Title: All Broke Down (Rusk University #2)
Author: Cora Carmack
Publication Date: October 28, 2014
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.
Because Silas Moore needs some fixing after all.
Christina’s 5 Star Review
Silas Moore is Rusk University’s troubled running back. He was good friends with Levi, who was the starting quarterback until his drug conviction found him not only off the team, but in prison as well. When Levi finds his way back to the small college town, he immediately seeks out Silas, hoping to pick up their friendship where it left off. Of course in the aftermath of Levi’s arrest the team is forced to start mandatory drug testing and not taking any crap from any of the players. When Levi suggests to Silas that they return to their old ways, a fight ensues between the two, in which Levi reminds Silas that without football he is nobody. He comes from the wrong side of the tracks and is nothing without football. The police are called and soon Silas finds himself behind bars, the last place he needs to be right before the season is ready to start.
Sitting in the holding cell, Silas makes the acquaintance of Matt, and the girl that he was arrested with, Dylan. Dylan and Matt had been arrested at a demonstration where they were protesting the closing of one of the city’s two homeless shelters. Dylan is afraid of the fallout of her arrest, as she is the daughter of rich parents, her father serving on the board at Rusk. Silas and Dylan exchange words and there is an obvious attraction between the two, so when Silas is released but Dylan and Matt are still being held, Silas bails them out. Silas takes the two to his house where there is a party underway and Silas takes the opportunity to get to know Dylan better. At the end of the night, Dylan walks away, without the hookup Silas had been looking for, but they soon will find their paths crossing, more often than they may have bargained for.
Silas finds himself in trouble again and in danger of losing his place on the team. He is drawn to Dylan, hoping that perhaps she can help him deal with his anger issues and teach him how to stay in control. What starts as a slow simmer of attraction between the two, quickly turns into something explosive the more time they spend together.
Dylan and Silas are like night and day, or so they think. Silas, the athlete, knows that football is his only way out of the life of poverty he grew up with. He understands that if he continues to make the mistakes he has, he’ll end up in jail, just like his brother. Dylan, on the other hand, has been living a life of wealth and privilege, but comes off as a spoiled rich girl using things like protests to rebel against her parents. Things couldn’t actually be further from the truth and the two find that maybe their pasts aren’t that different after all. It may just be that shared type of upbringing that Dylan is able to use to help Silas get over his own demons, once and for all.
Silas is incredibly hot, like smoking hot. He has a cockiness to him that is very self-assured, but at the same time, it is obvious that his past has given him self-doubt, especially when dealing with relationships with others, both women, as well as his team mates. Dylan is a strong heroine, but not without her own self-doubt. She has always bowed to the pressure of being the perfect daughter (and perfect girlfriend to Henry, whom she just broke up with after four years). She too finds her voice over the course of the book and sees Silas affecting her, just as much as she affects him.
While this is the second book in the series it can be read as a standalone, however I really do suggest reading each book. Each of the characters that were introduced to us in the first book make an appearance in this one too so they really become more like friends, rather than just characters. There was a very pivotal scene in this volume in which a recurring character finds herself in a situation no woman wants to find herself in and I hope that we’ll see more of that story in subsequent books.
At this point I think it is hard for Cora Carmack to disappoint. All Broke Down was another five star read. I absolutely love this series because Ms. Carmack has an amazing ability to take all of those things that make college the life-changing experience that it is, and make it relatable. The events that make us who we are, finding our independence whether it is through activism, athletics, experimentation with drugs or sexuality, they’re all an important part of the rights of passage of becoming an adult. Even as far removed from college life as I am, I still see myself in some of the characters and that endears the book to me just a little bit more. I love this series and can’t wait for Torres and Nell’s story!
I think I get it then. That decision I saw in her eyes back in the kitchen. That’s what this, what I’m about for her, too. I’m just another part of whatever rebellion she started earlier today. About doing what she wants, not what’s expected of her.
“We’re not talking about me, though,” she says. “So you went to meet your friend, and then what happened?”
She keeps her eyes down as she picks up the gauze and begins winding it snugly around the knuckles of one hand, and then the other.
“He said the wrong thing.”
“Dylan.” Now it’s her that’s pushing too hard. I didn’t want to talk about things with my friends, and I won’t talk about them with her, either, no matter how gorgeous she is.
“I’ll guess. You were mad about what he did, and he wasn’t sorry.”
“This isn’t middle school, Pickle. He didn’t hurt my feelings. He said some shit he had no business saying, and it pissed me off. The end.”
“But you don’t think some of that anger stems from what you feel is a betrayal of your friendship?”
She finishes taping down the last of the gauze, but doesn’t let go of my hand.
“I think you’re analyzing me again. Making things more complicated than they are.”
“And I think you’re just a guy who doesn’t like to admit he has feelings.” She drags out the word, teasing me with some goofy smile on her face. I turn my hand over so I can clutch her wrist. I curlmy other bandaged hand around her waist and pull her closer.
