I have never read Elle Kennedy before, but I have heard great things about her sexy contemporary romances. Since I adore sports-themed romances, I decided to give her debut New Adult book a try and am blown away by it.
The Deal has a similar plot to other NA books I've read with a college sports star needing tutoring and simultaneously falling in love with their tutor. Garrett is the best player on his school's hockey team and usually has no problem balancing his classwork with his team commitments. But, his ethics course is currently kicking his ass and he finds himself very close to missing games due to his low grade. Hannah is the only student in the class who understands what the professor is wanting and this catches Garrett's attention. It quickly becomes obvious that Hannah has a crush on one of the football players so Garret and Hannah decide to make a deal. She will help him pass the class and he will pretend to date her in order to make Justin jealous.
While the plot is a little low on the creative side, what makes this book stand out for me is the characters. Garrett and Hannah both have tortured pasts that they are trying to deal with and the find themselves trusting one another with their secrets as they spend time together. I loved the way that the author had them growing as friends before jumping into bed. Their constant back-and-forth was so funny and really showed the development of their relationship. It was also fun to see Hannah interact with the rest of Garrett's housemates who I believe will be getting their own stories later in the series.
I recommend The Deal for anyone who loves mature NA with well-developed characters and a serious look at some current social issues like domestic violence and rape. I will definitely be continuing this series and will probably add her adult books to my wishlist.