Lately in my book community circle, I’ve seen much love for the first book in Elle Kennedy’s Off-Campus series, The Deal. Add that to my and everyone else’s undying love for Casey McQuistion’s Red, White, and Royal Blue, which had made me look for more new adult books. While I’ve read new adult, like Jacquelyn Middleton’s books and K.A. Tucker’s The Simple Wild, I haven’t read too much new adult outside RWRB (which I love) and Colleen Hoover (whose books I have grown to dislike for their toxic masculinity).
Enter Elle Kennedy’s Off-Campus series, following a variety of characters who attend the fictional Ivy-League Briar College. Many of the characters are on the Briar Hockey team, which as an IRL hockey fan (#LGR), I love seeing the sport incorporated into this series.
As a new adult romance series, Elle Kennedy definitely doesn’t shy away from the romance scenes. As a mostly YA reader, the romance was really refreshing and done well. Kennedy dives into the male perspective, since all 4 books are told from both the female and male love interests. Her writing style is really easy to fall into, and each book is perfect for binge reading over the course of a day. While this series doesn’t necessarily contain the the world’s best writing, there is a lot of focus on the romance and relationship development. Most of the characters have some sort of backstory outside the romance that does affect the main relationship to some extent. Nevertheless, the Off-Campus series gives readers characters and relationships that they will absolutely root for. The chemistry between the couples, friends and other characters additionally provides many laugh-out-loud moments.
I have mini reviews for each book in their publication order below.
Rating: 4/5 Stars
After agreeing to tutor him, The Deal follows the evolution of Hannah and Garrett’s relationship as classmates to something more. The Deal has a bit of a stereotypical set up, as the two come from very different worlds. Hannah is a talented music major who sticks with the performing arts crowd and has difficulty attending college nightlife as a result of being raped in high school. The star of the ice hockey team, Garrett is the Briar bad boy, but can’t seem to escape the shadow of his superstar hockey player father. However, that didn’t stop me from being addicted! From the start, Hannah and Garret’s chemistry and humor was spot on. My favorite scene was their first tutoring session:
“There’s a beat, and then his bottom lip quivers. ‘This might be the wrong time to tell you, but…I can’t read’ ” (59).
“This is Garrett’s tutor. You’re annoying me. We’re done in thirty minutes. I’m confident you can keep your pants zipped until then.” (60).
“ ‘How do you feel about Lynyrd Skynyrd? Or do you only like bands where the guys coordinate their outfits?’ ” (62).
The book deals with some serious topics, like rape and domestic abuse. Kennedy handled both topics really well. While I really appreciate the discussions surrounding rape, as Garrett goes above and beyond to make Hannah comfortable, I think she might have forced both characters to have heavy pasts. It might sound awful, but I don’t think Garrett’s back story was necessary.
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Again with the star-crossed lovers trope, The Mistake follows John Logan, who refuses to have a girlfriend, and Grace, who has been harboring a crush on John her entire freshmen year. Kennedy does this with the other books in the series, but I liked how she incorporated pop culture in this installment. For example, Grace and Logan bond over their love for Die Hard and action movies (among other things). This thought might be based on my own reading experience, as I read the book over a few days, but the way in which Kennedy splits up Grace and Logan’s relationship in this book makes it feel like it could be two different books. However, it works really well as one book. In my opinion, The Mistake felt like it delivered a tad more descriptive or explicit romance scenes than The Deal. I also enjoyed the book’s epilogue that involved some of the characters from The Deal.
Rating: 4/5 Stars
While still-handling some deep and serious issues, The Score is definitely the most comical installment in the series. Hannah’s best friend, Allie, has officially broken things off with her on-again/off-again boyfriend and needs some consoling. But Allie didn’t expect to find so much comfort in ladies man Dean. There was so much sarcasm and wit between Allie and Dean, which helped develop their relationship. While the couples and the romance are at the forefront of each book, I really liked getting to explore Dean’s personal storyline. He definitely comes off as a player in the first two books, but Elle Kennedy gives dimension to Dean’s personality and life. I loved reading his hockey scenes. And speaking of scenes, The Score by far delivers on some of the best romance scenes in the series.
Rating: 5/5 Stars
So real talk: after reading the first three books, I didn’t write my thoughts on them for this post until after a day or so of having reading them. My The Goal thoughts are being recorded approximately ten minutes after finishing it because I LOVED THIS BOOK SO FREAKING MUCH. On the day I began reading it, I probably read the first 100 pages under two hours and then spent about three hours that same night devouring it and finishing it! Going into The Goal, I admit that I had some mixed feelings because I loved Tucker in the other three books, but wasn’t a massive fan of Sabrina in The Score. However, the bombshell that was dropped at the end of The Score overtook any of my mixed feels.
From The Goal’s very start, Elle Kennedy had me hooked thanks to Tucker and Sabrina’s chemistry. The romance gets better and better with each installment, and I have to say, this book had my favorite romance scenes! Not to mention, my favorite Off-Campus man crush. Much like Sabrina, Tucker stole my heart with his southern drawl and charm. Like the other books, Sabrina and Tucker had their own personal lives for us readers to explore. While each book does involve some sort of problem for each couple, Tucker and Sabrina definitely had the most challenging one (which I won’t name for the sake of spoilers). This book’s timeline is a bit longer than the other books, which I absolutely loved because I was so invested in this couple’s future. As their lives unexpectedly change, I loved the light-hearted moments and humor from the rest of the Off-Campus cast.
Overall, the Off-Campus series was the new adult romance series that I needed. As mentioned above, my favorite installment was The Goal, with The Deal as my second favorite- I think I had similar feels and reading experiences when it came to The Mistake and The Score. While a tad predictable at times, I really enjoyed each book’s romance and plot. I’m looking forward to reading Elle Kennedy’s Briar U series in the near future.
Have you read the Off-Campus series or any books by Elle Kennedy? Share in the comments!