April 14, 2014

NEW ADULT MONDAYS: All LIned Up (Rusk University #1)

The New Adult genre - their bad boys and big problems and epic loves make them engrossing tales that are so easy to lose yourself in. What's not to love about that? And, now, thanks to the cool chicks at Bewitched Bookworms, we can show these books the love they deserve in a weekly feature - New Adult Mondays.

All Lined Up (Rusk University #1), by Cora Carmack
To Be Published May 13, 2014
William Morrow
e-book, provided by the author via Edelweiss
new adult contemporary romance
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble

Rating:  5 STARS

(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.

Cora Carmack does it again. All Lined Up was nearly impossible to put down and so satisfying. For once in a new adult book, this isn't a story of two tragically broken people who need each other in order to feel whole. Sure there's some drama and definitely some angst, but moreover, this is a story about love and putting first things first. It's about dedication and football and the fact that there are "no easy days." 

Dallas Cole has grown up a Texas high school football coach's daughter. That means she has always ate, slept and breathed football whether she wanted to or not. And she hasn't ever wanted to. She'd rather dance than do anything. But, when it's time to go to college, she honors her dad's wishes and concedes to attend Rusk University for a year before going to dance school. Unfortunately, her dad comes along and becomes the university's new football coach. Her dreams of being able to party and especially date without her father's watchful eye always on her are gone.

Carson McClain spent two years at community college before transferring to Rusk so that he could play football for the famous Coach Cole. As a walk-on, he knows his chances of ever QBing for their football team are slim to none, especially since the current QB, Levi, is one of Coach Cole's favorite players. Carson is determined to focus and train hard for that chance, though. But, when he meets Dallas - neither of them realizing who the other is - that focus is blown to bits. He is utterly captivated by this "Daredevil" girl. But, when things on the team go to crap, Carson is finally at the cusp of realizing his dream. If Coach Cole doesn't find out he's in love with his daughter, that is. 

I love sports-themed books, which is kinda weird, since I don't come from a family with a lot of jocks. I've always embraced the team mentality. I love the idea of a group of people who work so closely together to accomplish a goal that they almost become like a second family to each other. I was never on a sports team in high school (I never really inherited any athletic genes - I was one of those artistic girls), but I always imagined that was what it was like. That team mentality is in full effect in All Lined Up, and it made me love it all that much more.

Cora Carmack is one of my auto-buy authors. I've been a huge fan ever since Garrick Taylor was discovered reading Shakespear in a bar, so when I found out she was writing a new series about a college football team in Texas, I was all, "Yes, please!"  

All Lined Up was captivating from the very beginning. It's told in dual POV, so we have the benefit of  hearing Dallas' internal musings about being an only child raised by her football-obsessed father, and Carson's thoughts about the responsibility he feels toward his family and his hatred of Spanish class. The relationship between Carson and Dallas explodes with the first meeting, then cools when they realize the complications of them being together. It's a tough situation for both of them. Dallas has resolved to never date football players - especially her DAD's players. Plus, she plans to get out of there n a year. Carson needs to focus on getting a permanent slot on the team and on keeping his grades up, so he doesn't have time for girls. 

Dallas is such an awesome character. She's spunky and quirky and awkward. She's also a little spitfire. Having grown up around a bunch of guys, she seems to have grown a pair of balls via osmosis. Despite the fact that she can handle herself around a bunch of sweaty, testosterone-filled guys, she still gets tongue-tied around her dad. At least at first. After she meets Carson, though, he instills in her some much-needed confidence to actually talk to her dad about what she wants. Which is to dance. 

"I don't know anything about this guy except that his eyes make my mind fuzzy and his muscled arms make my mouth water, and the things he keeps saying... they burn - beginning in my flushed cheeks, blazing through my blood, and curling between my legs until I feel like I have to squeeze them together just to keep from combusting on the spot." 

Carson is this amazingly chivalrous guy. His family doesn't have much money, so he's put his dreams of QBing for a big university on hold for two years while he goes to the local community college and helps out on his parent's farm. But, now that he's finally at Rusk, he's determined to catch the coach's attention and get a scholarship. He kinda has to if he wants to stay. Making moon-eyes at a girl was definitely NOT in his plans. But, when he sees Dallas screaming on a balcony, he's intrigued and captivated. 

"I won't do anything you don't want me to do. But, if you don't tell me what that is, my mind is going to keep thinking of all the things I want to do to you, and the list is already very, very long."

All Lined Up gave us a good introduction to the rest of the members of the Rusk University football team that are sure to be featured in future books (hint - Silas comes next!). We also meet Dallas' wild child bestie, Stella, who's a ton of fun in her own right. 

Dallas' relationship with her dad is equally as important to this series as her relationship with Carson. Dallas and her dad have grown apart as football has encroached on her place in his life. He doesn't understand where she's coming from and she has no desire to live in his world of first downs and play books anymore. She is desperate to branch out on her own, and her dad is oblivious to the fact that his daughter is miserable.

"Good is never good enough. One of Dad's mottos."

All Lined Up was exciting and fun. The relationship between Dallas and Carson was sweet and tension-filled. There's not nearly as much sex in this book as what we've seen in Cora's other books, but I didn't mind that - it fit the story and the characters' personalities. This was an awesome book about figuring out what's really important and then going after it. I can't wait for you to read it.  


Nancy said...

I'm so excited to read this book! While I've had a bit of trouble with Cora's last two books, she is one whose work I will always read! I've heard a lot of great things about this one which is perfect. Can't wait to get to know Dallas and Carson.

Bookworm Brandee said...

This sounds amazing, Krista! Of course, it's Cora, so it's gotta be! ;) I'm from Texas and we really do live and breathe football. So I was really excited when Cora said she was gonna write this series. And I can't wait to read it! Thanks for sharing your thoughts. :)