Sunday, February 1, 2015

Book Review: Off Campus (Bend or Break #1) by Amy Jo Cousins

Off Campus (Bend or Break, #1)Blurb:
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.

Todd’s rating:


Although I loved this book, a lot, at times it was very hard to read.

Tom was the very rich, golden boy track star at the school, until his Ponzi-scheming father got caught and he lost it all. Well, everything except for his BMW, which he uses as both a taxi to make money and a home for a year and a half, until he can make enough money to return to college. All of Tom's friends broke his trust in one way or another, so now he doesn't trust anyone, not even a little.

Upon Tom's return to college, he meets his new roommate, Reese, who also has trust issues after being held down and raped by his previous roommate's jock friends. Upon seeing that he was not getting his promised single room, Reese parades a string of guys through their room, passing out blowjobs like Halloween candy, in hopes of scaring away his straight roommate.

But, much to Reese's chagrin, after Tom living in his car for over a year, he isn't going anywhere. Nope. As Reese eventually decides that Tom is there to stay, they begin holing up in the room together and develop an uneasy truce, a friendship, then more.
“I wanted that like I couldn’t breathe without it. That’s why I came back.”
The rest of the book is the somewhat-angsty tale of how two young men with significantly less than no reason to trust, slowly begin to bond and earn one another's trust.

“That? Right there?” Tom paused, hand on the doorknob, and looked over his shoulder. “Not one jock has ever done that. Ever.”

“Done what?”

“Made someone stop when they were hurting me. That’s different.”
They each compromise a lot for the other, but the very out Reese seems to give in much more frequently than Tom, with his paranoid, chronic aversion to going out in public, even without 'the gay thing' coming into play.
Reese on Tom spending at least some of Christmas with Reese & his (awesome) dad:

“We make a lot of compromises for each other, you and I. This one isn’t mine.”
Eventually Tom's personal demons eventually tear them apart and he runs to Cash, his loud, abrasive track mate and only true friend, for shelter.

I can't express how completely amazing Cash was in this story. A funny, smartass with no filter at all, but always there when Tom (and Reese) needed support.
“Well, then don’t be all I love you but I can’t be with you, goodbye on the fucking phone, Romeo. That shit’ll make people worry.” He sat up straight and stared at Tom, eyes narrowing. “Not me, of course. I was like, 'whatevs', when your boy called me and told me I maybe wanna keep an eye on you."
Fortunately, both Tom and Reese use the few months apart to truly begin working through their issues. Reese because he finally realizes that he wants to live life without being afraid all of the time and Tom so that he could work through his problems and be a man who Reese could be proud of being with.

And their reunion meeting in the park, where Tom finally felt like he would be able to start *not* disappointing Reese? (Well, not nearly as much, and definitely not if he could help it.) That scene was stupendous.
...he could feel it in Reese’s skin, in his bones, in the way his spine curved against Tom’s belly that it wasn’t too late. He could still catch up.
Yes, they still had (a lot) of issues to work out, but we get our HEA and the epilogue was way over the top amazing, IMHO.
The light lit up Reese like a halo as they smiled at each other.

“I love you.” It was easy to say. Now.

Tom had learned that it mattered. Saying the words. The words weren’t enough, in and of themselves, and actions mattered too, but after Reese had sat him down and explained a few things, he got it better about it. And, learning how the words lit Reese up like a candle, he’d started to look for it. That bright shiny glow, the curve of a lip, how Reese blinked slowly just once, the dozen ways he practically shivered with happiness when Tom said it.

“Love you too.” His boyfriend’s eyes narrowed and Tom dropped his box to the side with a thud just in time to brace himself as Reese walked right into him and backed him up against the wall. For a little guy, he could growl like a bear. “God. I’ll love you right up against this wall.”
The book was slightly angsty, funny and a good amount of sexy, with tons of *feels*, so I really enjoyed it from start to finish.

This one was a solid 4 1/2 stars for me and I highly recommend it.

This book was not provided by the publisher and was my own copy.

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