instantly knows that he has just met the most gorgeous and deadly distraction known to man.

When Dallas realizes that Carson is in the team and Carson realizes that Dallas is the coach's daughter, they understand that their budding relationship could be bad for both of them. They try to stay away from each other, but without success. For the first time in years, Dallas feels like she can be herself with someone. She feels like someone gets her passion for dancing, her need to express her feelings through her body. Carson does not feel himself with the guys of the team who are mostly douches, and he fast realizes that Dallas is pretty much his only friend at Rusk.

Dallas is passionate and honest, but also torn apart by things that have happened to her before. As mentioned, her relationship with her father is problematic, she has no idea what she is doing with her life because she has been forced to put her dreams on hold, and she is constantly jealous of the freedom and spontaneity of her best friend Stella. What makes Dallas so likable is the fact that she is so real. She is not flawless, she makes mistakes and wrong decisions, but she learns from those and the relationship she has with Carson clearly brings out the best of her. She does not need Carson to be better, but she wants him to be around because he makes her happy.

Carson is not sure whether football will be his future, but he knows that he needs the place in the team in order to get the scholarship and an education of some kind. He is not from a rich family, and he knows that he must work for the things that he wants. When he meets Dallas, he knows that he is willing to work to gain her love. Carson is so charming and nice and honest and he definitely sounds like the guy I would completely fall in love with. The chemistry between him and Dallas is amazing and though the scenes between Carson and Dallas are extremely romantic, they are not cliche.

Those of you who have read my blog for a while probably know that I am a massive ice-hockey fan. Like football for Dallas in Texas, ice-hockey was something for me in Finland that was difficult to avoid. Fortunately, I fell in love with the sport and I can't get enough of it. The way Carmack describes the atmosphere of the games was something that I was able to connect with - even though he game described is different, the feeling is the same. Reading those game scenes made me think of hockey and yearn for some of the wonderful hockey memories I have. Though you don't have to be a sports fan to like this book, I really appreciated the fact that Carmack has made the book extra special for those who are sports fans.

Carmack has such a talent for creating likable characters, intriguing story lines and perfect romance. Her pacing is perfect and her writing is simply beautiful. I wholeheartedly recommend this book for everyone, especially for those who, like me, want to get into the new adult genre, but who don't know from where to start. I also want to mention that Cora Carmack sounds like such a sweetheart. I tweeted about the book and she tweeted back to me several times, thanking me for my praise. I know not all authors are able to do this, but I always appreciate it when authors answer to your questions etc.

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