Make it Count by Megan Erickson
Series: Bowler University #1
Publisher: William Morrow Impulse
Publication Date: June 3, 2014
Genres: New Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Kat Caruso wishes her brain had a return policy, or at least a complaint hot-line. The defective organ is constantly distracted, terrible at statistics, and absolutely flooded with inappropriate thoughts about her boyfriend’s gorgeous best friend, Alec…who just so happens to be her brand new math tutor. Who knew nerd was so hot?
Kat usually goes through tutors like she does boyfriends—both always seem to bail when they realize how hopeless she is. It’s safer for her heart to keep everyone at arm’s reach. But Alec is always stepping just a little too close.
Alec Stone should not be fantasizing about Kat. She’s adorable, unbelievably witty, and completely off limits. He’d never stab his best friend in the back…
But when secrets are revealed, the lines of loyalty are blurred. To make it count, Alec must learn messy human emotions can’t be solved like a trigonometry function. And Kat has to trust Alec may be the first guy to want her for who she is, and not in spite of it.
What a lovely book!
First, a bit about the characters. Kat is our heroine. She’s never been “the smart one.” Her parents aren’t super supportive of her education goals, and constantly tell her she can just work for them at their family company. But Kat wants a career for herself; she just doesn’t know what career yet. She has always struggled in school, and it’s proving to be even more daunting now that she’s in college. This semester she is struggling with statistics. She’s been through several tutors, and they all seem to get frustrated with her and basically give up. The tutoring service is giving her one more chance with a new tutor, before she’s out on her own. What she doesn’t expect, is for that tutor, her last hope, to be her boyfriend’s best friend, Alec.
Alec is a nerdy-type. He is super smart, studies a ton, and of course wears glasses. But Alec is kind of cool too, in my opinion. He styles his hair in a retro pompadour à la Elvis or Danny Zuko (it even got him the nickname Zuk). But he’s much more than a smart student. He’s a loyal friend, a runner, and someone with a caring and compassionate heart. Right from the start you can tell how sweet Alec is. He really is a good guy, in every sense of the word.
“And Kat had this way about her, a semi-flighty quality, as if she constantly wobbled on the edge of a wave and could fall off at any moment. He felt the urge to reach out and steady her, just to keep her stable.”
While Alec is Kat’s boyfriend’s, Max, best friend, they’ve only met each other a couple of times; so they don’t really know each other all that well. Neither one thinks the other one likes them very much, which makes for an interesting dynamic come tutoring time. Kat is embarrassed about her need for a tutor, especially since she is failing the course. She asks Alec to keep their tutor sessions quiet, and not tell Max. Alec agrees.
I loved that this story was more than just two people falling in love. Kat’s struggle is probably something many people can relate too. She’s been told her whole life she is one way, and therefore believes that is all she is, and that those falsehoods are true. Her biggest insecurity is her intelligence. She puts up a front of a happy, carefree, chill girl, up for anything. But all she really wants is for someone to see her as smart. But she doesn’t believe she is smart herself, at least at the beginning.
I was so proud of her when she finally took her success into her own hands. While Alec had an impact on how she saw herself, she had to believe it herself before it made a real difference in her life. He cared about Kat in a different way than any of her past boyfriends. He saw past that façade she put up to protect herself from getting hurt. And finally with the right encouragement from Alec, she was able to finally start seeing herself as more than just a pretty face.
Our hero wasn’t perfect! And I loved it! Alec didn’t always say the right thing, and he inadvertently hurt Kat’s feelings. But he learned from his mistakes, and worked on himself. Once he finally realized that he couldn’t fix everything, and not everything needs to be ‘fixed’, he was able to be the best partner to Kat he could be.
The humor was perfect! It snuck up on me, and had me laughing out loud. It was natural, and didn’t feel forced at all.
“She imagined this would be an amazing scene in a movie, where he whispered in a tortured voice, Kat, I want you. I’ve always wanted you. Let’s retreat to my boudoir and consummate our mutual attraction…”
I definitely felt a kinship to Kat. Not only on being put into a box, whether others put you there or you put yourself there, but on simpler things too. Like when it came to her view on running.
“I’d planned to go for a run. Wanna come?” Kat shot her a look out of the corner of her eye. “You know that question gets a perma-no from me.”
If you are looking for something different, with a heroine and hero who struggle with relatable issues, then definitely pick this book up. It still has just enough humor and light-heartedness, to make it a fun, but intelligent, read!