Tag Archives: Elle Kennedy

Off Campus Series: The Goal by Elle Kennedy

In the fourth, but hopefully not final, book in Elle Kennedy’s enjoyable Off Campus contemporary new adult romance  series, another university student hockey player and lovely young woman find a future in each other as they move inexorably towards adult lives.

Sabrina James has been surviving on ambition, overwork, and very little sleep as she drives herself through her final undergrad year. Determined to make a better life for herself and gain distance from her grinding family life, she is going to go to law school if it kills her. Her upbringing in an unpleasant, complicated family has made her self-reliant to the point of leeriness and incredibly driven. It’s been a long time since I wanted to see a heroine to escape as much as I wanted a better life for Sabrina. Show me a capable woman fighting dream crushers telling her who she is and you have my full attention.

Letting off steam one evening, Sabrina meets John “Tuck” Tucker. He’s a charming member of the men’s hockey team at her university. While she likes athletes, she has sworn off hockey players after a bad experience with one. Tuck’s a temptingly engaging and unassuming guy though, so she makes an exception for him just for one night. Laid-back Tuck finds himself smitten with tough, but sweet Sabrina and he pursues her until – WONDER OF WONDERS AND MIRACLE OF MIRACLES – she tells him she’s not interested and he backs off. (Let’s pause to thank Elle Kennedy for a hero taking no for answer.) When Sabrina realises she’s pregnant, she finds herself seeking Tuck out and things move forward from there.  Tuck is all in.

It’s been three years since I asked this question, but I still don’t have the answer. Should a hero be a perfect guy or the perfect guy for the heroine? Is there a difference? Tuck is pretty amazing. He’s grounded, patient, an enthusiastic and attentive paramour, hard-working, calm, rational, responsible, patient again plus synonyms for it, mature, kind, sensible, fun, good-looking, protective in a non-overbearing way, bearded (to start off with and, admittedly, that may only make him perfect to me), supportive, and financially secure. Tuck gives Sabrina time and space, he participates as much or as little as she wants him to with her pregnancy and its ramifications, and bides his time while she comes around to the same conclusion he did the night they met.

Tuck and Sabrina face almost insurmountable odds in succeeding with the stresses of their relationship, school, baby, and getting established in adult lives and all, I thought, with virtually no sacrifices. I guess that’s where the wish-fulfillment part of these books comes in. Young people having an instant family plot is not my favourite, but Kennedy did a good job with the story and she continues to be very good at writing friendships in addition to the love story. I will be buying all of the other books in the Off Campus series as they are published.

Off Campus Books 1 – 3:
The Deal – very good, I have re-read it
The Mistake – good
The Score – Entitled, privileged guy gets everything he wants. Granted that describes a lot of romances, but it’s annoying here. He’s a dick in The Goal, too.

More New Adult:
Elle Kennedy and Sarina Bowen: Him – smoking hot
Elle Kennedy and Sarina Bowen: Us – very good

Adult Contemporary:
One Night of Sin – meh
One Night of Scandal – meh
Elle Kennedy and Vivien Arend: All Fired Up – skip it

Other New Adult romance recommendations can be found here.

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

 

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Do you ever wonder if its the same three or four guys on all these covers?

New Adult Romances

I’m not sure I had heard of the New Adult subsection of the romance genre this time last year, but I have embraced it wholeheartedly.

Based on what constitutes a grown up in different historical periods, this list by default includes only contemporary settings and is somewhat subjective. The novels often feature folks who are in university, have just finished university, or are athletes.

Recommended books are in bold, reviewed books are linked.

Sarina Bowen’s Ivy Years Series – Recommended, except where noted.
The Year We Fell Down (Hartley/Corey) – start with this, buy the set
The Year We Hid Away (Bridger/Scarlet)
Blonde Date novella (Andy/Katie) CLASSIC
The Understatement of the Year (Graham/Rikker) – LGBTQ
The Shameless Hour (Rafe/Bella)
The Fifteenth Minute (DJ/Lianne) – skip this one, seriously

Kristen Callihan’s Game On Series:
The Hook Up (Drew/Anna)
The Friend Zone (Gray/Ivy)
The Game Plan (Ethan/Fiona) – wonderful

Christina Lauren’s Wild Seasons Series:
Sweet Filthy Boy (Ansel/Mia)
Dirty Rowdy Thing (Finn/Harlow)
Dark Wild Night (Oliver/Lola)
Wicked Sexy Liar (Luke/London) – best of the series
A Not-Joe Not-So-Short Short (Not-Joe/Perry)

