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Book Review: The Deal by Elle Kennedy

Last Updated on August 20, 2023 by Louisa

I picked up a copy of The Deal after it was hyped up on Tiktok. Upon reading the synopsis, I didn’t think it would be anything new, just another college romance book.

But with so much hype around it, surely it has something going for it?

After all, it was also nominated for a Goodreads Choice Award for Best Romance in 2015, the year it was published, as well as being a New York Times bestseller.

With so many accolades, I had to pick up a copy and see what the fuss was about.

Here’s my honest The Deal by Elle Kennedy review….

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through any of these links. 

The Deal by Elle Kennedy Book Review

The Deal is the first novel in the Off Campus Series by Elle Kennedy. It follows Hannah Wells, a talented and driven college student who’s recovering from a recent heartbreak, and Garrett Graham, the captain of the college hockey team and a campus playboy.

The two form an unlikely alliance when Garrett offers to help Hannah with her music studies in exchange for her helping him pass a philosophy class.

What happens next is a tale of heartachingly beautiful romance, of fake relationships and the niavity of college romance.

If you’re thinking of picking up a copy of The Deal, keep reading to read my full, honest review of The Deal by Elle Kennedy.

By Louisa Smith

the deal elle kennedy cover
Writing style
Character development
Likelihood of reading the sequel


The Deal by Elle Kennedy is sexy, emotional, and swoon-worthy. It’s a New Adult romance that explores some of the familiar themes in college romance and fake relationship tropes, but with a fresh and lively voice.


What I liked…

At first glance, The Deal might seem like a typical college romance, with its opposites-attract premise and flirtatious banter.

However, Kennedy adds depth and nuance to the story by dealing with serious themes such as sexual assault, abusive relationships, and mental health issues.

Hannah, for example, is a survivor of sexual violence, and the trauma she experienced weighs heavily on her throughout the book.

Meanwhile, Garrett is dealing with the pressure of meeting his father’s high expectations, as well as an ex-girlfriend who’s determined to win him back.

What sets The Deal apart from other romances in the college romance trope, however, is Kennedy’s ability to balance the heavier themes with humor and heart.

The writing is sharp and witty, with laugh-out-loud moments and plenty of swoon-worthy romance.

The chemistry between Hannah and Garrett is electric, and their banter crackles with energy.

It’s refreshing to see a romance novel where the characters communicate openly and honestly, without resorting to unnecessary drama or misunderstandings.

The fact that this is a dual POV romance book helps the reader to really understand the characters, as you see a situation from two differing perspectives.

The secondary characters in The Deal are also well-drawn and provide depth to the story.

Hannah’s roommate, Allie, is a refreshing and hilarious foil to Hannah’s serious demeanor, while Garrett’s hockey teammates add a sense of camaraderie and loyalty to the story.

Kennedy does an excellent job of painting a vivid picture of college life, with all of its messy, complicated relationships and intense emotions.

One of the standout aspects of The Deal, however, is its representation of mental health issues.

Hannah struggles with anxiety and panic attacks throughout the book, and Kennedy does a great job of portraying the realities of living with these conditions.

Her compassion and understanding towards Hannah’s struggles are evident in her writing, and it’s clear that she’s done her research.

Similarly, Garrett’s struggles with anxiety and depression are also sensitively depicted, with a focus on the physical symptoms that often accompany these conditions.

What could have been better…

In terms of criticisms, the pace of the novel can sometimes feel a bit slow, especially in the middle section.

However, Kennedy’s strong and engaging characters keep the reader invested throughout, and the slower moments serve to deepen the emotional payoff of the climax.

What it’s similar to…

I read this book after reading After by Anna Todd, and it has similar themes of college romances with an alpha male and two lovers who are both damaged on the inside.

Another similar book to The Deal is Wait For You by Jennifer L. Armentrout, which is also a college romance but with a bit more of a darker romance story.

While there are many college romances out there, I feel like The Deal was a refreshing take and there are many books that are similar, but nothing exactly like The Deal.

This is another one of the reasons I liked this book so much.

Read more: Books Similar To The Deal

The Deal Trigger Warnings

This book contains references to:

  • Rape
  • Child abuse
  • Abusive parents and domestic violence
  • Death of a parent from cancer (off-page)
  • Misogyny
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Blackmail
  • Slut-shaming

Romance Tropes

The Deal falls into many popular romance tropes, there are:

Where to find it?

You can find The Deal by Elle Kennedy in most good bookstores. Or you can purchase a copy from any of these links.

The Verdict: Would I Recommend This Book?

Overall, The Deal is a must-read for fans of New Adult romance.

Kennedy’s sharp writing and sensitive portrayal of serious issues make this novel both hilarious and heart-wrenching, and the chemistry between Hannah and Garrett is off-the-charts.

While it might seem like a typical college romance on the surface, The Deal brings much-needed nuance and complexity to the genre.

I would definitely say it lived up to the hype and is a worthy read for any New Adult romance fan.

Have Your Say…

Now you know what I think, it’s time to let the society know what you think. Have you read The Deal by Elle Kennedy? Share your opinion in the comments.

The Details:

  • Pub Date: Feb 24, 2015
  • ISBN: 9781775293934 
  • Page Count: 360
  • Publisher: Bloom Books

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About Louisa Smith

Editor/Founder - Epic Book Society

Louisa is the Founder, Editor, and Head Honcho of Epic Book Society. She was born and raised in the United Kingdom and graduated from the University for the Creative Arts with a degree in Journalism. Louisa began her writing career at the age of 7 when her poetry was published in an anthology of poems to celebrate the Queen's Jubilee. Upon graduating university, she spent several years working as a journalist writing about books before transitioning to become a Primary School Teacher. Louisa loves all genres of books, but her favorites are Sci-Fi, Romance, Fantasy, and Young Adult Fiction. Read more Louisa's story here.

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