Off-Campus Series by Elle Kennedy
New Adult Romance
This is my first foray into the “New Adult” genre. I’m not exactly sure what that means. I think it used to be a part of romance, because I know I read my share of novels about young 19 year olds back in the day before this category was created. That being said, I get why it’s good to have this category. With more and more romance authors focused on protagonists who are out of school and working full-time, it’s nice to have this separate category for those first few years away from home. In some ways, having college as the backdrop for a romance novel makes sense. Most of my friends and I met our respective spouses in college and happily, we are all still married. So it’s a sweet category, even if I’m not exactly at that stage in my life anymore.
Overall Rating: 4.5 (sXe)
I guess I should have said this first, but I love this series! It follows a group of four guys on the Briar University hockey team. The first two are out, but I know Kennedy is planning on writing at least one more book, if not two.
I am new to Elle Kennedy’s stuff but I love it. The characters and the dialogue are all great, the writing is strong, and the pacing is nice and even. I was totally engrossed in both novels from beginning to end. These books are also hilarious! I laughed so hard when Hannah walks into the locker room and thinks, “Big penises and small penises and fat penises and penis-shaped penises. It doesn’t matter which direction I move my head because everywhere I look I see penises.” Haha. Talk about LOL.
I was a little shocked, although maybe I shouldn’t have been, by the intense sex scenes. Since I’m new to this genre, I wasn’t expecting that, but Ms Kennedy sure knows how to write some hot stuff. I’m looking forward to reading more of her work in the traditional romance genre.
Another favorite part of this series for me was the hockey. I love sports, I love athletes, and I love the brotherhood that comes with being a part of a team. Plus, all the banter and flirting is super cute and since it takes a pretty confident person to do that, athletes tend to do it the best.
Of course, there are tons of ways to ruin sports novels, so I’m really glad at how deep Kennedy made the characters. While at first glance the hockey players all seem like egotistical jock jerks, there are hidden depths to them. The wonderful part of the novels is reading what is prompting their bad behavior and seeing them overcome and deal with their issues. The women are equally as complex and its nice to see them evolve together.
Like in real life, these novels deal with intense issues at a time when young adults are struggling to define themselves and their path forward. In order to do that, a lot of times it means dealing with the past. And always it is about imagining what exciting things the future holds and having the courage to go for it. I can’t wait for the next installment in the series.
The Deal (Book 1)
Neither Garrett Graham nor Hannah Wells are exactly what they seem. Hannah seems like she’s got her life together—good grades, a strong chance at winning a music scholarship, and a best friend in her roommate—but her past leaves her lacking confidence in the romance department. Garrett has never had problems in the bedroom or, usually, in the classroom, but if he continues to flunk philosophy, he won’t be able to lead the college’s hockey team to their fourth division championship. In an effort to solve both of their dilemmas, Garrett convinces Hannah to tutor him in philosophy and in exchange he will help her get the guy of her dreams. But after a few practice kisses, Garrett isn’t so sure he wants to let some football player enjoy Hannah’s new skills.
I’m not sure if this is a spoiler per se, but I have to say that I love the way Kennedy approaches Hannah’s past trauma. Hannah has been to counseling for years and she’s still dealing with the after effects of the incident. Additionally, there is the pain of injustice, which sadly happens to a lot of women. Similarly, Garrett is trying to deal with his history of child abuse. His fears and his anger are difficult things to overcome, but he manages to do it in a way that seemed realistic to me. He didn’t fly off the handle trying to rescue everyone. He simply tried to deal with it in the best way he knew how.
This book was probably my favorite of the two, primarily because there is some heavy stuff being addressed. Since books help to shape our culture, novels like this help to remove some of the stigma attached to being a victim of violence, seeking help through counseling, and learning to navigate a healthy and safe sexual relationship.
The Mistake (Book 2)
John Logan has been living like there’s not tomorrow, mostly because he believes that his tomorrow is going to be really crappy. Okay, so it isn’t tomorrow, but once he graduates college he won’t be going into the NHL like his best friend Garrett, but instead staying home to take care of his alcoholic father and the family business. When he meets Grace Ivers, Logan is all turned around. He isn’t sure what he’s thinking or feeling, but pretty soon it doesn’t matter because he makes a pretty humiliating mistake. Grace spends the summer between her freshman and sophomore year in Paris with her mother, getting over the embarrassment of her last encounter with Logan. But when Logan returns to campus set on winning Grace back, Grace isn’t as confident as she thought that she has moved on.
This novel was great as well, but some of the tension for Logan seemed a little contrived. Family responsibility is important, but it was tough to relate to his feelings of despair. That being said, I love how Logan finally confided in Garrett and was able to garner Garrett’s support. And of course, the happy ending didn’t hurt as well. This novel had an awesome epilogue, so I’m curious to see what will happen with the next novel about Dean.
Is it worth buying? (Kindle $4.99 each)
Yes! I bought them and loved them and may actually read them again (I’m not sure, but time will tell). I love these books and will be buying the next one when it is released.
Something else you might enjoy:
If you are into hockey romance novels, then Rachel Gibson has a long series called the Chinooks Hockey Team. I’ve reviewed a few of them on my blog, but I haven’t read the entire series. I prefer the more recent books to the earlier ones.