Ms. Carmack is truly a literary genius and one of my absolute favorite authors. Of her extensive repertoire, I’ve read All Lined Up, All Broke Down, All Played Out, Losing It, Faking It, and Inspire. I’ve fallen in love each time (though I do have my favorites). Here, I’m going to include some mini-reviews of the 3 released books in the Rusk University Series (New Adult Romance read as Kindle eBooks).
5 stars to all of the following
All Lined Up by Cora Carmack
Release Date: May 13, 2014
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.
All Lined Up is a book that I literally come back to time and time again. It’s such a mind-numbingly fantastic read that I constantly back revert to it if I want to achieve a feel good mood.
The writing immediately draws you into the minds of both Dallas and Carson. Carmack completely masters the dual POV, seamlessly transitioning between the two main characters. I don’t think I’ve ever read an author who captures personalities as well as Ms. Carmack does. There is nothing fake about these college students: their language, thoughts, and actions are completely realistic. It amazes me how easily this book can suck me in, when I don’t even enjoy sports. Yet I found myself cheering on the Rusk University football team and swooning over a quarterback. There is nothing boring about this novel: the characters, the plot, the sports analogies, the relationships. Nothing fell short of perfect.
I honestly don’t know what else to say about this book. I’ve read it a million times. That should truly be all that I need to say. It’s good enough that I keep coming back. Frankly, getting it from the library just may not be enough. You’re going to need a copy that you can love and cherish, even if it’s a digital copy. You won’t regret it. Cora Carmack’s Rusk University novels will suck you in, just as they have to me!
All Broke Down by Cora Carmack
Release Date: October 28, 2014
Dylan fights for lost causes. Probably because she used to be one.
Environmental issues, civil rights, corrupt corporations, and politicians you name it, she’s probably been involved in a protest. When her latest cause lands her in jail overnight, she meets Silas Moore. He’s in for a different kind of fighting. And though he’s arrogant and infuriating, she can’t help being fascinated with him. Yet another lost cause.
Football and trouble are the only things that have ever come naturally to Silas. And it’s trouble that lands him in a cell next to do-gooder Dylan. He’s met girls like her before fixers, he calls them, desperate to heal the damage and make him into their ideal boyfriend. But he doesn’t think he’s broken, and he definitely doesn’t need a girlfriend trying to change him. Until, that is, his anger issues and rash decisions threaten the only thing he really cares about: his spot on the Rusk University football team. Dylan might just be the perfect girl to help.
Because Silas Moore needs some fixing after all.
Ms. Carmack does it again. Absolutely nails it. This story, a standalone in the Rusk University saga, is similar to All Lined Up, but different. Yes, there’s football. Yes, there’s hot guys. Yes, there’s steamy romance. But Silas definitely isn’t Carson.
If you’re ready to swoon every other page, then please dive right into this novel. Dylan and Silas have the kind of chemistry that can start a fire. The story has all of the best characteristics of romance. The good girl “tames” the bad boy, but not really. It has that typical feel, but Dylan isn’t really a good girl and Silas isn’t really a bad boy. They’re both so much more than the stereotype. Not only that, but Dylan never truly tames Silas. That’s not what this is about. Silas can’t be tamed, and he’ll always be the dirty, wild boy that he is. But Dylan makes him better, and they complement each other.
This book is definitely dirtier than All Lined Up, but that’s fitting considering the differences between Silas and Carson. So yes, the two novels are different. But one thing they have in common? They’re both books that I’ve read numerous times and will continue to read again and again. Ms. Carmack strikes again, everyone!
All Played Out by Cora Carmack
Release Date: May 12, 2015
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.
I know I say this every time, but nonetheless… Cora Carmack strikes again. I’ll admit that I am not a football fan, yet somehow each installation of the Rusk University novels leaves me wanting to scream “Bleed Rusk Red!” off the rooftops. I know it’s a fictional school, but damn, do I want to go to Rusk.
I think that one of the greatest things about the Rusk novels is that no couple is the same. Carson and Dallas, Silas and Dylan, Mateo and Nell: they’re all different people with different dynamics. I love that. Each book is a new adventure, a new story. Not only was All Played Out‘s story new, but it really struck a cord with me.
As someone who will be going to college next year, someone who is hoping to finish a BA, a certificate, a minor, and as many grad classes as she can in four years, someone who has always put studying above all else, I identified with Nell. I identified with her internal struggle, her constant questioning of her capabilities when it came to relationships. Is she even capable of love? Is she just too analytical? Is she destined to be married to her work? That resonated with me.
At first, I didn’t really like Nell. She was just too stereotypical. Too “nerdy.” It felt like Ms. Carmack was trying too hard to make her the typical girl genius. But as the book went on, she grew on me. She loosened up and she became more real, which I think was the whole point. She didn’t start living until Mateo broke her out of her shell. And even though Nell didn’t seem quite real at the beginning, the relationship always felt real. Despite their differences, Nell and Mateo just fit. Brookes even says, “I literally have no clue how you and Nell work. None” (ARC 229). I don’t quite know either. But they just do. Nell is the brains and the rational; Mateo is the heart and the fun. Together, they blend and Nell becomes a little bit of the heart and Mateo becomes a little bit of the brains, and they balance. It just works. Cue classic college experiences, off-the-charts chemistry, and a little exploration.
So I reiterate: Cora Carmack strikes again. All Played Out did not disappoint, which was impressive considering the insanely high expectations I had for this book. Definitely worth 5 stars. Also, side note: we get to see Dylan/Silas and Dallas/Carson being all cute and coupley. Totally adorable!
All Closed Off
No cover yet, but there is a synopsis!
Stella Santos is fine.
Maybe something terrible happened to her that she can’t even remember. And maybe it drives her crazy when her friends treat her like she’s on the verge of breaking because of it. Maybe it feels even worse when they do what she asks and pretend that it never happened at all. And maybe she’s been getting harassing emails and messages for months from people who don’t even know her, but hate her all the same.
But none of that matters because she’s just fine.
For Ryan Blake, Stella was always that girl. Vibrant and hilarious and beautiful. He wanted her as his best friend. His more than friends. His everything and anything that she would give him. Which these days is a whole lot of nothing. She gets angry when he’s there. Angry when he’s not there. Angry when he tries to talk and when he doesn’t.
When Stella devises an unconventional art project for one of her classes all about exploring intimacy—between both friends and strangers—Ryan finds himself stepping in as guinea pig after one of her subjects bails. What was supposed to be an objective and artistic look at emotion and secrets and sex suddenly becomes much more personal. When he hits it off with another girl from the project, Stella will have to decide if she’s willing to do more than make art about intimacy. To keep him, she’ll have to open up and let herself be the one thing she swore she’d never be again.
I can’t wait for this book. It’s talking about such an important topic, and I’m so proud of Cora Carmack for tackling it. I’ve been waiting for Stella’s story for what feels like forever. I’m so glad her voice is finally going to be heard.
So – what’s the point?
The point, dear friend, is that you need to go and read the Rusk University Series. Cora Carmack is honestly a genius, and I adore her to bits. Her books give me life. One of my all-time favorite series ever.
Read these books and you will not regret it. Now go!
Have you read Cora’s books? If so, what’s your favorite? Share in the comments!
With lots of bookish love,