Thursday, January 12, 2017

Book Review: OFF CAMPUS by Amy Jo Cousins (Bend or Break Series #1)

Amy Jo Cousins
Off Campus
Bend or Break Series (6 Books, 2 Novellas)


Everyone’s got secrets. Some are just harder to hide.

With his father’s ponzi scheme assets frozen, Tom Worthington believes finishing college is impossible unless he can pay his own way. After months sleeping in his car and gypsy-cabbing for cash, he’s ready to do just that.

But his new, older-student housing comes with an unapologetically gay roommate. Tom doesn’t ask why Reese Anders has been separated from the rest of the student population. He’s just happy to be sleeping in a bed.

Reese isn’t about to share his brutal story with his gruff new roommate. You’ve seen one homophobic jock, you’ve seen ’em all. He plans to drag every twink on campus into his bed until Tom moves out. But soon it becomes clear Tom isn’t budging.

Tom isn’t going to let some late-night sex noise scare him off, especially when it’s turning him on. But he doesn’t want any drama either. He’ll keep his hands, if not his eyes, to himself. Boundaries have a way of blurring when you start sharing truths, though. And if Tom and Reese cross too many lines, they may need to find out just how far they can bend…before they break.

Warning: This book contains cranky roommates who vacillate between lashing out and licking, some male/male voyeurism, emotional baggage that neither guy wants to unpack, and the definitive proof that sound carries in college housing.

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Carra's Review

It’s been a while since I’ve read a story in a college setting, so it was nice to get back to it here in Off Campus.  While the story moved at a slower pace than I’d prefer, it had plenty of character exploration and development that got me quite invested in both Tom and Reese.  That coupled with the relatively slow burn of their relationship and supporting characters who had my interest piqued as well made for a very enjoyable read for me.

Both Tom and Reese have things that have happened in their pasts that have affected them deeply-Tom as collateral damage from his father’s actions and Reese from his own personally violated history.  They both deal with these things in a similar fashion by trying to hide away from the outside world whenever possible, putting them in close proximity for some awkward encounters.  As they spend more time together and things start to develop, it leads Tom on a path of self discovery, and starts both of them on their own paths of healing.  The ups and downs from that-especially as things become difficult for Tom to deal with without him thinking he’s being too unfair to Reese-and seeing Tom come to accept his situation for what it is and finally really deal with it are what drive the story.

The supporting characters in this story contributed quite a bit.  I got a kick out of Tom’s best friend Cash and Reese’s best friend Steph.  They helped lighten things up and I loved the way Cash interacted with Reese-I always had a smile on my face after each time they were in scenes together.  Even the abrasive Jack helped lend tension to the story, and in the end I was actually feeling bad for him.  I’m looking forward to the other books in the series where these characters appear to see how things work out for all of them.

Off Campus was a solid 4-star read for me, and I really liked Tom and Reese together.  Even with their highs and lows, and the awkwardness they go through…in the end their story was very satisfying and I’m glad things worked out the way they did.  I’d recommend this story to any M/M new adult romance fan, and this book is meant for readers 18+ for adult language, M/M sexual content and references to past assault that may be upsetting to some readers.

About the Author

Amy Jo Cousins writes contemporary romance and erotica about smart people finding their own best kind of smexy. She lives in Chicago with her son, where she tweets too much, sometimes runs really far, and waits for the Cubs to win the World Series again. Amy Jo is represented by Courtney Miller-Callihan of Handspun Literary Agency.

Readers interested in autographed copies of Amy Jo’s paperback books can order them from Chicago’s fabulous independent bookstore, The Book Cellar. They can ship anywhere, and will email me to let me know there are books to be signed if you care to order them!

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