The Goal Book Review

thegoalTitle: The Goal
Series: Off Campus #4
Author: Elle Kennedy
Publisher: CreateSpace
Publication Date: September 26, 2016
Genre: New Adult – Romance
Pages: 350
Format: Purchased eBook

She’s good at achieving her goals…

College senior Sabrina James has her whole future planned out: graduate from college, kick butt in law school, and land a high-paying job at a cutthroat firm. Her path to escaping her shameful past certainly doesn’t include a gorgeous hockey player who believes in love at first sight. One night of sizzling heat and surprising tenderness is all she’s willing to give John Tucker, but sometimes, one night is all it takes for your entire life to change.

But the game just got a whole lot more complicated

Tucker believes being a team player is as important as being the star. On the ice, he’s fine staying out of the spotlight, but when it comes to becoming a daddy at the age of twenty-two, he refuses to be a bench warmer. It doesn’t hurt that the soon-to-be mother of his child is beautiful, whip-smart, and keeps him on his toes. The problem is, Sabrina’s heart is locked up tight, and the fiery brunette is too stubborn to accept his help. If he wants a life with the woman of his dreams, he’ll have to convince her that some goals can only be made with an assist.

This review is for a companion novel, but there could be some spoilers ahead.

I love this series so much. As my first foray into New Adult, I am not disappointed.

This last book in the Off Campus companion series followed Tucker and Sabrina, a hockey player and a very serious law student. When the two make eye contact from across the room one day, they are instantly attracted to each other in a very serious way, and boy did the heat turn up.

When this story first started I knew what was going to happen eventually because it was mentioned at the end of The Score, so I knew what to expect in one sense, but I didn’t expect to be so interested in both of the characters and their lives separately and together.

Sabrina James is very serious and driven in anything she does. Her stubbornness often causes her to wipe herself out, but she wants to succeed so much and to get into the school of her dreams: Harvard. She’s working two jobs, going to school full time, and studying her butt off to achieve these dreams. I found that her resilience was very refreshing and I liked seeing someone so committed, but even I was like, “You’ve gotta relax a little, bro.” I found that sometimes she was very high strung, but I think a lot of that had to do with anxiety and how she dealt with it in her own terms.

Of course, then when John Tucker showed up, a lot of that changed.

Tuck is a very charming, smart, caring Southern gentleman and I loved him. I thought he was very mature compared to the last three guys in this series, but he was also just as horny as the others. I loved that he tried very hard to pursue Sabrina – and that he even realized he was going into “stranger danger” territory at one point and backed down a bit. But after that his pursuit wasn’t pushy, but it was something that I could definitely see happening in real life. I thought that the way he strived to be a businessman and achieve his dream was also just as awesome as Sabrina’s wish.

And then The Thing happened, and oh man, I needed to know what the two were going to do in the situation.

And this is where I’m going to drop some spoilers because I need to air a few things that bugged me and also excited me:

  • When Sabrina found out she was pregnant, she was scared, and I don’t blame her at all in her given situation. She had a craptastic home life, she was under a lot of stress, and she didn’t know what to do in the situation, but when she told her friends and her friends suggested abortion and almost tried to push it on her, I felt myself getting very annoyed because it’s not their body, therefore not their decision. I was just ruffled that it was mentioned so casually, like it was the one and only option, until a few paragraphs later they were going to totally support her. It just felt off and weird.
  • I’m glad she went through with it and everything, but I wished that we could have seen a bit more? I mean there were a lot of big instances like finding out the gender and the birth (which was hilarious), but I just wished for a little more.
  • I was like, “Sabrina, stop being so damn stubborn and worrying and just tell the guy you love him!” I wished it had happened sooner than the last 3% of the book. But I’m still glad it happened.
  • That girl is so resilient! Taking care of a baby through Harvard? That’s amazing.
  • I love her and Tuck together, I really do. They balance each other out and I think that they meshed well together.
  • I was creeped out by Ray the whole time, and I wasn’t super fond of Sabrina’s Nana, and then Tuck’s mom, though coming from a place of love, was just cruel the way she approached Sabrina about everything. But hey, it happens, and I know that.

There are plenty of sexytimes that happen in this book just like the rest of them, but I think there’s a lot more dirty talk during the act than in the previous books, but I could be wrong. Either way, it was very good.

Overall I felt that this book wasn’t the best in the series, but I’m glad Sabrina’s and Tuck’s relationship was still explored because there was just a lot there and so much developed and came from it.

I rate this book 4/5 stars and highly recommend it if you’ve read the rest of the Off Campus series.

The Score Book Review

thescoreTitle: The Score
Series: Off Campus #3
Author: Elle Kennedy
Publisher: Self-published
Publication Date: January 11, 2016
Genre: New Adult – Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 361
Format: Purchased eBook

He knows how to score, on and off the ice

Allie Hayes is in crisis mode. With graduation looming, she still doesn’t have the first clue about what she’s going to do after college. To make matters worse, she’s nursing a broken heart thanks to the end of her longtime relationship. Wild rebound sex is definitely not the solution to her problems, but gorgeous hockey star Dean Di-Laurentis is impossible to resist. Just once, though, because even if her future is uncertain, it sure as heck won’t include the king of one-night stands.

