All Lined Up (Rusk University #1)
By Cora Carmack
Published May 13th, 2014
William Morrow Paperbacks
New Adult | Contemporary Romance
Source: received from William Morrow in exchange for an unbiased review (Thank You!)
About the book:
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.
It is absolutely THE perfect time to read a college-aged, football themed book. Cora Carmack’s second book in her Rusk University series, All Broke Down, is coming out at the end of October so I knew I had to get the first one read ASAP. My only hesitation in not getting to the book sooner was that I thought the whole “I’m a football player and I have goals so I have no time for you” scenario has been done so many times before that I couldn’t imagine it getting any more interesting. Ohhhhh, but leave it to Ms. Cormack of Losing It fame (‘I have to go feed my cat…’) to put her unique spin on the tale and deliver me (read: us) a brand new story that really took me back to my university days of fitting in romance amongst the freedom of college.
Weak on characters this story is NOT. Dallas Cole has grown up being dragged along after her father’s career as a high school football coach. That meant multiple moves and creative ways that her father found to entertain her while he coached. The one “babysitter” that resonated with Dallas were her dance classes. So she is majoring in dance at Rusk University, one of the very few schools in Texas with a dance program. And even though Dad isn’t happy about Dallas’ major, he accepts a coaching job at the university, too. Wonderful. Just when Dallas was finally going to be able to get out on her own. On top of everything else, her ex-boyfriend is now the starting quarterback at Rusk and she can’t seem to shake him or his talking about Dallas behind her back. It sucks to be Coach’s daughter.
When Dallas meets Carson at a college party, they immediately hit it off. But the thing is, they get along fabulously because they are being themselves, not acting fake or being someone they think the other person would want them to be. And neither knows the other has any sort of connection to the football program. That little fact leads to all sorts of awesomeness later in the story. Ah, yes… those fantastic little reveals we all love! Tell you a secret… this one ROCKS!!!
Carson was a great match for Dallas because his background was quite different from hers. At the same time they were both very focused individuals with goals for the future. But were these goals worth adjusting to make room for a relationship?
Where the story was unique and different from other sports related love stories was the amount of depth and different plot points in the overall story. A pretty major story arc was the relationship between Dallas and her father. I enjoyed watching that connection between father and daughter evolve from almost nothing to a work in progress. And there’s actually more but I’ll save some of the story so I don’t blow it all!
The plot moved steadily through all the turmoil that comes with these two trying to make a relationship happen despite the obstacles. Best of all, it’s told in my favorite POV, dual 🙂 Of course I love to know what both sides are thinking!
Ultimately, if you strip out the obstacles and “football”, what you end up with is a very natural, college-aged love story with enough “firsts” to make even the hardest of hearts melt and go a little weak knee-ed. Yes, Ms. Carmack at her finest again….
…. and would you believe she completely and utterly blew me away with her “Behind the Book” section at the end of the story? It was in the eARC. As if I couldn’t have any more respect for her as an author, she goes and opens up her world to the reader.
About the author:
I’m Cora Carmack, a twenty-something writer who likes to write about twenty-something characters. I’ve done a multitude of things in my life– boring jobs (like working retail), Fun jobs (like working in a theatre), stressful jobs (like teaching), and dream jobs (like writing). I enjoy placing my characters in the most awkward situations possible, and then trying to help them get a boyfriend out of it. Awkward people need love, too. I’m a New York Times and USA Today bestseller… and a nerd (mostly the nerd part).