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Real World

(Bend or Break #5)

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  569 ratings  ·  124 reviews
When talking fails, it’s time to break out the big guns.

Five years ago, Tom Worthington busted his ass to overcome the fear and paranoia that led him to withdraw from the world and nearly lose his boyfriend. He never thought he’d find himself right back there, shutting Reese out, keeping secrets again.

Reese Anders is ready to try anything to get Tom to talk: if he can’t se
ebook, 175 pages
Published November 17th 2015 by Samhain Publishing
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Average rating 3.85  · 
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 ·  569 ratings  ·  124 reviews

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Amy Cousins
Sep 01, 2015 added it  ·  (Review from the author)
Shelves: books-i-wrote
When I finished writing OFF CAMPUS, I already knew I wanted to work REAL WORLD into the Bend or Break series somewhere down the line. We left Tom & Reese while they were still in college at the end of OC, and while I know several real life couples who met in college and are happily married, it still felt more like a HFN ending to me than HEA.

And, man, I really needed these two to get their forever HEA.

I also wanted to write about how the work on a relationship doesn't end just because you hit th
Mirjana **DTR - Down to Read**

***4.5 Stars***

I loved this! I get VERY apprehensive when I hear that an author is revisiting an established couple...especially when it's more than just a bonus check in. A whole novella or book? I'm picking it up with shaky hands...if I pick it up at all.

Well here...I shouldn't have worried AT ALL. Amy Jo Cousin's has my trust 100%! This follow up novella made me fall in love with Tom and Reese even more!

Tom and Reese got a VERY solid HFN at the end of Off Campus, but it was clear there was
Oct 13, 2015 rated it liked it
I see lots of people gave 4 and 5 stars to this one, actually all of them so far it seems. I'm going to be an exception, and my review will be definitely different from the other ones out there so far, and that's because I barely tolerated this book. In fact, if it wasn't for Tom's redemption in the last part of this book, I would've rated this 2 stars. However, I really liked the part couple of chapters, it was exactly what I hoped this whole book will be like, and my rating for that is 4 stars ...more
3.5 stars

I read Off Campus three years ago and remembered the story and characters in general, but I thought I'd miss some references in this book so I tried to reread the first one.
I say I tried because I didn’t get past the first 15%. I liked the book the first time I read it, but apparently my taste changed or maybe I would have liked it if it was my first time reading it but it didn’t live up to a rereading. Anyway, I didn’t want to force myself to reread it only to have to drop the rating
☾ Dαɴιyα ☽

3.5 stars.

“I’m your rock. And you’re mine.”

It's been five years since Tom & Reese met in Off Campus. They're still together, of course. They no longer live off campus; now they're out in the real world, and seem to be doing much, much better now than they did back then.


Tom's dad is back in the news, and Tom is back to his old habit of shutting everyone out when he's troubled, and avoiding conversation at all cost.
He's not being honest not even with Reese. Now, I could criticize him f
Sep 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
 photo 12529f75-4146-4fb5-9aea-81d23f239191_zpsuw0aozle.jpg

Real World by Amy Jo Cousins is probably one of the best- if not the best portrayals of an established couple. This story takes place five years after the first book, and Tom and Reese are living together and working towards their future. At the beginning of the book, Tom is stressing about work and his dad 's imminent release from prison. These events cause him to not realize how much danger his relationship is in.

"This was the ground crumbling under his feet at the cliff's edge as he flung
Jul 29, 2016 added it
Shelves: m-m
Relationships are made of the little things: tiny discoveries that happen everyday; infinitesimal events that gain significance only with and for the lovers; small concessions that build habit and history. The only thing that is huge within the relationship--and outside of its historical and political context--is the labour that is needed to sustain it.

I'm so happy Amy Jo Cousins returned to Tom and Reese after their HEA to show them going through these everyday steps that look so small to us, a
1-Click Addict Support Group
Oct 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I’m going to do my best to not make this review seem like a love letter to Amy Jo Cousins, but let's be real here. That's exactly what this is. Because I have a well of love inside for this author and her words, and this fifth book in the Bend or Break series is the perfect example of why.

It's been five years since Tom Worthington and Reese Anders sorted out their respective issues and started down the toward happily ever after. But that doesn't mean things are perfect. Far from, in fact.

Jan 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: twenty-sixteen, mmr

This was just what my marshmallow heart wanted.

