Review: All Lined Up (#1, Rusk University) by Cora Carmack - Vilma Iris | Lifestyle Blogger

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Review: All Lined Up (#1, Rusk University) by Cora Carmack

My Thoughts

Exciting, invigorating and deliciously sexy!
It’s football, freedom and romance in one scintillating, page-turning coming-of-age story.



all lined upNew 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.

My Review

This book was like a movie that you start watching and almost immediately, everything around you blurs and fades away. Wildly addictive. Engrossing. Scintillating. It was fully satisfying and all consuming and already, I want more more more. The story uncurled like a reel, the scenes vividly playing out before me as this coming-of-age tale took shape, the characters finding confidence and navigating through their newly found freedom at Rusk University. There was just something special and relatable about this novel. The characters were well developed. They felt real and not over-dramatized and I think that was part of the allure for me. Couple great character development with great storytelling, throw in some Texas football drama and you’ve got yourself a literary touchdown.

“Maybe we aren’t in high school anymore. But it’s the same damn misery with a different name.”

Dallas Cole’s intro to the college experience isn’t exactly what she hoped for. With dreams of dancing at a professional school outside of Texas falling by the wayside, she ends up at Rusk University… the same campus where her father, the head football coach, now works. In a state where football reigns and a campus where most fear her father, freedom seems elusive once again.

“College is supposed to be a time to break free, to start fresh. You would think being the football coach’s daughter would be a benefit.  I know more about the sport than half the guys at our school, knowledge that should make it easy to land a date. If they weren’t all petrified of my father.”

Dallas has grown up without a mom, just her, her dad and the sport. She’s done with football and is ready to fly free, but she finds that once she arrives at Rusk, she’s still not any closer to embracing her independence. She’s been burned by her ex, a football player who also goes to Rusk, and prefers staying in to jumping into the frenzy of university parties. At one party she reluctantly attends, her past comes barreling back, and as she makes her escape, she runs into a gorgeous guy who’s witty and charming and wholly unsettling.

Enter Carson McClain.

Carson is all sharp focus. With two years of community college behind him, he’s got a short window to make magic happen at Rusk. He’s got to keep his grades up and work harder than anyone else to get a chance to play on the field. That means no distractions whatsoever. So when a beautifully disarming redhead literally jumps into his arms, he knows he’s in trouble. She’s fiesty, direct and not looking for a hookup. Or a relationship for that matter. But the air around them is suddenly charged with an unexpected chemistry that neither know how to process or handle.

“So honest. And gorgeous. It’s a rare combination.”

The story unfolds through alternating Dallas/Carson point-of-views and we begin to see the things that have shaped them to be the people they are today. Dallas is incredibly attracted to Carson, but her gut reaction is to run. It’s always been her go-to defense mechanism. She’s been hurt too many times and before things get complicated… because they will… she’d rather save herself the heartache. But there’s something about Carson. He seems honest and good and he’s impossibly sexy.

“I don’t know anything about this guy except that his eyes make my mind fuzzy and his muscled arms make my mouth water, and the things he keeps saying… they burn — beginning in my flushed cheeks, blazing through my blood, and curling between my legs until I feel like I have to squeeze them together just to keep from combusting on the spot.”

In addition to Dallas’ trepidation, Carson also has some hang ups that hold him back. The last thing he needs is a distraction, but the more time he spends with Dallas, the more he realizes he can’t walk away. Until she finds out he’s a football player… and he finds out she’s the coach’s daughter.

“This is complicated, I know.”
“Let me uncomplicate it. Whatever might have been going to happen between us, isn’t. I don’t date football players.”

This is a story about two people falling in love. A story about figuring out who you are and fighting for who you want to be when everything that’s held you back continues to surround you. It’s a story about facing things head on and choosing not to run away. For Dallas, it’s not so much about breaking free from her father, but about standing up for what she wants and embracing the life she does have with her Dad so that she can finally move forward. After all, her and her Dad are more alike than she may care to admit. For Carson, it’s believing in himself and fighting for the future he dreams of.

“… sometimes in life, you just have to stand there and do nothing. Overwhelmed by all the versions of ourselves that exist in our minds — who we want to be, who we should be, who we’re not, and who we are — it’s a jungle that can ensnare your feet and confuse your eyes. But sometimes if you stand still, all those things will snap back into place like a rubber band. And if you can get past the sting, you can keep moving, not quite whole, but held together for the moment.”

I truly thought this was a wonderful book. I can tell you that despite my Texas zipcode I’m not an avid football fan, so if you aren’t one either, worry not because this story is so much more. Although, let me admit, there were several football scenes that had me teary eyed! Cora Carmack does an amazing job of pulling you into this world, into the tumultuous life of these characters and you won’t be able to avoid falling in love with them. It’s super sexy and witty and I can’t wait to continue with the series. A definite favorite for the year for me!

The next book, All Broke Downis out October 7th and will tell Silas’ story. Pre-order here.

“Carson McClain, you scare me like nothing has ever scared me before. You drive me crazy and make me laugh and push my buttons on purpose. You make me feel safe and smart and pretty. Sometimes I think I might actually melt when you wrap your arms around me, and right now I feel a little bit like I might die if you don’t kiss me.”


Reading Order and Links

Each book can be read as a standalone. Click image below to purchase from Amazon U.S.

all lined up all broke down cover

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  1. Kelly Tannacore said:

    My favorite sports memory, I have a bunch because my husband created a freak, lol, but I’d have to say when the Giants won the Superbowl in 2007 over the Patriots. That was the best feeling for a Giants fan ever!


  2. Viviana Varona said:

    Going to the games in High School to watch the cute boys play in Jersey


  3. Jessica Williams said:

    My favorite sports memory is watching my boyfriend (now husband) cheer at football games our senior year and then in college. I was on dance line in college, so we got to share football game experiences together then.


  4. Debbie Jensen said:

    When the Seattle Seahawks won the Superbowl this year.


  5. smclement5 said:

    Favorite sports memory was watching my then boyfriend play hockey in college. Something about hockey games, so fast, the cool air and the ice. Still enjoy those games!


  6. Erika said:

    Watching high school football games! So fun!


  7. Scarlett Camaj said:

    All of my games, friend, and coaches throughout high school!!


  8. carolsavoy said:

    Watching my children in their sports activities. Can’t choose just one since there were many.


  9. Ashley Carmona said:

    I grew up on a baseball diamond. My dad and my brother both played semi pro ball and then softball. I love hearing the ping of the bat hitting the ball 🙂


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