Nov 22, 2015

Review: OFF CAMPUS (Bend or Break, #1) by Amy Jo Cousins


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.

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Rating: 3 stars.

A little while ago Real World caught my attention on NetGalley. I wanted to read it, so I requested it, and got approved. But before I could read it and see how Tom and Reese were doing five years into their relationship, I had to read Off Campus and see how it all started. Bend or Break series was one of those I wasn't sure if I really wanted to read or not, so getting that ARC made my decision. However, reading Off Campus had me questioning if it was the right one.

It started well enough.
Both Tom and Reese seemed like the characters I'd have liked to know more about, and I was looking forward to seeing how the romance developed between them. Tom obviously had a lot of baggage, and Reese appeared to have some secrets of his own. Plus, Reese couldn't have been less enthusiastic about having a roommate. Based on such beginning, I expected theirs would be roommates who can't stand each other to lovers type of romance, or maybe that was wishful thinking on my part. Either way, it didn't go as I imagined it would, which I would've been perfectly okay with had I found the story more interesting.

There isn't much going on in Off Campus plot-wise, or, at least, not in my opinion. It didn't take long for it to start dragging, and for me to start wishing the book had fewer pages. I still liked Tom and Reese, and I wanted to get to their happy ending, but, unfortunately, the story didn't hold my attention. I believe this was a case of bad timing. I've had a lot of my mind lately, and this would've worked much better if I had a more peaceful state of mind. Alas, there's no going back.

However, even with all my frustration over my lack of focus, I did enjoy getting to know these characters, even if one of them made me want to smack some sense into him. I'm, of course, referring to Tom, although I can't really blame him for having so little trust in people after so many betrayed him, nor can I blame him for wanting to stay away from everyone. His wanting to conceal his relationship with Reese, and the worrying someone might see them together wasn't easy for Reese, therefore I didn't like it, but still I understood. I'm not an expert on the behavior of people who went through what Tom, and Reese had, but it seemed plausible. I will say for Tom, his dedication to make it in life despite all the derailments his father's actions caused was commendable, though for his own good I wished he let someone give him a hand from time to time. Luckily, he had a boyfriend and two friends to teach him to have some faith in the people in his life.

What I missed in this book was Reese's POV. I kept waiting for it, but it never happened. It would've been very nice to have gotten to know him not only through what Tom thought and learned about him, and it also would've been nice to see Tom from another perspective.

Tom & Reese, given their pasts, had a lot of issues to work through, and having the fun Steph and Cash in their lives did them good. I know I liked whenever they were a part of a scene. I must make a note to read their novel when I get a chance. Their book I think I will have much more fun reading.

Overall, to me Off Campus was an okay book, one I wish I read at a different time, because I bet it could've been way better than okay. Ah, well, it is what it is. Time to see how how they're all doing five years later.

Until next time, happy reading!




  1. Hopefully the next will go better! Hard when it starts to drag.

    1. Definitely! Reading about likable characters is great, but I need something interesting happening, you know?
      The follow-up story was a bit better, and much shorter. :)


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