One of the highest compliments I can pay a contemporary romance is to say that it reads like a good chick flick, which THE DEAL does. This is my second time reading the book and I honestly think I enjoyed it just as much as the first. THE DEAL takes so many of the tropes that I can't stand about New Adult romances and pole-vaults over them. And the funny thing is, I remember when this book first came out and the shirtless cover was filling up my feed and I rolled my eyes and thought, "Not again," little knowing that a few years later, it would become a solid favorite. I guess it just goes to show that you can be surprised. Pleasantly so. Go figure.
THE DEAL is the story of Garrett and Hannah. Garrett is the captain of a prestigious college hockey team, but he's about to get dropped after failing a totally BS philosophy course (as someone who has taken more than her fair share of philosophy courses, I can assure you that this is totally accurate - philosophy is 100% BS). Hannah is a music major, and also happens to be the only person who got an A on the philosophy exam. When Garrett finds out, he begs her to tutor him. She says no. But Garrett didn't get where he is by accepting failure.
Here's what makes THE DEAL work where so many similar books failed. Garrett is an alpha male, sure - but he's also a gentleman. He believes in consent, he mostly respects women, and he genuinely cares about his friends. I also really liked his banter - with the heroine, and with his friends - and thought it was genuinely touching that they bonded over schoolwork (we'll get to that in a moment). Hannah is also a pretty great heroine - she has a close relationship with her family, she has interests and hobbies outside of what the hero is doing, and a subplot of the book involves her learning to stand up for herself. She is also a rape survivor, and yeah, I did side-eye the whole "hero helps the heroine overcome trauma through boners" plot, but the focus is more on the importance of intimacy and how it's separate from sex, and not "you are broken and I must fix you." Plus, it took work.
I also loved how THE DEAL actually feels like a college story. There are a lot of parties, but there's conversations about how it will affect schoolwork and the importance of getting home safely. There are games, exams, projects, study sessions, and all sorts of other things that are key parts of the college experience, whereas in most New Adult books you would think that college involves virtually no work at all, beyond figuring out which parties have the best boys. Seriously, I can't tell you how much I loved this. I feel the same amount of nostalgia for college the way other people feel for high school; it's a good time, and that balance of fun and responsibility is such an important part of it.
THE DEAL is one of those books that seems like it ought to be vapid but ends up actually touching upon a lot of really deep topics in a meaningful way. It's a fun, light read that won't leave you with a bad taste in your mouth, and I really enjoyed the main couple. Can't wait to read the other books! I'm currently reading THE MISTAKE as I'm typing this out, and so far it seems promising. 🤞
4 to 4.5 out of 5 stars