The Deal by Elle Kennedy
Book One of the Off-Campus series
Publication Date: February 24, 2015
Rating: 4 stars
Source: Kindle copy bought from Amazon
***Warning: this is an adult book, and for the eyes of mature readers***
Summary (from Goodreads):
She’s about to make a deal with the college bad boy...
Hannah Wells has finally found someone who turns her on. But while she might be confident in every other area of her life, she’s carting around a full set of baggage when it comes to sex and seduction. If she wants to get her crush’s attention, she’ll have to step out of her comfort zone and make him take notice…even if it means tutoring the annoying, childish, cocky captain of the hockey team in exchange for a pretend date.
...and it’s going to be oh so good.
All Garrett Graham has ever wanted is to play professional hockey after graduation, but his plummeting GPA is threatening everything he’s worked so hard for. If helping a sarcastic brunette make another guy jealous will help him secure his position on the team, he’s all for it. But when one unexpected kiss leads to the wildest sex of both their lives, it doesn’t take long for Garrett to realize that pretend isn’t going to cut it. Now he just has to convince Hannah that the man she wants looks a lot like him.
What I Liked:
I love Elle Kennedy's romance novels - her series published by Entangled Brazen is so good! As much I love Elle Kennedy, I'm not a New Adult contemporary romance person. I've struggled with the genre, after reading so many back in 2013, when it first exploded. But I'm very happy that this book was only $0.99 (on sale), because I could not miss the sale. And I'm glad I didn't because I LOVED this book!
Hannah has been attracted to a grand total of two boys - one being her ex boyfriend, the second being a hunky football player who doesn't know she exists. When Garrett Graham, captain of the hockey team and all-around player and ladies' man, offers to take her on a date to get Justin's attention, in exchange for tutoring, Hannah puts common sense aside and agrees. Garrett can't fail this class, because doing poorly would mean getting benched and missing games - which isn't going to happy. What also shouldn't happen is the simmering chemistry between him and his smart tutor. But will Garrett win Hannah over?
I'm not into New Adult contemporary romance (hits waaaaay too close to home for me, as well as the books are usually very repetitive ripoffs of a select few big hits), but this book was very different, and for a lot of reasons. One of the biggest differences is that while there IS a Big and Terrible Thing of Hannah's Past, it is NOT the focus and end-all-be-all of this book. It's not a dark weight hanging over the book. And while Garrett also has kind of a Not So Good Past, it's again NOT a black cloud over the story. Nothing about the "tough issues" in this book is overwhelming, all-encompassing, and totally cliche. Which was refreshing!
What this book WAS made of was lots of humor and slightly awkward situations, sarcasm and adorable banter. Garrett and Hannah have never spoken two words before, but everyone knows who Garrett is. Garrett is floored by the fact that Hannah isn't jumping at the chance to tutor him. Or let him take her on a date, to catch another boy's eye and get her on his radar (trust me, this actually makes a lot of sense, especially from a college student's point-of-view). Garrett really has to work to get Hannah to agree to tutor him, and this beginning really amused me. Watching Hannah shoot him down every time was hilarious!
I connected so well with Hannah! Smart, dedicated, hard-working, living in the library... I get her. I'm also an idiot who tutored an athlete for long hours of a semester (my story wasn't a cute as hers though). I also really identify with her some of her personal and financial struggles, and how she is so different from Garrett as a person. Hannah is such a great protagonist! I wasn't swamped in sympathy for her - it's clear that she didn't need a man to help her get past issues (which is usually what is typical in New Adult contemporary romance novels).
GARRETT! He is so great as well. Swoony and sexy and shameless and sweet and silly and adorable and stubborn (ALL the "S" adjectives), this boy had me from the start. I have a soft spot for athletes - particularly soccer and hockey players. Especially particularly the captains. Garrett may seem like an arrogant prick from a distance, and he may really have earned his player reputation among the ladies, but he's also a good guy. And so much more than his good looks and yummy bod.
I love the romance! About two fifths of this book features a purely platonic relationship between Garrett and Hannah. I love how this is set up, because it's kind of a friends-first-lust-second relationship, of which I am a huge fan. Garrett and Hannah can be in the same wrong and discuss classes and shows and personal things, like FRIENDS. Things changed when they kissed, and I do like how much chemistry develops. Their physical relationship is very slow ad exploratory, in a slow-burn way. They learn to trust each other as much as they learn what the other likes.
The climax of this book (which, in typical New Adult contemporary romance novels, usually features a ton of drama) wasn't as bad as I was expecting, from a New Adult novel. Sure, it's kind of typical in a blanketed sense, but it's also way less on the drama and more focused on the tender, sweet ending. I loved the ending!
Overall, I really liked this book. I'm glad it was on sale, because I have been intrigued but on the fence with this book since it appeared on my radar about a year ago. I regret not reading this sooner!
What I Did Not Like:
There is one thing that bothered me about this book, but I see it is something that is addressed in the next book, featuring Logan and whoever he falls for. So I won't say anything specific, but... it bothered me. Still is. I might not read The Mistake.
Would I Recommend It:
I highly recommend this book! This could be one of my favorite New Adult contemporary romance novels - which you never hear me saying. Yaaassss to a hot hockey player! Even bigger yaaaaaassssss to a smart, tough girl who doesn't take the hockey player's crap! Low on the drama, high on the swoon and giggles: good balance!
4.5 stars -> rounded down to 4 stars (you will also never see me rate a New Adult contemporary romance novel higher than 4 stars, so this book is quite exceptional). I don't know if I'll convince myself to read The Mistake, and I see I've missed its $1.99 sale. But I want to continue with this series, especially for Tuck's book!
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