Release Blitz/Review Tour & Giveaway: All Played Out: Cora Carmack

All Played Out (Rusk University#3)
Cora Carmack
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Releases May 12, 2015

First person in her family to go to college? CHECK.
Straight A’s? CHECK.
On track to graduate early? CHECK.
Social life? …..yeah, about that….

With just a few weeks until she graduates, Antonella DeLuca’s beginning to worry that maybe she hasn’t had the full college experience. (Okay... Scratch that. She knows she hasn't had the full college experience).
So Nell does what a smart, dedicated girl like herself does best. She makes a "to do" list of normal college activities.

Item #1? Hook up with a jock.

Rusk University wide receiver Mateo Torres practically wrote the playbook for normal college living. When he’s not on the field, he excels at partying, girls, and more partying. As long as he keeps things light and easy, it's impossible to get hurt... again. But something about the quiet, shy, sexy-as-hell Nell gets under his skin, and when he learns about her list, he makes it his mission to help her complete it.

Torres is the definition of confident (And sexy. And wild), and he opens up a side of Nell that she's never known. But as they begin to check off each crazy, exciting, normal item, Nell finds that her frivolous list leads to something more serious than she bargained for. And while Torres is used to taking risks on the field, he has to decide if he's willing to take the chance when it's more than just a game.

Together they will have to decide if what they have is just part of the experiment or a chance at something real. 
I groan, and flip the page in my spiral so I won’t have to look at the words anymore. Starting small with the alcohol had been a wise decision. Perhaps I should do the same with other big items on my list. But how did one get smaller than sex and hooking up? I couldn’t just put “kiss.” I’d done that before, and a few more kisses weren’t going to make any difference in my confidence when it came to sex. 

Really, it’s the unknown that bothers me. Not just on this list, but in everything. So maybe that’s what I need to get used to. 

I skip to the bottom of my list and add …

17. Kiss a stranger 

I tap my pen against the page, surveying the words, and decide that kissing a stranger is a good stepping-stone. Then a voice comes from over my shoulder, making me jump up and drop my spiral in shock. 

“Do I count as a stranger?” 

I press my hand over my thundering heart and turn to face the subject my rumination. 

“You scared me.” 

“My bad.” Contrary to his words, Torres doesn’t look the least bit sorry. 

He bends to pick up the spiral, and I lunge forward to stop him. “Wait! Stop!” 

It’s too late. He already has ahold of it, and lifts it up above his head, completely out of my reach. He’s got nearly a foot on me in height, and when I try to jump, I barely get my unathletic self a few inches off the ground. 

“Give that back.” 

“Hold up, sweetheart. I just want to take a little peek.” 

“Don’t you dare! It’s private.”

Frantically, I try to recall what was written on that page as he holds it above his head in an attempt to read. 

“‘Go skinny-dipping’?” he says, his eyes dancing suggestively. “Whatever this is ... I like it.” 

I step toward him, and he angles his body to the side so that the spiral is farther away, but we’re still close. 

“‘Pull an all-nighter.’ ‘Sing karaoke.’ ‘Flash someone.’ Oh, sweetheart, tell me this is a list of things you want to do. Please, God.”

“It’s none of your business. That’s what it is.” 

“Unlucky for you, I’m a nosy person.” 

He starts to turn the page back, and my heart tumbles in fear. He cannot see the first page. Not ever. I hurl myself at him, practically climbing up his body in an attempt to retrieve my list. And all he does is laugh, and stand there as if there isn’t a whole person hanging on to him. 

“Asshole!” I say, pushing at his chest. 

“Come on, you can do better than that.” 

“Nosy bastard.” 

He rolls his eyes. “Well, if that’s all you’ve got ...” He starts to turn the page again, and there’s thunder in my ears, and my lungs feel all twisted up inside my chest. 

“Fuck you,” I say once, quietly. Then I repeat it, louder, my voice raspy from fear and exertion. “Fuck you, Mateo Torres.”

And I resign myself to the fact that I’m not going to get my spiral back until he’s had his fill of humiliating me. But to my shock, he bends and picks up my pen from where I’d dropped it when he surprised me. Then he draws a line through something on the paper. 

“Congratulations. You’ve officially completed number sixteen. ‘Cuss someone out and mean it.’”

