ARC Review: The Hook Up (Game On #1) by Kristen Callihan

imageMy faith in new adult may be restored. That’s a pretty major statement coming from someone who had given up on New Adult for a while now. Many reasons have informed this choice…

Mainly, I’m a long ways removed from the late high school, college stage of life, so it’s sometimes hard to relate to story lines with melodramatic, immature heroes and heroines with damaged souls or whiny and TSTL heroines.

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That doesn’t describe all books in the New Adult romance genre..(namely in the case of The Hook Up), but there are a lot that do; most times I don’t know if the book fits into this category or not until it’s too late too turn back.

The Hook Up came recommended by Mandi at smexybooks in August. There I was innocently scrolling my Twitter timeline when she tweeted that she’s not a fan of NA, but this book is one of best of the year for her…without any qualifiers.

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The book hadn’t released yet, so I added it to my TBR as a “wait and see”…meaning if I read other reliably favorable reviews once the book released, I’d give it a chance to wow me. Lo and behold, a few days later I received an email from the author’s publicist providing me with an ARC of the book about 2 weeks before the official release.  I’m all for a free book, but I was still hesitant as to whether it was the book for me.

The Hook Up features Anna and Drew, two college students who meet in a senior philosophy class.  There’s a spark at first sight between them, but Drew sticks his foot in his mouth when he approaches Anna the first time.  From that point on, Anna goes out of her way to ignore or avoid Drew around campus. An almost impossible task since everyone on campus knows Drew “Battle Baylor,” the star quarterback who all the guys want to hang with and all the girls want to hand their panties on a silver platter. Except Anna.  Anna is not a party girl or a cheerleader; she’s not at all interested in football or Drew’s fame or his NFL future. That’s exactly why Drew can’t get Anna out of his mind.

After two semi-public and panty melting encounters, Anna realizes that this ‘thing’ between them isn’t going to end as quickly as she thought, so Anna sets some ground rules for their “hook up”…

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Drew, on the other hand, is half in love with Anna after weeks of wry banter in class and their boiling sexual chemistry. Drew knows if he pushes her for more than sex, Anna’ll run, so he follows advice he remembered from his dad…

“Never force something, Drew. A bolt, a pass, a game, whatever. Force it and you’ll lose. Patience and persistence is how you win in life. Take your time, look for the solution, and if it doesn’t come to you, fall back, reassess, and try again.” 

I liked who each of these MCs were separately and together.  Drew isn’t just the one dimensional big man on campus. Drew’s smart, sweet and grounded.  Drew realizes his position comes with responsibility, which is a blessing and a curse when everyone wants a piece of him. Anna harbors some real scars from her high school years spent as an ”outsider”.  Anna isn’t exactly the same person she was in high school, but she’s still not one of the “cool kids” like Drew and his friends, so believing that Drew and she will be a true love match is understandably hard for her.

I thoroughly enjoyed Anna and Drew’s journey.  There was some good snark and witty banter between these two from the very beginning.  A good, healthy amount of hot sexy times.  And as the story progresses, seriously palpable emotion between Drew and Anna that might make you shed a tear or five.

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Another issue I sometimes have with NA is that characters feel either too mature or too young for how old they are supposed to be.  Here, I never felt like Drew and Anna (nor their friends) were written in a way that made me think they were anything other than the ages the author has portrayed them. For where they are in their lives, what they’re doing and dealing with was 100% believable. Lastly, the secondary characters were intriguing enough to make me want to read their stories in the future.  I will continue to follow this series and I will check out Ms. Callihan’s backlist, as this was my first book by her.

My one and only issue with this book was the cover art.  I envisioned Drew more like…

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The cover definitely doesn’t do Drew the justice he deserved.

I will be on the look out for Gray’s book, The Friend Zone, next year.

*ARC provided by author in exchange for an honest review.*

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
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3 thoughts on “ARC Review: The Hook Up (Game On #1) by Kristen Callihan

    1. Thank you, Amber! On the heels of the release of book 2 (Gray’s book), the cover was revised for The Hook Up.*applause* It’s 1000x better!! Makes me want to re-read this one :).

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