The Goal (Off-Campus #4) by Elle Kennedy

“We all hurt. We all love. We’re the same. And your past, who you live with, where you came from, it doesn’t have to matter. You’re creating your own future, and I want to see where the road forward takes you.”

The Goaal

It’s always sad saying goodbye to a well-loved series and group of characters. There’s a certain wave of nostalgia when you feel a series coming to an end.  In this case, Elle Kennedy wrapped the Off Campus series by giving us Tucker and Sabrina’s story which is a bittersweet finale to this crazy, hilarious ride.

Probably the story which is leaning towards more maturity, The Goal is definitely a surprise. Tucker and Sabrina are a very unlikely couple. The bomb dropped at the ending of The Score was a true shock. Everyone wanted to know. How in the world did Tucker and Sabrina fell into the same equation?

When I started reading, I was initially confused by the timeline then realized that it coincides with the events form The Score. (Cue in “Let It Be” in memory of Beau.) I felt excited getting the other side of the story – the other dimension of events, this time from Tucker’s view.

One thing I always admire in an author is when he/she can make me care less or not care at all for a character then make me change my tune later on. I definitely admit not liking Sabrina in the last two books. All I know about her is her mean and rude demeanor as well as her personal vendetta against Dean (Dean is my favorite so I guess I’m a bit biased then?). On the other hand, Tucker has always been a mystery. And this book is truly a revelation. Less rowdy than the other three guys, he is the more domesticated, more quiet among the group. That’s why this relationship between Tucker and Sabrina came out as one hell of a surprise.

My fondness towards Sabrina was gradual and slow. This story showed her roots, her history and her depth, and as determined as she was to excel, it was all self-serving for my taste – initially. It took a while before I completely warmed up to her because A. She is driven and motivated but whatever level of mental intelligence she has, she lacks in emotional understanding, B. All she does is push Tucker away that I was tempted to play sub, C. There were times when I felt like she kept Tucker on a leash without even telling the poor guy what can be expected from her, he will go to the ends of the earth for her and she can’t even say what she feels.

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Given, she’s in a rotten home situation, with equally rotten relatives and I just have to cut her some slack. Eventually, I felt her and realized that she is that way because of her life circumstances. She was not used to love, did not have the best examples of love and in effect, became abrasive, aloof and awkward. Sabrina is flawed and complex and there are a lot of sides to her, not all good but definitely understandable.  

There has been a lot of push and pull to get the two main characters to where they are in the end. It may have been rigorous but it was believable. It was real life seen in the eyes of two college undergrads. Perhaps that was the aspect I enjoyed best in this story, the believability and realistic way unplanned pregnancy was presented. I found it spectacular how it wasn’t just all hearts and rainbows and all that mushy stuff. This story showed the nitty gritty of surviving college, facing unplanned situations and pushing for new goals.

This is a heartwarming story to read because it is love achieved through odds. It’s contentment earned by facing rough roads. It’s a tough journey, one faced head-on with friends cheering on the sides.

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The Goal, in true Elle Kennedy fashion, is loaded with wit and humor, plus extreme doses of steam and laughter. I have always said how crazy I am about Elle’s character development and how she carefully crafted each one to be unique and to stand out in their own ways.

I loved seeing the gang together again albeit their minimal exposure in this last book made me want more. The friendship and camaraderie is still evident and I will not stop hoping for possible spin-offs to this series. Short stories about everyone’s life after college perhaps? *pleading eyes*   

I will still and always carry a torch for Dean but I have to say that Tucker nearly knocked him off the top spot.  

Stars - 4

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Review Headings -  Blurb

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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