Review: Off Campus by Amy Jo Cousins


Title: Off Campus (Bend or Break #1)
Author: Amy Jo Cousins
Date of publication: 30 Dec 2014
Genre/Themes: Romance, New Adult, m/m

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My rating: 4 stars


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.


I've been on an m/m romance streak in my reading lately and as hesitant as I am about New Adult college stories this days, I was intrigued by the blurb of this book and decided to give it a try.

It's my first book by Amy Jo Cousins and I quite like her writing style. It's enganging and emotional without being melodramatic. It's an angsty story with some drama but I found it fitting the college experience and the age of the characters (they are all in their early twenties).

Both Tom and Reese have a lot of baggage, more than the average college student but their portrayal felt realistic and convincing. I felt connected to them, understood their issues and wanted badly things to work out well for both of them.

It's a story of discovering who you are and being comfortable in your own skin, about overcoming pain and trauma. The emotional scars come in different forms for Tom and Reese but they have made both of them distrustful of others, hiding away off campus.

Outwardly Tom and Reese and complete opposites -  Reese is openly gay, flamboyant, dealing with the aftermath of an assault he suffered, while Tom is just trying to figure out who he is while hiding away from everyone and working hard to make it on his own after father pulled a Ponzi scheme and he lost everything he had. 

Their relationship was quite interesting - it was full of tension and issues and fight, yet the feeling between them were real an the attraction was undeniable. It was all about building trust, opening to each other. Yet their love was not enough for them to overcome their issues. They needed outside help and I was glad that they did look for it and got it in the end.

I liked the supporting characters a lot and I feel that Steph and Cash totally deserve a story of their own. Reese's dad was also great. 

Having said all this, I had some minor issues with this story. I hated when Tom kept referring to Reese as "kid" at the beginning.

Another issue I had is related to a particular event in their sexual relationship. At some point things got rocky between Tom and Reese and there was a lot of mistrust and anger between them. I felt that this act was supposed about love and trust , yet its timing when their relationship was its lowest really and they were the most distant from one another didn't fit the characters and the story. 

Overall, it's an emotional, intense story which made me care deeply for the characters and root for their HEA. I'd recommend this book to all fans of New Adult romance who love refreshing stories with some angst, some drama, some laughs and a lot of love and passion

The book in the series, Nothing like Paris, will be about Jack who was quite a villain here and it releases in March 2015.

Pre-order links: Amazon / B & N / Kobo iBooks

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