Kristen Callihan – The Hook Up (Game On, #1) | Review

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The Hook Up is a romance novel by Kristen Callihan featuring a football player Drew and a somewhat average-but-not-really girl named Anna.The story starts on the first day of the semester when they meet in a class.

“I’m not going to say it was love at first sight. No, it was more like oh, hell-yes-please, I’ll have that. With a helping of right-the-fuck-now on the side.”

They are both instantly attracted to one another, however, Anna is hesitant to admit it. She does her best to avoid Drew, but fails miserably since he is the only thing she thinks about. He makes it his life mission to annoy her until she breaks and says yes to his offer to hang out. The do hook up, very early in the book in fact. However… she plans to leave it as just a hook up. She doesn’t let him kiss her nor wants people to know about them. The secrecy isn’t what Drew want as he has been falling in love with her from the moment they first met.

I really enjoyed reading this book. As expected, Callihan’s writing is phenomenal! The plot is fast-paced but not underdeveloped, the characters fit into a type but break out of it at the same time, the tropes are present but once again Callihan twists them beautifully.

What I really appreciated in this book is how Callihan did a role reversal with the trope of a protagonist being emotionally unavailable and hesitant. Sincerely, I enjoy the heck out of that trope. And in this book the female protagonist was the one to “suffer” from the condition – and I really liked it. It isn’t completely uncommon to have a female protagonist to be unavailable, however, it is less common and often done badly. Callihan did it great. Anna’s character had depth, her emotions were strong and conflicted. We clearly saw the turmoil inside her as the book progressed. It was lifelike and I was able to identify with her.

“Why won’t you let me kiss you, Anna?”
I can’t breathe.
“Why, Anna?”
“It’s too much,” I rasp.
“Not when I want everything.” He says it so deep and strong, a staking of a claim. “And I want everything with you, Anna.”

One more thing I’ve noticed Callihan does really well is mental illness representation. I’ve read about her a bit and also read in her author’s note in the book Fall from her VIP series that she has suffered from depression herself. I think it is great that she has incorporated this experience into her books, especially since it isn’t the main focus of the plot. As in life! She shows us a character how is mentally unwell and also shows us that there are thing that can be done to make yourself feel better. Such positivity is incredibly welcome!

“I can try to be the best person I can be, but the world only wants to see one side of me. And I feel sick to my bones.”

The dialogue. Very realistic. Not cringy as in some other romance books!

Furthermore, I’d say Callihan excels in show-not-tell. Her descriptions are vast, but not long enough to bore you. She set an ambiance and characters naturally fall into it. They are very lifelike and I could quite literally see them as I read. This is something I appreciate greatly – a story that hooks me and doesn’t let go until I am finished. And then I’m sad it did finish.

I usually dislike sport romances. I find it boring to read about sport and sport trivia and people who do sports. In this book it was so minimal I didn’t even mind when I did come to a part where those descriptions prevailed. I’m planning to continue with the series!

I know that by now you must be tired of me hyping Kristen Callihan, but since I’ve been so annoying you should give her a try. Perhaps just to prove me wrong… (which you won’t.)

 

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