Book Review – The Deal by Elle Kennedy

by Maryse on March 1, 2015 · 72 comments

in My Book Reviews

The Deal (Off-Campus Book 1)
Absolute “new adult” angsty-romance reading PERFECTION!!!!!!! Yes. I SAID IT. Romance reading perrrrrrrfection! In fact, could very well be my favorite of 2015. Could I have already found it? I could very well have, but either way, this one has cinched a solid spot in my forever-favorites category. In fact, I was only 75% into the book when I publicly declared it a 5-star read.

The author could have ended it, MID-SENTENCE, mid-angsty-fight moment, with “the end” and I still would have been 5-star wooooo-hooing it. YES. I loved it THAT much. Okay sure, had that been the case, I would have amended my review with a note warning y’all about the abrupt ending… TEE HEE! BUT I just knew, it didn’t matter how she ended it at that point, I was in LOVE with this read.

What would I change about this story? Not a single thing. Why does everyone love it? Because they are right!!!!

Kandace: The Deal by Elle Kennedy was so freakin good. It’s a perfect NA book. Their banter and chemistry was perfect. I think you would like this book. I know for sure your followers will big time love it. The entire gang gave it 5 stars. You’re going to be in true reading heaven. Enjoy!

Yep!! Thank you Kandace… I SO was!!

Maryse: …for those looking for a Sunday read right now? —> The Deal is awesome. It has that “old school” indie new-adult feel that I’m hooked on. It’s not crazy… or… unconventional… but the FEEL. THE FEEL of these characters is real, genuine, and addictive. The attraction, the friendship, the disinterest, the interest, the sweet-intensity of it… their backstories… the friends… LOVE IT! PLUS GREAT WRITING! I mean… YOU GUYS!!! The TIMING of it… how it plays out… you kind of know it, right? BUT OMG IT’S PERFECT. It’s exactly right. It’s SO real.

Rose: LOVED “The Deal” and knowing you, I’m sure you’ve been cracking up a few times!

Jennifer: I highly recommend The Deal!, it was Laugh Out Loud FUNNY!

Lisa: Loving The Deal!!! Don’t want to put it down!! Hooked right from the beginning!!!

Melannie: I loved it!! :D so sweet!

Jessica: I literally just finished it!!! 5 star read for me!!!!!!

Maryse: yep! 5 stars for me, too… I’ve been having an incredible winning reading streak!

Heather: Crap! I’m trying to clean my house!!! Oh well, what’s another few days of living in filth :)

Kostantina: Maryse omg I just finished it this morning !! Ughhh loved it !!! 5++++ for me :D

Maryse: I hope Logan is next. Does anybody know? LOGAN??? PLEASE? PLEASE LET IT BE LOGAN!!!! (<— no worries… this is NOT A spoiler… hilarious hottie side-character…)

Courtnie: Yes!!! Logan!!!

Maryse: *squeeeeeeeeeeeee*!!! Wheeeeeeeeee!!!! I JUST LOVE HIM!!!!!!!!!!!!! Can I have him? I LOVE Garrett, but he’s taken… Logan? ME? MINE? PLEEEEEEASE?

Kostantina: Yesssss I love Logan too !!!

Jean: I am in love with Garrett from The Deal! OMG!!

Cheryl: Finished The Deal. Loved it!!! *Garrett* I’m not sure I would equate it to Archer’s Voice Amy, but still really good. Archer’s Voice was a beautiful story with more “feeling” and angst than The Deal.

LisaM: I finished The Deal this morning. Read till 2am and then up at 8am finish!!! Book hangover!!!! So excited its a series!!! Can’t wait for the second one!!!

Paula: 20% left of The Deal – loving it!

Maryse:  My notes are riddled with: 

I feel like I highlighted the whole darn book! :D

Maria: Loved it five stars… logan …can’t wait

Chelli: YES!!!! it was really good!! Looking forward to the next book in series

Carol: It was so good and hard to follow so I think I am going to have to switch genres until Confess comes out!

Maryse: LOL Carol. A little drastic, but I like it! :P

Brenda: Loved it too! 5 stars from me

Sarah: I loved this book!!!

