Series: Radleigh University #2
Published by The Author on March 15th, 2016
On the lacrosse field, Cait Johannssen gets what she wants. Off the field is another story. Because what she wants is the school's hot new basketball student-coach, Lawrence Mason, who also happens to be the guy who broke her heart in sports camp two years earlier.
But it's Cait's new roommate who's got him.
Cait and Mase agree it's best to keep their past a secret, but she doesn't expect him to completely ignore their history...or how much it'll hurt when he does. So when a friend on the basketball team asks her to pose as his girlfriend for a night, Cait can't turn down the opportunity for distraction. (Okay, and a little spite.) But what starts as an evening of fun turns into a fake relationship with more lies than the usually drama-free Cait can handle, and it's only keeping her from the one truth that's nagged at her for years: Why did Mase cut her out of his life to begin with?
And is it really too late to get him back?
You know New Adult isn’t my favorite – though I am getting there and I have downloaded a handful of recommendations from trusted friends. View Spoiler » Yes, that trusted friend is Dahlia. « Hide Spoiler But all of that hesitation is thrown out the window when Dahlia releases a new book in her Radleigh University companion series. I love these girls, I love Dahlia’s writing, and I know her romances are going to be exciting and dynamic across categories. So of course I downloaded this the second I was able and got straight to reading.
I went into this expecting to be blown away by this epic second-chance romance, but what really kicked it for me was Cait herself. Cait is my new favorite NA heroine (replacing Lizzie from the first book in this series.) She is so fierce, so vulnerable, and brings a level of badass not before seen in contemporary. When I was in high school I was seriously competitive about soccer and so I could relate to Cait on that level – the amount of passion and drive it takes to succeed the way Cait has was admirable. I loved that we got to see the full spectrum of sports devotion, from the way it can be something fun to do on a weekend, all the way to pure immersion, a way to lose yourself and a way to find yourself. Giving a character this level of LOVE for something is always a way to win my heart, and when it’s something that I relate to, it’s even better.
Cait’s arc through the book is one that’s so, so important to me also. While she does not face the level of monumental tragedy that Lizzie does in Last Will and Testament, she is steal dealing with some family drama. Her parents have been divorced for a while and suddenly her father springs on her that he’s marrying his much, much younger PREGNANT receptionist. Oh and he’s moving across the country. OH AND the wedding date is the single most important date on Cait’s lacrosse calendar. I don’t read a lot of NA or even A, but still I have not seen any book dealing so well with navigating your relationship with your parents as an adult. Cait is tasked with making important decisions regarding her relationship with her father and her relationship with herself. She battles a fear of potential regret no matter which path she chooses. I loved that Dahlia was able to show us that being selfish is not inherently wrong and sometimes you have to do things for you no matter what anyone else thinks. This message resonated so well with me as someone who doesn’t speak to an entire half of her family.
Another thing I absolutely loved about this book was the friendship between Cait, Lizzie, and Frankie. They started out as roommates but the Situation from the previous book meant that Lizzie and Frankie moved to an off-campus apartment. But this lack of physical closeness doesn’t disrupt their friendship at all. I loved their bond and the way they knew what the other needed. What struck me a lot was how Lizzie’s experiences in Last Will and Testament informed her character in Right of First Refusal. And oooobviously Frankie is still my fave. I just adored every moment these girls spent together, from dress shopping to meals at the diner, to posing for Frankie’s paintings. There’s never a dull moment with these three.
So it’s easy to see how the romance took a backseat in my love for this thing. And this romance was… complicated and not my favorite. Cait is fake dating a friend to help him hide his relationship with another guy, and I do love the tension that brings. But there was one major component to this romance that made me not LOVE it the way I usually love Dahlia’s romances, and that was the cheating. While nothing physically happened between Mase and Cait while Mase was still dating CAIT’S ROOMMATE, there was still a major level of deception going on and in my opinion, emotional cheating. I hated the lying. I did appreciate that Cait hated the lying too, and felt terrible for sneaking around. I do also realize that Cait didn’t even really know Andi, so the level of betrayal wasn’t strong. But it didn’t sit right with me.
However, I still loved both Cait and Mase. Cait I’ve already explained is so passionate and driven, it’s hard not to like her. She’s very expressive, whether she admits it or not. Mase, on the other hand, is completely closed off. They bonded over sports when they were teens, but now that they don’t have that in common anymore, they need to learn how to relate to one another again. And yes, there is some anger and some resentment there that they need to work through. And sometimes I just wanted to shake Mase and ask him, what the fuck is wrong with you. He was very much a hot-and-cold love interest, which can be great for tension but it can also get annoying very quickly. Couple this with Cait’s cluelessness about Mase’s obvious feelings for her, and it had me frustrated more than I wanted it to be. But The Moment when it all came together still had me teary, so what the hell do I know.
I have to hand it to Dahlia once again for incorporating realistic levels of diversity in her books. Cait is the whitest kind of white bread out there, but there was a ton of very real-world-feeling racial diversity and a smattering of queer characters. I loved that this was an interracial romance and that the racial differences weren’t ignored.
One other thing that I absolutely LOVED about this book? Frankie and Samara. Frankie’s romance is coming next and I just already love them. Samara is wonderful and I cannot wait to get to know her better. And Frankie is this hilarious ball of sexual energy. Seeing them flirt was adorable in this book and it made me crave Out on Good Behavior like air. GIMME.
If you haven’t at least started the Radleigh University series yet, you are sorely missing out. Dahlia Adler is a magician with character – every single character from the main leads, to the best friends, to the lacrosse teammates were all fleshed out and felt so authentic and real on the page. The relationships were complex and nuanced, with the bold, powerful friendship between Cait, Lizzie, and Frankie taking center stage. Cait is a flawed heroine with a lot of work to do on herself, but her story is an important one, especially for new adults navigating this new kind of relationship with their parents. I loved so much of this book, and if you love contemporary romances, I think you will too.