ARC Review: The Goal by Elle Kennedy

26 Sep 2016

Book Title: The Goal
Author: Elle Kennedy
Series: Off-Campus #4 - Standalone
Release Date: September 26th, 2016
Genres: Contemporary RomanceNew Adult, Sports Romance
She’s good at achieving her goals…

College senior Sabrina James has her whole future planned out: graduate from college, kick butt in law school, and land a high-paying job at a cutthroat firm. Her path to escaping her shameful past certainly doesn’t include a gorgeous hockey player who believes in love at first sight. One night of sizzling heat and surprising tenderness is all she’s willing to give John Tucker, but sometimes, one night is all it takes for your entire life to change.

But the game just got a whole lot more complicated

Tucker believes being a team player is as important as being the star. On the ice, he’s fine staying out of the spotlight, but when it comes to becoming a daddy at the age of twenty-two, he refuses to be a bench warmer. It doesn’t hurt that the soon-to-be mother of his child is beautiful, whip-smart, and keeps him on his toes. The problem is, Sabrina’s heart is locked up tight, and the fiery brunette is too stubborn to accept his help. If he wants a life with the woman of his dreams, he’ll have to convince her that some goals can only be made with an assist.

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I must admit The Goal has been one of my most anticipated reads of 2016. After the big reveal towards the end of The Score, I knew Tucker and Sabrina's story would be one not short on struggles. Couple that with the secrecy of Tuck's comings and goings, finding out Sabrina was not only his latest love interest, but also the future mother of his child, I couldn't wait for their story.

Sabrina is one of those heroines women love to hate. She's clearly misunderstood but never lets people get close enough to figure out the person that lies beneath that rather b*tchy exterior. Growing up in a sh*t home to a mother that abandoned her and now currently living with with a douchey step-father and critical grandmother, Sabrina has one focus- success. And getting the hell out of the slum she's grown up in. She has no time for relationships, choosing instead to have quickie hookups when she has time between her two jobs and full time pre-law academics. But that supposed one-time hookup with Tucker proves to be a game-changer- in more ways than one.

“I hate to tell you this, Sabrina. But you’ve made a big mistake.” 

“What? Why?” 

His fingers draw my thong tight, the fabric cutting into my swollen lips. “Because I’m going to ruin you for all future guys. I apologize in advance.”

Tucker is used to women falling all over him. Being a popular forward on the Briar hockey team, puck bunnies swarm him. But it's the brunette with the cool exterior he eyes across the crowded bar that he's got his sights on. Warned away by many friends for her aloof persona, Sabrina James has a reputation for hooking up with athletes. And an athlete he is...

This is one of those books that on the surface is a fairly common trope. Sports romance, unplanned pregnancy regardless of birth control...yada yada. But Elle Kennedy doesn't take the easy, well-travelled road here. She constructs a character she knows will probably rub her readers the wrong way, especially with a hero that's pretty much perfection. Albeit a fairly long book, Sabrina's story really needed the time she devoted to it. The complexity of her character wouldn't be served with an easy fix to the conflict that arises for her- unexpected pregnancy. That is NOT a spoiler as it's clearly stated in the blurb. As much as I wanted to strangle Sabrina, I understood her. Wholeheartedly, in fact. Her life dream is attending Harvard law school and becoming an attorney. With this huge revelation, her very planned-out life comes careening into one giant tailspin.

Although I felt the book was a bit long-winded at times, it's one of those stories where, in the end, you NEEDED that time with the characters to get that full effect- to understand their indecision and become truly invested in this young couple. The author was true to Sabrina's character, and although she's probably not the most popular heroine in this series, she's the most real for me. And Tucker has the patience of Job. Just sayin'...

Another great book within the Off Campus series. Each book can be read as a standalone but timelines do often run parallel so I'd recommend reading in order as there are certain spoilers for each book potentially skipped.

Advanced review copy received by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Elle Kennedy

A New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author, Elle Kennedy grew up in the suburbs of Toronto, Ontario, and holds a B.A. in English from York University. From an early age, she knew she wanted to be a writer, and actively began pursuing that dream when she was a teenager.

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