What’s so different about this “new adult” college romance read? Not anything on the “surface”, no… but OMG it’s reminiscent of that “old-school” indie feel that I fell head over heels with, once upon a time. WE ARE BACK my friends!

  • If old-school new adult indie-feel romance is what you crave, THIS IS IT!
  • If you’re looking for the unattainable bad boy jock that develops a JUST friends relationship with the book smart girl (who really, and believably wants NOTHING to do with him) and it stays that way for a good portion of the book, TEASING YOU… THIS IS IT!
  • If you’re looking for BELIEVABLE friendship, believable attraction and believable reasons why it’s not happening… THIS IS IT!!!
  • If you’re looking for LAUGH OUT LOUD FUNNY, your eyes welling up with tears from laughing so hard, THIS IS IT!!
  • If you’re looking for the opposite end of that spectrum… equally heart-tugglingly emotional SAD eye-welling… THIS IS IT!!
  • If you’re looking for REASON behind who these people are, and good reason for their angst-causing decisions, THIS. IS. IT!!!!
  • If you’re looking for that funny, chick-flick movie feel, with all of the fun, but with even more emotion and depth than a “chick flick” THIS IS IT!!!
  • If you’re looking for a book that has that “Archer’s Voice“, “Easy“, and sort of Slammed-ish (only in feel) FEEL, THIS IS IT!!!
  • If you’re looking for realistic dialogue (internal and external) – at times quirky and fun, and at times contemplative and hurty… THIS IS IT!!
  • If you’re looking for good romance angst, just enough but not TOO much angst (makes your heart catch but doesn’t make you want to throw your Kindle) THIS IS IT!!!
  • If you’re in a book funk and want out? THIS IS IT!
  • If you’re wanting dark, gritty romance… this IS NOT it… BUT!!!!! READ IT ANYWAY because maybe what you need is a good belly-laugh, a book-long grin, and a heartfelt sigh. Maybe you actually need that feel good love story (but not that easy!) and THIS. IS. IT!!!
  • If you’re looking for a better reason to read this book…. well… BECAUSE I SAID SO. :D *grins sheepishly*

WOW right!?? Why are you still here. GO READ THE BOOK! LOL!

Alright, so for those that want more, what’s it about?

Well… she’s a music major (phenomenal singer) and he’s a history major (who’s a hockey jock and also the son of a famous hockey star). She’s cool in her crowd, and he’s cool in all of the college world. Their worlds don’t really mix, until he realizes she’s acing a class that he’s failing in. And he needs to keep his grade-point average up, or else, so… he asks her to tutor him.

“…why is Garrett Graham staring at you?”

I follow her startled gaze and smother another groan when Garrett’s gray eyes lock onto mine. “Because he’s stalking me,” I grumble.

Her eyebrows soar. “For real?”

And considering her stance on rich and popular “bad boy jocks” (let’s just say she’s had a VERY bad experience with one in the past), she refuses. Adamantly.

Garrett snorts. “Don’t waste your time, man. She’s immune to flirting. Trust me, I’ve tried.”

But he’s adamantlier <— ;) .

“I’m not tutoring you.”

“Sure you are.” I shrug. “I just need to figure out what you want in return.”

Hannah whirls around like a dark-haired tornado. “I want to not tutor you. That’s what I want.”

And when he realizes she has a crush on a “good-boy nerdy jock” from the football team…

“I hate to break it to you, but it ain’t gonna happen, Wellsy. You’re not his type.”

Anger and embarrassment flood my belly. Wow. Had he really just said that?

“Thanks for the tip,” I say coolly. “Now if you’ll excuse me…”

he tells her he can help her get noticed by him.

“I’ll introduce you around as my date. Chicks will want to murder you. Guys will wonder who you are and why you haven’t been on their radars before. Kohl will wonder too, but we’re going to ignore him.”

“And why would we do that?”

“Because it’ll drive him crazy. Make you seem even more unattainable.”

By going out with him, being his date for a few events, possibly causing an uproar when their world start mixing.

Sounds… “usual” NA, right? I know. I KNOW what some of you are thinking that might be jaded with the NA college romance stuff. Often good girl/bad boy… some kind of deal, or meet cute that forces them to work together, or become friends, and of course, so easy to see where it’s going. And I’m not promising there are any plot twists or surprises here. But…

But see, here’s the thing about life. When it’s this good? Something inevitably goes bad.