Less angst than what the synopsis lead you to believe.

Just a sweet, sweet follow up on our boys from book one.

Oh...and the ending...evil.

So evil...

I hate crying!

Thank you Netgalley for letting me read this book in trade for an honest review.

P.S. I think it's cute that the author thought a pint of cream is scary. Come to Maine deah...we can swap recipes!

Kaje Harper
Nov 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: m-m
This book returns to the couple that began the series - Reese and Tom are several years into their relationship, and still working on it. I loved the fact that their problems hadn't gone away, and their natures remained the same. Reese still has issues, despite his progress. Tom still hoards his pain and guilt away to not burden his friends. This was warm, a little painful, then very sweet. A pleasure to see all these characters again. ...more
Sep 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
4.5 Stars
"Oh, you boys. You're my favorites." <3

Anyone who enjoyed Tom and Reese's story in Off Campus, you will LOVE this. It's so good!

This is book 5 in Ms Cousins' Bend or Break series and it's a sequel to the first book, Off Campus, bring us back to Tom and Reese, now an established couple, a few years after graduation.

I find Ms Cousins has the uncanny ability to steal some of my thoughts and give them to her characters. It was Rafi in Level Hands who could be my twin in so many ways and her
Tom is very hard to like here. His inability to trust his partner, Reece, his reluctance to step up and ask for help seems unlike the strong loving person we've come to know.

While Reece only offers love, a safe space and glorious release (& relief) from Tom's thoughts and fears, Tom still can't succumb.

It's maddening.

Of course, eventually he does. And this journey is of course the reason for the book, but yeah, no. It doesn't really work.

Good to see the other two couples that have made up the s
Sep 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Tom and Reese have been together five years now and overall things have been good. Christmas is coming, the guys are living together and they're involved in their careers. Everything should be great but there's one big problem. Tom's dad is getting released from prison and it throws Tom back to how he was when he and Reese first met. And while Tom is locked inside his own head again, worrying about his problems, he misses the fact that Reese has a gorgeous new boss. One who is willing to give Re ...more
Oct 12, 2015 rated it liked it
3.5 Stars
Dec 18, 2018 rated it liked it
2 1/2 stars

The story continues for Tom and Reese. This time, Tom is freaking out because his dad is getting out of jail. For those who have followed the series, these two characters were in the first book in this series. For me it was nothing more than a rehashing of the same one-dimensional characters that appeared in the first book. Tom is a traumatized guy who somehow has never gotten any therapy to overcome all his emotional problems and instead knowingly chooses to put his partner and his r
May 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2017
It was really nice to return to Tom and Reese, now an established couple of 5 years. Things start to go wrong when Tom learns his father is getting out of jail - which makes him return to old habits of hiding things. Added to that a problem with the accounts at work finds him working hard enough to get a stress ulcer trying to solve the problem so no one thinks he's like his father. Reese meanwhile is picked out of his boring receptionist job to help Niall with a new project- though that's maybe ...more
Feb 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
I liked this a lot. I loved checking in with Reese and Tom, and the ending of this story was the stuff of dreams. I loved that Steph and Cash also heavily featured in this and was glad to get glimpses of Rafi and Denny who seem truly solid. But yeah, I love Reese and Tom a lot and am glad they are figuring stuff out as a couple, and that this was pretty low on the drama and just focused on them becoming stronger as a pair.
This is a great installment in the Bend or Break series, and in Reese and Tom's relationship from book 1 Off Campus. I love these two and was so happy to see them again. This is a shorter story than Off Campus, but still great. It's Christmas time and Reese is feeling a little frustrated and cut off from Tom and when Reese's boss shows him a little attention, things kind of explode. THERE IS NO CHEATING.

It was good to see the gang again, and lots of news for these couples. :) Highly recommend,
Sep 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Could a title be any more perfect for a book?!

This was about Tom and Reese from Off Campus (Bend or Break #1), which is one of my favourite books by the way, 5 years after they got together, living life, and getting on with the programme. I absolutely loved loved loved the sequel to their story. I have a soft spot about established couples, maybe because sometimes the characters in books take way too damn long to get together properly and I always feel like I didn’t experience them enough. When
Veronica of V's Reads
This is the fifth book in the Bend or Break series, but it's a sequel to OFF CAMPUS, and should be read after that one, for sure. Other characters in the series show up here, and that's cool, but you don't have to know their stories for their involvement to make sense.

