Friday, 13 November 2015

Review: The Hook Up (Game On, #1) - Kristen Callihan

The rules: no kissing on the mouth, no staying the night, no telling anyone, and above all… No falling in love.
Anna Jones just wants to finish college and figure out her life. Falling for star quarterback Drew Baylor is certainly not on her to do list. Confident and charming, he lives in the limelight and is way too gorgeous for his own good. If only she could ignore his heated stares and stop thinking about doing hot and dirty things with him. Easy right?
Too bad he’s committed to making her break every rule… 
Football has been good to Drew. It’s given him recognition, two National Championships, and the Heisman. But what he really craves is sexy yet prickly Anna Jones. Her cutting humor and blatant disregard for his fame turns him on like nothing else. But there’s one problem: she's shut him down. Completely. 
That is until a chance encounter leads to the hottest sex of their lives, along with the possibility of something great. Unfortunately, Anna wants it to remain a hook up. Now it’s up to Drew to tempt her with more: more sex, more satisfaction, more time with him. Until she’s truly hooked. It's a good thing Drew knows all about winning. 
All’s fair in love and football…Game on.

New Adult books are a genre that I'm still having to encourage devoted romance fans to read. The collegiate setting of most of the genre is perfect for those of us that still indulge in a good high school romance movie with the added bonus of the heat of a romance novel.

Drew and Anna are an intense young couple but believable for all that. The whirl of emotion and lust that engulfs them is portrayed well by Callihan who tells their story through a well crafted dual POV. Drew and Anna's burgeoning relationship is covered in enough detail to add realism but is fast paced enough to keep the reader gripped.

The sport element of the book is also really enjoyable. A fan of adult romance series with sports themes (such as Rachel Gibson's Chinhook's Hockey Team series and Jill Shalvis' Pacific Heat series) the football element really appealed to me. American football still isn't hugely well known in the UK so the insight in to the college football system was really interesting, as well as a great way to add something new to both the sport romance and new adult genres. Now, I'm not so naive to think that this is an entirely unique plot, I read a similar book involving hockey just this week, but it was new enough to me to be refreshing and engaging.

Whilst Drew and Anna are perhaps young enough to annoy some readers with their drama and inevitable mistakes and misunderstandings, to me they read little different to most romantic heroes. Arguably, the novel's main dramatic arc is a little contrived and the personal conflict is perhaps resolved a little too quickly, but Callihan makes up for that with some considerable emotional depth and tension. Anna's journey in particular will resonate with many a reader who's always been unsure of themselves and struggled with their self confidence.

Fairly indicative of the NA genre as a whole, The Hook Up is not without it's fair share of steamy scenes, pretty much from the get go. For those that enjoy that, I can confidently say that the sexual tension, passion and intimate scenes are some of the most well crafted that I've read and are woven into the plot nicely, not just shoved in towards the end to fill a requirement.

What initially promises to be a repeat of a fairly typical NA read, The Hook Up is executed with enough talent and promise to keep the most hardened romance reader happy. Callihan is certainly going on my list of go-to authors when I want that emotional, sexy and uplifting romance read.

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