Yep. So what I am promising is that, you will, for some reason or other (let’s call it this author’s personal writing magic)… BE HOOKED from the start, fully invested in these characters (ALL. OF. THEM!!!), and in love and cheering and laughing and tearing by the end of this book. You’ve got plenty to go through.

That’s that. THAT. IS. THAT. There is no need to say any more, because for this one… reading is believing.

So go read it.

…a vise of emotion constricts my heart, because I’m pretty sure I know exactly what it is too. And I’m scared that because of my split-second moment of indecision, I just threw it all away.

Don’t throw it away, my friends!


P.S. DON’T READ ANY FURTHER, as this is from a later part of the book (although TOTALLY NOT spoiler-ish in the least but OMG HILARIOUS and it’s one of my laugh-out-loud until I was crying moments), so I just have to immortalize it on my blog…

I reach the locker room door as one of the players walks out of it.

“Is Garrett in there?” I bark. He looks startled to see me.

“Yeah, but—”

I bulldoze past him and grab the door handle. The guy protests from behind. “I don’t think you should go in th—”

I burst into the locker room and— Penises! Sweet Jesus. Penises everywhere. Horror slams into me as I register what I’m seeing. Oh God. I’ve stumbled onto a penis convention.


*snort snort snort* lol HAHAHAHAHAHHAAHHAHAHAHH!!!! Oh and it just goes on my friends. Pure comedic genius!!!!!!!!! I mean… HOLY MOLY her reaction and her thoughts would have totally been my own had that been me.

And there is SO many awesome moments like that one… again… if I haven’t been clear enough yet —> READ IT!!!

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{ 72 comments… read them below or add one }

marina March 1, 2015 at 9:20 PM

Loved it too!!! Just finished. It’s a great one. Are the other books in the series going to be about G’s friends??? I hope so :)

Chrissy0331 March 1, 2015 at 9:36 PM

I’m re-reading it as of now! Soooo good… and I want to savor that feeling again! Bull’s eye with the review, Maryse!

Maryse March 1, 2015 at 9:42 PM

Yep! I hear the next one’s about Logan, Marina!! :D

Maryse March 1, 2015 at 9:43 PM

You know what Chrissy? This is TOTALLY re-read good. I highlighted SO much of it… so many good parts encompassing so many different emotions but especially the feel-GOOD emotions!. :P

Jackie March 1, 2015 at 9:46 PM

Absolutely with you on The Deal! Perfection! Looooooved it and was so sad when I noticed I was at 75% and knew it would be ending soon…
I’m going to read it again!

danielle March 1, 2015 at 9:49 PM

I have been dying for an old school indie romance! I miss the days of Beautiful Disaster, Slammed, Thoughtless. It’s so hard to find books that leave you with the feelers that they did. I’m going to have to stop the book I’m reading now (total book lover no-no btw) and start this one. :)

marina March 1, 2015 at 10:06 PM

Ohh so looking forward to Logan!! I feel so melancholy about him right now.

Jean March 1, 2015 at 10:07 PM

I didn’t want it to end! Great review! Logan! OMG, I can’t wait! “Book long grin”…….soooo true!

Linda March 1, 2015 at 10:18 PM

Just finished The Deal and looooved it!!! As much as I loved Garrett I loved Hannah equally!! The banter was perfection!!! The locker room scene…ummmm I think I peed a little!! Only negative is it ended!!! Absofreakinglutely 5stars*****

Maryse March 1, 2015 at 10:20 PM

Linda exactly. The fact that the book ended WAS the only negative. Reading perfection!

Karen March 1, 2015 at 10:25 PM

Totally agree, great review. It was an easy read and such a nice change of pace that it caught me right from the start and kept me there till the very last page.

Katie March 1, 2015 at 10:29 PM

Yep this book was soooo good!!! I am really excited for Logan’s book…yay!!! And that locker room scene was so hilarious!!! The whole book was simply amazing…the perfect balance of everything I love is a book :)

Cheryl March 1, 2015 at 10:41 PM

Totally agree Maryse. So, so good and that locker scene, the different descriptions–HILARIOUS!!!! Definitely her reaction and thoughts would have been mine and boy what I wouldn’t give to have that experience!! ;)

Maryse March 1, 2015 at 10:47 PM

*snort*!! :P

Helen March 1, 2015 at 11:16 PM

Absolutely loved this book!!!

