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.
Thank you to Kelly of InkSlinger PR, William Morrow and Edelweiss for the review copy. This in no way affected my views of the novel.
I initially rated ALL LINED UP with four stars but while trying to write this review, I couldn’t pinpoint a reason why I’m being a Scrooge with my rating. So I went back and re-read most of the book and it is now very clear that this book deserves all of those five stars. Why? Check out my list!
1. Characters. For all the new adult novels I’ve read, I’ve been burned by so many heroines and/or heroes who grated on my nerves. Either that or they were stock characters I could very much spell out from the first page. But Dallas and Carson were different. Dallas is a dancer and a football coach’s daughter. She never knew her mother. You’d think she’d be broken but she’s not. She’s shy but she also curses like a sailor and is brutally honest. She’s a mixture of opposing characteristics and that’s why I love her. She seems like a real person, not just a heroine written for this story. I can imagine that there is a Dallas out there. I think everyone who’ll read ALL LINED UP will surely love her and relate to her in at least one way.
Then we have Carson. He’s not smart and he knows it. He knows that football is the greatest path and career he can have. And so he’s so focused on that. Trains and works out more than everybody else. Watches game film even if it’s an easy day. So when Dallas comes into his life, he lets her in for a single night but then realizes she’s gonna be a distraction. He tries not to fall for her (and she tries to do that as well) but I mean, come on, they’re perfect for each other! Which brings me to my next point!
2. Romance. Dallas and Carson both decided that they don’t want to date each other – Dallas swearing off all football players and Carson wanting to focus on him getting on the team. But they can’t walk away from the attraction they feel towards each other. So what do they do? They remain friends. I know, right from the start, we know that this friendship-only will never last. But it was so enjoying to see them try to be platonic when they’re obviously into each other. It also made for a great start to their future romantic relationship because they first started out as friends. And of course, right from Chapter 1, their chemistry is OFF-THE-CHARTS. Whew, fanning in here. Hot! But what I like even more about the romance in this story is that we’re not promised a happily-ever-after when the novel ends. I am so looking forward to all the obstacles their relationship will face in an upcoming book (if ever there is one; THERE SHOULD BE ONE). I can’t say that for most romance novels I’ve read so just, the gravity of this, you guys.
3. Family. Dallas doesn’t have the best relationship with her father and she didn’t know her mother. Coach Cole didn’t even let Dallas audition for dance schools aside from Rusk, which put an even bigger wedge in their relationship. They obviously love each other but there’s just too much unsaid and not shown – Dallas feels football always comes first with her dad and Coach Cole is afraid to let Dallas go – that they just don’t have the best relationship all around. But every scene with Dallas and Coach Cole will just grip your heart. You’ll feel for them and you’ll just want them to make up but watching the actual progress of their father-daughter relationship was even better to read.
4. Football. Football plays a large part in the set-up of ALL LINED UP and hallelujah because it actually shows! We get to read plays, practices and everything about football in here. Cora Carmack’s knowledge of football really shone through in here (being an actual daughter of a football coach). She knows what she’s writing and even though you don’t know a thing about football (like me), you’ll never get lost. I even got into the games so much. Fabulous.
5. College experience. ALL LINED UP isn’t just about romance or football or the characters’ growth. It actually delves into the full college experience as well. We see party scenes but then we also have our characters going to the library, doing their homework, attending classes, texting during classes, all of those. It was nice, super nice, to read about all these.
6. Career. Don’t all college students (and post-grads) wonder what career they’ll have? And if they’ll even have a career. Everyone fears this. Which was so palpable in here. Dallas wants dance for her but with Rusk’s subpar dance course, she’s not challenged. She can’t be the best version of herself if she’s not pushing herself. Carson wants football to be his career but in order to do that, he needs to get into the team and then maybe, he can go pro. He never claimed that he’d go pro, he’s just doing his best every single day in hopes that he might go pro. I love that. Don’t we all normal people are just like that? I know I’m not the best at my field and I’m just doing everything I can in the hopes that someday, it’s gonna sum up to what I need to get into whichever program I want.
7. Writing. Lastly, the writing. I admit that this is my first Cora Carmack book. I’ve started Losing It before but due to time constraints, I wasn’t able to finish it just yet. People have been saying that this is Cora’s best yet and while I can’t really attest to that, I do admit that the way she wrote this book was so heartfelt. You’ll feel for everyone. I even like the a-hole that is Silas Moore because he’s dimensional. He can be a dick but where and when it counts, he’s a good guy. You’ll get what I mean about how you can feel every emotion, every dance move Dallas dances, every weight Carson lifts, when you read this novel.
ALL LINED UP is definitely so many levels above most contemporary new adult romances we have now. For one, the writing was impeccable, the characters all endearing and dimensional and the plot absolutely not a rehash. You’ll just love EVERYTHING about this novel. There, I said it.
Follow the Tour