The Deal (Off Campus #1) by Elle Kennedy

The Deal (Off Campus #1) by Elle KennedyThe Deal by Elle Kennedy
Series: Off Campus #1
Published by Indie on February 24, 2015
Genres: New Adult, Romance
Pages: 358
Format: 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.

My Review…

I love reading contemporary romance, but I especially love how well it works as palette cleansers between fantasy reads.

So when Amazon recommended the Off Campus series to me for only $4.99, it seemed like the perfect way to pass time, and leave me renewed for whatever Urban Fantasy or Fantasy book I decide to cross off my TBR next.

After I one-clicked, I saw that is was New Adult.*heavy sigh* I’ve learned to avoid NA, specifically NA Romance, b/c I’m almost always disappointed with the still new genre’s offerings. Too much awkward or unbelievable sex. Too little plot. Too little character development. Too little everything.

For example, The Deal‘s plot is not only a tired trope, but it is also filled with stale clichés.

Like Hannah, our ever-pining heroine:

“He doesn’t know I’m alive.”

What? You say you’ve read this story before? Feels like déjà vu, I know.

And not only do we find out that she’s pining for some guy named Justin on the very first page, but a few short paragraphs later:

“In the five years since the rape, my heart has pounded for only two guys.”

I’m sorry, whaaaaaaaaaaaaaat? We are talking about rape and physical attraction in the same sentence.  I get it, it’s fiction and I’m suppose to suspend my disbelief which normally I can do, no problem.  But in this case, I can’t.  It doesn’t ring true, and it feels forced.  It also feels as though the author took the topic of rape, sprinkled it in the story in an effort to make Hannah seem complex, but failed.  Utterly. Mind you, it’s not about the “rape.” It could have been about “murder,” “domestic violence,” etc … get my drift? The book begins in the middle of Hannah’s story, and being casually told about an event so essential to understanding her character . . . it wasn’t believable.  How can I believe she’s a survivor if I don’t feel her struggle?

Which brings me to my next issue, the setting…

The story takes place on a college campus, but it felt more like high school because of the immaturity of all the characters, and I won’t even get into the villainous father. Garrett, our fearless hero, needs Hannah to tutor him so he can continue to play hockey and not get benched for the season.  He tells her that by dating him, it will increase her popularity on campus.

“Hannah Wells is into a football player.”

I mean, I just don’t even have the words for that one, but since she’s pining for Justin, he promises that he can help her get his attention by hanging out together.

Then we meet Cass, who is the thorn in Hannah’s side.  He’s the quasi villain who tells Hannah what note to sing in for their recital.  This was just painful to read about.  His presence in the story isn’t tremendous, but he’s there, I suppose, to create some sort of complexity.

Back to Hannah and Garret…one fateful night *cue dramatic music* Hannah has too much to drink, pulls out a glass pipe and gets wasted , but Garret, her protector, makes sure she’s safe once he sees that another player has dragged her on the dance floor.

“Hannah hadn’t been moving suggestively when she’d belted out Lady Gaga earlier, but she sure as shit moving suggestively now.  She’s gone from Disney Channel Miley Cyrus to Full-on Twerk Mode Miley.”

And as our hero grabs our rape survivor off the dance floor…

She pouts.  “I’m dancing.”

At this point I wanted to put the book down, but I couldn’t because I believed that the book had to get better, and, also, I have this issue that after I pay for a book I feel the need to finish it.

Fast forward to the next chapter, our hero and heroine–shockingly–develop feelings towards one another, and she miraculously asks Garrett to have sex with her.  He, however, is not so certain until he hears her profound statement…

I let out a shaky breath. “I’m broken, and I wanted you to fix me.” Alarm widens his eye.

Yes ladies and gents, he ultimately wants to fix her and does by having the most amazing sex ever.  *rolls eyes*

But this quote is the mother of all quotes that everyone loves and I mean, seriously love…

“Are you taking human growth hormones or something?” I snatch my hand back, fighting another rush of nervousness.  “There’s no way that huge man monster is fitting inside me!”

This story fell flat for me, and originally I had it at a 2 star rating, but after looking at my notes, it was a one star read for sure.  All the characters are ​two-dimensional, the writing is subpar at best, and like I said, it’s filled with endless clichés.  I clearly read a different book than the entire Goodreads universe.



*If you thought my review was helpful, please consider voting for it on Amazon*



  1. Lisa says

    I didn’t make it past the free sample. Thank you for the honest review, so tired of the blogs out there that recommend books just to get swag from authors.

    • Cristina says

      Thanks so much Lisa…you just made my day! ♥ I really appreciate that b/c I was a bit worried when I initially wrote the rough draft. But at least you, me and Meg feel the same way!!! ;)

    • says

      I’m curious about your statement that blogs recommended books to get swag. Do you have proof of this? I admit that I liked this novel, with it’s cliches and all, and for you to suggest that I liked it to “get swag” is really offensive.

      Not liking something doesn’t make an opinion more truthful.

