This is After Hours Liz, so if you don’t like talking about penises, check out my review of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
Guys, I have no idea what fucking happened. One minute, I am browsing Goodreads because I am really bored with Crooked Kingdom (yeah, I said it), the grass always looks greener in some other book you don’t own, and the next thing I know, I am buying The Deal by Elle Kennedy. I seriously don’t know what happened. I was never against new adult, but it was something that was never on my radar. I’ve read like one or two romance novels in my day, mostly when I was in high school, sneaking them from my aunt’s collection at Thanksgiving, but I had never really felt the true power of romance. This book was like the first boy (or girl) you ever kissed, messy at times, completely awkward, but full of lust and sincerity. For the record, my first kiss, was with a boy named Cameron in a movie theater during Into The Blue with Jessica Alba and Paul Walker. The movie was horrible and so was the make out, but I digress.
This book blew me away. I am sorrrryy there are so many cheeky innuendos in this review. How can I pass them up?? I did not expect to like this book that much. It is told in dual prospective between college juniors, Garrett and Hannah. Garrett is your typical jock with a heart of gold and a penis of note, and Hannah is a studious, music geek with “narrow hips”, make what you will out of that, and a troubled past. Actually they both have troubling pasts, but they are the optimistic types I would liken to golden retrievers. The plot is the screenplay Jennifer Love Hewitt, riding high on her success in the late 90s, would have passed on, but good god, this book swept me off my feet like a blushing virgin. The dialogue is unbelievable (not the good unbelievable) at best but there is so much wit, and I loved the quirky situations our main characters found themselves in. The depiction of college is LAUGHABLE (and not the good kind), but I still found myself enjoying the world these characters roamed. Look, it’s not Hemingway, but does it have to be by a dead guy to be good? No, Hemingway could not write good sex like Kennedy. I loved, loved the main characters. They were well-rounded and they made me care. Garrett could have easily given off stalker vibes, but the author does a good job of playing the persistent suitor in a new way, and I can’t tell if she’s poking fun at the overused trope or not. Hannah is a strong character and downright funny.
The Deal handles heavy subjects. Abuse and rape, but it never comes off gimmicky or exploitive. Hannah tells us on the very first page that she was raped in high school. Rape is an important part of Hannah’s development but it does not become her defining characteristic. She shows that acceptance and resilience can be found among tragedy. Garrett does not fall into a savior role. He helps her to flower (god, I know it’s terrible, bear with me). She already has the power; she just needs help finding her groove. I found their stories honest and rooted for each to find happiness and peace.
Now the sex. Yes, kids we are going talk about sex. Fab-fucking-tastic. The first sex scene between the two main characters features no penetration, but was literally hotter than any sex scene I have ever read. Her scenes make Sarah J Maas’ sex scenes look like the Mojave Desert. Kennedy’s sex scene would literally KO Maas’s sex scenes and get a 35-million-dollar endorsement deal from Nike. I know that sex is a slippery (sorry) subject for some. Not so much for the actually act(s) but because sex is all about comfort and preference. We all know what we are into, or at least what we aren’t. I found the scenes were tailor-made to put a woman’s thoughts first which is so refreshing, especially coming (ha) from an English major who was forced to read the Tropic of Cancer and listen to her professor lecture on the sex scenes (true story, bro). Yes, the story isn’t perfect. Yes, I cringed at times from the ridiculous “deal”, a plot point that is abandoned at the halfway mark, but found myself laughing out loud (literal lols, people) multiple times. I was giddy and obsessed. I was satisfied…with the reading experience.
I know that this series is a quartet with each book focusing on one of Garrett’s roommates, and I will be picking them up. I hope the Kennedy makes a whole series about every fucking member of that hockey team, and the janitors, and the dude who rides the Zamboni. I could read about annoying jocks and bated breaths all day.
Four out of five disembodied male torsos
(took off a star for the clunky plot and for too many mentions of Justin Bieber).