4.5 stars.
Tom and Reese met in college and have been an exclusive couple for five years. They graduated a few years back and both work full-time in Boston. Tom's working in finance, and doing part-time school for an MBA and Reese i
Nov 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars. I was happy to see the Off Campus sequel for Tom & Reese. The title really does describe what it's all about for them once they get out of college and into the "real world" - all the issues and problems don't magically fall away. The story does not fully resolve Tom's issues with his Dad- not sure that ever will happen; however, they work through their relationship issues and its a nice ending with Tom finally being smacked in the face and realizing how special what he and Reese have ...more
Kate McMurray
Oct 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: m-m
Now that I've read the whole series, I can say this was definitely my favorite book in it, which was a surprise to me because I dragged my feet so much—I did not want to read about bad things happening to Tom and Reese—but the internal conflict here feels tangible and the story feels tight, with nothing extraneous. Tom still struggles to break his old habit of keeping everything bottled up, not realizing that Reese wants to share his burdens. The happy ending feels earned. ...more
3.5 (3.0) Stars

I was a little peeved with this installment of the Bend or Break series. Why? Reese believed he and Tom should talk about anything they did that they're uncomfortable telling each other about. Um, helllooooo! It's a little late in the game, don't ya think since you did it already, dumbass! Why didn't these guys try talking and working shit out so they wouldn't DO stupid stuff?!? End rant.

Bottom line: Entertaining but frustrating.
May 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked that this book was from both Reese and Tom's POV; I actually missed not being in Reese's head in Off Campus. And I didn't get confused at all in this one because the different POVs and scenes were well separated.
Loved that Christmas party and Tom finally realizing he had to fight to keep Reese. Actually they both know they have to constantly work on their relationship if they want to make each other happy. Just like every couple in the real world.
Oct 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
4.5 Stars... rounded up because I can. :)

This was a really fun book! I enjoyed it immensely. My review is up on Boys In Our Books.
JD Crittendon
Love trump Angst!

Next installment in the Reese & Tom story. Tom is still my least favorite MC. However, it takes more angst and shutting down but he finally redeems himself somewhat. The written is good, the co-characters are great. Rating: a real 3⭐️⭐️⭐️!
To follow up on Off Campus, I listened to Real World. Cooper North does an excellent job! This is a check in with Tom and Reese four or five years after the first book.
Sep 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbtq, new-adult, arc
This one was everything I could have hoped for and more. I can't express how happy I am with the way this one turned out. I LOVED both Tom and Reese in the 1st installment in the series, and yeah, it was obvious that their problems won't just disappear when they are finally committed to one another but here we got to see them 4 years later and though there's much of the same (no one changes over night..), it's different, their relationship is stronger, their connection is beautiful and even when ...more
Sep 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
I don’t think it will surprise anyone that I about lost my business when I found out that Tom and Reese were getting a follow-up story. I’m pretty transparent about these things.

It’s been five years between the end of Off-Campus and the beginning of Real World. Both Tom and Reese are working and supporting themselves while Tom also puts himself through school to earn his MBA. So, yeah. Life good. Slightly stressful but good. But sometimes events have the ability to make people and regress in t
Caroline Brand
Oct 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing

4.5 Stars

It’s not often that you get a current series where the author goes back and lets us have a look at how things worked out. When it does happen the story is often short where everything is fine and dandy and maybe the MC’s are getting married or some such happy event. Real World is exactly like the title says…it’s the Real World.

This is Tom and Reese five years on in all their loving glory – warts and all. Their lives have moved forward in so many ways but
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Amy Jo Cousins lives in Chicago, where she writes queer romance, tweets more than she ought, and sometimes runs way too far. She loves her boy and the Cubs, who taught her that being awesome doesn't necessarily have anything to do with winning.

Other books in the series

Bend or Break (7 books)
  • Off Campus (Bend or Break, #1)
  • Nothing Like Paris (Bend or Break, #2)
  • The Girl Next Door (Bend or Break, #3)
  • Level Hands (Bend or Break, #4)
  • Love Me Like a Rock (Bend or Break, #6)
  • Hard Candy (Bend or Break, #7)

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97 likes · 15 comments
“Sometimes I wonder if that's the thing that will break us in the long run. That it's so hard for you to trust in us.” 0 likes
“Being someone's rock, even if only in a temporary way, would always be heart-worthy.” 0 likes
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