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Saturday, November 7, 2015

Off Campus (Bend or Break #1) [Tom & Reese] by Amy Jo Cousins ~~~ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ~~~

Though I was really looking forward to reading this series, when it was right there in it's scheduled spot I was a bit worried.. I've just put aside a series people were raving about and now here's another series I heard so many great things about and I wasn't sure what to expect. So when I finally had the time Friday evening I just opened the book and started reading (then stopped and remembered I didn't even read the synopsis! went back to read it and continued on). It was 1 AM in the morning when I realized I WANT to keep on reading but my eyes are burning with how tired I am. Reluctant I went to sleep only to wake up two hours later to read a bit more, then woke up in the morning to finish it. Didn't even have my coffee.. 

I was really floored by just HOW amazing this book was. In a way I don't like writing a raving review of a book I absolutely love because I feel like I'm screwing it up! There is NO WAY I'm able to express how good it was, how and why I liked it that much and here it's the same. I loved both MC, they both dealt with horrible experiences, were doing the best they could on their own and it just didn't cut it. Because as much as we want to be big heroes and deal with life, sometimes it's a bit too much for us on our own, especially since we adapt a certain world view according to our experiences (not always positive or adaptive) so another person's perspective is a good idea. I'm saying here that not only Reese and Tom were PERFECT for one another they genuinely NEEDED each other.  


Before I continue there is something more I want to add. Years and years ago, I had a certain horrible experience of my own. I'll admit that considering what these two went through mine wouldn't be considered "that bad", but the thing is, we are each different and so affected by stuff differently. Back then I had a very loving boyfriend. He was great! Really! But as the relationship progressed and my traumatic past kept pushing at us he felt at a lost. He tried to help me out, tried to be there for me, to listen to the little I was able to tell him and yet things just got worst instead of better. After arguing about it for a couple of months, about how difficult the situation is getting he announced one day that he had enough. It's over. I guess he expected to be "enough" for me, to be the "Knight in shining armor" and be able to "fix" me. Which sadly (for him) didn't happen.. I was more than broken by that and mostly because I was half broken before we even met.. I decided that this is "rock bottom" as low as I'm willing to go and so (finally!!!) went to therapy. Now I know that the break up was probably one of the best thing that ever happened to me! Because I had "no choice" but to put my life together on my own with the right kind of counseling. 

Why am I telling you this story? because both Reese and Tom needed professional help. Yeah being together saved them both, on many levels, it was the push they needed to seek help in the first place, which made it possible for them to get better. I don't respect books that deal with serious issues and somehow manage to avoid getting professional help or making the problem disappear when the troubled person finds his HEA. Real problems don't just disappear. I was really happy with the way this book progressed in this matter. It felt very genuine to me. Both of them on their own, as well as together. Though we only get Tom's POV so with Reese the progression is about what he does, with Tom we get EVERYTHING, all his inner struggles and the whole journey he went through to deal with his past and present difficulties. 

I've wrote so much and I feel like I've said nothing at all.. 

Tom Worthington had a horrific year.  His father was arrested for stealing a HUGE amount of money and left a lot of people out of their life's savings. While he never had a very good connection to his father (his mother being long dead), after the FBI investigation he is left with literally NO money, nothing at all. After a year of working on a cab the craziest hours, sleeping on his car he manages to save enough money to enroll back to Carlisle College where he studied before the whole thing with his dad broke apart. Because of how public the whole situation was with his father (paparazzi's stalking his house and going through his freaking garbage!) he gets a dorm "off-Campus". He arrives late at night to find he has a (very gay) roommate, one who is NOT happy to have an ex-jock (probably a homophobic jerk!) living with him. 

Reese Anders has his reasons to staying away from Tom. He too had a horrible experience about a year ago which left him broken from the inside and yet, Reese is SUCH a fighter, I was in owe just how strong he was mentally! Even if and when he made mistakes or took the "easy" way out of situations. Tom's struggles in a way were more difficult, I'm not sure if it was because of who he is (he admits Reese is a much stronger person than him) or it's simply because we only get his POV so we only get his inner struggles and so we understand just how damaged he is. Truthfully you'd expect for Reese to be more broken when you put on the scale what each of them went through, but as I said above about myself, it's truly personal the way we "take" things that happen to us, there are many factors to it, not just who we are. With Reese it's obvious that being alone practically his whole life was also very significant. 

It took them quite some time to get close to one another. Each step they did toward one another brought them back a few steps when the intimacy became a bit too much. Reese was bringing guys to their apartment to try and scare Tom off, and yet Tom already knew  he isn't only attracted to girls.. He had past experiences with guys and what Reese was trying to pull only made him horny.. not disgusted.. 

Tom and Reese were SO sweet together. Yeah it took them long enough which felt very genuine to me. The things they dealt with weren't just the regular "coming of age" issues, and they also had to somehow deal with their relationship considering Reese is VERY openly gay and Tom might know he is bi for years now, but no one around him ever knew and it's not something he wants the press to find out and plaster all over the news.. It's not your regular "coming out of the closet" when the media might be involved.. 

The whole story was heart breaking and heart warming at the same time. I can't say that for a minute I blamed either one of them for being mad at the other. They both made mistakes, they both tried as best as their past and present allowed them. I was just hoping and praying that the HEA will come sooner rather than later. Be advised it comes later ;) I've recently read Amy's post about the 5th installment in the series "Real World" to be released on the 17th of this month - Amy says that for her, this book ends mostly in a HFN and she wanted more for our precious couple and so the 5th installment will give us what we want, a true HEA for Tom and Reese. Can't wait to grab it, I"m almost sad that it's not out yet and I "need" to read the next ones of other couples before I get to their HEA. 

We are also introduced to 3 characters that will feature in the next installments, first we have Jack, who was a TOTAL jerk to Tom and now we will be getting his story in the 2nd installment. We also got to know Cash and Steph the MC in the 3rd installment, really can't wait to get THEIR story. I loved them both in this one, they were true friends to both Tom and Reese. As Reese puts it, Cash might be big but he is really a Bichon Frise (which Cash is HORRIFIED by! :D)    

Can't wait to start the next one! If the rest of the series would continue to hold my interest as this one did I'm afraid my best laid plans to finish the 4th book on the 17th (when the 5th is out) will totally fall apart. ah, the problems I'm having ;)

HIGHLY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! A worthy very emotional ride.  




Additional Details: Kindle Ebook, 317 pages, 6-7 November 2015 / On GoodReads

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