Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Off Campus by Amy Jo Cousins

Title: Off Campus
Author: Amy Jo Cousins
My Rating: B+

Genre: Contemporary Romance (m/m)
Series: Bend or Break #1
Main Characters: Tom and Reese
Release Date: December 2014
Publisher: Samhain
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: hot

Story Overview:

Everyone’s got secrets. Some are just harder to hide.

With his father’s ponzi scheme assets frozen, Tom Worthington believes finishing college is impossible unless he can pay his own way. After months sleeping in his car and gypsy-cabbing for cash, he’s ready to do just that.

But his new, older-student housing comes with an unapologetically gay roommate. Tom doesn’t ask why Reese Anders has been separated from the rest of the student population. He’s just happy to be sleeping in a bed.

Reese isn’t about to share his brutal story with his gruff new roommate. You’ve seen one homophobic jock, you’ve seen ’em all. He plans to drag every twink on campus into his bed until Tom moves out. But soon it becomes clear Tom isn’t budging.

Tom isn’t going to let some late-night sex noise scare him off, especially when it’s turning him on. But he doesn’t want any drama either. He’ll keep his hands, if not his eyes, to himself. Boundaries have a way of blurring when you start sharing truths, though. And if Tom and Reese cross too many lines, they may need to find out just how far they can bend…before they break.

Warning: This book contains cranky roommates who vacillate between lashing out and licking, some male/male voyeurism, emotional baggage that neither guy wants to unpack, and the definitive proof that sound carries in college housing.

My Review:
So much about this book was good. Gah, my heart hurt for both these guys who have had life kick them in the guts one too many times for how young they were. 

The story begins with Tom, who's been away from college for a year after his father was convicted of a ponzi scheme which cost the family everything. The only thing Tom still has is his car, which he uses to make money taxi'ing. Oh, and yeah it's his home too because he's been homeless for the last year. When he works, he doesn't sleep, needing to make as much money as possible. So when he arrives at college, finally making enough to re-enroll, he hasn't been asleep for 3 days and hasn't seen a real mattress in months. He just wants sleep...so he really doesn't care that his roommate is completely appalled to find he has a roommate. 

Reese was told he'd have a room to himself. An attack the year before by a group of jocks has left him with PTSD and the need to nest in a safe-place. Tom's arrival screws that all to hell. But Tom isn't budging. He doesn't care as long as he has a place to sleep. So Reese comes up with a plan to drive his roommate away with a parade of blow-job partners. But Tom isn't quite straight and instead of it driving him away, it actually turns him on. 

I could feel for both these guys. They've both had a hell of a time and are definitely suffering the after-effects from that. So as they delve into a relationship...very slowly...they create an island unto themselves. I have to admit though that I loved it when Steph (Reese's friend) and Cash (Tom's friend) crash through their self-imposed walls of solitude. 

Although both these guys are angsty and made me want to hug them, they are not without flaws. Major flaws in the MC's are sometimes hard to accept as a reader. We want our heroes to be perfect and these guys just aren't. Reese isn't as understanding or accepting of Tom's issues and paranoia. He just doesn't seem to get how bad it got for Tom in the height of his father's trial. But Tom for his part, got buried way too deep in his paranoia. They both need to face their issues and neither one wants to. They want to stay in their safe little cocoon and while that works for a bit, it's not a realistic plan long-term. 

Overall, I enjoyed the book. I thought it was very realistic and I cheered and ached for the characters as they progressed through the highs and lows of their relationship. The supporting characters were done extremely well and just enhanced the story. I can't wait to see who else gets books in this series because there were some great characters introduced in this book. 

I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.

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