The Deal by Elle Kennedy
Series: Off Campus #1
Also in this series: The Mistake, The Score, The Score (Off-Campus, #3), The Goal
Publication Date: April 9th 2015
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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.
Hannah is a music arts major with a huge vocal performance coming up. She’s focusing the majority of her time and energy on that, and her other classes. She doesn’t have the time, energy or inclination to tutor anyone in ethics, least of all dumb jock hockey star Garrett Graham. Unfortunately, she’s one of the few people in their class who scored well on their latest test, and when Garrett finds out he wages an all out assault to get her to agree to tutor him so he can pass the retake.
Hannah has no problem refusing. And refusing. And refusing. But Garrett just won’t take no for an answer. When he realizes she has a crush on a transfer student, football player Justin, he offers her a deal: if she agrees to tutor him for a week so he can pass his retake, he’ll get Justin to notice her. Probably she shouldn’t agree to such a ridiculous plan, but Justin is the first guy in a long time to incite lust in her, and she’s genuinely interested in him. Plus, it’s pretty clear Garrett isn’t going to give up until he gets what he wants.
Once she starts tutoring him, Hannah realizes Garrett isn’t a dumb jock after all. He’s actually pretty smart and carrying a high GPA. This one failure could bench him in upcoming games if he doesn’t get his grade up before the midterm, which is why he’s so persistent. She also quickly realizes that for all his joking and lighthearted banter, he’s a really good guy. He comes up with new and interesting ways to tempt her into tutoring her, but he’s never a jerk about it. He genuinely cares about his friends and roommates, and he’s really sweet underneath it all.
Much to their mutual surprise, it isn’t long before they’re friends. Garrett shares his fears about being benched with Hannah, and she shares her frustrations and worries about her upcoming recital. They bicker and joke, marathon watch shows together, and in general become good friends. Garrett actually considers Hannah his only female friend. Until he realizes she’s a woman, too. Then all bets are off.
This was such a cute story. I really liked the progression from antagonists to friends to lovers. I also loved the witty banter, lighthearted friendship, and deeper issues. There was angst and drama, but it was external for the most part. Despite tragic things that happened in both their pasts, both Hannah and Garrett were pretty solid. They weren’t letting their past dramas control their current situations. I don’t think we see that enough in NA. Too often the characters are so focused on the past they aren’t living in the present. Not so with Garrett and Hannah.
Hannah’s issues ran pretty deep, and they were hard to read about at times, but I thought Kennedy dealt with them very well. I really loved the way Garrett stepped up to care of her when he realized why she had certain hangups. It was also great to see Hannah stepping in for him when he needed her to.
This was an unexpected gem of a book. I couldn’t read it fast enough, and yet I didn’t want it to end.
4.5 out of 5