Review: All Played Out by Cora Carmack

Posted March 12th 2018 by The GingerSnap in Reviews, Sports Romance Month / 0 Comments

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All Played Out

Review: All Played Out by Cora Carmack
This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Author: Cora Carmack
Series: Rusk University #3
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Release date: May 12th 2015
Genres: New Adult, Contemporary, Sports, Romance
Pages: 321
Format: eBook
Source: Amazon
Add to TBR: Goodreads
Purchase: Amazon UK | Amazon US | The Book Depository | iBooks | Kobo | Audible

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Star rating:
Heat rating: three-half-flames

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.

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The GingerSnap’s review

Sports. I like them. But not American football. The games are too long, the whistle is constantly called, the rules are confusing, and there’s not nearly enough fighting. Give me rugby or ice hockey any day. So you might be wondering why I chose a football book to review. This book intrigued me because of 1. lady scientist 2. to-do list 3. hot dude. I really enjoyed it, and if every football romance can focus less on the football and more on the football player, I might just read a few more.

This book follows the love story of Mateo ‘Teo’ Torres and Antonella ‘Nell’ De Luca. Teo is a hot, gregarious football player at Rusk University. He’s laser-focused on making it to the NFL one day, and after his last relationship went sour, he’s reluctant to get seriously involved with anyone who might not understand his passions. He’s also the exact opposite of Nell. He’s brash where she is cautious, outgoing where she is shy, experienced where she is unsure. She’s also the exact opposite of what he would normally go for- she’s a whip-smart nerdy natural beauty with no time to worship the ground he walks on because she’s too focused on being an intelligent badass. But when Nell starts hanging out with his friends because her roommate is dating his roommate, Teo just can’t resist her.

Nell is about to graduate early from her biomedical engineering major, and after realising that she’s spent all of her time at college in a lab or the library, she crafts a to-do list to help her live up her last few months of university. We don’t really hear much about Nell’s major after its initial mention in the book, which is a shame. Yes, the book is not about her studies, but they obviously form a huge part of her life for her to be graduating early and already looking into research positions and grad school, so I was disappointed that there weren’t more details about why she is so passionate about this field.

Nell’s to-do list includes highlights of college life like doing a keg stand, making out with a stranger, flashing someone, and losing her virginity. When Teo hears about this list, he’s only too eager to help her check off each box, and Nell can’t resist letting someone as charismatic and charming as him into her life.

Readers, I love to-do lists. I could wax poetic about them for pages. I would cry rivers if I lost my bullet journal. A book that bases itself entirely on the idea of a to-do list and a relationship that forms out of it? YES PLEASE. However, I feel like this list shows a very one-dimensional view of the college experience. Sure, beer pong and keg stands can be fun, but that isn’t all college is about. It’s about finding out your niche and starting a life-long process of figuring out who you are in the world. Nell’s list felt really cliche to me, and considering that she hates the taste of beer, she’s being pretty unkind to herself to include so many activities involving drinking on her list.

Also, the keg stand scene in this book contained my #1 romance novel pet peeve: the hero being upset that the heroine is getting any sort of male attention. Teo sees a guy holding Nell’s ankles while she does her keg stand (which is really just a good safety practice), and gets so upset that another man is touching ‘his woman’ that he rushes over, grabs Nell by the shoulders, and acts like a total patriarchal assclown. News flash to heroes everywhere: No matter how long you and your heroine have been dating, you NEVER get to claim her as ‘yours’. She is an independent human free to interact with whomever she chooses, no matter their sex. Be confident enough in your relationship not to freak out every time she exchanges pleasantries or accepts keg stand assistance from another guy.

This book does, however, also have the sexiest consent scene I’ve ever read. Teo wants to hear Nell say, out loud and with surety, that she wants him in her, on her, all over her. I may have shouted “WOO YES YES YES” when I read this. This is what needs to happen in every sex scene in every book everywhere! Audible consent!

All in all, this book was a solid, enjoyable read. I love that Nell and Teo are on an equal playing field (ha, sports metaphor), and I also like that neither of them has to give up anything to be with each other. Teo still plays football, Nell still continues with her studies, and they both get to have amazing sex, happily ever after. This book is also part of a series, and the other characters and couples intrigued me enough that I’m going to try and read the rest of the books this month, so keep a lookout for my comments on our Twitter account!

Note: this book contains mention of a sexual assault that happens to a background character, Stella. There are only 2 mentions, and they occur in the first half of the book, but if this might be triggering for you, please keep that in mind.

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I would recommend this book to…

Lovers of football, to-do lists, female scientists, and insanely hot car sex scenes

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About Cora Carmack

Cora Carmack is a twenty-something writer who likes to write about twenty-something characters. She's done a multitude of things in her life-- boring jobs (like working retail), Fun jobs (like working in a theatre), stressful jobs (like teaching), and dream jobs (like writing). She enjoys placing her characters in the most awkward situations possible, and then trying to help them get a boyfriend out of it. Awkward people need love, too. She is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Losing It series.

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