May 18, 2015

NEW ADULT MONDAYS: All Played Out (Rusk University #3)

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 Played Out (Rusk University #3), by Cora Carmack
Publish Date: May 12, 2015
Publisher: William Morrow
Format: e-ARC, obtained from Edelweiss
Genre: new adult contemporary romance
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble

Rating: 5 STARS

(From Goodreads) First person in her family to go to college? CHECK.
Straight A’s? CHECK.
On track to graduate early? CHECK.
Social life? …..yeah, about that….

With just a few weeks until she graduates, Antonella DeLuca’s beginning to worry that maybe she hasn’t had the full college experience. (Okay... Scratch that. She knows she hasn't had the full college experience).

So Nell does what a smart, dedicated girl like herself does best. She makes a "to do" list of normal college activities.

Item #1? Hook up with a jock.

Rusk University wide receiver Mateo Torres practically wrote the playbook for normal college living. When he’s not on the field, he excels at partying, girls, and more partying. As long as he keeps things light and easy, it's impossible to get hurt... again. But something about the quiet, shy, sexy-as-hell Nell gets under his skin, and when he learns about her list, he makes it his mission to help her complete it.

Torres is the definition of confident (And sexy. And wild), and he opens up a side of Nell that she's never known. But as they begin to check off each crazy, exciting, normal item, Nell finds that her frivolous list leads to something more serious than she bargained for. And while Torres is used to taking risks on the field, he has to decide if he's willing to take the chance when it's more than just a game.

Together they will have to decide if what they have is just part of the experiment or a chance at something real.

Nell is my kind of girl. She's the quintessential nerd - the girl who gets along better with her books than with real people. I can totally relate. Who better to show her how to live than the least serious boy on campus. It's like ying and yang.Oil and water. Except, Nell and Mateo Torres just... work. And their unlikely pairing made this book one of my favorites in the Rusk University series.

Nell is nearing the end of her college career and will soon be on to bigger and better things - like working with real people on real projects that are important and meaningful. Nell has woken up and looked around and realized that her very few friends have gone and fallen in love when she wasn't paying attention. They're going on dates and filling photo albums and collecting stories to share years down the road - all things Nell doesn't have. So, being the organized girl she is, she makes a list of all the things she'd like to do before graduation, just a few short months away. She reluctantly enlists the assistance of football player and life of the party Mateo Torres, who for some inexplicable reason finds Nell and her list fascinating. In the end, it turns out they both help each other live their lives to the fullest.

Nell is your typical introvert. She's shy and doesn't think much about herself. She doesn't think she's pretty or has much to offer anyone, least of all a man. It never really bothered her before her roommate, Dylan, started dating football star Silas Moore. And, then all of a sudden, the things Nell is lacking in her life become glaringly obvious. 

I love how Nell is so incredibly organized - so much so that she has to make an actual list of things she wants to accomplish before graduation. And the best part is that she ends up teaming up with possibly the LEAST organized guy in this awesome world to check the items off the list. It's absolutely the last person you would expect to help her and the last person you would think she would accept help from. 

Nell doesn't seem to be someone who asks for help very easily. She usually doesn't need it. She doesn't like to admit when there is something she can't do. So, it takes a lot for her to let Mateo in. Especially since she's a little tongue tied around hot guys. 

Mateo has always been adorable, and he is even moreso with Nell. You really get a glimpse of the real Mateo Torres in All Played Out. Yes, he's fun and goofy and the guy everyone likes to be around. But, he's also the guy that everyone warns to stay away from shy Nell, and that really bothers Mateo. We get to see parts of Mateo we never knew were there - the vulnerable side of him that he doesn't allow anyone to see until he can't help but show it to Nell. He sees something in her that he can trust, and vice versa. 

Nell's conquering of her list becomes the focal point of the book. It includes things like getting drunk, going to a party and sticking around for awhile, and making out with a football player. These are all "typical" things a college student would do and things that Nell felt were lacking in her life. While, I might take issue with the fact that she felt she needed to experience some of these things in order to feel like she got the true college experience, more than that, I respect the hell out of her for going way out of her comfort zone to accomplish a goal. 

I'm many years out from my college graduation, and when I look back on those four years, there are a lot of things I wish I had done. And, now there is nothing I can do about it. That time in my life is gone. Nell is trying to make sure she doesn't get to where I am now and look back with regrets, and I think that's awesome. If those things on her list are the things she feels she needs to do, then you go girl. And, at least she enlisted a partner in crime - and a perfect one, at that. 

It turns out that Nell was what Mateo needed to ground him. And Mateo was what Nell needed to loosen up. They complemented each other perfectly. Once they got to know and trust one another, the friendship they shared was so sweet. I loved how their relationship started as friends before it morphed into something else. You wouldn't think a couple like this would have this burning passion, but they really did. They had great chemistry and I loved hearing about it from both of their POVs. 

We got a little more information on Stella and what happened to her at the end of All Broke Down. This is in preparation for Stella's Book, ALL CLOSED OFF, coming soon. I can't wait for that one either. 

So, what is on your bucket list?

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