Review: The Deal by Elle Kennedy

Posted August 23, 2020 by Sophia Rose in Reviews / 16 Comments

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Review: The Deal by Elle Kennedy
The Deal

One StarOne StarOne StarOne StarHalf a Star

Series: Off-Campus #1
Genres: Contemporary Romance, New Adult Romance, Sports Romance
Published by Indie/Self Published
Released on February 24, 2015
Pages: 342
Format: eBook
Source: Free Book
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The Delight

College setting, they come from two different worlds on campus, but past pain and a certain deal lead to something more than a friendship.  I love hockey romance and my favorite New Adult trope is a nerd and a jock.  This was a variation on that and I already enjoy the author’s adult romances so it was an easy choice when I needed just such a book for a pair of reading challenges.


The Deal opens with pretty, but quiet music student, Hannah Wells, agreeing to tutor the popular captain of the hockey team, Garrett Graham, in their shared philosophy class so he can stay eligible to play in exchange, he agrees to help her make a Hannah’s secret crush, a gorgeous football player, jealous.  A surprise friendship forms and then a fake kiss sizzles into something potent and real.  But, they both have pasts that can rear ugly heads and future plans that don’t involve each other.  Will they renegotiate for a new deal?

I don’t mean this disparagingly, but I’ve never gravitated toward the New Adult genre.  We all have our druthers and this is one of mine.  That said, I had no hesitation picking up an Elle Kennedy New Adult.  After reading the Him series, I had no doubt this author could write this genre well and make me love the story I was getting.  It didn’t hurt that she put one of my few favorite college tropes into play and she didn’t emo it up though the pair both had deep issues from their past, particularly Hannah who is an abuse survivor.  She gave due attention to character background like her music and his hockey, their friend circles, their college lives, and their relationship all equally.  It was even paced and evenly developing building from a little hostility to partners in their deal, to friendship, and finally something more.

Hannah was raped at a high school party.  I don’t feel this is a spoiler since it’s revealed in the opening chapter.  She’s getting her life back and has dreams and goals.  She is in a place where she’s ready to join in some social events and get back to dating with her roomie bud, Allie, as her wing gal.  She’s already got who she thinks is the perfect guy in her sights even if another guy is distracting her.  I thought Hannah’s character was fabulous.  She’s feisty, but also vulnerable.  She puts herself out there, but she’s still working through stuff.  I was impressed that the author went the extra mile in that Hannah had sex with Garrett, but it didn’t magically erase her rape and they have to take a step back together and give her time.  It’s not some dark shadow hovering, but it’s there in a realistic way.

By the way, Garrett turned out to be one amazing guy.  He was finding his way and figuring stuff out, but he was right there for Hannah.  He was way more than the persona he wore like armor and it was fun to watch Hannah figure this out and appreciate him.  He, too, has demons, but like Hannah, he doesn’t let it take over everything.
They have their big crisis moment, but even then, the struggle was within bounds and didn’t blow up into absurd angst.

I was thoroughly entertained by the banter and college antics of their friend groups, engaging with the characters, and rooting hard for the romance.  I flew through this book in two sittings.  I want all their friends’ stories now though I cringe at what Logan’s story will be like after his big misstep.

In summary, it was better than I was even hoping and I want more Off-Campus series.  For those, like me who hesitate to pick up New Adult romance or want to take your first plunge into the genre, I can heartily recommend The Deal.  It is still free last I checked if you want to test drive it.

Challenges Met

Mt. TBR #54
Romanceopoly #67 Campus Corner
Books N Tunes #32 Ed Sheeran’s Thinking Out Loud
COYER Quarantine #60



About Elle Kennedy

A New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author, Elle Kennedy grew up in the suburbs of Toronto, Ontario, and holds a B.A. in English from York University. From an early age, she knew she wanted to be a writer, and actively began pursuing that dream when she was a teenager.

Elle currently writes for various publishers. She loves strong heroines and sexy alpha heroes, and just enough heat and danger to keep things interesting!

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I was born and raised near Sacramento, CA. I have read since I was four years old and developed tastes that run the gamut of literature. I went away to college and have a degree in education, a certificate in family history research, and a certificate in social work. I worked for a non-profit agency with low income families for 20 years which included being responsible for the children’s library and promoting/teaching adult literacy. I have lived in Southeast Michigan for the last 18 years and I am currently a book addicted homemaker with a cat and husband who keep me grounded. Recently, I made it a challenge to review each book that I have read as a favor to author friends who said reviews are important. I have done reviews for Good Reads, Amazon, eBay, and Smashwords, but mostly at Goodreads and Amazon.

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1 year ago

I forgot how much I loved this series. Your review brought it all back to me. Glad to hear you enjoyed it! I have actually been reading some NA again (it’s been a while). There are some really good offerings out there.

Sophia Rose
1 year ago
Reply to  Sam@wlabb

Neat that I could give you a walk down memory lane. I’d be interested to get a rec or two, Sam. 🙂

Anne - Books of My Heart

I really enjoyed this series and you can see why! I enjoy NA and don’t understand why more don’t love it. Fantastic review!

Sophia Rose
1 year ago

Oh yes, it has good writing. Maybe I’ve been trying some NA that wasn’t the best. I do have about five authors who write NA series and several standalones that I’ve loved, but it has to be certain writing styles and situations. So, I guess I’m picky rather than not liking the genre in general.

Mary Kirkland
1 year ago

That sounds like a fun read.

Sophia Rose
1 year ago
Reply to  Mary Kirkland

It turned out to be a wonderful surprise. 🙂

1 year ago

I’m so happy you ended up liking this! It’s my favorite of the series! I don’t gravitate to NA anymore, but this was a win for me, too.

Sophia Rose
1 year ago
Reply to  Rachel

It had some great sparkle and sizzle. I definitely want more, but like you, it just doesn’t pull me in more than once or twice a year at most. This series might be the exception.

Carole Rae
1 year ago

Cute! I am curious about their friends. The main people seem interesting too, but I love a good side group of characters

Sophia Rose
1 year ago
Reply to  Carole Rae

Same here! I love when there is a circle of friends aspect to a story and then I want their stories. 🙂

1 year ago

Yay! you read this one. The Deal is one of the first NA that I read and loved.

Sophia Rose
1 year ago
Reply to  vvb

Woohoo, I finally got around to it. It sure was a really good NA after I’ve read some real duds in the last few years. 🙂

1 year ago

YES!! All of what you said. I don’t generally go for “NA” books, but I absolutely LOVED this series. The humor alone… so many laugh out loud moments. But the story is emotional, touching, and genuine fun. Great review.

Sophia Rose
1 year ago
Reply to  Jen

I loved the humor. It totally sold me and their banter was great. It was a well-rounded book and I do look forward to the rest now.

1 year ago

This sounds like a great read! It sounds like a well done romance and that’s good to hear the aftermath of the rape is handled realistically and give her time. I kinda enjoy those college age stories where characters are still figuring things out. That sounds fun how this one had some of your favorite college tropes as well and how it deals with their dark pasts, but it doesn’t get too emotional. Great review!

Sophia Rose
1 year ago
Reply to  Lola

Yes, it was great. The author went the extra mile to develop their characters and their romances realistically while not taking the fun out of college romance. 🙂