All Broke Down, by Cora Carmack

all broke down

Grade: B

Doing it at: 67%

Catnip: Reformed Bad Boy; Opposites Attract; Dual Narrative; Boys In Uniform; Strong Female Lead; Handcuffs; Friday Night Lights

Shame Scale: Very low shame, like the other Rusk book we reviewed this one is just sexed up YA. There aren’t even any tell-tale abs on the cover

Fantasy Cast: Tyler Kitsch and Diana Agron

Book Description:

In this second book in New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Cora Carmack’s New Adult, Texas-set Rusk University series, which began with All Lined Up, a young woman discovers that you can’t only fight for what you believe in . . . sometimes you have to fight for what you love

Dylan fights for lost causes. Probably because she used to be one.
Environmental issues, civil rights, education–you name it, she’s probably been involved in a protest. When her latest cause lands her in jail for a few hours, she meets Silas Moore. He’s in for a different kind of fighting. And though he’s arrogant and not at all her type, she can’t help being fascinated with him. Yet another lost cause.
Football and trouble are the only things that have ever come naturally to Silas. And it’s trouble that lands him in a cell next to do-gooder Dylan. He’s met girls like her before–fixers, he calls them, desperate to heal the damage and make him into their ideal boyfriend. But he doesn’t think he’s broken, and he definitely doesn’t need a girlfriend trying to change him. Until, that is, his anger issues and rash decisions threaten the only thing he really cares about, his spot on the Rusk University football team. Dylan might just be the perfect girl to help.
Because Silas Moore needs some fixing after all.

In our continuing series of pretending books are Friday Night Lights story lines, I bring you the second Rusk University book, All Broke Down. This is our Tim Riggins novel, and we LOVE Tim Riggins. He’s the bad boy of our dreams because inside he’s a marshmallow. And it’s not his fault he’s bad, he had a troubled childhood! Silas, our book protagonist, had a rough childhood as well. The novel opens with him encountering his mom for the first time in years, his slutty-neglectful-bleached blonde mom; who his friends cat call because they think that she’s one of Silas’s hook ups. After sending mom on her way, Silas goes to meet an old friend in a bar and ends up getting into a fist fight with him. Which lands Silas in jail, where he meets Dylan (all the girls in this series so far have names I can not get behind). Dylan has been arrested for refusing to disperse from a protest at a local homeless shelter the city is closing. She’s wearing her bleeding heart on her sleeve, living a prim and proper life in all other ways, and very into this boy with a bruised face and bloody knuckles who is hitting on her from the other holding cell. This is Dylan’s big YOLO moment.

Silas, in a rare kind of selfless move, bails Dylan and her friend out of the pokey, and drives them back to his house to enjoy the party that’s raging there with the rest of the football team. This was when I learned that driving a stick shift can be hot.

“He pulls the stick down, and it comes much closer to the seat than I anticipated, which means Silas’s hand is between my thighs, his knuckles grazing my skin until I widen my legs another inch”

The two end up in the bathroom at the house party, making out – very un-Dylan-like behavior – and are pretty close to some much hotter action when they are interrupted. Cora Carmack seems to realize that Bad Boy Heroes require more sex than the nice guy we had in All Lined Up. We say thank you for that. Once Dylan leaves the party she doesn’t think she’ll see Silas again. This was just a one time thing, bad boy football players are NOT for her. Except when she goes to his house to tell him this, he’s just had the worst day of his life after his reckless behavior got him kicked off the football team. Silas asks Dylan to help keep him on the straight and narrow, and teach him to be a good guy, so that he can learn to be a leader for his team and not wreck everything he’s tried to build for himself. And since he’s cute and Dylan wants to do him (essentially) she agrees.

Silas and Dylan are doing wholesome activities, like helping to rebuild houses for the elderly and volunteering at the animal shelter. He is well, and quickly, on his way to becoming a better man and the kid of guy Coach would want on the team. He is also quickly fucking Dylan. As no one would be surprised to hear the platonic portion of their relationship doesn’t last very long once they’re spending this quality time together. Silas is very into Dylan, he’s making it clear to his roommates and teammates that this girl isn’t just another hook up.

All is going well until the pair run into Dylan’s uptight society pillar parents at a campus alumni party. And Dylan is a cold bitch and acts like she and Silas are just barely acquainted. Her justification is that she thinks she’s doing it to protect him from their meddling and questions. Of course he doesn’t see it this way, and you can’t really blame him for thinking she’s ashamed of him, when he’s been trying so hard. Silas also has to deal with his mom trying to get money from him (I don’t know what money she thinks a college student has but OK), and a bad situation with a fellow member of the football team. I ended up liking Silas so much, despite his introduction in book one of Rusk University being incredibly douche-y.

We get our HEA along with the set up for the next book with a very realistic handling of a real life college campus problem. Carmack takes her character seriously, there’s nothing cringe inducing in these books, just cute guys and sweet romances. Full Eyes, Clear Hearts, P in the V, Can’t Lose.

Asa, by Jay Crownover


Grade: A

Doing it at: 29%

Catnip: Reformed Bad Boy; Guilt; Southern Boy; Cop and Criminal; Bar Sex; Handcuffs; Marked Men; Crownover

Shame Scale: I’m not ashamed of this. Are you ashamed of this? (note from Cleone: No Shame)

Fantasy Cast: Joel Kinnaman and Danneel Harris

Book Description:

Jay Crownover’s New York Times and USA Today bestselling Marked Men series continues with the much anticipated story of southern charmer and certified criminal Asa Cross.

