All Played Out by Cara Carmack (Rusk University #3)

Synopsis:

22249707With 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.

Review:

If all New Adult were like this I would gobble it up! I’m a sucker for a heroine that figures out what she wants, makes a list, and goes for it – Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake, anyone?

The good:

  • The only sexual trauma is a possible previous rape of a secondary character. This is a breath of fresh air in an NA landscape littered with abused protagonists. Nothing wrong with people getting over trauma, but it’s not my bag.
  • I didn’t read books one or two but other than a few references to obviously HEA couples I didn’t notice.
  • Sex positivity! Nell never feels guilty about enjoying sexual pleasure. She doesn’t let the hero go farther than she’s comfortable with, he respects that, and when she decides she wants something she goes after it. You go, girl.
  • The turnaround at the end was touching and believable.
  • The book alternates between Nell and Mateo’s view and they were easily recognizable and equally interesting.
  • No big misunderstanding that could have been solved by simply talking. I bought the conflict.

The not-so-good:

  • Wise words from the mouths of babes. When Nell calls up her mother for advice that kind of talk is expected, but check out these life teachings from her undergrad roommate:

We both have a tendency to focus on achievements, on checking items and goals off a list. And what I’m realizing is that living isn’t about what you achieve, but how you achieve it. We’ve both moved full speed ahead toward the things we want, but I know I hadn’t lived enough to really know what I wanted. In fact, I was spectacularly wrong about most of it.

In chapter one, no less. It’s my single major quibble, though. The only reason this isn’t four stars is that I suspect the book won’t stick in my brain but I’m ready to be proven wrong. Recommended for those who want to try New Adult but have been put off by the angst – this enjoyable read is for you.

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