Stephanie March 2, 2015 at 12:02 AM

I’m at 50% and loving it, but I do have to function tomorrow so I MUST PUT DOWN and try to sleep……LOL!!!!!!

Sofia Grey March 2, 2015 at 4:15 AM

I loved their back-and-forth texting, and how real it was.
Loved it to pieces :-)

Lise March 2, 2015 at 6:11 AM

Yay!!! You loved it too :-)
Perfect review, Maryse.

kandace March 2, 2015 at 8:12 AM

Maryse – this is the best review you’ve ever written. Seriously – you nailed it!

MichelleS March 2, 2015 at 8:34 AM

Plan? What plan? You know…. that plan that had me getting to all the other great books I still need to read. Where’d that plan go? Out the window after that review!!! You know I cant ever resist a 5-star review from you, Maryse. Started it last night. Finally! No instant love connection. I just love it when they hate each other at the start.

Jean March 2, 2015 at 8:47 AM

Yes MichelleS, no instant love connection…. I love that too!!

Fabi March 2, 2015 at 9:42 AM

Same here, as soon as I saw Maryse say five star on the other thread I immediately 1-clicked. I have 3 books started and am starting this one today because now I know why I was feeling so squirrelly. I was waiting for Maryse’s 5-star review.

Andrea Smith March 2, 2015 at 9:46 AM

I started reading it his morning and YES – I am hooked!! What a great NA novel!! I can’t put it down, I swear!!

Michelle March 2, 2015 at 10:04 AM

I finished last night and like others said, I loved the old school feel to it and how real the scenes and reactions were. It’s a book that you easily can get lost in and relate to. Really amazing job on this one! I would totally read a series just about Hannah and Garrett…hint hint if anyone is reading ;)

Sandra March 2, 2015 at 10:22 AM

I kept picturing a young Chris Pratt as Garrett.

Amy March 2, 2015 at 11:40 AM

Wow Maryse, you’ve been on a roll with the 5-star reads! Guess I should give this one a shot, huh? ;)

Penis convention. *snort* That’s freaking awesome. :P

Maryse March 2, 2015 at 2:59 PM


Maryse March 2, 2015 at 2:59 PM

Awwwww thank you Kandace!! And especially thank you for telling me about the book. I trust your favorites. :) I knew this one was gonna be good.

Lisa M March 2, 2015 at 4:56 PM

Love your review!! I think its my favourite this year so far too!! Also yeah Elle Kennedy is Canadian, just sayin!!! She has lots of other books out too! Has anyone read any of them? I may have to check them out! Now totally off topic of this book another great series is Black Falcon, by Michelle A Valentine, the collection was on sale when I bought it. I have been chuckling all weekend!! Love those books that make you chuckle to yourself!!

Maryse March 2, 2015 at 5:13 PM

I can’t wait until all y’all get back to me on how you’re loving it!! To me, this one is a SURE thing!! :D

Rose March 2, 2015 at 6:51 PM

Great review and you nailed it. Let’s go stalk the author now for Logan’s book:) No pressure….lol.

Danette March 2, 2015 at 7:27 PM

Wow. I was kinda on the fence about this one before I read your review. You have totally *sold* me!! One-clicking right now!

Amy March 2, 2015 at 8:40 PM

OMG MARYSE !! You Nailed the review on this book !!! I absolutely LOVED and DEVOURED this book :-) I wouldn’t change Anything about it !! It had a little bit of everything in it , My FAV of 2015 . It was that good , Garrett is at the very top of my BBF list and Hannah was an awesome heroine , nothing about her annoyed me (and trust me that’s hard to do) .. MUST READ MUST READ MUST READ and then YOU MUST READ IT AGAIN ;-)

Amy March 2, 2015 at 8:43 PM

Well then, since you put it that way! *giggle* Okay, I’m starting it tonight or tomorrow. :D

Amy March 2, 2015 at 8:45 PM

Oh hey, look! Another Amy came to chat here!! *points above* Yeah, yeah…I know I’m a dork. :P

Fabi March 2, 2015 at 8:52 PM

OMG I totally thought I was going crazy. First *you* said you didn’t know what to read next. Then *you* said The Deal was the awesomeness of books. *me so confused*
Thank you for clearing that up! I can stay out of the straight jacket one more day.

