Monday, May 19, 2014

Review: All Lined Up

Rusk University #1
Cora Carmack
Contemporary New Adult
320 pages
William Morrow
Available now
Source: Finished copy from publisher for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
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 another hugely entertaining romance from Ms. Carmack, her characters full of charm and wit, yet underneath their superficial appeal is emotional depth, making them well-rounded men and women who bring vibrance to the black and white of their medium. The appeal of Ms. Carmack’s romances–and what sets her books apart from so many of her contemporaries–is the lack of unnecessary drama between the characters, the angst level at an all-time low even though the relationships have their tense and emotionally heightened moments. All Lined Up features two people who have no desire to keep secrets or withhold feelings to the detriment of their relationship, instead they go so far as to make an honesty pact to ensure the lines of communication stay wide open.

Dallas is a young women easy to relate to from page one, her status as the head football coach’s daughter in a state where football is essentially a religion making it extraordinarily difficult to form meaningful connections with anyone. Everyone wants something from her the moment they learn who she is, whether that’s access to her father or bragging rights to carry back to friends like a trophy, and as a result she finds herself nearly isolated despite being surrounded by people. She’s refreshingly blunt in her dealings with Carson, establishing upfront that she’s not interested in being a notch in his bedpost, but her bluntness is always accompanied by humor to keep her from ever coming across as abrasive. She’s as honest with him at all times as he is with her, and we can’t help but read with a smile on our faces as they try and figure out a way over, under, or around the many obstacles in their path.

Carson is as keen on honesty as Dallas is and able to match her in wit, ensuring the nervous anticipation that typically accompanies a new adult romance as we wait for the moment the relationship will implode is thankfully absent. He’s respectful of Dallas but also driven in terms of what he wants to achieve as a quarterback, not giving up on his dreams in order to be with her and always encouraging her to pursue her own, the love growing between them something that becomes a part of their lives rather than the sole focus of them.

Overall, All Lined Up is a fantastic start to a new series, the game of football just present enough that we fully understand how it affects both of their lives, but not so prominent as to detract from the characters themselves. Dallas and Carson shine in this first installment, both of them beautifully without one singular fatal flaw (such as game playing), rather they are a lovely combination of minor flaws as we all are. The ending is of course predictable, but honestly would have been disappointing any other way, so we close the back cover fully satisfied and expectant, already looking forward to the characters through whom we’re going to live vicariously next.

Rating: 4/5

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This book was sent to me by the publisher free of charge for the purpose of a review
I received no other compensation and the above is my honest opinion.


  1. I love this new series from Cora Cormack - maybe even more so than her previous one. But then.. I've been obsessed with Friday Night Lights and this one has a similar feeling to it!
    I can't wait for the next book in this series:)

  2. oh it's nice to find a good romance like that mainly when you can easily relate to the characters. I saw another great review about this one, with yours as well, I'm curious!

  3. I love if you loved this I will too Jenny. You have me excited to read this one now!

  4. I desperately need to read Carmack's previous novels before launching into a new series of hers. I've heard this wasn't quiteee up to par with her usual romances, but I'm glad to see you didn't struggle with it in the least. Lovely review, Jenny!(:

  5. I am glad you liked this book. I am dying to read it and hoping it will remind me of Friday Night Lights, one of my favorite shows EVER. :) Great review, Jenny!

  6. Jenny, I'm so happy to see you enjoyed this book! I was just debating whether I wanted to buy a copy of this book or not and your review just made the decision. Dallas sounds like such a great character. I love it when characters are blunt and at the same time very humorous. I can tell that I'm going to click well with her. Also, Carson sounds like a cutie and I love that he respects her so much. I'm going to B&N this weekend, so I'm definitely picking this up.
    Lovely review, Jenny!

  7. You are so right--I love the lack of unnecessary angst and drama in Carmack's books, and the fact that the story isn't overwhelmed by the football . . . DOUBLE sold! Great review, Jenny ;)

    Jessica @ Rabid Reads

  8. I really need to read one of Cora Carmack's books, Jenny! I love that you pointed out that her characters/story don't soley revolve around angst and that the drama is toned down. Both Dallas and Carson sound like characters I would connect with, and the football setting sounds fun as well. Great review! :)

  9. Both Dallas and Carson sound like fantastic characters - and without fatal flaws? Colour me sold on that alone because that's rare in such books. I love that this book embraces this game without being overwhelmingly overburdened by it, too. It sounds like I'm going to need to try Cora's books again after all. Lovely review, Jenny!

  10. Honestly, I'm all for this low angst, no unnecessary drama business. It's why I usually avoid contemporary like the plague. Also, it's so great that the character aren't just cute and superficial. Low angst books usually fall into that trap, but I'm glad Carmack avoided it so skillfully. This actually sounds very good. Thanks, Jenny!

  11. I like the blunt characters, especially when there's a bit of humor to offset it. And football! Woot! It sounds like it would kind of suck to be the coach's daughter -- all those cute players so close but so far!

  12. Yay! I'm glad u enjoyed this!! I just finished it myself. I didn't enjoy it as much as some of her other books, but it was still a fun read for me. Great review! :)

    1. Oh!! Also, if you're interested, we tagged you in our Blogger Test post. It was so much fun! :)

  13. Great review, Jenny!
    I love the idea of honest comunication, low drama and low angst in this story! Not that I'm in the best moment for contemporaries, but I'm adding this one to the watch list!

  14. I love it when there's little drama and honesty between characters. I don't typically read NA but I may give this one a try, Jenny, as it sounds pretty good.

  15. I can handle a predictable ending if it is happy, and I like that this has football in it. I must read this author!

  16. It's true that oftentimes even though an ending is predictable, if it'd happened any other way it would have been disappointing. I'm not much of a football fan, so I'm also relieved to hear that those aspects weren't overpowering. Thanks for sharing!

  17. I like the sound of these characters. Not only is Carson looking forward with what he wants, he also doesn't try to mold Dallas into that vision. Love that he is encouraging. Hm... this one I may have to try. It sounds fab.

  18. Wow, this sounds really interesting. I haven't read any of her books. I'm not a football fan so I'm glad that it doesn't overtake the book.

  19. I honestly wasn't drawn to this book at first, but people seem to really like it. And the characters ... do love blunt women. I think with books like are often predictable, but it's okay as long as the journey is damn good.

  20. I was glad this was low on angst, too, Jenny, and I agree that football didn't overwhelm the story. I'm not a sports fan but I actually like the addition of the game here. I had a little bit of trouble with Dallas for some reason. Her inner musings were a bit long for my taste, although it may have just been my mood at the time of reading. Wonderful review. :)

  21. Love the blurb and your review! Sounds fantastic. Did you ever watch the show Friday Night Lights? One of my favorites...and the blurb sounds a little like the plot.

  22. I've read other good reviews on this one and while it's not one I would have picked up on my own, I think reviews are making me reconsider! I love that they have good communication and there's not the major drama stuff.

  23. Yay, an angst free romance! I don't normally read NA but I'd be willing to give this one a try especially since it gives me a FNL kinda vibe.

  24. This sounds fantastic. Sort of like a Friday Night Lights drama. Aweeome. Thanks for sharing.

  25. I'm reading this now and WHY DID I WAIT SO LONG?!