Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Goal (Off-Campus #4) by Elle Kennedy

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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.

Source: e-galley provided by the author in exchange for an honest review

We were left with a doozy of a cliffhanger at the end of, The Score, when Tucker announced out of the blue to his friends that he was going to be a daddy. And then we all had to pick up our collective jaws off the floor when we found out who the baby mama was. Yeah, Elle Kennedy was a big meanie for doing that to us but we know that she always comes through and holy cow, what a story!

In The Goal, we rewind back to where it all started between Tucker and Sabrina. Yes, THAT Sabrina! The much-despised nemesis of his good friend and teammate, Dean. Tucker is the quiet one amongst his friends and not as much of a player but he certainly notices Sabrina one night. She is out at the urging of her friends so she can actually relax and have fun for a change. Below the bitchy exterior which she doesn't mind fronting, is a hard-working, ambitious young woman whose goal is to get into Harvard Law School. Her busy schedule between classes and her jobs don't leave her with much leisure time. Her primary focus is to be able to sustain and support herself. Her background serves as a good reminder that judging someone on the surface never gives you the entire picture. If anything, I admire Sabrina's grit. And so does Tucker. He likes her drive and her independence, and gets a glimpse of the real person she allows few people to see. They have what they think is a one-night stand that becomes a sort of friendship-with-benefits situation. Then, bam - they're having a baby! Nevermind that Sabrina is still conflicted about her feelings for Tucker. He's fully aware of her boundaries and doesn't want to scare her away so he follows her cues, even though he badly wants to jump in and help. Therein lies their problem - they haven't been together long enough to understand each other or to even speak freely about what they want. 

While there are funny lines and moments including a reference to a ridiculously hilarious scene in The ScoreThe Goal feels much more mature as they're forced to grow up sooner than expected. The prospect of being young parents as they're approaching graduation is such an overwhelming undertaking. The tension is worsened by the fact that they're not sure what the other is thinking half the time. There are moments during the pregnancy when they're learning what lies ahead that are giggle-worthy but overall, the weight of their responsibility is always there. I've had kids and though I've never been to law school, I have friends and family who have, and knowing what they endured that first year alone, had me feeling the stress on Tucker and Sabrina's behalf!

I love stories where we're allowed to delve deeper into someone's personality to learn what makes them tick. I especially like the ones where we're surprised by a character we thought we knew. Learning how strong Sabrina is and has always been was one of the great joys of reading The Goal. And we all know we also read these books because of the guys in it, and Tucker will not disappoint you. He is a decent guy who adores his woman and is always willing to give. Garrett, Logan, Dean - they're great but Tucker is sexy as hell and is THE forever guy. More impressive is that it doesn't take an unexpected pregnancy for him to become that. It's in his nature. So ladies, get ready to fall hard!

~ Bel

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