Amy March 2, 2015 at 9:28 PM

Lol, nope Fabi, I haven’t read it yet. But after Maryse putting it that way, that it’s my book and I’ll love it and all in caps…how can I say no that?? Yep, I know *now* what to read. ;)

Amy March 2, 2015 at 9:28 PM

*no TO that

Kristen March 2, 2015 at 10:02 PM

Words cannot describe how exciting it is to have ANOTHER 5 star rec from you following so closely on the heals of The Five Stages…this is like book Christmas!!!

Kristen March 2, 2015 at 10:03 PM

*heels lol

Maryse March 3, 2015 at 12:15 AM

I was all dizzy, too… from the Amy posts… LOL! I too was wondering why she loved it, and then she said was going to start it…?

Hi Amys!! :D

Thank you Amy for telling me you loved it too (and my review) and GET ON IT Amy, you have to read it!

Maryse March 3, 2015 at 12:16 AM


And I have another that I have a feeling will be a 5-star read. This has been an awesome start to the year. :D

5-star year!?? YES PLEASE!

MichelleS March 3, 2015 at 8:11 AM

OMG. It’s enough to keep up with all the Michelles – now we have Amys? Last initial please – I thought Amy had read the Deal and was wondering how she snuck it in there and finished it so quickly!

Hey Bev and the other Michelle – IT’S TUESDAY, MARCH 3rd…. you know, in case you forgot.

Maryse March 3, 2015 at 9:19 AM

LOL MichelleS!

I’m actually working on THAT post as we speak. ;)

Kim March 3, 2015 at 9:35 AM

LOVED it!! You just have to say hockey player and I’m in. Garrett was BBF perfection and to match him with a smart, witty, strong female lead in Hannah, this book was pure joy. What a great way to snap a bit of a book funk!!

Amy March 3, 2015 at 11:33 AM

You guys are cracking me up! But hey, the Amys have nothing on the Michelles…the Michelles are a force to be reckoned with when it comes to books. ;)

And yes ma’am Maryse, I’m on it…started The Deal this morning and have a slow work day with plenty of time to read so YAY ME!!! :D

Fabi March 3, 2015 at 11:57 AM

I finally started reading it this morning too. How far along are you? I love NA and this one just buried me in its world from page 1.

Amy March 3, 2015 at 1:07 PM

Fabi, I’m only about 10% in but I’m hooked. Did I really say this past weekend that I was going to hold off on The Deal? *pfffft* I should know better than to not listen to the ladies here. ;)

Fabi March 3, 2015 at 1:39 PM

Exactly. I was saying the same thing. There has never been a bad rec for me here. The fact that everyone was raving about was a dead giveaway. *what is wrong with me?* I should have read it this past weekend! @25% and loving it. It really is my favorite kind of romance book. At the first mention of Maryse’s whispered 5* rating, before the review, I at least 1-clicked it. But didn’t start reading until today. Better late than never?

M. Pierce March 3, 2015 at 2:22 PM

I love a good campus novel. I’ve heard so much about this one, I think I may just read it. Looks clever and fun. Great review, Maryse.

Teri March 4, 2015 at 6:22 AM

the best NA book I’ve read in ages. The genre (for me) has been full of lackluster books lately and I was so happy to read this one and get that old readers high I used to get from books like A Beautiful Disaster. Great characters, snappy, witty dialogue and swoon worthy love scenes. Yes, yes, Maryse you hit the nail on the head when you recommended this as like the old school indie books we all love.

Vikki March 4, 2015 at 9:59 PM

What exactly is an N/A book?

Vikki March 4, 2015 at 10:04 PM

Duh…..nevermind. I see now…..New Adult. Mezalikes N/A :)

MichelleS March 5, 2015 at 8:30 AM

Just for the record… I LOVED this book too. You are on a roll with the recommendations. Their back-and-forth banter was what made it a 5-star for me. “Does this feel little or boyish to you?” “and then you’d feel like an @$$ when you finally came to your senses, and, well, I wanted to spare you all that pain and suffering. You’re welcome.”

