by Cora Carmack
Published on May 13, 2014
by William Morrow
NOTE: this is a NA (New Adult) book.
Synopsis from Goodreads: 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.
My take: Reviews of NA books are about as rare around my blog as unicorns. I've tried a bunch of NA books, and while I've enjoyed some of them, many have been too melodramatic for my taste, featuring characters that seem more in need of therapy than a hot hook-up and premises so farfetched that I sprained my eyeballs from rolling them.
All Lined Up was everything I think the NA genre should be: a book featuring just-out-of-their-teens trying to figure life out, characters who have a little more independence and life experience than a YA cast. Dallas was a great protagonist -- smart and no-nonsense, sassy yet vulnerable, a girl who's faced some tough times, yet isn't a complete emotional wreck. Carson was just as great -- he's a hard worker who is determined to make something of himself, and won't let anything interfere with his making first string on the team. Because Carson doesn't want any distractions or problems, and Dallas is so over dating football players, watching the two of them fight their attraction to one another was pretty fun. There are also some great secondary characters -- there's Dallas' mouthy, bossy friend Stella; there's Silas, an overconfident, womanizing teammate of Carson's; and there's Ryan, the adorably nerdy football team manager.
Football. I don't know anything about it. My family watched all the seasons of Friday Night Lights, and I dropped in from time to time and was like ... "Eh, this show would be better without so many football games." But -- and I can't believe I'm saying this -- football really enhanced the story in All Lined Up. It was a theme that threaded its way through the book in a way that really worked for me.
In an afterword, Cora Carmack explains that the themes and location of this book are ones she knows well, and I could really feel her connection to her story. Even if you're not that into NA, if you love a good romance, you should definitely try this book. All Lined Up has tension without manufactured drama. It has steamy scenes, but within a relationship that feels positive, not dysfunctional. Most of all, it's a story with a ton of heart, which is what I loved about it the most. I'm thrilled that there will be companion books, and I can't wait to see Silas meet his match :)