Title: The Goal
Series: Off-Campus #4
Author: Elle Kennedy
Publication Date: September 26th, 2016
Shelves: New Adult; Contemporary; Romance; Sports
Format: eBook (350 pages)
Rating:★★★☆☆ 3.5 stars
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.
This review contains spoilers from books three and four of the Off-Campus series
“You’re the only one for me.
My sun rises and sets on your smile.
My heart beats because yours does.”
The Goal is the final instalment in the Off-Campus series, and takes place around the same time as the previous novel, The Score. This novel focuses on hockey player John Tucker and aspiring lawyer Sabrina James – characters which we have been introduced to throughout the series.
When it comes to one night stands, Sabrina only has one rule: athletes only. That is, athletes except hockey players. Regarding the Briar hockey players as guys who use their status to get good grades, Sabrina has zero tolerance of them – until she meets Tucker. Unlike Sabrina, who has the reputation of being rather frosty, Tucker is loved by everyone – especially girls. But as his final year of college commences, he yearns for the relationships his hockey teammates Garrett and Logan have. Tucker is a closet romantic, and when his eyes meet Sabrina’s across the bar, he feels an immediate connection with her.
Sabrina is a very love or hate character. She came across quite bitchy (for lack of a better term) when we first met her in The Deal, but to me this introduction was humorous, and I was interested to see more of her character. And in this novel, I actually liked her a lot. We discover in the novel that Sabrina’s life is not as perfect as it appears. Her mother abandoned her at a young age, and she lives in a run-down home with her Nan and her lecherous step-father. Because of her current situation, Sabrina is ruthless and works 24/7 with the goal to get into Harvard Law. Her past has also led her to be quite an insecure person, and these hangups lead to her holding Tucker at arms length for a large period of the novel. While her behaviour and decisions are quite frustrating at some points, I for the most part found her to be quite a strong and sympathetic character, and one I was rooting for throughout.
Tucker was great. He’s such a sweetheart and there wasn’t any negative aspects about his character I can think of. While Sabrina was understandably stressed and flustered with college, work, and later, an unplanned pregnancy, Tucker was patient and supportive the entire way through. He really is such a lovable character. I must admit, I found their relationship a little forced in the beginning. Tucker becomes almost infatuated with Sabrina from the get go, and while this didn’t really bother me, I did feel that it was a little unrealistic. However, I do think Kennedy made a great match pairing these two characters together – their chemistry is undeniable!
The plot is quite a weird one in that you know Sabrina is going to fall pregnant, and her pregnancy isn’t actually confirmed until around half way through the novel. To me it felt as though I was just anticipating this reveal, and I found myself flipping forward a few pages out of a mix of boredom and eagerness. Also, as mentioned, this novel runs alongside that of The Score, so we encounter several scenes we’ve previously read through Tucker and Sabrina’s POV. In some cases this was entertaining, as we saw funny text exchanges between the guys regarding events reader’s of the previous novel are already familiar with. We also get a bigger picture of the aftermath of Beau’s death in this novel which was pretty engaging – I’m still sad over that btw! I do feel however that some readers may find some of these rehashes a little boring.
Like The Deal, The Goal has a great mix of sexy, sweet and serious. It was a great way to end this series, but for me, it doesn’t come close to being my favourite novel of the series. Bring on the spin-off series!
Would you read this novel again? Unlike books 1 and 3 of this series which I really enjoyed, I can’t see myself re-reading this.
Who would I recommend this novel to? Fans of sports romance fiction. Fans of college romance novels.