Third Degree by Julie Cross

Available March 25, 2014 from Flirt




I used to be “Isabel Jenkins, child prodigy.” As lame as that sounds, at least it was an identity. But now I’m not sure what I am. I just failed the most important exam of my life—the emotional readiness test required to get into a medical residency program—and it turns out my parents can’t stand each other. Now I’m trying to figure out how to pick up the pieces of my life, and that means re-enrolling as a college freshman, but this time I’m shutting the books and majoring in being eighteen.

But so far, my roommate hates me and I’m not into the party scene. The only good thing about school has been getting to know my insanely hot RA. Marshall Collins makes me wonder about everything I missed while I was growing up too fast. Pretty soon we’re hanging out constantly, but for the first time, I find myself wanting more than a no-strings-attached physical relationship. And the lesson I really need is one Marsh definitely can’t teach me: love. Because I’m going to be alone forever if I don’t learn fast.


I received a digital copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own and I am in no way compensated for my opinions.

I have so many good things to say about this book that I don’t even know where to begin.

As a character, Isabel was well defined and rounded. I connected with her on an emotional level. Her struggle to fit in, to be “normal” even though she was extraordinary was something anyone could relate to. Every relationship she had was carefully thought out and showed her growth, or regression, as a person. This made every heartbreak, every insecurity, and every joy feel as if I’d experienced it myself. She was a brittle kind of strong, where she always seemed ready to break. I enjoyed her struggle to identify herself as Izzy Jenkins, teenager, instead of just Isabel Jenkins, MD.

Marshall was the perfect male lead, as well as the perfect balance to Isabel’s character. He was sweet, with a strong love for his overbearing family and deep loyalty to his friends. He always put himself last, and in the way of heroes, this isn’t such a terrible flaw to have. His personality was a great complement to Isabel’s struggle. I loved watching them figure it out together. His eventual sickness was so tangible, so real, that I couldn’t put this book down.

The pacing of Third Degree was spot on. I was never bored, nor did I figure things out before the characters. I opened the book and fell into perfection. Julie Cross…you genius, you.

If you’ve followed my reviews, you know that I haven’t read a lot of NA because it tries too hard. I think authors are excited because they can finally write YA with all the sex. I prefer my romances heavy on the story with a side dish of sex as opposed to heavy on the sex with a side dish of story. I’ve been disappointed before, but basically, if Julie Cross could write EVERY NA book from here on out, I would be one happy reader. I need authors to focus on the story before they get to the sex. I need to care about the characters before you start throwing in words like “nipples”. Cross, however, made me love the characters long before I got to the “good stuff”. So when the sex happened, it was PERFECTION, not raunchy, nothing like the other NA books I’ve read.

NA writers, please, PLEASE reference Julie Cross. She knows what she’s doing!!

I can’t say a single bad thing about this book. Being in the medical field, I really enjoyed all the references to medicine, though I don’t think it was overdone, just enough to immerse the reader in Isabel’s world. It made Marshall’s condition real. It made me ache for him.

Third Degree was perfect. (I know, I’ve said that three times, at least.) With a suspenseful, romantic plot and crush worthy characters, Julie Cross has nailed NA romance. This book will satisfy readers who want their romances with an original plot. Julie Cross is fantastic.

Read Third Degree. Seriously.