Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Hard Knox

HARD KNOX- The Outsider Chronicles, #1
By: Nicole Williams
Self Published
New Adult/Adult Contemporary
Released August 12, 2014
Kindle Edition
310 pages

Knox Jagger. The name inspires resent in every male at Sinclair University, want in every female, and contempt in Charlie Chase.
Charlie can be summed up in three words: independent, independent, and independent. To Charlie, Knox epitomizes everything that’s wrong with college males: prolific one-night stands, drunken senseless fights, and a body that hints at prioritizing gym time over study time.
As an up-and-coming writer for Sinclair University’s newspaper, Charlie’s tasked with getting to the bottom of who’s been dropping little white pills into girls’ drinks at parties. In an ocean of All-American boys sporting polo shirts and innocent smiles, Knox is the obvious suspect. As evidence piles up against the bad boy of Sinclair, Charlie becomes more and more certain it isn’t Knox. But when her drink is dosed at a party and she wakes up on Knox’s couch the next morning, Charlie’s left with more questions than answers when it comes to Knox Jagger.
How can Charlie ever hope to uncover the truth behind a guy so closed off he’s become . . .
Hard Knox.


I became a fan of Nicole Williams when she wrote the Crash Series. This series is a little different.  I love a great college aged romance, but this book has a little more "reality" to it than many books out there.  Yes, there's the good girl/bad boy pairing which we have seen before.  But this bad boy is just a little different, as is our good girl. 

Let me tell you about the fascinating characters in this story.

Charlie Chase, she isn't the naive virgin girl we often read about.  Yes, she a virgin, but she's not hiding from everyone. She's proud to let the entire Sinclair University know about her intact virginity via the school newspaper. Charlie is a journalism major and is always "looking for a story".  She attends frat parties under the ruse she's, well, there to party. However, she is there to observe how often party goers visit the keg for a future article on binge drinking.  She's sounds barrel of fun, huh? But she actually keeps me laughing throughout the entire book.

One of the peculiarities of Charlie that I loved was she has a habit of wearing t-shirts with silly sayings on them, ."No Daddy Issues or Low Self-Esteem Here", "On The Prowl for my Next Baby Daddy" shirt. She's determined to be an independent woman, who takes care of herself. Charlie's mom often says to her throughout the book;

"Just because you pride yourself on being independent doesn't mean you have to go it alone." and she fights the need for help and friendship from Knox for quite a while. 

Beckett Farrell, aka Beck. Beck is the all american guy, gorgeous, athletic, wealthy, and popular.  Exactly what every girl wants in a college boyfriend, right? Well, not Charlie, she ended their relationship because he was "too good" on paper, no grit, not that she's looking for a bad boy, but maybe a little mixture of good and bad.  He comes in and out of the story.  He's not supportive of the budding friendship between Charlie and Knox.

Jagger Knox, the myth, the legend, the fantasy. The way Charlie explains him is best...

"The icon, the man, the legend...the guy who was earning a memorial statue in the bad boy hall of fame."

He has a reputation. He's known for having girls, many girls, put their panties with their phone number written-on them,  in his back pocket at parties and he see's which panties he likes the best, and well, she wins the "Jagger Knox lottery" that night. Charlie has no interest in winning that payout.

Charlie is drugged, twice, and Knox is the one to save her and keep her safe.  She wakes up in his bed, the morning after, feeling sick and out of whack.  But who is there to hold her hair as throws up?  Who encourages her to go to the hospital?  You got it, the "bad boy" Knox. He becomes her protector and knight in shining amour more than once.

Charlie alerts her professor of the drugging and the professor believes that Knox is in fact, the bad boy that everyone believes, but even worse, he's a drug dealer. Her professor believes Knox the one who is supplying all the fraternities with the drugs.  But the journalist in Charlie doesn't believe that. Her professor assigns her an article to prove that Knox is a drug dealer. But as she becomes friends with Knox she begins to see a side of him that no one else sees.  Is he a "good" boy stuck in a "bad" boy persona?  As the story continues, the relationship between Charlie and Knox is about friendship, companionship and yes, a budding romance. But will she ever be "that girl", who slips her undies in Knox's back pocket?

Charlie is determined to show her professor, her ex-boyfriend Beck, the entire student body at Sinclair University and Knox that what you see is not always what you get.

 "...I'm half as good as you think I am, and you're half as bad as you've convinced yourself you are."

"How can you fit every single stereotype and yet not be the stereotype is beyond me."

One of the many reasons I enjoyed this book was Charlie's quick wit...

Charlie  to Beck
 "And what occasion must you rise to before you can wear the distinguished title of president?" (of his fraternity)

Beck: "It's not so much about rising to the occasion as it is to completing a challenge."

Charlie: "Why must all of you frat guys talk like your James Bond and you've got five seconds to diffuse a bomb before it obliterates the entire world?"

and the part that made me crack up hysterically...

Charlie, "My panties, thank you very much, are not, and will not, nor will they ever wind up in your back pocket for you to staple to your bedroom wall."

Knox, "Why? Because you don't wear any?"

Charlie, "Because I wear grannie panties. Giant ones. Old giant ones that have been worn and washed so much that the elastic is starting to fail. The kind with little white kittens batting at butterflies and daisies..."

Knox, "Sounds like just the thing my panty collage has been missing...I love kittens, and butterflies. And daisies."

As you can see the banter between Knox and Charlie is comical.  This continues throughout the story.

On a serious note, this book has an underlying issue that is facing our college age students everyday.  In 2009, nearly 15,000 American women and men ended up in the emergency room after being unwittingly, but intentionally, drugged by someone else. If every college student had the chance to read this book , I believe those numbers would decline significantly.

This book offers great life lessons, romance, friendship, redemption and keeps you laughing throughout.  I believe that is rare in many books, but Nicole has done it with Hard Knox. 
4.5/5 stars

About the Author
I’m the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of the CRASH series (HarperTeen, S&S UK), LOST & FOUND series, UP IN FLAMES (S&S UK), The EDEN TRILOGY, and a handful of others. I write stories about everyday kinds of people who find themselves in extraordinary kinds of situations. I tell love stories with happy endings because I believe in making the world a better place, and that’s one tiny way I can make it so. I’m one of those people who still believe in true love and soul mates, and would rather keep my head in the clouds any day over having my feet firmly on the ground.

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