Starting over in Denver with a whole new circle of friends and family, Asa Cross struggles with being the man he knows everyone wants him to be and the man he knows he really is. A leopard doesn’t it change its spots and Asa has always been a predator. He doesn’t want to hurt those who love and rely on him, especially one luscious arresting cop who suddenly seems to be interested in him for far more than his penchant for breaking the law. But letting go of old habits is hard, and it’s easy to hit bottom when it’s the place you know best.

Royal Hastings is quickly learning what the bottom looks like after a tragic situation at work threatens not only her career but her partner’s life. As a woman who has only ever had a few real friends she’s trying to muddle through her confusion and devastation all alone. Except she can’t stop thinking about the sexy southern bartender she locked up. Crushing on Asa is the last thing she needs but his allure is too strong to resist. His long criminal record can only hurt her already shaky career and chasing after a guy who has no respect for the law or himself can only end in heartbreak.

A longtime criminal and a cop together just seems so wrong . . . but for Asa and Royal, being wrong together is the only right choice to make.

We’ve got a crush on Jay Crownover. Her books make us stupid, like: googling “clip on cock piercing” (<– NOTE: Does not exist), “excellent male butts,” and youtube videos of “men with hot Southern accents.” This is the last book in her Marked Men series, and to say we were excited for it is an understatement. We stayed up late on release night to download, neglected our children and work, and generally checked out of life and into Fantasy Denver for awhile.

Mary: This is definitely her hottest cover model. I feel like he’s an apology for Better When He’s Bold. If I hadn’t read any of the other books in this series, I still would have bought this one because of that smolder. Congratulations to whoever dug up this guy. And his mother.

Cleone: I kept going back to the home screen to look at the cover model, until M suggested Joel Kinnaman at a *very* opportune book moment- then my brain switched into over drive. Asa text 1

M: Since this book is part of a series, we had been introduced to Asa way back in Jet, and he was pretty despicable. I don’t want to ruin anything because I think everyone who likes trashy books should read these ones, but I pretty much wrote the character off as irredeemable. I was picturing him as an Alex Pettyfer with the personality of Sick Boy from Trainspotting. I definitely needed the three book buffer for my feelings to mellow on him. When this book picks up, he has been on the straight and narrow for a year or so, and it definitely helped for us to actually see him earning that in Rome, Nash, and Rowdy, not just picking up with his story after some truly heinous shit and asking us to trust him straight away.

C: The way they have time pass in this series always pleases me, we get to check in on the characters from the previous books AND the characters personal growth feels a lot more believable when it didn’t just happen over a three-day sex-a-thon.

M: This one starts off with Hot Lady Cop Royal (yes, every single character in this series has a weird name) having an emotional breakdown over her partner being shot off of a building. Like shot with a gun, then he fell. He’ll live though! She’s consumed with irrational guilt and looking to self-medicate with some vitamin D. Specifically Asa’s D. Royal and Asa have been dancing around each other for a while. Asa keeps turning her down because she’s a cop and he’s a newly reformed criminal who’s certain he’ll relapse, and because he’s trying to be a nice guy, and he’s pretty sure she’ll regret him when she’s gotten her head straight.

They push and pull, and when they finally get to the hokey-pokey, its glorious. Jay Crownover writes some hot smut. I bookmark like crazy. Asa’s strategy for brushing off her advances for good is to lure her into the bathroom where she can see that he’s jacking it in a steamy shower instead of taking her up on her many offers. Because that’s obviously a logical plan.

C: I don’t usually think of being stared at while a guy jerks off as being particularly hot, but Crownover proved me wrong. She does know how to write the smut, and I bet she’d be very fun to get drunk with and talk trash.

M: Their relationship is easy-ish, with most of the drama revolving around Asa’s terminal guilt for his past misdeeds, and his absolute conviction that he will fuck up everything nice in his life, including Royal. It’s like he has preemptive guilt. Honestly, it’s a little over the top.

“She lathered up her long hair either unaware of or purposely ignoring the fact that I was a boneless, shaking mess behind her. I had never had anyone offer something up without expecting something, usually more, in return. I couldn’t get my erratic heartbeat under control so I could put all that emotion her selfless actions had awoken in someplace safe.”

Her selfless actions causing this emotional upheaval are of course, a blow job. LOLOLOL

C: The Crownover books don’t usually provoke eye rolling, but that definitely did it, I refuse to believe that a boy who is crazy charming, super pretty, and has been around the block has never before received a blow job without the quid pro quo. Also:

“He was filling me up with his emotion and his impressive erection”

That one made me laugh so suddenly that I bit my tongue a little, and Mary informed me she highlighted the same line, possibly my new favorite romance line ever. It kind of sums up the genre, no?

M: I don’t feel like I’m spoiling anything by saying that there was a breakup, and it was dumb. I hate to criticize Jay, you know she’s my girl, but I can think of a dozen more interesting/plausible reasons for them to break up.

Asa text 2

C: Yes, without being spoilery, or defaming our main writer squeeze, the drama in this one could have been way more interesting or scandalous. We made a list but it is kind of spoilery, so I guess email us if you want further ramblings.

The ending was very sweet, and gave us a nice update on where everyone else in the series is in their life. We’re going to miss the marked men with their tattoos, pierced dicks, and feisty ladies. Luckily Crownover is doing a new series in their expanded universe, and maybe the new gents have cock piercings!

(Note: We’re 80% certain that after reading this series, we can convince the Paperback Purist to convince her husband to get an erotic piercing and report back to us on whether or not these books were being accurate.)

“No one has a headboard made for handcuffs in the real world.”

They don’t, but they should, we are #teamhandcuffs

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