Thank you for finding this gem. It really did bring back that old NA romance feel from a few years ago.

Celeste March 5, 2015 at 9:18 AM

I stayed up WAY too late last night reading this. The blurb didn’t really draw me in, so thanks so much for the recommendation. I just love the friendship moments – where they’re watching Breaking Bad, and just hanging out – things like that. She did such a great job of building their relationship. I really enjoyed this!

Maryse March 5, 2015 at 10:16 AM

YAY Celeste!!! So glad you loved it too. Very well written, I agree. :D

Fabi March 5, 2015 at 3:19 PM

I don’t even WANT to read anything after The Deal. I’m feeling so nostalgic. It had that perfect NA feel. Like coming home after a long trip away. It put me right back into those feelings after first reading Beautiful Disaster, Slammed, Loving Mr. Daniels, Unmaking Hunter Kennedy, …*sigh* It’s such an awesome feeling reading one of these for the first time.

Maryse, you’re the best! I’ve read each and every one of these greats thanks to your blog.

MichelleS March 5, 2015 at 5:24 PM

Unmaking Hunter Kennedy??? I missed one? Now I have to go check that out!

Jean March 5, 2015 at 5:55 PM

I know Fabi! I felt the same way! Wait, does Loving Mr Daniels have the same feel?? I haven’t read that yet and I have it!!!!!

Fabi March 5, 2015 at 6:11 PM

MichelleS, if I remember correctly, you skipped it because it’s more YA than NA.

Jean, Loving Mr. Daniels is like Slammed. Same premise, in fact.

Ashley March 5, 2015 at 9:32 PM

I read The Deal in one day! (Had to take a sick day yesterday…don’t tell). I loved the writing, the characters and honestly loved the “lighter” feel. Even though there were a few angsty moments, I didn’t get that dreaded ‘pain in my side’ I seem to have had a run of lately in the books I’ve recently read that wanted to twist you up and throw you for a loop. This was a perfect read for anyone who may be in a book slump or have read too many angsty books in a row like me ;)

Ashley March 5, 2015 at 9:34 PM

P.S. Yay Logan is next!

Shawnee March 6, 2015 at 8:42 AM

Just finished this book! What a book hangover now! 10 stars! It is up there with Twilight, Beautful Disaster, Easy, and older Kristen Ashley books, the first two Thoughtless books!!!! (Sigh!!) what to read now!!???

Leslie March 9, 2015 at 6:06 PM

I loved how funny this book was! Does anyone have a recommendation for similar books with this much humor? Are the authors other books similar?

Ashley March 10, 2015 at 10:55 AM

Leslie ~ I thought Seduction and Snacks by Tara Sivec was hilarious as well.

Jen C March 13, 2015 at 3:24 AM

Oh my god, just finished this one and aarrgghh, can’t believe I waited this long. Fave book so far this year. God, what am I going to read next.

Heather April 11, 2015 at 8:57 AM

Loved loved this book!!! So glad you read this book and soooo glad I did too ;) one if my favorite part was the locker room scene. I would have the same reaction

Biate April 20, 2015 at 1:06 PM

I LOVED this book. It had the perfect combination of giggle worthy moments, sweetness, tension, intensity and happiness. Its definitely on my favorites list for 2015. Im super excited about book 2 and I hope book 3 is not too far away.

Jaclyn July 10, 2015 at 7:36 PM

I am OBSESSED with this book!! I didn’t want it to end. I’m in a bit of a funk now and don’t know what to read :( But this book definitely had me smiling and laughing!

Shawnee1707 July 11, 2015 at 10:48 AM

Have you tried the series #Nerd by CambriaHerbert? I was obsessed with this book and then found this series! Awesome!

Jean July 11, 2015 at 4:42 PM

How about The Mistake? It’s the next book in the series!

Noelle December 9, 2015 at 7:49 PM

The only problem with this book is the next books you read will pale in comparison. Although the plot isn’t new, It’s the refreshing witty banter bet.the 2 characters and slow burn romance story that got to me! Highly recommend it!!!!!

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