He hands me the spiral, then the pen, before folding his arms over his chest and meeting my eyes with a carefully blank expression. I glance down at the item on the list that he’s crossed out, and I don’t know whether I want to laugh or stab him with my pen. Maybe both.

Who’s addicted and head over heels with the Rusk series even though she isn’t a sports fan? *Raises hand as high as it will possible go* Cora Carmack makes me yearn for football, well at least between the pages of a book. I honestly didn’t think it could get any better than Silas Moore; that is until, the one and only, Mateo Torres swaggered his bad boy self into my life. In All Played Out Cora focuses on "the king of tease and speak before you think" Torres. Mateo didn't hesitate to steal my heart right along with Nell’s, taking us both for an entertaining and enticing ride. 

I whole-heartedly admit I am obsessed with bad boys who have that flirty but dirty personality. And Teo is most definitely the epitome of this. I loved how in your face he was. It made him sexy as f***. Carmack definitely pulled no punches with her newest creation. Mateo exuded that devil-may-care attitude. He's wicked flirty, a risk taker, often times the life of the party, and thrived on being uninhibited and uncolored.

“I don’t believe in censoring my thoughts. Some people just aren’t as fond of freedom of speech as I am.”

While Nell was shy, withdrawn, and never felt as though she fit in with the world around her, instead hiding behind her books. I adored the living crap out of her. Her quirks were endearing, and it was moving to see our girl come into her own.

“Mateo Torres is loud, and I'm quiet. He's reckless, and I'm cautious.”

At times, they both reminded me a lot of myself. Kindred spirits if you may.

If there were ever two people you could never picture together it would be these two. Mateo and Nell are the definition of opposites attract. Loved, loved, loved that it totally worked for them; they ended up complimenting each other perfectly. Their polar individuality contributed to plenty of swoon worthy, seductive, and laugh out loud moments. Mateo and Nell provided us with a sweet love story that included plenty of humor and lighthearted entertainment.

There's nothing better than coming off a bad read, or even a book slump, and knowing the minute you sink into an author's book you will be immediately hooked. Although, Cora's couples tend to fall with a fast pace, she never fails to keep her characters feeling real, which allows me to believe in the realism, connection and chemistry between her protagonist every time! Each edition is always captivating and deliciously written. All Played Out was no exception. 

If you loved Carson and Silas, you will most definitely love Mateo. I am also excited to announce that Cora will be giving us Stella and Ryan in 2016!!! I've been waiting anxiously for Stella's book since I met her in All Lined Up. 

Thank you, William Morrow, for the complimentary copy of All Played Out.

Nell is seeing her room mate Dylan spread her wings as she is now happily dating Silas (All Broke Down). It makes her realize she has been so into studying and fulfilling her goals that she has missed out on some of the true college experience. She is a book nerd, isolated, shy, and has not become emotionally invested in anything. So she makes a college bucket list of things to complete before finishing college early.

Nonna says I'm picky. Dad says I'm stubborn. Mom thinks I just need someone who's as smart as I am. I say I'm better equipped for ideas than emotions.

Mateo Torres is the shameless, flashy, outgoing, outspoken, life of the party. He lives for football and is not afraid to take risks. He flirts, teases, and becomes quickly enthralled by Nell once Dylan convinces her to join in on some of their social activities. But she also reminds him of someone from his past that he wants to forget.

I don’t believe in censoring my thoughts. Some people just aren’t as fond of freedom of speech as I am.

Don't ask me why, but I've always had a thing for the shy ones, I like being the one to break them out of their shell.

Nell finds a an unlikely ally in Mateo who vows to help her make her way through her bucket list. And as they progress through the list, they begin getting more under each other's skin and into their heart.

I love solving problems. But not like this...not when there's no guarantee I can be right. Because Mateo Torres is loud, and I'm quiet. Because he's reckless, and I'm cautious. Because he belongs everywhere, and I don't. Because I think I'm in danger of falling in love with him.

Mateo is one of those characters that is just so endearing and so easy to like. He is sweet, charming, sexy, funny, but also has a vulnerability to him. And Nell is awkward, shy, and logical, but is also strong and determined once she is more comfortable. They have great chemistry and they really challenge each other and bring out the best in one another.

