by Elle Kennedy
Summary: She's about to make a deal with the college bad boy...
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.
...and it's going to be oh so good.
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. But when one unexpected kiss leads to the wildest sex of both their lives, it doesn't take long for Garrett to realize that pretend isn't going to cut it. Now he just has to convince Hannah that the man she wants looks a lot like him.
In the beginning, I actually thought I wasn't going to like it. It had dual narration (pet peeve), the male main character was a bit grating initially because his thought process could be a bit sleazy and he was kind of flippant about certain things that irritated me (e.g. I vaguely recall a scene where he makes a comment about how he has sex with girls who are sober and willing while his team mates find tipsy girls to have sex with which probably wasn't meant to come across as being dismissive of date rape but it did a bit), and it was also one of those NA stories that had rape be part of the female main characters back story.
But -- well, it surprised me. I stuck with it and found myself really loving the story. I enjoyed the dual narration after a while and Garrett totally grew on me.
And the rape thing... I guess I was just tired of seeing that used as a plot device, like sexual assault is the go to thing to give female characters a tragic back story, so I was a bit apprehensive that this was going to turn into one of those stories that doesn't handle that topic with the sensitivity and respect it deserves. I'm so happy to say I was wrong, because it handled it really well.
More than that, it handled it differently than most of the other rape survivor narratives I've read (not that this one is any more valid--people cope with trauma in their own ways and that's totally okay--it was just refreshing to see a character coping in a different way than the ones I'm used to seeing). It acknowledged that this awful thing happened, that it did have an impact on her, but it showed that she's working on moving past it and she was refusing to let it rule her life, that it didn't destroy her. It was a part of her story, but it wasn't her whole story.
Anyway... Yeah, I liked the way it handled that aspect of the story.
The story was well written and I loved the characters -- they weren't perfect (there was a few scenes that annoyed me a bit because they came off as a bit mysogynistic but that just made them seem flawed and more realistic), but I loved them and I loved them together. It was one of those romances where the characters had great chemistry and it's totally addictive and leaves you with a goofy smile on your face (well, it did with me).
Overall, I'd rate the book 4.5 stars out of 5. I'll definitely be checking out the next books in the series -- Elle Kennedy has made it onto my short list of self-published authors that I'll read without hesitation.