      I almost DNF’d at the rape reference, no joke. I continued on and liked it, despite how cliche it is for NA, but I totally respect and understand why it didn’t work for you. Great review!
      Kayla @My Book Muse recently posted…Review: Little Peach by Peggy KernMy Profile

      • Cristina says

        Kayla thanks so much…I appreciate your thoughts. *wink* And sometimes I don’t mind a cliché here and there but sadly, it just didn’t work for me. But the most important thing is that you liked it, you know? :)

  2. says

    I’ve seen this one on the blogosphere a lot and i’d only heard really good things about it until your review. To be quite honest I was a bit skeptical about it since the synopsis wasn’t convincing me and it did leave me feeling like this one was just another typical NA (but all the 5 stars reviews said otherwise) But i’m so happy your came out with your honest and realistic review because now I can safely say I was right.
    Lily recently posted…Red Queen (Red Queen#1):ReviewMy Profile

    • Cristina says

      I would never tell someone not to read a book but I will say that your hunch about this one is spot on!!! Run for the hills my friend! ;)

  3. says

    Great review, Cristina. I completely AGREE about the immaturity and the cliches. I could only make it to 20%; To be honest I only started it because of a certain review that I read and I was curious about the drama, was hoping that it might work for me but it didn’t, so I didn’t bother rating it. <3

    • Cristina says

      I just created a DNF shelf…it’s been a long time coming but life is too short to be spending on books we don’t love! ;)

  4. says

    SMH this just sounds like a story that makes you want to inflict bodily harm to the leading lady lol. I can’t stand the same ol bed scene conversation…I think this is why I have a temporary break on contemporary and new adult romance. That’s to bad it was a bummer of a read, hopefully the next one will be much better. :)

    • Cristina says

      He deserves to be poked in the eye as well. *snickers* And yes, I’m carefully selecting the next book that I hope to fall in love with! ;)

  5. Grace says

    I have seen nothing but love for this book around but based on the review and the quotes you shared (especially that last one) – Yikes! Might not be taking a chance on this one – I have been burned too many times by books that are similar. Thanks for the honest review!

    • Cristina says

      Hi Grace…unfortunately, it just didn’t work for me and I wanted to love it just as much as everyone else. At least I can tackle a new book in hopes it’ll be my next favorite! ;)

  6. Kristin says

    I love that you give honest reviews even if it’s not a favorable one. THIS is how a less than favorable review should be written, you stated what didn’t work for you respectfully. Sadly, I haven’t found too many bloggers willing to do this for whatever reason. You’re one of the few I trust impeccably. I read this one and I liked it. It was filled with cliches, no doubt about that, but I expect that with NA books. I enjoyed Hannah and Garrett together and I didn’t expect anything deep and meaningful. The Chicago Blackhawks mention didn’t hurt either.

    • Cristina says

      Thanks Kristin!! You’re always way too good to me!! *wink* There’s a reason why this book is so popular and there’s a certain level of comfort in knowing what to expect, I totally get that. Maybe I will give one of her other books a try. PS: I just discovered who Duncan Keith is… *faints*

      • Kristin says

        For me, NA books are Rom-Com movies in written form. The plots are the same but with different characters. The dialogue between characters is what makes or breaks these books for me, the plot isn’t even on my radar. But I do understand that formula doesn’t work for everyone. NA’s are good “between books” books for me when I need something “fun” to read. And fyi, we are in total agreement on Duncan Keith.

    • Cristina says

      I KNOW, RIGHT?!?!?!? *snorts* I’m totally sticking with K.A. or any of those authors you mentioned b/c it’s usally a win! And thanks Jeann! :)

  7. says

    Ah NA is quite tricky, I don’t read a lot of them I confess but I had some great ones. I didn’t know about this one but I think I’ll pass. I’m sorry this one wasn’t for you and the the story fell flat like that.
    Melliane recently posted…Stacking the Shelves #133My Profile

    • Cristina says

      It totally is Melliane and that’s why I usually try to avoid it. Now, I can hunt for a good book that I know I’ll love! ;)

    • Cristina says

      Faye…I couldn’t agree with you more. This was such a huge miss for me. And I’m determined to DNF books that aren’t worth my time. ;) It’s a bookish new year’s resolution! *snickers*

  8. says

    I’m with you NA Cristina! I hate to be judgemental on a genre but the characters, setting and plot are almost always the same thing, especially for contemporary NA. There’s always the damaged hero or heroine that has gone through something traumatic in the past but most of the time, they are just really words on a page because it doesn’t mean anything anymore. Just a fact to add to a main character so s/he will have depth. And I like sex like any other person but I’m so bored with the escort and sex scenes…most of the tine I just skim it! I hope your next read is better, I can understand why this didn’t work out for you because I would probably feel the same thing from your review. Clichés are okay but up till a point really! Great review!
    Amir @ Not So Literary recently posted…Speed Views #3: The Great Ilona Andrews BingeMy Profile

    • Cristina says

      Thanks Amir!!! ♥♥♥ Very few authors get sex scenes right and NA just doesn’t work for me, which is disappointing but maybe one day…someone will get it right. ;)

  9. says

    I swear, everyone’s reading this one. But all my GR friends liked it, so I was surprised when I realized that this is a negative review. XD Yay though! It’s good to see different perspectives!! I’m avoiding NA too, Cristina. Seriously. The romance always seems to be too much and too unrealistic so I’m like meh. Oh gosh, I hate immature characters. :/ I don’t know, for real. Great review!!
    Lola @ Hit or Miss Books recently posted…Review: Crimson Bound by Rosamund HodgeMy Profile

    • Cristina says

      I think this is like comfort food for a lot of readers and sadly, it didn’t work for me. I’m staying as far away from NA as I possibly can! ;)

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