They have a fun, witty rapport, but they both also have their hang ups. Mateo uses football, girls, and his wild personality for distraction and to hide the fact that he had been hurt in the past. But Nell is different and he can't stop thinking about her, pursuing her, or pushing her out of her comfort zone. Nell has always focused on school and never really lived a full life or explored real relationships. But she is fascinated by her strong reaction to Mateo. They both have fears and insecurities. Sometimes they help each other get over them while other times shed more light on their significance. They are very different and seem like opposites, but are also a catalyst for change for each other. He makes her live life fully and brings her passion and excitement. While she grounds him and makes him feel.

I wanted a catalyst. He's more like an atom bomb.

But now everything could be about to change. And I'm scared to think about it because getting my hopes up over something like this? Over something that matters? That's a hell of a lot of hurt I'm risking.

That does not mean it is always easy. They have issues with trust and communication. And their futures are moving in different directions. But if they can just let go of fears and hold on to each other, they may have a chance of accomplishing all that is on their lists.

We get to spend more time with Dylan and Silas (All Broke Down) and Dallas and Carson (All Lined Up) and Stella, Ryan, Matty, and Zay. Their group is tight knit and love to taunt and tease each other, but they are protective and supportive too. Most of them did not even know the "real" Mateo until Nell came along and he decided to show what was hiding underneath his facade. This installment was fun, sweet, romantic, and thoroughly engaging without being overloaded with angst. It was not quite as deep and emotional as the last one, but still had heart. I love this series and these characters. I can't wait for more. I am really interested in more with Stella and Ryan since we have seen them struggling, and also the very private but intuitive Isaiah Brookes aka Zay.

I was gifted a copy in exchange for an honest review. Quotes are from ARC and subject to change.

In this third Rusk University novel, readers return to this Texas college and the circle of friends surrounding the football team.

I love Mateo Torres. Torres is the one always quick to joke, rarely serious. He is fun, funny, and outgoing.

Nell. Nerdy and focused, she keeps herself so busy with school that she has never made time for friends or the traditional college experience. I enjoyed her focus and her sudden insecurity about the direction of her life. She read like a real person to me -- so focused on a single goal that once she is close enough to consider that goal reached she isn’t sure what’s next.

On paper (and to their friends) they seem like complete opposites. When Nell opens up to Torres with the hope that he can help her with her experiment to have a little bit of the “college experience” before she graduates, they begin to make sense. Each brings something completely different to their relationship, and though their friends worry that he will hurt Nell, they take that chance.

The attraction between them is off the charts. From Nell’s initial shyness and reluctance to befriend him to his realization that she fits into his life, these two are drawn to each other. That’s not to say things are easy, but the sparks fly often and brightly between them.

Carson, Dallas, Silas, Dylan, Brookes, Ryan and Coach Cole are back as friends, teammates, and supporting characters. This team works together and plays together, so readers get a lot from the group as a whole in addition to a great focus on the main couple.

And Stella. I love the part she plays in this book, and the bits that she lets Nell see about her past make me itch to get my hands on her story. Cora has already announced that All Closed Off with be Stella and Ryan’s book, and with the way these two interact, I can’t wait to see what happens between them. There is pain there, and a protective need, and I can’t wait to work through all the emotion and gutting I’m sure I’ll feel for her.

I love the football aspect of this series. It is a presence, but not so technical as to require a huge knowledge of the game. It’s just enough to create great camaraderie between the guys and add the extra commitment of practice, workouts, and games to the pressure of the characters.

All Played Out had great bits of humor that made this a fun read. Add great characters who look out for each other and rally around each other to that humor, and this was a book I didn’t want to put down.

I was gifted a copy in exchange for an honest review.
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HeadshotCora Carmack

Cora Carmack is a twenty-something writer who likes to write about twenty-something characters. She's done a multitude of things in her life-- boring jobs (like working retail), Fun jobs (like working in a theatre), stressful jobs (like teaching), and dream jobs (like writing). She enjoys placing her characters in the most awkward situations possible, and then trying to help them get a boyfriend out of it. Awkward people need love, too. Her first book, LOSING IT, was a New York Times and USA Today bestseller.

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