Elle Kennedy’s Off Campus Series:
The Deal (Garrett/Hannah)
The Mistake (Logan/Grace)
The Score (Dean/Allie)
The Goal (Tuck/Sabrina)

Everyone else, series or no:
Banner, Darryl Dog Tags (Brandon/Jesse)
Bowen, Sarina and Elle Kennedy Him (Wes/Jamie)
Bowen, Sarina and Elle Kennedy Us (Wes/Jamie) 
Butler, Eden Thin Love (Kona/Keira) – 1st DNF of 2017
Falkner, Tammy Tall, Tatted, and Tempting (Logan/Kit)
Falkner, Tammy Smart, Sexy, and Secretive (Logan/Emily)
Grace, Aria More Than Friends (Ryan/Zach) – LGBTQ
Harber, Cristin Sweet Girl (Cash/Nicola)
Ivy, Alyssa Rose The Hazards of Skinny Dipping (Reed/Juliet)
Lyons, Kathy Two Week Seduction (John/Alea)
March, Meghan Beneath This Mask (Simon/Charlie)
Milan, Courtney Trade Me (Blake/Tina)
Milan, Courtney Hold Me (Jay/Maria) LGBTQ
Roberts, Holly S. Play: New Adult Sports Romance (Killian/Rebecca)
Schurig, Rachel Ransom (Daltrey/Daisy)
Ward, Tracy Rookie Mistake  (Trey/Sloane)

LGBT romance recommendations, including New Adults, can be found here.

As always, recommendations are welcome.

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

LGBTQ Romances

Most of these romances feature gay and bisexual men. I have read a lesbian romance, but, for me, it don’t mean a thing, if it ain’t got that schwing. Unless otherwise noted, everything on this list has a contemporary setting. Reviews are linked, recommended books are in bold.

Albert, Annabeth Waiting for Clark (Bryce/Clark) Hallelujah, both gay the whole time!

Banner, Darryl Dog Tags (Brandon/Jesse)

Bettencourt, Rick Marketing Beef (Evan/Dillon)

Bowen, Sarina The Understatement of the Year (Graham/Rikker) – New Adult, part of the fantastic Ivy Years series, it’s great.

Bowen, Sarina and Elle Kennedy Him (Wes/Jamie) – New Adult, it’s steamy AND heartfelt.
Bowen, Sarina and Elle Kennedy Us (Wes/Jamie) – Not-as-new adults, finding their way.

Calmes, Mary A Piece of Cake novella (Jory/Sam) – Light and fluffy, mid-series novella

Charles, KJ A Seditious Affair: A Society of Gentlemen Novel – (Silas/Dominic) Historical, strong political elements and period details.

Dee, Cara Noah  (Noah/Julien) – squicky dynamic

Ford, Rhys Sinner’s Gin (Kane/Miki) – Overshadowed for me by the background story and over the top main plot.

Frank, Ella Try (Logan/Tate) – Too much sex? Is that even possible?
Frank, Ella Trust (Logan/Tate) – It’s possible.

Gale, Avon Power Play (Misha/Max) – Contemporary hockey romance

Grace, Aria More Than Friends (Ryan/Zach) – New Adult

Hart, Riley Collide (Cooper/Noah) – Decent, I meant to review it, but never bothered.

Jaymes, River Brad’s Bachelor Party (Brad/Cole) – Not good
Jaymes, River The Backup Boyfriend (Alec/Dylan) – Decent
Jaymes, River The Boyfriend Mandate (Memphis/Tyler) – Meh

Kell, Amber Attracting Anthony (Silver/Anthony) – Paranormal, weird daddy/son tone

Kennedy, Sean Tigers and Devils (Simon/Declan) – Charming, a novel with romance more than a romance novel

Klein, K-Lee Lazy Sundays (Devon/Scott) – Very quick read

Merrow, J.L Muscling Through (Al/Larry) – Big and stupid (really stupid) meets small and smart

Milan, Courtney The Suffragette Scandal (Edward/Free) – It has a small lesbian subplot and a unacknowledged but clear gay partnership in addition to the main M/F romance, but this book is SO GOOD I am including it anyway.
Milan, Courtney Her Every Wish (Crash/Daisy) – It’s a M/F historical romance, but the hero identifies as bisexual.
Milan, Courtney Hold Me (Jay/Maria) – Contemporary new adult romance in which the hero is bi and the heroine is transgender.