It’ll take more than flashy moves to win her over

Dean always gets what he wants. Girls, grades, girls, recognition, girls…he’s a ladies man, all right, and he’s yet to meet a woman who’s immune to his charms. Until Allie. For one night, the feisty blonde rocked his entire world—and now she wants to be friends? Nope. It’s not over until he says it’s over. Dean is in full-on pursuit, but when life-rocking changes strike, he starts to wonder if maybe it’s time to stop focusing on scoring…and shoot for love.

This is the third novel in this companion series and it was just as sexy, fun, and addicting as the last two.

In this novel we get a more in depth view from Allie and Dean, the two best friends to Hannah and Garrett, and I thought that it was fun to see into their world and lives and how they act together as they get to know one another more. I knew that there would be lots of sex in this book, but wow, I think this one had the most out of all of the books in this series thus far. It also had its own share of drama just like the others.

Allie is very much a go getter when it comes to her focus in life. She wants to become an actress and either work in film and TV shows, or on the stage. She had never really considered the stage before until recently when she played a part in a show, and though that is one of her primary focuses in her life, she is also very much attached to relationships that she has. So after recently breaking up with her boyfriend, Sean, she knows that she can’t take him back because he would just be holding her back since he practically forbid her from chasing her dreams. I’m glad she didn’t end up taking him back because that would have been a very toxic relationship. But I think the way it was handled was a genuine reaction upon a break up with the conflicting emotions, the lingering feelings, and the knowledge that it won’t work out if she were to go back.

She also cares very deeply for her father, who has multiple sclerosis, and wants to take care of him as much as possible, even though he’s in New York. During her fling with Dean, I could see how much she not only cared about being with him (and boy was it hot and heavy a lot of times), but that she was grateful to him that he was willing to help in whatever way possible.

Which brings me to Dean, who was a major playboy because it started out hot and heavy with him in the beginning. But as time passed and the fling with Allie started to happen, I started to get a better sense of who Dean was and that there was more that what was on the surface. Yes, his family has money and the name of their family can get them places, but I loved his carefree attitude and that he rarely, if ever, relied on his family’s name to get him whatever he wanted. He was still a sex fiend, that’s for sure, but I think what was most enjoyable about it was how much careful attention he gave to Allie during those times. As their fling progressed into something more serious, it became clearer of his feelings toward her and how he was willing to do anything for her.

That’s not to say he didn’t have his faults because there as a major one that happened in the book that caused his whole world to shatter and for him to practically be a walking zombie for a while. He turned to drugs and alcohol during this time and though it was something that irked me, it was realistic because people deal with grief in many different ways. But, overall, I really enjoyed his character. I loved when he was teaching the kids of the Hurricanes hockey team, as well as a little girl, Dakota, how to skate. It was clear where his heart was, even if he didn’t realize it, and I thought it was kind of sweet.

As I said, this book is nothing short of steam and drama because oh my, I was fanning myself in almost every other chapter. Seriously.

There was a lot of chemistry from the start, and though Allie was adamant that she doesn’t like casual sex, and it turned into a fling, turned into a relationship, I thought that it was realistic and well done. Dean and Allie were less “opposites attract,” and more like they completed the other. I loved that they each turned to the other during difficult times when they otherwise would have turned to their friends (because hello, developing feelings here!), and even though they’d bicker and had a strenuous time at one point, neither forced the other to do anything they didn’t want to do, which I thought was key.

Overall, I highly enjoyed this book just like the rest of this series. It was fast paced and well done, and though I could have done without the drugs and so much sex (there was more in this book that the other two, I noticed), I did highly enjoy it.

I rated it 4.5/5 stars and highly recommend it.

The Mistake Book Review

themistakeTitle: The Mistake
Series: Off Campus #2
Author: Elle Kennedy
Publisher: Self-published
Publication Date: April 28, 2015
Genre: New Adult – Romance, Contemporary
Pages: 297
Format: Purchased eBook

He’s a player in more ways than one…

College junior John Logan can get any girl he wants. For this hockey star, life is a parade of parties and hookups, but behind his killer grins and easygoing charm, he hides growing despair about the dead-end road he’ll be forced to walk after graduation. A sexy encounter with freshman Grace Ivers is just the distraction he needs, but when a thoughtless mistake pushes her away, Logan plans to spend his final year proving to her that he’s worth a second chance.

Now he’s going to need to up his game…

After a less than stellar freshman year, Grace is back at Briar University, older, wiser, and so over the arrogant hockey player she nearly handed her V-card to. She’s not a charity case, and she’s not the quiet butterfly she was when they first hooked up. If Logan expects her to roll over and beg like all his other puck bunnies, he can think again. He wants her back? He’ll have to work for it. This time around, she’ll be the one in the driver’s seat, and she plans on driving him wild.

This second story in the Off Campus series was fun, sexy, funny, dramatic, and so, so awesome. I really enjoyed it more than the first, and I really liked the first book.

Since this is a companion series, there isn’t much in way of spoilers, but there are different characters that are focused on and introduced in this book, but they were all just as dynamic as the last group of characters.

