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REVIEW: Off Campus by Amy Jo Cousins

PersonalizedBannerSara

ABOUT:

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.

REVIEW:

You know that saying, “a river runs deep. Or the one “more than meets the eye.” And a few others like that? They are fitting for this book. You see, I went into this with the thought of hell yeah, bring on the college boy frot fest and while I got a bit of that, don’t let me mislead you, this book is not superficial, shallow or simple. It has some deep themes and it’s why I fell in love with it.

Tom Worthington, our narrator leads us to his new dorm room at the start of the story. We know that he’s been away from school and has had to fight for this room off campus. He could care less where he sleeps that night, he just wants sleep. What Tom doesn’t expect to find is his new roommate, Reese who challenges him from the word go, or the words “you can’t stay here” to be exact and verbatim.

Reese has his reasons for not wanting Tom there and Tom has no idea why but he tries to placate his new roommate into letting him stay. It works but Reese decides to parade a number of hook ups through their room in a passive, albeit, sexy way to get Tom to move out. But Tom… he likes what he hears as he sits in the hallway outside the door of 23B with the bright hot pink bandana tied to the doorknob.

Tom told himself he was imagining being able to hear their slow breaths mingle… he was a little surprised that he was getting turned on by the sounds of two dudes going at it. He felt kind of pervy, eavesdropping on his roommate’s sex life, but wasn’t this what Reese wanted? To force him to listen in?

This story isn’t a gay for you story, Tom lets us know early on that he is an equal opportunity sort of guy and so is little Tom. So this listening and getting turned on by what Reese does behind closed doors isn’t new, but it is. Though Tom is free with admitting he is bisexual, I loved the inner dialogue and he settled into liking and wanting Reese. There were the compressions of boy/girl happening but they weren’t there to offend. They were there because it’s normal human nature when you want something or someone out of the box. So when Tom goes from auditory Reese hookup sessions to visual, things really get cranked up a notch.

Tom spoke without thinking. “So it’s not just me who gets to watch.”

I loved the push and pull with Reese and Tom. It was fun and so damn sweet and so packed full of emotion. As each boy let the carefully constructed walls down to let the other in, I was a mess. I mean, how can a girl read the whole “Pretend you’re sitting on me. Like I was a chair” bit and not feel anything? It’s impossible because both Tom and Reese have serious baggage that makes these boys such a mess. My goodness they are a mess and yet they found one another.

Now while this is sexy and hot and UNF to the end and back again, this has depth to it. I said the boys are messed up and they are but they get this amazing support from one another and this small set of friends and a dad. I love Mr. Anders by the way and Steph is a doll, but Cash stole my heart and a few of the scenes he was in. I can’t wait to read his story.

“You know that’s what people who love each other do, right? Stick around and support you through the tough shit?”

As a new to me author, Amy Jo Cousins knocked my socks off. I know she writes hetero romance and that usually makes me wary when authors jump into the world of m/m but she nailed it. Reese and Tom come to life on the page as they battle life and it’s woes of unfairness. They were a joy to read and though I wanted to pull Tom aside and tell him that he is not old at 22; I am two years younger than my husband, I don’t consider myself the younger woman and when Tom refers to Reese as “the younger man” it made me pause but never enough to stop reading. I couldn’t stop reading. I read through work, while I was making dinner for my family of five and while I ate my dinner. It was that good of a story.

Off Campus, just the title and knowing why it’s called that, has me sighing and smiling. I adored this story and love that it wasn’t just a sex fest with the boys. The sex was there because that’s how people connect, how a couple in a new relationship act and yes it’s also how we deal with trauma and deflect when we don’t t to deal. So the sex for me, it was real and it was hot. Goodness, was it ever.

I will cease my rambling now, there isn’t much I can say without spoiling the story but I loved it. I loved it so much that I couldn’t get the image of Reese out of my head and found the perfect likeness of him, for me that is. Ugh. Yeah, this book made me cast a character, I liked it that much.

RATING: 4 STARS

BOOK INFO:

Off CampusTitle: Off Campus (Bend or Break #1)
Author: Amy Jo Cousins
Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
Pages: 317
Release Date: December 30, 2014
Purchase Links: Samhain, Amazon, ARe, B&N

About Sara

I'm a runner, a reader and a vegan food eater. I practice yoga and meditation. I live in a house full of boys and rescue dogs. I really need a vacation.

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This entry was posted on January 5, 2015 by in Contemporary, Reviewer: Sara, Sports / Athletes, YA / NA and tagged , , .

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