Monday, 8 June 2015
#CBR7 Book 57: "The Hook Up" by Kristen Callihan
Rating: 4 stars
Anna was either bullied or completely ignored in high school. With the exception of a few loyal friends, she was pretty much a social outcast. She has worked hard to become comfortable with herself and her body image. So when her college's star quarterback addresses her as "Big Red" in one of their shared classes, he instantly earns her animosity. Drew Baylor is tall, gorgeous, extremely athletic and popular in all areas of college life. As Anna just wants to keep her head down and finish college without attracting undue attention, he's pretty much her polar opposite. She's unsure why he even spoke to her, but they are from different worlds and she sees no reason why she needs to fawn over Drew, like everyone else.
Drew knows how lucky and privileged he is. He's a star on the football field, but works equally hard to excel in his other academic subjects, knowing that the chances of injury for a professional football player are high. Having lost his parents in a car accident, his team mates are pretty much his family. As the star quarterback, he has women constantly approaching him, but the only one he's interested in is the imperious and stubborn Anna, who won't give him the time of day. He watches her in class, wondering how to get a second chance to impress her, as it's quite clear she's completely unfazed by his prowess on the football field.
When Anna's room mate drags her to a frat party, Anna and Drew meet in a new arena. Sparks fly, turning absolutely scorching. In the coming days, they keep finding excuses to hook up. Anna is very clear that she doesn't want it to become official, and would prefer them to keep it only about the physical. Drew quickly determines that Anna is the only one he wants, he just needs to work diligently to win her over.
A lot of the New Adult books out there seem to be about a studious, often shy and sexually inexperienced young woman falling for some sort of emotionally scarred bad boy. The only previous book in the sub-genre I've genuinely loved is Trade Me by Courtney Milan. In that as in this, both protagonists have emotional baggage, and neither is exactly virginal. As in Milan's first foray into the sub-genre, the guy is the one who's the most emotionally committed, with the girl being reluctant to commit long term. With the exceptions of his team mates and coaches, Drew has no one and is ready to make a deeper connection with someone. Unlike several of his fellow football players, he's not really interested in the casual hook-ups with the many beautiful, but frequently fame-hungry women throwing themselves at him.
In addition to a whole host of confidence issues because of being bullied when she was younger, Anna also has severe trust issues. Her father abandoned her and her mother when she was little, and her mother seems to be a magnet for douchy guys who take advantage of her and frequently make Anna feel uncomfortable. Most of them end up cheating eventually. Anna's room mate is dating the captain of the lacrosse team, who pretty much treats her like dirt. So Anna's view of men in general is not great, and her trust issues are understandable. Drew is the most popular guy at their college, and she's aware of how much attention he gets at all time. She doesn't believe that there is anything about her that could hold his interest for very long. Of course, her resolve to keep everything in their relationship about the purely physical starts to erode the more time they spend together.
The book alternates between Anna and Drew's points of view, frequently letting the reader see the scenes through both protagonists' eyes and because Callihan lets us inside both parties of the romance, it's really clear how they feel about each other at all times. Drew is instantly smitten with Anna, and curses himself for making such a bad first impression on her. Anna is wholly uninterested in sports, and having been a social outcast in the past, disbelieving that any guy as gorgeous and popular as Drew could actually have any real and lasting interest in her. Of course, as it turns out, it's her being so reluctant to really commit that ends up really endangering their future relationship.
Once both parties acknowledge that they're crazy about each other and Anna works through her trust issues, an additional complication is thrown in their way. Suddenly Drew's insecurities come into play, and Anna needs to prove her commitment to him, in order for the couple to find their ultimate HEA. For those of a pearl-clutching disposition, be aware that there are a lot of steamy sex scenes in this book. More so than I am used to in contemporary romance. I didn't really feel that it got in the way of the characters' emotional journey, but if you like your romances lighter on the graphic sex (who are you and why are you reading my blog?), then you may want to give this one a miss.
Crossposted on Cannonball Read.