Monday, May 11, 2015

The Deal & The Mistake (Off-Campus 1 & 2) by Elle Kennedy

The Deal * * * *

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’d first heard of The Deal when I saw someone highly recommend it on Facebook. The Hook Up by Kristen Callihan had almost burned up my ereader with its hot college sports romance and had definitely whet my appetite for more like it. Readers, I went on a bit of a bender and read both The Deal and The Mistake in one weekend. Go me! Hence, I’m covering both books in this review and no spoilers included.

The Deal gives you Hannah and Garrett who are in the same ethics class together but where she’s passing, he’s failing. One look at her score on the latest test has Garrett begging her to tutor him. She doesn’t succumb to his fame or flirty ways so refuses him because she honestly has no time. Garrett doesn’t give up easily and eventually wears her down by dangling a carrot in front of her – help him pass the class and he will make sure that she gets noticed by her crush, a popular football player in their class.

Despite everything he tries, Garrett can’t break Hannah’s defenses. That’s okay though because while he’d never noticed her before, he’s actually enjoying her company now. Hannah finds him growing on her though she won’t admit it out loud. There’s a reason why Hannah guards herself so closely and when she’s finally brave enough to admit it, Garrett shows that he can actually be a really stand-up guy. He also has his issues which would break any illusions people have of him and his family. When Hannah and Garrett come together, it’s beautiful and also maddening because of some despicable interferences from outside sources.

I liked The Deal a lot. At first I couldn’t help but notice similar themes with other novels but whatever similarities I’d noticed were fairly innocuous. The story pulled me in and I took to both characters. I mean, I have a soft spot for sarcastic and cocky guys…in fiction. And Hannah is awesome because she doesn’t back down to anyone or follow the pack. Her sarcastic nature is something I adored about her. Combine all their qualities and some sexual tension and you have yourself one helluva read!

~ Bel

The Mistake * * * *

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 hook-ups, 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.

By now we’re aware that our hockey player guys in the Off-Campus series are serious players. Being in a relationship is not high on the agenda. Hook-ups are the way to go and there are a few right off the bat here.

Logan is Garrett’s best friend and fellow teammate. Things between them are a bit off lately because now Garrett has a girlfriend and Logan may or may not be silently crushing on said best friend's girl in a bad way. He feels like a collosal jerk and the only way to alleviate the guilt is by being with other women. It leaves him empty inside but it’s a better alternative than being around the two love birds.

Grace is a sweet and awkward girl. She has a confidence about her that gets overshadowed by her tendency to blab too much when she’s uncomfortable. She runs across Logan one night at a party which leaves an impression on her. Let's say he's living up to his reputation. The next day in an attempt to avoid Garrett and not feel like a loser, he decides to take up a friend’s offer to meet them at a dorm party but when he arrives there, he doesn't remember the room number. He knocks on a door which turns out to be Grace’s room. That leads to some awkward chatting. Happy coincidence, she's been watching a movie (Die Hard) and he just so happens to share her love of action movies so he says yes to staying when she invites him in. One thing leads to another and they kind of sort of hook up. But then he bolts. Yes, that’s a jerk move. But he can’t get over how he left her feeling.

Logan attempts to make things up to her and thus begins a bizarre relationship. Even Logan can’t fathom what he’s doing. Whatever they’re embarking on, he’s worried that he may be leading her on and Grace isn’t exactly sure what’s happening between them.

Just as with The Deal, Logan and Grace have other matters in their lives that need attention. For Logan it’s his family obligations that could hinder his own career goals. For Grace, it’s her changing relationship with her best friend and a need to break out of her friend’s shadow.  Even with all the confusion and miscommunication between Logan and Grace, what I admire most about her is that she will not be anyone’s consolation prize. When Logan screws up big time, she makes him work to earn her trust back. Believe me, she makes him do it in the most hilarious and inventive ways possible!

The added bonus to The Mistake is seeing a bit more of the other guys in the house, Dean and Tucker. They’re both fun and sometimes shockingly insightful. Oh and one part that made me squeal was a shout out to a certain other fictional character that many may recognize.  I wasn’t expecting it and it was a nice touch!

In conclusion (like I’m debating here or something), The Deal and The Mistake both make for a great time. They both highlight some serious issues that affect many people and I think they’re dealt with sensitively here. I'm impressed by these heroines who aren’t afraid to be smart and won’t compromise their principles. And the guys – got to love them for all their brawn and ego but they do gain some maturity and wear their hearts on their sleeves. If that didn’t happen, there’d be no way I’d enjoy this series as much as I do.

Now the wait is on for the next story ...

~ Bel

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