Review: Waking Olivia by Elizabeth O’Roark

Reviewed by Elise

My first thoughts when I picked up this book were about the title. To me, it sounded a little like, dare I say, porny? I thought it was a little predatory in nature until I started reading.

Olivia is a college student with a traumatic past. Her vague memories manifests themselves as nightmares and sleep running. Hence, Waking Olivia. Duh.

Olivia’s sleep running has led to some incidents at a previous school that led to the revoking of her scholarship. She is now at lesser ranked college with a new coach and new team. The whole concept of American colleges is mind boggling. I just can’t get my head around the obsession with college sport. It’s insane. Here in Australia, I would say sport is a national pastime and yet it doesn’t match how high school and college sport in a America is portrayed. Anyway, I’m off track. The romance in the story is that of a teacher (coach) and his student (runner).

Typically, I do have some issues with the balance of power in these relationships. This does not seem to be the case in this book. Yes, it’s frowned upon and against the regulations of the school, but this is a 20 year old woman and her 24 year old coach. There isn’t a massive age gap and he doesn’t necessarily hold power over her. He can’t drop her from the team for not complying with sexual advances for example.

I do take issue with the idea that men can’t control their impulses. Throughout the book, we hear about how he needs to keep himself in check. How he suppressed his feelings for Olivia and tried to do the right thing. Then, after a lot of of sexual tension and build up he ‘snaps’ and their first sexual encounter is where he loses his mind. Okay, somewhat sexy, but also insulting. This is a girl who deserves to loved purposefully and with intent. Not because of this idea that men can’t control themselves. And come on, what man wouldn’t just ‘help himself’ so to speak. Now that would have been sexier.

What I like about this book is that it is a heroine that has the ‘issues’. She is the one struggling to deal with a shady past. I also like that it is not just through love that she finds redemption. It is through the persistence of her track friends, the love of mother type figure and mastering new skills (in this case climbing) that she learns that she is worthy of kindness and love. She takes that knowledge and applies it to her developing relationship with X. When he is indecisive she tells him that she is worth more and tries to move on. Go sister!

The incident with her father was a bit forced. The story could have flowed just as nicely without his inclusion towards the end. It did serve to show X just what he was missing out on but there were other ways to do that without shoe horning a violent offender into the story.

I did enjoy this book and I have put the rest of Elizabeth O’Roark’s books on my TBR.

Rating: B 

Click to purchase: Amazon

Waking Olivia
by Elizabeth O’Roark
Release Date: March 14, 2016

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