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Off Campus

Bend or Break, Book 1
Narrated by: Cooper North
Series: Bend or Break, Book 1
Length: 10 hrs and 28 mins
4 out of 5 stars (14 ratings)

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Summary

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 of 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.

©2014 Amy Jo Cousins (P)2016 Insatiable Press

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A great read by Cooper North....

This is still my favourite story of the Bend or Break series...full of angst, bittersweet moments and some hot sexy times thrown in for good measure. Cooper North was a new narrator to me [I now know he'll be narrating the rest of the series], and I thought he did a really good job with sexy, growly, insecure Tom and younger, more experienced but wary Reese.

When I shelve this as intense, I mean that there was a lot of angst...BUT there were humorous touches too. Yes, there were lots of 'should I throttle or hug him now?? ' moments as far as Tom was concerned, although given what he'd gone through and was still going through to some extent, I was really glad he made it to the other side with his head more or less intact. Reese, well he'd had a helluva time already at Uni, and for these two broken guys to get together when one of them wasn't even certain he was gay, took exceptional writing....and this book had that in spades!! For a writer relatively new to the m/m genre, credit to Amy Jo for the realistic way she wrote the characters and some of the scenes.

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  • Morgan A Skye
  • 07-10-16

Very powerful, sweet, good narration

I started reading this book – intending to maybe only skim it – so that I could read books 6 and 7 which I’ve been asked to review. I thought I’d get some background and leave it at that. (Don’t ask why I hadn’t read it before now – I don’t know either!)

I couldn’t put it down!

I loved all of it from start to finish!

Tom’s father disgraced the family and Tom has been hiding from the paparazzi and broke and is struggling to make his own – legit – money to finish school so he can hold his head up high and make his way in the world on his own merits. He finally scrapes together enough cash to make the payments and finds his roommate in off campus housing is a gay kid with a huge chip on his shoulder.

Reese had been told that he’d be getting a single dorm room after his last dorm-mates were involved in doing something terrible to Reese. So he’s understandably wary of a roommate, especially another jock. Little does he know that he has nothing to fear from Tom.

Tom had previous experience in being “bi-curious” but still identifies as straight, until… he overhears his roomie having sex and can’t help but be turned on.

What starts out as a love/hate relationship between these guys slowly develops into a slow burn romance. Then… just as things are warming up between the two of them sexually – their friendship ends up straining the limits as both of them are in denial of their need to seek help for their hang-ups and the other is in no position to offer mental help advice.

Luckily they have friends like Cash and Steph who help them see the light and to keep them from disintegrating as a couple.

**

This book is full of pain, real people, funny lines, lots of angst and some seriously steamy times.

I just fell in love with Tom – even though sometimes I wanted to strangle him for his near-sightedness. He’s such a big hearted guy and the perfect anchor for the more high-strung and emotional Reese.

Reese – however – is the braver of the two – and though he hides his pain in ways that are unhealthy – he doesn’t let tragedy take him away from life.

I really appreciated that though this is a solidly HEA story – the couple faces real struggles and they don’t just magically disappear because one guy said I love you to the other.

Highly recommended.

4.5 of 5 stars

Audio
Cooper North is a new to me narrator. I really like his voice quality. He definitely knows the difference between "reading" and "performing". He's great with the emotion, dialog, physical scenes and pacing. I thought his take on Reese was PERFECT. This is absolutely the best way to enjoy this story and is highly recommended!
5 of 5 stars

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Profile Image for ML
  • ML
  • 18-10-16

Exceeds Expectations Should Be Cousins' Job Title

Would you listen to Off Campus again? Why?

I will absolutely listen to Off Campus again. The intonation of the voice actor was spot on how I heard Tom and Reese in my head. Kudos to Cooper North.

What did you like best about this story?

The honesty and lyrical flow of the words building into sentences crafting paragraphs and chapters ... I can't get enough of Cousins' writing!

4 people found this helpful

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  • April 🎧 Reads
  • 21-04-20

Solid New Adult Romance

I have so many feelings about this book. I liked listening to it. I was rooting for the MCs. Man, Reese and Tom came with a lot of baggage. Both hurting, both coping unhealthily. I fell in love with Reese. His character is the most real to me. The trauma he suffered isn’t something easily overcome. But I love
his spirit. He’s relentless and so brave.
Tom, well he’s what we call an entitled brat who got a solid dose of reality but couldn’t deal so he became a royal mess. I felt bad for him, but his inner dialogues with all the negativity was really driving me
crazy. But I’m glad he persevered and overcame.

The pacing of the story may seem slow, but it’s the right pace. Nothing is forced and nothing was fastly tied up for HEA sake. It took time and some growth. In that sense, it makes the story so realistic.

