Author: Amy Jo Cousins
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Pages/Word Count: 317 Pages
At a Glance: Off Campus is a wonderful, emotional, touching, and ultimately uplifting read I highly recommend.
Reviewed By: Jules
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.
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: Tom and Reese. *sigh* Both of these guys are so broken, and seemingly hanging on by a thread, Tom even more so than Reese. Reese is suffering from PTSD and definitely has a lot of healing to do, but Tom’s trauma is even fresher, and is also, unfortunately, ongoing. It’s different to have had something terrible happen to you, and to be dealing with the aftereffects, and beginning to face your demons through the healing process, than it is to still be living with your nightmare currently, on a day-to-day basis.
Tom Worthington has been going through the roughest time in his life for the past two years. He is completely broke and desperately trying to make enough money to cover his next tuition payment. The aftermath of his father’s imprisonment, and basically having to become a shut-in to avoid the press, have taken a huge toll on Tom, but the thing he has to learn is that he doesn’t have to be alone, and that he’s going to have to start trusting some people again in order to make it through to the other side.
Reese, the roommate to whom Tom is assigned when he starts back to school, is completely fabulous. Snarky, sassy, and sexy – I loved him almost immediately. When he stops judging Tom and trying to get rid of him by throwing his one-night-stands in his face, he becomes even more loveable. Reese’s strength is amazing. We see how vulnerable he is when Tom first gets to the apartment; he is visibly terrified. But, we also quickly find out how fierce and strong he is, and that he will do anything for his man.
The dialogue in the book is fantastic. There is some great banter between Reese and Tom, but even more epic is the stuff that comes out of Tom’s friend Cash’s mouth. I looooooved Cash, and Reese’s best friend, Steph, as well. There is no doubt that the chemistry between Reese and Tom is on fire – but so is the ‘friend’ chemistry between Tom and Cash. And when those four team up, they are a force to be reckoned with.
I did feel like the conflict in the story was somewhat drawn out. There was a lot of Tom beating himself up and refusing to accept help and not communicating with Reese, thereby causing scads of relationship tension, which obviously a story needs to a certain degree – I just felt like it all went on for a bit too long. The resolution, however, is extremely satisfying, and everyone gets to play a part. Reese’s dad is amazing. Cash is amazing. Watching both Tom’s and Reese’s growth is amazing. And I also really like that the antagonist, Jack, gets to have his story further explored in the next book.
I was introduced to Amy Jo Cousins through her short novella Five Dates, which I completely adored. In that story I fell in love with her easygoing style and humor, and my love of her writing continued in Off Campus. The author has such a knack for writing believable young guys, and, in general, characters you love and want to root for. Off Campus is a wonderful, emotional, touching, and ultimately uplifting read I highly recommend. The follow up, Nothing Like Paris, is definitely on my list as well!!
You can buy Off Campus here: