BOOK REVIEW: The Total Knockout (Southern U O’Brien Brothers) by Cookie O’Gorman

BOOK REVIEW: The Total Knockout (Southern U O’Brien Brothers) by Cookie O’GormanThe Total Knockout by Cookie O'Gorman
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Maisie Hawthorne doesn't do boyfriends.

Or girlfriends. Or relationships. Burned in the past, the scrappy bartender knows better than to trust a pretty face. Dex O'Brien is gorgeous (with or without the scar). Pierced, tatted, annoyingly attractive. She knew he was trouble even before she saw him fight. Her mind told her to stay away—but her heart wouldn't listen.

Dex O'Brien doesn't do love.

Not the romantic kind anyway. Sure, he loves his family, would defend them with his dying breath. And yeah, he loves baseball and fighting too. But falling in love? No thanks. Too messy. Dex couldn't care less, especially about the bookish bartender with the smart mouth and beautiful eyes.

She needs money to pay the bills. He needs a tutor to keep playing ball—even if he'll never admit it.

When the Southern U Wolves recruit Maisie to tutor Dex, tempers flare and sparks fly.

This new adult sports romance features two scarred souls, one hot-and-hilarious case of enemies-to-lovers, and a sexy set of brothers guaranteed to make you swoon.

The #1 lesson they'll both learn?

Love is the total knockout you never see coming.


The Total Knockout was a sports romance that was impossible to put down!  This story was laugh out loud hilarious, will pull on your emotions and make you fall in love.  With a fun and flirty vibe, this book was so entertaining!  If you love romance that is sweet with a little bit of spice, a dash of enemies to lovers, and a story line that will have you smiling from that first page to the last, then you need this book in your life!  You definitely don’t have to read the previous ones in this series to enjoy The Total Knockout, but I can’t recommend the rest of this series about the O’Brien brothers enough!

“If you’re trying to book-shame me,” she said, “it won’t work. I read what I like. Doesn’t matter what you or anyone else has to say about it.”
“No shame,” I said. “If I was gonna waste my time reading, I’d probably reach for the R-rated book porn too.”
Her jaw dropped.

Dex O’Brien was struggling in college and was at risk of being pulled from the baseball team because of his grades.  When his coach told him that he had no choice about seeing a tutor, that tutor ended up being Maisie Hawthorne.  From the beginning they had a rocky start.  Dex thought he could scare her off and Maisie needed the money so she wasn’t going anywhere.  It was impossible not to laugh and smile when they were together!  So when you add Dex’s siblings Finn and Emmy into the mix, who adored Maisie, whelp it was a ton of fun! 

“So, are you going to keep staring or teach me something?”
Maisie blinked then looked down, a flush of embarrassment rising to her cheeks.
“Right,” she said, “sorry, I just didn’t know you could do that.”
“Do what?” I asked.

I absolutely loved Maisie and wanted to be friends with her!  She was kind, patient, thoughtful and such a hard worker.  She was putting herself through college while working at a bar, tutoring, and she did other jobs on the side.  From the beginning we got to see how much she loved and cared for her younger sister, Lola.  And I loved when Lola was around, because it felt like she would help pull Dex and Maisie closer together. Yet there seemed to be something going on with her past, since Maisie was jaded and swore off relationships.  But even with her no relationship policy she couldn’t help be attracted to Dex. He was a pierced, tatted, bad boy who lived and breathed baseball and secretly had a heart of gold.

I raised a brow. “How do I look at her?”
“Like you just saw something you desperately want but can’t have.”
I swallowed.

Dex’s way with words had me falling head over heels in love with him.  He was definitely cocky and didn’t shy away from saying what he thought.  From the beginning he told Maisie that he thought she was pretty.  Yet Dex didn’t want anything more than just fun.  He didn’t do relationship either and didn’t believe that love was for him.  I wondered if maybe his overconfidence was to cover his struggles in school and the comments people made about him physically?  I don’t know. But regardless, there were times I had tears in my eyes for Dex.  And as we spent more time with him, your heart will melt.  The confessions he said.  The way he made for sure that Maisie was safe and protected her without a second thought.  To even how there was a little bit of jealousy in there at times too, sigh. Dex was the most fabulous of book boyfriends! 

Dex scoffed. “Better lower those expectations, Hawthorne.”
“Why not?”
“Because I believe in you, O’Brien,” I said.
“You do?” he said.
“Yeah— but I also believe in ghosts, faeries, and shape shifters, so you shouldn’t feel too special.”
He chuckled at that then gestured to the bar.

This story alternated between Maisie and Dex, and I loved both of their thoughts!  This is one of those books where it’s impossible to pick your favorite moment, because there were so many of them.  Emmy throwing Maisie under the bus?  I was dying laughing.  The mirror scene? That was so hot!  And so many more I don’t want to mention for fear of spoilers.  On top of countless memorable scenes, Dex’s siblings, Emmy and Finn, were the best!  If you are adore family in a story, you’re going to love this one!  The way they messed with Dex was perfect!  But back to Maisie and Dex….as they worked together and time passed, it was smile inducing watching their hate for one another fade.  And it almost seemed like a friendship was forming between them.  They showed up for one another.  They cheered each other on in their own ways. And they realized that not only were they both scarred physically, but emotionally too.  Through every moment though, there was always sparks and banter flying.  And those sparks seemed to arc higher and higher the more time they spent together.  It was one of those stories where I couldn’t wait to see where their explosion took them!

“There’s a lot of things I want,” he said then reached up to brush a strand of hair behind my ear. “What about you, Hawthorne? Anything you want right this second?”
I hesitated then shook my head.
“Liar,” he said quietly.

Romance lovers will fall passionately in love with The Total Knockout!  If you love sports, new adult or a story that keeps you smiling and laughing then you need to put this one on your tbr!  Now I’ll be patiently waiting for Cookie’s next release, her books always make me oh so happy every single time.  And each one becomes an instant favorite!

Once the door closed, I looked back and found Rose smiling.
“I think that went well,” she said. “Definitely our most eventful book club meeting so far.”
“I second that,” June said. “So much drama.”
“And tension,” Rose added. “This air was practically vibrating.”
My brow furrowed. “What are you guys talking about?”
“Nothing,” they said in unison.
Finn shook his head, staring after his brother.

PS Is Emmy next or will it be Finn?  I’m thinking Emmy after what happened in this book, eeps!  I am so excited for more in this world!

As I kissed her all I could think was, this. This was it. This was what makes life worth living.

*I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book, provided by the author. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*

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  1. Tanya @ Girl Plus Books

    Glad to see this was such a hit for you! I know how much you love O’Gorman’s books. 🙂 Dex and Maisie sound like great characters and I love it when you connect so well with a character that you want to be friends with them. Hopefully the wait for the next book isn’t too long!
    Tanya @ Girl Plus Books recently posted…Review: The Stars Are on Our Side | Jennifer Hartmann #NewReleaseMy Profile

    • Jen

      Her books are just the ray of sunshine I desperately need! I wish I could save some for when I need the happiness her books invoke, yet I just can’t lol. I am always waiting for whatever she releases next haha. Thank you so much, Tanya!

  2. Vanessa

    I loved this one too. I think that it has been my favorite of the series so far. And I also think that Emmy’s story will be next after what we saw at the end of the book. This series is so addicting!
    Vanessa recently posted…Review: Obsidio (The Illuminae Files #3) by Amie Kaufman, Jay KristoffMy Profile

    • Jen

      I’m so happy you loved this one too! And I think you’re definitely right about the end and Emmy being next. That’s so exciting! Oh yes, I completely agree with you, this series is so addicting!

  3. Lisa Mandina (Lisa Loves Literature)

    I love this author’s books so much! Although I think I’ve only read the YA ones, this one sounds really good too. Can’t wait to get my hands on it. Great review!
    Lisa Mandina (Lisa Loves Literature) recently posted…Blog Tour Review: Peaches and Dreams (Green Valley Heroes #4) by Juliette CrossMy Profile

    • Jen

      Oh you should give her NA series a try ♥! They invoke all of the same feelings and are just so much fun! I hope you enjoy them!

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