“I feel plenty of things.”
The teasing stops. She swallows.
“I wasn’t talking about that kind of feeling.”
With her standing and me sitting, I’m eye level with her chest. I see the sharp rise and fall as she sucks in a breath. I want her in my lap again, straddling me this time.
“Doesn’t mean we can’t talk about that kind of feeling. Or experiment with it.”
“Is that Stella girl an ex?”
I cough, surprised. My throat twists uncomfortably, and it takes me a couple of solid breaths to get a hold on myself.
“Ah, no. Stella and I have never dated.”
“Do you ever run out of questions?”
“Not ever.” She turns playful again, and I’m done doing this the careful way. If she wants a rebellion, I’ll be the one to give it to her. I want her against me, and I’m tired of waiting.
I pull her forward, insinuating my knees between hers, and her body naturally follows, settling across my thighs. Her lips part, but she catches herself before she gasps this time. I keep her steady with my hands at her waist and say, “I’ll make you a deal. A question for a kiss.”
Tentatively, she lays her palms against my shoulders. They rest there, her grip light and casual. She ponders my offer for a moment, and it drives me mad that she can do that while our hips are inches away from alignment.
“Okay then. Are you—”
I cut her off. “Not so fast, Dylan Brenner. I’ve already answered one question. We’ve got to settle up first.”
I wrap her braid around my hand like I’ve been waiting to do all night, and I use it to pull her head back just enough that I can crush my mouth against hers.
Interview with Cora!
I know you’re the daughter of a football coach and that it has played a large part of your life. Would you let your son play football? We know a lot more about the dangers of the contact, would you let your child risk it? (I’m a football mom, I totally understand the thrill of the game and the pride of having my son on the field!)
Oh man. Tough question. I’m not a Mom, so this isn’t a decision I have to make, but if I did, I would let my kid play. I’d make sure he was old enough and his coach was capable of teaching kids the safe ways to tackle and play. But there’s a thousand things in this world that are dangerous. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be done, just that the decision should be weighed carefully. My bigger concern in letting my imaginary kid play football would be about his mentality and personality. Football is great for a lot of kids. It can turn them into leaders and hard workers. But I’ve also seen teams taint good boys, warp their values and sense of self. It can be dangerous, the way some places (Texas especially) coddle and spoil athletes. I’d be more worried about my kid falling prey to that than an injury.
Are we going to see a book about Stella at some point? While she hasn’t been a large part of the story thus far, she has certainly packed a punch in the scenes she’s in. Do you see her ever settling down?
That’s definitely the plan. I don’t have dates or a title yet, but it’s my intention that book four will be about Stella. She’s absolutely one of my favorite characters, and as I’m writing she continually wriggles her way into stories because I just can’t help myself. Stella’s book will either be the best book I’ve ever written or the worst. She is so real in my head, so complex and nuanced, and I just hope I can do justice to that in my head. As for whether or not she’ll settle down… I guess we’ll see. I hesitate to make any predictions because she as a character has a history of going rogue and hijacking what I *thought* I was writing.
College life is often synonymous with drugs and alcohol. Do you feel the added pressure on athletes to perform can sometimes push them towards use and abuse?
Absolutely. If you’ve read both books in my Rusk series, you’ll note that both are relatively light, but they tackle some difficult and timely subjects. It’s important to me not to romanticize football. Yes, it’s a great sport that brings people together, but there’s an ugly side to it also. And I like examining how good people can get caught in that undertow.
Interview with Dylan!
Now that you’re dating an athlete, can you see yourself becoming an activist for sports-related causes? In the book there is a very defining event that takes place involving Stella, can you see yourself championing that cause?
I have every intention of being there for Stellla in whatever way she’ll allow, but that has less to do with sports and with being an activist, and more to do with being a friend and a woman. And as far as my future in activism… Maybe it will be sports related. Maybe it won’t. I’ll support what I’m passionate about, what pricks my compassion. I spent a long time doing what was expected of me, but now I’m just following my own instincts and desires.
How have your new friends reacted towards Matt? Do they know he is bisexual? How do you (did they) think they’ll react?
You know… They’ve been pretty silent about it. For the most part, I think they were more disturbed about his fanboy tendencies than his sexuality. But Matt is one of those guys you can’t help but like. And growing up in Texas has made him hyper aware of his public and private personas. So he doesn’t typically push his preferences in people’s faces. Maybe someday we’ll live in a world where he doesn’t have to censor his words and actions in fear of who is listening.
Have your parents come around on your relationship with Silas? Have they given up on a reconciliation with Henry?
My parents are… Trying. It helps that both Silas and I are incredibly stubborn. We have the occasional dinner with them, and while it’s not comfortable per say, we’re all there. And that’s how it has to start.
That’s all I have, thanks for the opportunity and for sharing Dylan and Silas’s story!
Thank you for having us!
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About Cora 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.