Book Review: Waking Olivia by Elizabeth O'Roark

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Published: 03/12/2016
Publisher: Self-published
Genre(s): Contemporary New Adult

A track star with nothing to lose. A college coach who may lose everything to save her.

Will Langstrom has too many responsibilities, and the last thing he needs is Olivia Finnegan, a beautiful but troubled new transfer student.

Olivia is her own worst enemy, with a smart mouth and a past she can’t seem to escape, and the last person she wants help from is a cocky track coach she can never seem to please. Refusing to be pushed away, Will is determined to save her...and determined to resist an attraction that could destroy them both.

You don't want to miss Waking Olivia, winner of the IBPA's gold medal for romance. Buy this seat-gripping story of forbidden love today.


When I say I really needed this book now, I am not exaggerating. I wanted to escape my problems—the world's problems—and be swept away. I can't imagine a better fictional landing-place, where I would have been more emotionally involved, than within the breath-stealing story of Olivia and Will. The enormous amount of highlighting and the notes I was compelled to write are a true testament to the skills of the author. I alternately chuckled, full-out laughed, sighed, gasped, cursed, cried, and ranted all the way through. I have a rather low threshold when it comes to in-your-face heroines. The too-tough women who come across as one-dimensional victims of their traumatic pasts. Right away I was intrigued by how the author portrayed Olivia. With her smart mouth, sharp wit, stinging comebacks, and tough persona, I found myself captivated with her character. She was a fascinating and multi-dimensional young woman I just had to find out about. With the introduction of Will, I knew this story was going to do me in. The word "chemistry" is thrown about so commonly in romance books, but the push and pull between Olivia and Will couldn't be contained or described with such a commonly used word. They were dynamically charged right from the start: intellectually, emotionally, and physically. Hence all of my effusive emotions! I'm not one for manufactured angst and often get so frustrated by how much an author thinks that I, as a reader, should be induced to fits of empathy. When, in reality, all of their excessive but-not-warranted turmoil does nothing other than irritate me. I think Elizabeth O'Roark precisely balanced the drama, humor, torment, and passion to create a memorable and extremely gratifying "forbidden love" story.

I would love to thank the person, gods, or algorithm that put Waking Olivia in my sights, but I can't remember where I was made aware of it or its previously unread-by-me author. I've certainly been positively consumed by this work and am eager to feel the same with her other books.


"Yeah, you'd love that, wouldn't you? I’m apparently the only person on this team who needs constant correction." "Has it ever occurred to you that I ask more of you because I think you’re capable of more?” he demands. “The rest of those girls are giving me everything they have, but you are not. Do you want me to just let you plod along and get through college having never taken first when you know you have the potential to?"
~Olivia and Will


“Yeah, I mean, can you imagine yourself as, say, an oncologist? I'm pretty sure saying things like 'your healing is crappy' and 'get better faster' wouldn't be as well-received by patients as it is by me."
~ Olivia to Will


"Get in the car. My mother likes you. She's excited you're coming today." I glance over at him in surprise. Will doesn't lie, I know he doesn’t, but this seems hard to believe. He sees the look I've cast his way and shrugs. "It's as much a mystery to me as it is you." 
~ Will to Olivia


“I would do anything to fix this for you,” he says quietly, “and it kills me that I can’t. Tell me what to do.” It takes me a minute to reply. “You already make everything better,” I tell him. “And you’re the only one who ever has.”
~ Will and Olivia