Title: The Deal (Off-Campus #1)
Author: Elle Kennedy
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Release Date: February 4th, 2015
Standalone/Series: First in the Off-Campus companion series
Genre: New Adult – Contemporary – Romance
My rating in stars: 4 stars
My rating in words: Really liked it
What it’s about:
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.
I have to admit, I’m a bit prejudiced about reading new adult. I don’t have anything against it per se, but I have this feeling that most of it out there today has only the most basic of plots, unlikeable characters, unhealthy romances and little character development. However, The Deal just proved me wrong.
I got this book to read on my holiday. I had seen it around and had read some great reviews, so I figured I would give it a chance and I’m really glad that I did. This was a highly enjoyable and addictive read and I almost read it in one sitting. Here’s what I liked about it:
-The two main characters are both strong, multi-dimensional and lovable characters.
Hannah is a great female protagonist. She’s had bad things happen to her in the past, but she’s working her way through that. She is strong but not afraid of having her weak moments either, which just makes her seem real and relatable. She’s also not someone who will let a guy completely change her, which was one of my concerns before reading the book.
It took me a little bit longer to like Garrett, because he was a pretty arrogant douchebag for the first few chapters. Especially when we saw him through Hannah’s eyes. But the great thing about having a dual point of view is that we can actually get to know Garrett better as well and while yes, he can be a bit cocky and arrogant, he’s also just a really good guy.
-The romance is slow-paced
No insta-love here! In fact, this story featured one of my favorite tropes ever: two characters going from hating eachother to friends to something more. I can’t get enough of this trope and it was done so, so well in this story. Even though not that much time goes by in the story (I believe only 1-2 months), the build-up is still totally believable and realistic.
-It’s a nice, healthy and respectful romance
One of my pet peeves is the unhealthy, emotionally abusive type of relationships that are actually sometimes a bit glorified in books. This was not one of those. The romance that grows between Hannah and Garrett is respectful and uplifting. Actually, the way Garrett treated Hannah was beautiful to read and kind of made me fall in love with the guy as well. The other way around was just as beautiful: the things Hannah does for Garrett are sweet and loving.
-There are side characters! And college stuff!
Okay, honestly this is still a new adult romance first and foremost and this part of the story does take center stage. But I LOVED that it’s NOT ALL about that either. Both main characters have their own side-story going on, their own interests, their own college-related issues and their own friends. And none of those go away when the romance starts. We see them both working through their issues and we get to know some of the secondary characters as well. Not super deep, but just enough to get intrigued by them and wanting to read more in the other novels in this companion series.
Is it a perfect read? No, it still has some flaws. The final quarter of the story felt a bit out of place and dragged on a bit too much for my taste. It was a great story, but it’s also not super ground-breaking, unique or memorable. However, it still was a funny and highly enjoyable read that changed my mind about new adult books.
So overall, I really liked this book and I will definitely be picking up the rest of this series and other books by Elle Kennedy.
“Sometimes people sneak up on you and suddenly you don’t know how you ever lived without them.”
“What is wrong with you? Why aren’t you freaking out right now? Garrett Graham is sitting in your booth. He talked to you.” “Holy shit, he did? I mean, his lips were moving, but I didn’t realize he was talking.”
“Ha! I knew you were into him! Oh my God! Hold my juice—I think I need to break out in a happy dance! Do you know how to do the running man? If so, can you teach me right now?”
“Living well and being happy is how we get over the shit in our past.”
“You’re going out with Garrett Graham.” “Mmm-hmmm.” “I call shenanigans.” Of course she does. A date with Garrett Graham? I might as well have announced I’m marrying Chris Hemsworth.”
“You won’t let anything bad happen to me, will you, Garrett?”
A lump the size of Massachusetts lodges in my throat. I swallow hard and try to speak past it.