Northcote, Jay First Class Package novella (Jim/Patrick) – quick, light read

Riley, Sierra Guardian (Titus/Alex) – If you like big, tattooed men, this could be for you.

Stewart, Nicole Home for Three (Selwyn/Jack/Kess) – A gay man, a bisexual one, and a straight woman.

Walker, N.R. The Weight of It All (Henry/Reed) – Contemporary, two sweet men fall in love.

York, Sara Pray the Gay Away (A Southern Thing Book 1) (Jack/Andrew)- high school, drama, sweet, the start of a series.

As always, recommendations are welcome.

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful or my  streamlined recommendations list.

Us by Elle Kennedy and Sarina Bowen

A follow-up to the

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new adult romance Him, Us follows up five months later with Ryan “Wes” Wesley and Jamie Canning. Living together in Toronto as Wes skates through a stellar NHL rookie season (doomed to failure and disappointment as the Leafs haven’t won the Stanley Cup since the year I was born) and Jamie is establishing his career as a coach. They don’t get to spend enough time together and when they do, they are constrained by the need to mask their relationship. Wes just wants to get through his first season without becoming known as the first out gay man in professional hockey. The burden of Wes’s travel, hiding their relationship, and lack of time together is wearing on the couple.

Many adults try to figure out how to manage new careers and a serious relationship, but Wes and Jamie’s efforts are further complicated by the arrival of the world’s largest plot moppet in the form of Wes’s teammate, Blake. He moves in upstairs and takes to dropping by at inopportune times to interrupt sex and ratchet up “we can’t tell anyone I’m gay and you’re bisexual and we can’t even be ourselves in our own home” tension before proving he has a heart of gold when everything hits the fan.

The guys are still likable and sympathetic, if not especially well fleshed out characters, and their intimate scenes are still hot, but Us, while it does provide some realistic feeling situations, wasn’t really anything surprising. It’s an enjoyable, but not particularly memorable, trip down a familiar road with some nice guys doing the best they can. Honestly, the most notable thing about the story is the unbelievable suggestion that Toronto Maple Leafs ticket holders would give up their seats, even if only for one game:

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Those tickets are worth their weight in gold!

Note: I have re-read this book a couple of times since posting my review and I feel that I didn’t give it enough credit. It’s a good one and I recommend it if that wasn’t clear. Read its predecessor first.

I highly recommend Sarina Bowen’s new adult romance The Ivy Years Series and suggest you buy the box set, including the classic novella Blonde Date, but skip The Fifteenth Minute entirely. She is an author to watch.

Elle Kennedy’s new adult romance Off Campus series consists of The Deal  (great, recommended), The Mistake (good),  The Score (no), and The Goal (fine).

New Adult romance recommendations can be found here.

LGBT romance recommendations can be found here.

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

Him by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy

Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy who have each published good new adult romances, collaborated on a new one called Him that manages to be enjoyable, well-written, and

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To be honest the

may have overshadowed the story a bit, but I can’t decide how much I mind.

Jamie Canning and Ryan (Wes) Wesley were best friends from the age of thirteen to eighteen after meeting at an elite hockey camp in Lake Placid. One night that last year, things got a little out of hand after a night of drinking and their friendship imploded. Canning never understood what had gone wrong to make Wes cut him out of his life. Four years later, after they meet again at a college hockey tournament, Wes tries to rekindle the lost friendship and ignore the fact that he has always loved Jamie, but good luck with that, Wes. For his part, Jamie has some unexpected feelings for Wes that he decides he needs to explore. They take summer jobs coaching at the hockey camp where they first met.

Jamie and Wes are both amiable, engaging characters, but they could have been more fleshed out.  Wes in particular is presented as a fun, insouciant guy, but this characterization is not followed up on. Jamie is simply a nice, grounded person from a good family. He’s really likeable, but it doesn’t make for much excitement,  but there was some compensating excitement for the reader. Having read a few romances featuring two men, I was really happy that neither of heroes was struggling with his sexuality. Often, like, almost always, there’s a moment of, “I’M GAY and I WANT to WHAT my FRIEND?!” and Him nicely sidesteps it and throws in a couple more clever little twists on standard tropes as well. Ultimately, the challenges Jamie and Wes face are of location and striking the right balance between with their new professional and personal post-college lives.

There is a second book with Wes and Jamie called Us.

Sarina Bowen’s The Ivy Years Series – HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, buy the box set

Elle Kennedy:
The Deal – great
The Mistake – pretty good
The Score – no

New Adult romance recommendations can be found here.