The secondary and supporting characters are the best. Specially Reese’s father. No wonder Reese is such an awesome human being.

Cooper North did a great job with the narration.

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  • Katy Beth
  • 14-04-20

Angst and Healing

The narration for this audio version is done really well.
This story is full of angst since both main characters have a bunch of stuff that they are dealing with. Because of this they are both in atypical housing. At first they seem to almost repel each other. But they are also drawn together as well. Reese is the first to seem to reach out for a change in his life and this ultimately causes lots of trouble for their budding relationship. Tom has a lot to come to grips with but it was great to finally see him take action. There is a wonderful supportive cast to this story that help keep these two from bottoming out.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Aethena Drake
  • 24-03-20

Great story. Great narration.

This wasn't my usual sort of read. I tend to prefer a bit more mystery and suspense in my reads, but this book was well constructed and packed full of intense emotions.

The narrator also did an excellent job with the characters.

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  • Michelle
  • 29-01-20

Great Story , BUT

Is there a word requirement ?? Holy cow ! - there’s a whole paragraph describing why Tom is wearing a dress shirt to drive (halfway through the book) but his 6/8 weeks self improvement gets less than a chapter . Also the writer relies TOO much on back telling . Instead of starting at the beginning of an event she brings us in at the end and THEN tells what happened .
wish I had bought the book instead of the audio so I could skim. The narrator was great ! And the story was interesting but Christ! more than once I forgot what the MC’s conversation was about because I had to hear another 10 minute internal monologue

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  • wagner82
  • 01-11-19

love it

loved the book and it was awesome hearing these guys come to life. great narration!

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  • Lifesavr
  • 27-09-19

A great story, which I wish was truer.

I wish guys like Tom would happen more often. I truly feel men are missing out being so homophobic. Only when you are dating your own sex can so much of being a man can truly be explored. Our society has a gift and we look at it as a curse. Typical human.

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  • <Stacy> @SoCalBookReviews
  • 19-04-18

Off Campus

There are things about this story that I liked, and also things that totally irritated me about these characters. Overall the writing for this book was done well, just personal preference *Tom bugs me*.. LOL.
I love the whole Premise of College Guys being thrown together as roommates and then becoming Closer as they are stuck spending more time together. Also there are scenes in this book that are totally completely HOT to me. Voyerism, written at its best.. These characters both have a lot to deal with emotionally during the course of this book and its kind of hard to determine where they will end up, and whether they will actually even be together, but it does end with a HEA.. Just not a very exciting one. I wanted more when the inevitable Break up / get back together happened and it just didn't feel like enough..
Tom - Dealing with the blowback of his fathers Ponzi scheme. Trying to make enough money on the side to get through college. Refuses help from everyone. Martyr. Jock. Introvert whos afraid of being friends with anyone, and letting anyone in. Not sure if he's gay or straight or bi, or whatever. Worries constantly about what every single person he doesn't even know thinks about him. Inner-monologue every detail of his life to death. UUGGHHH.. He is Frustrating and I wanted to Shake him on more than one occasion, especially for some of the times he treats Reese like crap.
Reese - Sometimes Hard to like. Unapologetically gay. Defensive. Fragile. Tries to push everyone away, especially his stupid roommate. Dealing with some leftover PTSD from his previous college year. Just wants his boyfriend to not be ashamed of being in public with him. You cant help but like him....
Audio - I liked this one.. I just cant decide if I liked reading this book or listening to it better, and I guess it doesn't really matter since I have both options now. Cooper North is a pretty dependable narrator, getting the story out with no errors. He makes sure that the characters are all different so you don't get lost listening to him, and instead you will get more of the actual story. I think he did good with this one for sure and I would recommend others to give it a chance and listen to the Audio version.

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Profile Image for Diane Magnin
  • Diane Magnin
  • 04-03-18

Cute and steamy

Would you listen to Off Campus again? Why?
I went into this book wanting a cliche sexy jock/cute artistic kid college romance, and boy did that aspect deliver. But this book has one of the most realistic and supportive gay relationships I've ever seen in a New Adult/Adult Romance?

If you could take any character from Off Campus out to dinner, who would it be and why?
I love to treat Reese to a round of virgin cocktails. He seems like such a fun guy.

Any additional comments?
Overall, just a cute, romantic book. It's super low key and not very dramatic, so I wouldn't recommend it to those who want a thriller. I liked that part of it, as it's not the norm in NA.

#romance #lgbtqia+ #m/m #sexy #steamy #feels #chillstory #college #tagsgiving #sweepstakes