I am absolutely thrilled to bring you the Review & Excerpt Tour for Cora Carmack’s ALL PLAYED OUT! ALL PLAYED OUT is a New Adult Contemporary Romance and is the 3rd book in the Rusk University Series, published by William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins.
All Played Out by Cora Carmack
Series: Rusk University #3
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: May 12th 2015
Source: Inkslinger PR
All Played Out has officially become my favourite Cora Carmack book of all time - and I'm pretty sure it'll be hard to beat. All Played Out follows Nell (Dylan's roomate) who is extremely smart and is graduating early. But when Dylan points out that she hasn't really had any experiences during college, Nell makes a bucket list of typical college things to do before she graduates. Mateo Torres is the receiver on the Rusk football team. Torres is famous for his jokes and his wild partying, but no one knows he does it to cover up his broken heart. Mateo decides he's going to help Nell complete her list, but it leads to something more than either of them bargained for.
Antonella De Luca was my favourite thing about this book. Nell is shy, smart and so wrapped up in her studying that she hasn't taken any time to experience things normal teenagers do at college. She's inexperienced and socially awkward and that's why I loved her so much. I could relate a bit to Nell because just like her, I was always more comfortable studying than I was going to parties and drinking, but unlike Nell, I had experienced those things. Nell's journey and her growth throughout the novel was amazing to see. She learned a lot about herself that she never would have if she hadn't set herself this challenge and it was just so fantastic seeing her coming out of her shell.
Mateo Torres has always been the joker. In the previous books he's always been the hilarious one that gets so drunk at parties that he looses his clothing. He's always been the funny one, but I enjoyed getting to see a different side to Mateo. He's been dealing with a broken heart for a while now, and he uses his humour to hide it. But after he meets Nell, Mateo's heart begins to mend. Mateo is just such a charming guy. He can be incredibly crude sometimes, but that's just Mateo and I still loved him.
Mateo and Nell's relationship was always going to be one with problems. With Nell's inexperience with most social situations and with Mateo's broken heart, the path for those two was never going to be an easy one. Every time Nell crossed off one of the things on her list, I felt incredibly proud of her. Sometimes she would do something I totally didn't expect from her like getting smashed and dancing on a table with Matt or flashing Mateo in public, I never knew what Nell was going to come out with next and I just loved her. I also really enjoyed seeing Mateo's journey. He was coming to terms with his feelings about the girl from his past and he couldn't properly be with Nell until he'd sorted everything out, but it was being with Nell that was making him better.
I still love getting to see the other characters again too. Dallas and Carson are as strong as ever; Silas and Dylan are adorable, but Stella is the character I most wanted to see. After what happened with her in the previous book, she's changed and I'm looking forward to getting inside her head in the next book. I've still got my fingers crossed for her and Ryan.
Overall, All Played Out has been my favourite book in the Rusk University series, but I think Stella's book could give it a run for it's money - it'd definitely take a lot to do that! Nell and Mateo's story was beautiful and I just adored this book.
I’ve always gone out of my way to avoid situations that might stir up that kind of reaction. When I was getting picked on in middle school, I found a teacher willing to let me eat lunch in her classroom during her off period. I didn’t really do much dating in high school, because the few times I tried, I couldn’t handle the stress of not knowing what would happen next. The mere possibility of embarrassing myself was always enough to make me run in the other direction. I didn’t take any chances. Not that kind at least. And now it seems as if my social life is not the only department where I’m playing catch-up.
Welcome to Humiliation. Population: Me.
Thankfully, I’m so miserable that the next few minutes only occur in bursts and patches for me. When I next lift my eyes, Dylan is there, and we’re inside the apartment. I blink, and I’m in my room. It’s dark, only the lamp by my bed providing light, and she’s dabbing at my forehead with a damp cloth that feels like heaven.
“Why did I do this?” I groan. “Why does anyone do this?”
She doesn’t laugh, though I can tell she wants to.
“Hindsight is twenty-twenty.”
“I hate that saying.”
“But it’s the truth.”
“I hate the truth.”
She does laugh then.
“Why did you do it?” she asks. “I tried to ask Matt, but he sounds like a yeti when he’s this drunk. I couldn’t make out anything he said.”
“I hate yetis,” I mumble.
“Yes, well, before you say you hate water, drink this.”
She tilts my head up to meet a glass, and half the water ends up running down my neck. And I do, indeed, hate water.
The only thing I don’t hate is sleep. Sleep will take away the churning in my stomach, and the awful taste in my mouth, and the flushed heat I know is still marring my skin.
Maybe I’ll wake up, and this will all have been a dream. I won’t have thrown up in front of the people I’m trying to make my new friends. I wouldn’t have told the most attractive guy to ever show any interest in me that I’m a virgin.
Maybe I’ll wake up to find that this whole list thing was a long, elaborate dream, and I can go back to being blissfully weird and antisocial and... Alone.
Somewhere between one forced sip of water and the next, I must fall asleep, because I wake up after what feels like hours to the sound of my door closing. Probably just Dylan checking on me, but I’m struggling to find the motivation to move my head the six inches it will take to confirm this suspicion.
Eventually, my bed shifts, slanting to one side, and my head ends up turning of its own volition. I decide I’m dreaming when I see who’s seated beside me, because there’s no way Torres would be in my room after everything that just happened. I’m sure Dylan wouldn’t even let him in. I decide that this must be my subconscious, trying to give me one last good-bye, unreal though it may be.
“I brought you some food,” he says.
I groan. My dream can’t even do me the courtesy of giving me a pleasant last memory. Or is it normal to be drunk in your dreams when you’re drunk in real life?
He breaks the corner off a bread stick and holds it up to my lips. I don’t open.
“Trust me,” he says. “I know you’re tired and probably miserable, but this will help. And the more food and water we get into you now, the less you’ll hate yourself in the morning.”
“Already hate myself,” I say, but I take a bite of the bread stick he’s offering. It takes me forever to chew it, and when I’m done, he holds up another. Grudgingly, I eat it.
“That’s my girl.” And now I know it’s a dream.
He offers me water, and I take it, if only to wash down the bread.
“What happened to our deal?” he asks, and he sounds almost angry. “If you’d waited for me, I could’ve taken care of you. Made sure you didn’t drink too much.”
Since it’s a dream, I don’t see the point in being dishonest.
“I don’t want you to help me with the list.”
“Why not?” Yeah. He’s definitely angry.
“Because I don’t want you to think I’m a loser.”
“Damn it. I think a lot of things about you, Nell. Some of them are certainly not nice, but trust me, they’re all complimentary.” I shake my head, too tired to pick out the meaning of his words. “You’re not a loser, Nell. And I’m going to help you with that list whether you like it or not. I didn’t like coming into your apartment and seeing you with that guy. I don’t like that he’s the one who you shared this first with. I want your firsts.”