Of all of the New Adult-labeled books I've read, Losing It is the one that comes closest to being what I ideally want. Though the focus remains on romance, Losing It does actually deal with normal, everyday college stresses. Bliss goes to class and thinks about her future. She has fights with friends and doesn't go through anything incredibly melodramatic. Only the relationship with her professor isn't something an average college student might experience, but even that does happen. Losing It is humorous, romantic, and largely realistic.
At the beginning of Losing It, Bliss has decided she's sick of feeling a freak for being a virgin and that she just wants to get rid of her virginity. This impulse is one that I completely understand. Sometimes it feels like life would be much easier if you could just get that over with, like it's an ordeal to be got through, which really doesn't seem like the ideal motivation for having sex. Still, that's a realistic thought for Bliss to have.
When you're a virgin over twenty for reasons that don't involve waiting for marriage, people like to tell you that "it will happen for you when you meet the right guy." Find him and your brain will shut up, and you'll be motivated enough to work through your issues and eventually have sex. This is the basic premise that Losing It is working from. I do take some issue with the fact that she goes out to a bar once and immediately picks up a hot, British guy, because life is never that easy, at least mine isn't, in which case I would like to upgrade my life now please. However, this is fiction, and such conveniences are what move a plot forward, so I'll accept it.
What I'm so, so grateful for is that, even though Bliss has found the perfect guy who makes her brain shut off, that doesn't immediately make her ready. Garrick may be more than she ever dreamed of, and she feels more comfortable with him than with anyone who has come before, but she still freezes at the prospect of sex. Her issues don't just magically dissipate, like generally happens in fiction. Though she had every intention of having a one-night stand, her brain really isn't wired that way to let her do that, thus why she was still a virgin in the first place.
Of course, for drama's sake, Garrick turns out to be a temporary professor for one of her theater classes. This serves to raise the stakes and create many awkward moments. For a teacher/student relationship, Carmack's done a good job, and I was still able to root for them, since they established a relationship of sorts before he started teaching, but I still would have preferred they wait to really get together until after the semester was over. Teacher/student romances are not my favorite, because the teacher has power over the student and favoritism comes into question. Carmack avoids the grading favoritism question, but Garrick does seem to be largely fair in his treatment of her as a teacher.
I liked, too, the short-lived love triangle that emerges when Bliss realizes that one of her best friends has a crush on her. I've been in this situation before too (well, the friend with a crush, not the sexy British part that makes the triangle), and it is seriously awkward. There are so many feelings in the way that it can be hard to tell precisely how you feel about you're friend. You love them already, but is it the right sort of love? And they're so wonderful that you feel bad turning them down. Plus, what will happen to your friendship if you do or don't? Bliss handles this about as well as can be expected, which is to say that it's messy and uncomfortable.
Garrick and Bliss do seem to fall for one another a bit too quickly, but that's college as well. Every emotion seems heightened, because you have so much free time to spend with people. Friendships and relationships come on quickly in those circumstances. The novel takes place over the course of a semester, so their relationship does take months to grow, even if it feels shorter because of the novel's brief duration.
What Left Me Wanting More:
I do wish, however, that Carmack has skipped the epilogue. Though I was willing to accept the speed and seriousness of their relationship, I feel like the events in the epilogue were over the top. Plus, I'm really unsure as to why it had to be from Garrick's POV. That felt really out of place, and didn't really add anything to the scene.
The Final Verdict:
I have to reward Losing It high points for covering subject matter I've rarely seen touched in fiction and for giving me many feels. Carmack's debut is funny, awkward, sexy, and romantic. If you've been disappointed in the New Adult offerings thus far for not having anything actually to do with the experience of being in college, then you really might want to try Losing It.