We have Logan, who makes a reappearance in this book as one of the main characters. He’s Garrett’s best friend and another player on the hockey team at Briar. As such, he’s quite the player and he has sex with a lot of different girls to fill a void in himself – which he does realize toward the beginning of the story. I absolutely loved his character to pieces. He’s sarcastic, but sincere (or tries to be) and I think he really shined when he met Grace. I love how much he cares about his family and is willing to sacrifice his own happiness and future to help out when he can because of the situation at home. There isn’t as much animosity between him and his father as there was between Garrett and his father in the last book, but there was still a bit of drama unfolding there due to situations out of Logan’s control. I will say, though, that I loved the way he treated Grace and how they really melded well together. Also, he’s wicked funny, which made him brighter in my eyes as a character.

Then we have Grace, who is a freshman at the beginning of the book and turns to a sophomore about a third of the way through. She’s quiet and hard pressed to mix and mingle with others, but she tries her best with her friend, Romona, and that’s when she ends up meeting Logan. I thought that her character was very level headed and grounded in reality, but she still had a bit of fire in her when the time called for it. She had me smiling and reminding me a lot of myself in ways, which was very much appreciated as a reader. I thought that she handled situations well given what some of the ones she was thrown into were, and I also like how she is very creative in coming up with challenges for Logan to complete in order to gain her trust back. Clever girl.

As far as the story went, I really enjoyed this one. It was steamy almost right from the get go, which was a bit of a surprise, but when the mistake happened, oh man. I could see where Logan blew it big time, and frankly, I don’t blame Grace for being to put off by him. This plot centered around him trying to fix what Logan broke and realizing what he wanted, craved, and, frankly, needed in his life. But it also centered around Grace finding herself and understanding that she doesn’t have to bow to anyone’s will simply because they want her to – she’s her own person who can make her own decisions and stick to them.

I thought that the way they were written was very well done and that they bounced off of each other wonderfully. I loved the tension between them, the hot romance, as well as the dating aspect. I also enjoyed the family bits thrown in there and how there was some give and take toward the end on that aspect. It wasn’t just a steamy romance, but a little bit more, and I think it was done well.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It was well paced, steamy, funny, and not so much centered around hockey as the last one, but was still present, and it focused more on relationships of different kinds: romantic, friendships, and family relations. It was very enjoyable and it definitely made me excited to continue this companion series.

I rated it 5/5 stars and highly recommend it.

The Deal Book Review

thedealTitle: The Deal
Series: Off Campus #1
Author: Elle Kennedy
Publisher: Self-published
Publication Date: February 24, 2015
Genre: New Adult – Romance, Contemporary
Pages: 342
Format: Purchased eBook

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.

This story was sexy, funny, with touches of drama and realistic situations that made me feel sad for the characters. It was a romantic story about two college students who strike up a deal that if Garrett helps Hannah get the attention of a boy she likes, then she’d help him study for a class so he doesn’t lose his place on the hockey team – and things get interesting from there.

I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this as much as I did, if I’m being honest. I’ve heard good things about it, and I think maybe it’s because it’s my age group, but it was totally something I could envision happening on a college campus and how a relationship could develop between two unlikely people.

Hannah is a spitfire. She’s kind of quiet and likes to keep to herself, but she made a promise to her best friend, Allie, that she’d be more social in their junior year of college and meet people and do more things. I thought that she was very level headed and well within her element. She knew who she was, and tried to not let what happened in her past define her. Though what did happen did make things complicated for her at some points, the fact that she found help through Garrett – someone she thought was so unlikely to help in any way – and I thought that it was both brave and wonderful of her to do so. Not that Garrett was a bad choice, but by explaining to him why she was broken and what she hoped could “fix” her was brave.

Garrett was totally cocky and I loved him. Though, like Hannah, I thought he was a pain sometimes, I knew that that was just how he was and that he really had his heart in the right place and many times he showed with his actions about how much he cared not only for her, but others, too. He progressively became much more open about his own past and his own problems, and we got to see first hand the one responsible for said problems. I was proud of him for being able to be strong and do something about it.

The dynamic between these two started out as a hate to love relationship, and I thought that it worked really well. At first they couldn’t really stand each other, but they grew to be friends over time, which I thought was super awesome. Even if the friendship stage didn’t last as long as what I’d expect, I still highly enjoyed their relationship dynamic because they grew with each other and developed with one another, bouncing off the other and brining out the good in each.

Yes, there were sexy times, and yes, they were detailed, but I thought that they were well done. There weren’t any hints of abuse and the way that it went about with the situation really made those moments sweeter -and steamier- in my opinion.

The plot of the book focused around helping Garrett pass an ethics class, but it also focused on college life, friendships, parties, getting to know others, and branching out of your comfort zone. Both of them had their own hurdles to overcome, but they did well with each hurdle. There was enough drama to keep me reading and wanting to know what happened next.

Overall, I thought this was a well-written new adult read and that the characters were dimensional, the setting was awesome (hello, home state!), and that the story went on an upward direction.

I rated this book 4.5/5 stars.