In this second book in New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Cora Carmack s New Adult, Texas-set Rusk University series, which began with All Lined Up, a young woman discovers that you can’t only fight for what you believe in… sometimes you have to fight for what you love.
Dylan fights for lost causes. Probably because she used to be one.
Environmental issues, civil rights, corrupt corporations, and politicians you name it, she’s probably been involved in a protest. When her latest cause lands her in jail overnight, she meets Silas Moore. He’s in for a different kind of fighting. And though he’s arrogant and infuriating, she can’t help being fascinated with him. Yet another lost cause.
Football and trouble are the only things that have ever come naturally to Silas. And it’s trouble that lands him in a cell next to do-gooder Dylan. He’s met girls like her before fixers, he calls them, desperate to heal the damage and make him into their ideal boyfriend. But he doesn’t think he’s broken, and he definitely doesn’t need a girlfriend trying to change him. Until, that is, his anger issues and rash decisions threaten the only thing he really cares about: his spot on the Rusk University football team. Dylan might just be the perfect girl to help.
With an emphasis on self-discovery and an unexpectedly sweet romance, All Broke Down is the perfect example of what qualities should be present in NA books. Instead of inundating the story with commonly seen themes like sex, booze, and drugs, the author maintains a good balance among the three and weaves in convincing character conflict, a believable romantic connection, and a healthy dose of angst to create yet another winner in her fantastic Rusk University series. For me personally, I could connect and relate to these characters easily, as if they were my friends letting me in on their secrets. Perhaps it’s because I’m similar in age to them but whatever the reason, the humor, wit, and awkward fun in this book was not lost on me.
In book 1 a secondary character Silas Moore is introduced, a bad boy through and through who earned my loathing until the author quickly revealed a vulnerable side of him that gave me hope that he wasn’t a lost cause. And he wasn’t. There are always two sides to every story and character and this book is his. He’s not your average college student coming from a good family. He’s not rich. He’s not smart. All he knows and is good at is football. But he also has serious anger management issues and when provoked is quick with his fists. On one particular night that ends with a scuffle with a team member, Silas lands himself in jail and it’s there he meets the heroine Dylan.
^Haha! So anyways, Dylan is a passionate girl who invests her time and energy in protests, causes she believes are worth fighting for and when one goes downhill, her efforts land her in jail right alongside Silas. Though they acknowledge they’re attracted to each other, both of them also know that they’re from completely different social circles. Nevertheless, their attraction gives way to something much deeper and meaningful, a connection that binds them closer to each other – both struggle to belong. They both have pasts they just aren’t ready or equipped to overcome but they have so much faith in each other it was so easy for me to accept their connection is much more than lust. Dylan is the one girl Silas feels comfortable in confiding in and the reverse is true, with Silas being the only one to point out where Dylan’s real struggles are.
Despite the ugly of their pasts that play a heavy role, this book is much more lighthearted than expected. I love that the author chose to focus more on the positivity that their unlikely romance brought out in both characters and didn’t let the negative overshadow the story. The strife, the angst, and the inner turmoil are still present but all are healthy amounts so the reader isn’t frustrated with the conflict. Near the end there was a particular turn of events that I felt was a little unnecessary hence the 4.5 stars but it wasn’t anything major that affected my enjoyment of the story.
Having read most of this author’s books, I feel like Cora Carmack has come a long way since the publication of Losing It. Not to say that her previous books aren’t awesome but I really feel like her Rusk University books are my favorite out of everything she’s written. The writing is so much stronger and gripping, the characters are much more lovable and endearing, and important and cherished values like family and teamwork are emphasized in a positive, reinforcing manner that truly warms the heart.
All Broke Down is the 2nd installment in the Rusk University series and a standalone, just like the first book. To get the full reading experience (especially Silas’s character growth from book 1 to book 2) I would recommend reading in order but it’s totally up to you. I do want to point out that these two books are completely different but equally enjoyable. Book 1 was more cute and funny while this second book is a little edgier because of Silas’s tortured bad boy image.