Monday, December 1, 2014

Review of Campus Cravings: Higher Learning MM Boxed Set

Campus Cravings
Campus Cravings by KyAnn Waters, Sara York, Cassandra Carr, Mia Downing, Bianca Sommerland, L.A. Witt, Annabeth Albert, Whitley Gray, & Dalton Diaz

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Private Lessons by KyAnn Waters - 4 stars
I don't recall the last time I was so frustrated for a character as I was for Ryan. To be failing a class not because you don't understand the material, not because you aren't doing the work, and not because you're not doing everything you're supposed to, but rather because your professor is a prick on a power trip with a bias against athletes. Thankfully his TA, Jake, was willing to tutor Ryan to see if he could help Ryan improve his grade. Now for the dilemma, Jake is out and Ryan is so far in the closet no one suspects he's gay – although Jake does hope. I have to say I found Ryan's reason for being in the closet one I haven't encountered before. While he had the expected worries about how others would react, it had more to do with not making his teammates uncomfortable in the locker room. I got the impression that Ryan knew he wanted to be a professional soccer player long before he knew he was gay, so the drive to protect the team dynamic actually made sense to me. I was disgusted by the professor's stunt and hated that Ryan had to deal with it. I was devastated when we learned that Jake had overheard part of the conversation. Fortunately Ryan made Jake listen to him and was able to explain what happened and remedy the situation. This was an enjoyable read and I look forward to checking out more of Ms. Water's work.

The Dust of Everyday Life by Sara York - 4 stars
I really enjoyed watching the blossoming of a relationship between Cole and Seever. Cole was absolutely too cute in his reaction to Seever's interest in him. He describes himself as a skinny nerd and goes so far as to ask Seever if he actually got a good look at him when Seever calls him sexy ... I literally laughed out loud. Seever is a sweetheart who is Cole's fantasy come to life – hot, sweet, and a swimmer. They both had a great group of friends who served as an enjoyable support system, especially when dealing with what Julia did to them. The Dust of Everyday Life was a great story, but I expected it to be as I've enjoyed everything of Ms. York's that I've read.

Eloquent Jock by Cassandra Carr - 5 stars
Talk about hot for teacher! I much prefer the student-teacher dynamic in this story to that of Private Lessons. I loved both Scott and Brendan's characters and couldn't help but feel bad for the situation the found themselves in – trying to balance professional demands with burgeoning feelings of love. What really pushed this story to a 5-star read for me was Tyler, Brendan's best friend, roommate, and team captain. I loved how supportive he was of Brendan. The only thing missing for me was that I would like to have an update on Scott’s book during the Epilogue. Great story.

Switching Leads by Mia Downing - 5 stars
I quite enjoyed this second chance romance between John, the equestrian coach, and Finn, his ex-boyfriend and newly hired assistant coach. After learning why their relationship dissolved a decade earlier, it was nice to see John open up to Finn and give Finn a chance to prove that he had indeed changed. The transformation that John undergoes from angry and bitter to happy and hopeful is refreshing. That the two are well-matched and sexy as sin just makes the read that much more enjoyable. This is one novella I would have really liked to read as a full-length book so that I could have spent more time with John and Finn.

Solid Education by Bianca Sommerland – 5 stars
As a fan of Ms. Sommerland’s I was not surprised that I loved this novella. While I don’t typically enjoy books in which a dog is the primary catalyst for a relationship or a main character (which is odd as I am a huge dog lover with two of my own), Gage’s military background and Derek’s career as a vet made Matty the perfect way for these two to find common ground. I must say that for a vet and adjunct college professor, Derek was a bit thick in accepting Gage’s feelings for him – there are actions that Gage took early in the book that clearly illustrated his interest in the man. Their chemistry together was intense and the library scene was HOT! I absolutely loved the way in which the story ended. It was perfect.

Did Somebody Order a Pizza? by L.A. Witt – 4 stars
This is by far my least favorite of the stories so far. It has nothing to do with the author’s style of writing because the story flows well and I enjoyed the writing. It’s the subject matter of hazing that made it less enjoyable for me. The fear and humiliation that pledges are subjected to by SOME fraternities is despicable and Ms. Witt has done an excellent job in creating a story centered around this reprehensible activity. That said, I really liked Paul and that he stood up for himself several times as Cory tried to reconcile with him. His refusal to back down from his firm disavowal of the Delta Sig fraternity was impressive, especially when it cost him the reconciliation with Cory. I was relieved that Cory did the right thing … eventually. Well done Ms. Witt.

Winning Bracket by Annabeth Albert – 4 stars
Super cute story. I adore Edwin. I can’t remember which of the previous stories mentioned him and relegated him to the position of the dorm’s noise police, so it was “nice” to get to meet him and read his story. Of course, Ollie is just as “cute” as can be. Watching the two of them together was certainly entertaining as they learned to navigate their feelings for one another. And once you read this story, you’ll understand the significance on the quoted words in my review.

Artistic Endeavor by Whitley Gray – 5 stars
I freaking loved Artistic Endeavor. I absolutely adore Cobey. I cannot even imagine what it must have been like to grow up gay in a fanatical religious family and have to hide who he was until he finished college. Cobey had an amazing attitude of acceptance for himself. I’ve known a couple of homosexual men who were raised Catholic and both grappled with the guilt their religious upbringing instilled about their homosexuality. As for Michael. Wow! Everyone deserves a first lover as patient and understanding as Michael. The chemistry between the two was electric and only intensified as they spent more time with one another. Another story with a beautiful ending.

Lesson Learned by Dalton Diaz – 5 stars
Lesson Learned is another great second-chance romance in the Campus Cravings collection. The flashbacks both Adam and Tyler have give you all the information needed to understand why both men are so raw in their reactions toward the other. Getting to watch them fall in love all over again, despite some bumps along the way made for an enjoyable read (as did the final bedroom scene). Also, I loved the way Tyler spoke up for Adam when the little prick of student, Luke, mouthed off. I suppose it was fitting symmetry that the first novella in the set included a professor who was a major prick and the final story ended with a student whose behavior rivaled that of said professor.

I received a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
Reviewed by Angela at Crystal's Many Reviewers!

Check out the Campus Cravings Spotlight blog post on Crystal's Many Reviewers.

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