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All Played Out: A Rusk University Novel Paperback – May 12, 2015
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From the Author
"If this costume weren't so ... so ..."
"Sexy?" she prompts.
"Well, that's what you get for buying a costume the day before Halloween. Everything is picked over by then. You didn't want to go as Jasmine and have your stomach showing, so this is what you got. Besides, it kind of fits you."
I gesture to the button over my chest that's threatening to pop with any sudden movement. "It does not kind of fit me."
"I mean, the schoolgirl vibe. It's like the amplified version of you. That's perfect for Halloween."
"There is absolutely no universe where the amplified version of me would not be wearing yoga pants and glasses."
"Fine. It's the bold and wild version of you. Nothing wrong with trying bold and wild for a change."
I groan and throw myself down on the toilet seat beside her. "I've changed my mind. I don't think I should go to this party after all. All those people, and costumes, and decorations. I think Halloween is way too overwhelming for my first foray into the college party scene."
Dylan tosses her mascara into her makeup bag and faces me, her look now complete. She manages to appear both classy and sexy in a homemade Statue of Liberty costume. Only Dylan could make Lady Liberty look hot.
"Just take a deep breath, Nell. This isn't nearly as scary as you're making it out to be in your head. I promise."
"Maybe not for you. But the idea of being in some frat house with a bunch of people I don't know--"
She cuts me off. "We're not going to one of the frat parties. Everyone has been avoiding that scene since ... well, it doesn't matter. The group decided it would be better to have something smaller, more manageable. It's at Silas's house. And it's only people they know and trust. You'll be fine. I know it."
Apparently "people they know and trust" translates into about thirty people on the lawn, fifteen on the porch, and more people than I can count on the inside. Dylan's hand is wrapped tight around my elbow as we step through the entryway to Silas's house. She's on her tiptoes, searching for him, and all I can think about is making a break for it and getting out of there as soon as possible.
I'm so concentrated on keeping my short skirt down and the too-tight white shirt buttoned up that I don't even realize she's found her boyfriend until she lets go of my arm. At the loss of her touch, I look up, panicked. Silas is dressed as a fireman, and he drops his helmet to circle his arms around Dylan. His fist clutches at the material on the back of her dress, just above her bottom, and I immediately look away, only to lock eyes with the one person I want to see even less than a very public display of affection.
He has a beer lifted halfway to his mouth, but his jaw is slack, and he's staring at me. No, "stare" does not quite do justice to the look he's giving me. His eyes raze me, and when I lift my hand to touch my neck, subconsciously covering my all-too-visible cleavage, I'm surprised my skin doesn't flake away into ashes from the fire in his gaze.
Adrenaline surges through me, and for a moment it feels like a fight-or-flight impulse, and I wonder why my brain still reads his presence as dangerous. But then I stop and think. It's not quite the same sensation. Fight or flight generally makes me either panic or freeze up. It's about fear. This is different. When seconds pass and he still hasn't taken his eyes off of me, I recognize the extra sensation riding on the adrenaline's heels.
He makes me feel powerful.
I drop my eyes, overwhelmed by the rush of pleasure I feel at that idea, and am faced instead with his costume that I hadn't noticed before. Or more correctly, his near lack of a costume. His chest is bare, and I can't help but measure him with my eyes. His chest is broad, hewn in muscles that couldn't be more defined if an artist sculpted them. His skin is a warm bronze, and it looks so smooth to the touch. Everywhere. Except for the small line of dark hair disappearing beneath a strange, leatherlike cloth.
God. A loincloth. He's wearing nothing but a loincloth.
Then he's moving toward me, and I don't know where to look. His dangerous gaze. His naked chest. That cloth that hides only ... oh, mercy.
A part of me likes hearing him say my name entirely too much. And that part ... is a fool.
"Still ignoring my request that you stay away?" I ask stiffly.
"If you wanted me to stay away, you definitely shouldn't have worn that."
A furious blush steals across my cheeks and down my neck. "Dylan insisted I wear a costume, and this was all that was left at the store."
"Thank God for Dylan, then. And for procrastination. Can you do me a favor and say, 'Hit me, baby, one more time?' Pretty please?"