LGBT romance recommendations can be found here.

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

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Off Campus Series: The Deal and The Mistake by Elle Kennedy

Having tried both new adult and adult contemporary romance by Elle Kennedy, I definitely prefer the former. I will be purchasing the next book(s) in her Off Campus series as soon as they become available or I have less than 10 books in my To Be Read pile, whichever comes first.

The Deal

Cheat From Amazon: 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. 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.

I am guessing that the study partner/jock trope in New Adult romance is the equivalent of an arranged marriage/rake trope in not-new adult romance, and it’s one I happen to really enjoy. Two people are plonked together and inevitably find their way to love. Garrett pursues Hannah quite diligently to be his tutor and then confidently to be her boyfriend.

The Deal is the book I am currently making a point of loaning to friends. Wading into the new adult romance genre, I’ve been zooming around Amazon trying to find good books. Kristin Callihan’s Game On series was a good start, (thanks, Malin) but Kennedy’s books are even better and the stellar reviews are warranted. The characters feel real, the story telling is sincere, and they’re a lot of fun.

The Mistake (Logan/Grace)

Cheat From Amazon: 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. 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.

This second book in Kennedy’s Off Campus series had both a lighter tone and a little more melodrama than The Deal; fortunately, it was balanced with a heavy dose of humour and a willingness to take time (ARE YOU LISTENING OTHER ROMANCE AUTHORS?) to build the relationship. Grace and Logan are thrown together and experience instant chemistry, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have issues to sort through first individually and then as a team. Logan was sweet and determined in his own cheeky way, while Grace always knew who she was, but learned to trust herself before being able to trust Logan. It’s not quite as good as The Deal, but it was worth reading and time will tell if I feel like revisiting it.

Next up in the Off Campus series is The Score about the guy who has spent the past two books getting busy with women in Logan and Garrett’s living room. He’s insouciant and louche and I was very curious to read his story and find out why he never actually brings women to his bedroom.

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.

One Night of Sin and One Night of Scandal by Elle Kennedy

These two books passed the time pleasantly enough, but were nothing special or particularly compelling. The first was cheap and highly recommended, the second was cheaper and had equal reviews. I didn’t bother with the third in the After Hours series.  Elle Kennedy has a large back catalogue I am looking at and I can already recommend to of her new adult romances, The Deal and The Mistake, more highly.

One Night of Sin and One Night of Scandal are for all the well-behaved women out there who have longed for a big, tattooed bad boy.  Not just nightclub owners, but also former MMA fighters, the men are big softies hiding behind tough, traditionally, emphatically masculine exteriors. The women are romance novel average which means that they have ordinary careers, but are gorgeous, secretly wild, sensual goddesses, but then aren’t we all.

One Night of Sin

Short Version:  Bad boy who’s not so bad, nice girl who needs to cut loose. Relations lead to a relationship.

Long Version Cheat from Amazon: When it comes to sex, good girl Skyler Thompson always plays it safe, choosing stable and sedate over wild and thrilling. She doesn’t do one-night-stands, but one look at sinfully sexy Gage Holt and she’s willing to reconsider. He makes her want to be bad for once in her life, and she’s prepared to take what she wants. Danger follows former MMA fighter Gage Holt like a shadow. Despite his successes as part owner of Sin, an exclusive nightclub in Boston, Gage can’t risk getting involved with a woman, especially one as sweet as Skyler. Still, he can’t resist a taste—and it’s so damn good he has to see her again.

One Night of Scandal

Short version: Bad boy and nice girl who have been secretly pining for each other while she dated his best friend get their chance.

Long Version Cheat from Amazon: Ex-fighter Reed Miller has been secretly lusting over his best friend’s girl for months, but he refuses to jeopardize a friendship over a woman–especially one who doesn’t like him all that much. Now that Darcy’s on the market again, it’s even more imperative to stick to his strict hands-off policy. But the sizzling attraction between them is too powerful to ignore, and once he’s had a taste of her…all bets are off.  Darcy Grant is tired of walking the straight and narrow path. She’s on the hunt for passion, and there’s no denying Reed is just the man to give it to her. Although she has no interest in dating a bad boy, and certainly not her ex’s best friend, it’s impossible not to melt beneath Reed’s skillful touch. Now it’s just a matter of setting a few ground rules–and hoping her rule-breaking, sweet-talking bad boy agrees to follow them.

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful.