Cora Carmack would win the Super Bowl of NA contemporary romance with her novel, ALL LINED UP, the first in her Rusk University series. She's right. Texas football is a world in and of itself. Coming from somewhere that reveres basketball, I don't really know much about football (try none). I don’t understand a thing about the sport so I never really had the inclination to read about books revolving around it. But damn if I didn’t totally fall in love with this book. It was really fascinating, to say the least. Reading All Lined Up felt like being transferred to an alternate dimension, one that I'm not planning on leaving anytime soon.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Cora Carmack follows up her trio of hits—Losing It, Faking It, and Finding It—with this thrilling first novel in an explosive series bursting with the Texas flavor, edge, and steamy romance of Friday Night Lights.
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 told in the POVs of both Dallas and Cole, the two MCs of the story. Dallas grew up around football and it has completely taken over her life. Having a renowned football coach as a dad would do that to a person. Dallas was determined to not have anything to do with football and those damn football players when she got to Rusk University. Getting sucked back into that world is the last thing she wants to do. Life throws a wrench into her plans when she feels this undeniable attraction to Carson McClain.
Carson transferred to Rusk University hoping to be able to provide a better future for his family. With their Texas ranch not doing so well, college is his only way out of their financial funk. And he’s doing it on a football scholarship. He may not be that good with school but he sure knows how to play football. Carson can’t afford to lose that scholarship; it’s his one-way ticket to a better life. And everything seems going according to plan when he got the chance to play as first-string quarterback. Even the head coach saw that. The only problem is, he can’t quite get the coach’s daughter out of his head.
Dallas was ready to entertain the idea of starting something with Carson… that is, until she finds out that he’s on the football team and he finds out she’s the head coach’s daughter. But neither of them can deny the chemistry they feel for each other. So despite of their reservations, they start seeing each other in secret. It was entertaining to read how Dallas and Carson kept their relationship from everyone around them. It made the sexual tension shoot off the charts! I mean, they want each other but they can only do something about it whenever nobody else was around. Reading how they kept it all a secret especially behind Dallas’ father’s back kept me on the edge of my seat. So much is at stake and it’s really insane of them to even start dating so, yeah…
One of the best things about this book is that the characters are very easy to like. And given the vividness of Cora Carmack’s writing, it was a treat to get to know these characters. Each one of them was colorful and complex and Cora Carmack brings them to life! It's like Cora Carmack has an inside track into the minds of these college students. As a college student myself, I can see myself on those bleachers and cycling the game. It's impressive how well she can get into the heads of her characters and to see their story from their point of views. This just adds to the rich imagery of the story.
The great thing about Cora Carmack's writing is the immersive quality of it. It was a full and rich experience to read for sure. I can practically smell the grass and the sweat, hear the roar of the crowds, see the lights... She writes in such vivid details and gives the readers an engaging and riveting experience.
I can see how she was able to translate her own personal experiences into her writing. It gives the book that genuine feel that can't be achieved through research alone. As I flip through page after page engrossed and mesmerized, I knew immediately that this book has heart. I don't often come across books like this and when I do, it just stays with me.
After that last page, I'm already dying to go back to Rusk University. This is an amazing start to what is foreseeably one of the best NA series ever. It's got so much potential and having read some of Cora Carmack's other works, I know this would be a series of hits.