Rather than answering, I actually hit him. But when my palm makes contact with the hard muscle of his shoulder, I wish I hadn't. Because now that I know what his bare skin feels like, I'm not sure I'll be able to forget the sensation. My brain is already cataloging the feel, comparing it to all the other people I've touched, and coming up empty for comparison. Is it normal for him to feel so warm?
It's the alcohol, I decide. It must be. I read something once about it dilating blood vessels and bringing warmer blood closer to the surface of the skin.
Yes, that's absolutely it.
After you read, I hope you'll consider leaving a review. Even if it's only a few sentences. Good or bad, reviews help up visibility for a book and can help other readers decide which books to purchase. Thanks so much for reading! <3 CC
From the Back Cover
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 graduation, Antonella DeLuca's beginning to worry that maybe she hasn't had the full college experience. (Scratch that. She knows she hasn't had the full college experience).
So Nell does what she 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 wrote the playbook for normal college living. When he's not on the field, he excels at partying, girls, and partying. As long as he keeps things light and easy, it's impossible to get hurt . . . again. But something about 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 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.
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When I first started listening to The Twilight Wife, I wasn't sure I was going to enjoy it. The narrator's voice was whimsical, almost dreamlike, when Kyra was talking. It took me a while to get used to that, but then I decided that it was perfect for this book because Kyra was in an almost dreamlike state. She was so confused. The narrator did an excellent job expressing Kyra's thoughts and emotions.
I loved the setting of this book. Being a PNW resident, I could easily imagine Kyra's habitat. The author did an amazing job describing the scenery. I felt like I was right there along with the characters. The setting felt like a character itself in this book.
The Twilight Wife was a great audio book, but I'm not sure I would have enjoyed it as much if I would have read it. The story unraveled so slowly. That would have bothered me if I had read rather than listened to it. The author does a great job of throwing out pieces of information that made me question where the story was going, but most of the action and excitement was left to the end. I would have liked some of that excitement and suspense felt more throughout the story. It would have moved the story at a faster pace.
What I loved about The Twilight Wife was the surprise it had in store. I felt like I knew where this one was going from almost the beginning, but I didn't know all of the pieces. I really liked all of the pieces of Kira's past that were slowly revealed. Her story was bigger than I expected it to be. The explosive ending and wrap up was really good, too.
Overall, The Twilight Wife was a great read. I loved the setting and how the story unraveled. I wish it would have moved at a quicker pace, but I know some readers will enjoy the way things slowly drift from dream to reality.
I really, really loved this. Of course there was some drama present. But I liked how it wasn’t 75% of the book. Mostly, it was just a joy to read. I could really relate to Nell, and I fell in love with Mateo. I also thing that’s a beautiful name, Mateo.
I both liked and disliked how the side character I mentioned previously dealt with her experience. Her friends were supportive, yet gave her some space. She didn’t lock herself up but she didn’t participate in many things either. Which of course, I understand. But I did feel like she should have asked for help! Maybe you don’t like to talk about it. That’s completely fine. But you should try and find a way to deal with it. I don’t know, I’ve luckily never been through anything similar so I can’t really tell her what to do.
The Verdict: What’s not to love? Nell is so relatable — smart, awkward, and fiercely determined to have the full college experience. She’s pretty much every girl who wasn’t instantly popular but didn’t let that stop her from figuring out how to break out of her shell and have some fun. And Mateo is just the ultimate book boyfriend. He’s all about having fun and living in the moment, but he’s also incredibly sweet and just a tad vulnerable. His fascination with Nell feels is based on real interest, not some juvenile idea about getting the good girl. And together these two are sexy, adorable, and hilarious.
As with the previous two books in the series, the conflict is realistic. There’s no crazy, over-the-top drama to shake things up more than they need to be. There’s no mystery stalker or insane ex-girlfriend, no contrived bet or unnecessary hurt. It’s just a fun, sweet, believable story about a shy girl who wants to experience more than a 4.0 GPA and a fun-loving guy who finds himself drawn to her. Nell’s bucket list gives the story a direction, though, and watching Nell work through all the items on her list is half the fun. I’m not sure I’ve ever fallen so hard for a fictional couple!
All Played Out by Cora Carmack is the perfect New Adult romance novel, with characters you can’t help but root for and a story that’s truly entertaining and addictive from page one all the way to the end. Now to wait for the next book in the series to be released…
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