Book Review: All Lined Up by Cora Carmack

Posted August 2, 2014 by Debby in Book Reviews

I received this book for free from Book Expo America in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!! This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: All Lined Up by Cora CarmackAll Lined Up by Cora Carmack
Series: Rusk University #1
Published by William Morrow on May 13th, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Pages: 320
Format: Paperback
Source: Book Expo America

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.

3.5 Stars

After reading and loving both Losing It and Faking It by Cora Carmack, I was convinced: this lady knows how to write New Adult that absolutely works for me. While All Lined Up doesn’t reach the same level of personal significance and relatability to me, it is a great, light read with Carmack’s reliable refreshing voice.

The first thing to note about Cora Carmack’s books is that they are a heck of a lot lighter than most New Adult books. That is to say, the overwhelming majority of New Adult books up until now mostly seem to focus on tortured souls with heartbreaking pasts and some kind of drama, who are saved by an amazing romance with amazing sexings. Not that there’s anything wrong with that formula, but that’s not what I like to read. Cora’s take on New Adult is more refreshing and real – a mix of lightness and some message of great character growth. It doesn’t get too sappy, and it’s not all about the sex. This is New Adult I can handle.

All Lined Up follows a blooming romance between Dallas and Carson, the football coach’s daughter and a new player on the team. Well – point one, a relationship that’s kind of “forbidden”. It always works for meeeeeeeee. Basically, it’s a bad idea for them to get involved, because the coach, her father, is a bit prickly, and probably wouldn’t take that very well, which could influence Carson’s scholarship potential. But there really is heat between the two. As always, Cora Carmack delivers on chemistry between characters. Even though they are immediately attracted to each other, it takes a really long time for them to give in to temptation. In fact, they first keep their distance and then decide to just be friends. Watching the relationship develop over time with this powerful underlying chemistry was really beautiful. It wasn’t hard to fall for this ship, because they are great supporters for each other throughout the diverse issues of starting out at college.

And indeed, that’s another thing I love about this book – the college setting. I’m glad to be branching out into more New Adult books lately because it’s just refreshing to be on a college campus with dorm rooms, parties, growing independence, etc. Though I didn’t have the “typical” college experience, since I studied in the Netherlands, I really like the realistic feeling of Rusk University. And I like the subtle ways Carmack always integrates real world new adult problems – here, the focus is on Dallas’s future: what she wants to study and do later in life, and how to cope when that doesn’t meet the expectations of your parents. Though not the strongest character growth message, it’s a point that is important and easy to relate to.

I do have some reservations about the dual POV. Though I found it easy to relate to Dallas and loved reading about her passion for dancing – how she gets totally swept up in it – I found it much harder to find a connection to Carson’s voice. I’m still a bit undecided on whether or not he’s realistic to me, because it tip-toes on the line of wish fulfillment. I will say that I appreciated the new insights about American football. It’s a sport I know absolutely NOTHING about, so I appreciated seeing a slice of that world – and not the typical jock slice either. I’m actually sad that I didn’t pay more attention to it in high school, because the spirit that’s described in the book is just extremely engaging.

The relationship between Dallas and her father was what really brought me the feels, because Cora Carmack’s one of those authors who really knows how to write realistic and powerful family dynamics. Obviously, their relationship is very strained. Without her mother in the picture, Dallas feels quite isolated. Her father is a detached workaholic, and he doesn’t really know how to talk about his emotions or relate to Dallas’s life. A lot of the book is actually focused on this relationship, as Dallas tries to prove to her father that dancing is truly her passion and she wants to pursue that – even if it would take her away from him. I mean, you guys know by now that I get very mushy about father-daughter relationships – well, here’s another one that did me in.

Summing Up:

I wouldn’t say that this is Cora Carmack’s strongest novel so far, but I know by now that I can always rely on her for a romance that will give me some feely feels. And I like my feels. I loved the college setting here and found it easy to relate to Dallas’s struggles, both with deciding her future and letting herself fall in love. As always, Carmack’s refreshing voice makes this a wonderful, swift read for whenever you need some light and lovely romance. (Though I’ve never watched Friday Night Lights, I’ve been assured that fans of that would definitely love this.)

GIF it to me straight!


Recommended To:

Fans of Cora Carmack and/or lighter New Adult.

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4 responses to “Book Review: All Lined Up by Cora Carmack

  1. I’ve read two Carmack books so far – Losing It and this one – and I liked them both a lot. I do agree, that Carson becoming a starter as a walk-on is totally not realistic – but I don’t mind some wish fulfillment. 🙂 I need to read Carmack’s other books. I picked up Finding It at BEA, but I think I want to read Faking It first. I can’t wait for the next Rusk University book.

  2. This was my first Cora Carmack book and I LOVED it. The lighter tone and minimal angst is much more my thing, especially when it comes to this genre, but I also loved the football aspect and the father-daughter relationship. It definitely brought back memories of watching Friday Night Lights. 🙂 Very excited to read Silas’ book, and I hope to read Cora’s other series as some point too.

    • Eeee, I hope you do get to her Losing It series because SO MUCH LOVE. In my opinion, at least Losing It and Faking It (haven’t read Finding It) are much better than All Lined Up because they’re much more about character growth and more real new adult issues. 🙂 But I’m with you, I’m going to keep reading everything this woman churns out, because she knows what she’s doing!