When Lila Avers accepts a medical internship through Astor University in California for the fall semester of her senior year, she doesn’t expect much. In fact, she’d rather work on her tan and meet a surfer instead of logging long hours at the hospital and studying. But before she even boards her flight to LA, she meets Astor University wide receiver, Cade Wilkins. A football player. When Cade turns out to be so much more than just muscle, Lila is smitten. Maybe a semester away from her friends won’t be so bad after all.
Cade Wilkins is beyond ready for his last season at Astor. Already being scouted and projected as a NFL draft pick, he’s riding a natural high and all set to breeze through his senior year. To sweeten the start of the fall semester, he meets his dream girl at the airport on his way back to LA. Lila Avers, a blonde, blue-eyed angel. Could life get any better?
When Cade is sidelined by an unexpected injury, he’s devastated to learn of more serious health concerns. As his world implodes, Lila holds him together. But is she strong enough to see him through his recovery?
As their own insecurities and doubts emerge, their new, fragile relationship is tested. Can Cade and Lila handle the ugly truths of falling in love when tensions flare, boundaries are violated, and uncertainty looms over the future of their relationship?
Review by Gina
The Last First Game—Senior Semester #1—by Gina Azzi
This is a tough review for me to write. It’s not that the story between Lila Avers and Cade Wilkins is not good. It is. There is so much potential for this to be a truly incredible story, but I didn’t really feel it was fully delivered. It was good–I enjoyed it, but it didn’t leave my heart aching or skipping a beat like it surely could have.
Lila is a college student on the east coast, heading out west to do a semester and figure out what she wants to do with her life. Is medical school in her future? Or is she pursuing that simply because her father wants her to? These are big questions that should evoke a great deal of emotion, but we are told more than shown how Lila feels. Her relationship with her father is rocky. Her mother is suffering from depression due to her divorce from Lila’s father. And Lila’s brother shucked his medical school future designated by their father for one in law. Things are crazy in Lila’s life and now she’s leaving her three best friends for a semester and venturing anew. These are all big things.
Cade has it all. He’s a star receiver for his college football team and is an NFL prospect. His future is bright and he needs to fight the girls off with a stick. His brother passed away and we know his family struggles with this, but again the emotions don’t bubble to the surface.
We aren’t shown them—we are told them and in writing that’s a big deal because the reader wants to connect to the characters. They appear superficial.
The things I enjoyed in this story are the issues Ms. Azzi brings to light: cancer, sexual assault, sibling relationships, having good girlfriends, parental relationships. These are all fabulous topics that are perfect in any novel—and particularly in a new adult novel. Ms. Azzi covers a lot of ground in this first novel of the Senior Semester Series. I must admit—it was a huge undertaking to write all of these things in one story, which may have been why some of the character emotion was not as strong as it could have been.
There were some really great scenes between Cade and Lila. I enjoyed that these two built a relationship the way most of us do—by getting to know each other. The way these two meet is cute—giving up their tickets at the airport for a later flight. Forced—but not in a negative way—to hang out while waiting for their flight, they get to know each other. They’re attracted to each other, but I do like the way the Ms. Azzi allows them to get to know each other—building their relationship instead of an insta-love story.
I did feel, however, that the conversations among the characters were not always conversational—meaning they didn’t always sound how people actually talked, which can bring you out of the story a bit.
I also was gravely disappointed in the parents in this story. Cade is diagnosed with cancer and his parents do not come out to see him or be with him while he undergoes chemotherapy. What?! No flipping way. I know he may have told them not to come, but this is a family that had already lost a son. I’d move heaven and earth—literally—to be with my son if he were diagnosed with cancer.
And Lila’s parents were no better when she was assaulted. I’m glad her father was outraged—he should be—but he (and her mother) should have been there while she was going through the initial stages of recovery. As a sexual assault survivor myself, I know that it is greatly important to have a very strong support system in those initial days, weeks and months that follow something like that.
Overall, the story was enjoyable. 3 Silver Buckles
Book was graciously provided by author for an honest review.
Gina Azzi loved every moment of college – especially her study abroad experiences, internships, and travel adventures! She drew on her college experiences to create the storylines for The Senior Semester Series.
Gina is a passionate reader, frequent globetrotter, and coffee enthusiast. She currently resides in Dubai with her husband Tony.
Gina loves meeting new people and would love to hear from you! Get in touch with her at: