Welcome to State
Not everyone plays by the rules.
Eva Papageorgiou has it all: the popularity that always felt so elusive in high school, looks that men can’t ignore, and a boyfriend that other women covet. She’s gorgeous, powerful; she has the world at her fingertips.
And it’s all a lie.
The problem with living a lie is how easy it is to forget who you’re lying to. Eva’s time to withdraw into the shadows has expired, courtesy of Rob’s rising fame. Her only option is to hide in plain sight.
Amid all the chaos, Rob is her safe escape from it all. They continue to be stronger together than they ever could be on their own.
Until being together is what tears them apart.
Rob Falls has everything he’s ever wanted: his dream girl, a winning team, respect from everyone. He’s at the top of his game, with a Heisman nod on the horizon, and the potential to be a first-round draft pick.
And it’s all crumbling before his eyes.
The mounting pressure of being an athlete at the next level while doing all he can to protect Eva takes its toll. He doesn’t sleep enough, he worries constantly, and he’s torn wanting to be in two places at once.
Rob never imagined the day he’d have to choose between fame and love.
Sometimes life makes choices for us.
With the game and their hearts on the line, will Rob and Eva keep their secrets hidden? Or will they reveal everything to each other, to themselves, to the world…only to lose it all?
The fictional State campus is based on the real-life WVU campus. For liability reasons, authors generally can't use actual places and/or people and/or sports teams, both because of trademark and libel issues.
The Red Zone that Rob describes in chapter 2 is a very real term applied to the risk of sexual assault that women face during their first few months on a college campus. The statistics about sexual assault are also true to life, unfortunately.
This novel has more negative reviews than all of my other novels, combined.
Do not take the trigger warnings lightly. If you missed them on the First and Goal page, they are: sexual assault(s), criminal hazing, binge drinking, and cheating.
Though one of the primary reasons for low reviews of Third and Long is the disbelief that this type of hazing actually occurs on American college campuses, that scene is based on reality, also unfortunately. These hazing rituals used to be common practice at my own alma mater. They were mostly used by the fraternities and sororities there. One hazing ritual that wasn't included was the consumption of live goldfish by pledges of the most popular fraternity on campus. Another was paddling. Actual paddling with the wooden boards that fraternities and sororities gift to their new initiates. A friend of mine declined admission into a very prestigious sorority on campus after she discovered what their pledge initiation rituals entailed. *shudders*
Although the Heisman is the highest award that a college football player can receive, there is actually a certain stigma and superstition associated with it among the players. It is commonly referred to as "the Heisman curse."
A redshirt is the term applied to an American collegiate athlete that is considered part of the team, but kept from active play time to extend their four years of eligibility in the NCAA. In some cases, highly recruited athletes who are given full scholarships to a university will "sit out" their freshman year, in favor of playing for what amounts to two senior years.
A college diploma is not required to enter the NFL draft. Some players choose to enter the professional league before completing their four years of college eligibility.
Endometriosis is an extremely common yet wildly misunderstood medical condition that many women suffer from. Sometimes for years and without seeking medical intervention. It is still underfunded in research, misdiagnosed, and there is a dearth of adequate treatment options. It is considered a chronic, lifelong condition that can result in infertility and extreme pain.
In the original plot of this series, Mike Mitchell wasn't supposed to "live" past this book. Alex Fossoway was not going to continue his football career in college.
Alex's novella—The Rules—runs concurrently with the timeline of Third and Long.