Review: Shut Out (Bayard Hockey #1) by Kelly Jamieson

Title: Shut Out
Author: Kelly Jamieson
Series: Bayard Hockey #1
Rating: 4 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance

From the bestselling author of the Heller Brothers Hockey series comes the first novel of a new hockey romance series featuring a college team whose players are heating things up both on and off the ice.

The Bayard College hockey team isnโ€™t where Jacob Flass thought heโ€™d be a season ago. He was a rising star in the Canadian major junior league, cruising toward a spot on an NHL rosterโ€”until a single disastrous night on the town brought it all crashing down. Now heโ€™s out of options, except for playing well, studying hard, and staying away from girls. Heโ€™s not supposed to be flirting with the hottest, sweetest chick heโ€™s ever met. But how could he possibly stay away?

Skylar Lynwood knows that Jacob is out of her league. Sheโ€™s just trying to go with the flow, which isnโ€™t easy when six feet and four inches of total hockey hunkiness is making a play for her one moment, then giving her the cold shoulder the next. Skylarโ€™s head tells her that this rugged athlete isnโ€™t worth her time, but her body says something altogether different. Risking her heart for Jacob may be the craziest thing sheโ€™s ever done . . . but she wonโ€™t let him shut her out.

My Review:
Shut Out by Kelly Jamieson could easily be mistaken for another entertaining sweet and sexy romance, but to categorize it purely as such would be wilful ignorance of the powerful social message it delivers.

Jacob and Skylar meet at a time when both are at a crossroads in their lives. Skylar is barely keeping one foot in front of the other after the death of one of her best friends, and struggling to maintain pace with her uber-successful older sister. Jacob has been forced to move countries and enroll in college in order to continue to have a shot at a pro-hockey career. Determined to stick on the straight and narrow, he finds his resolve quickly crumbling once he meets Sky.

Initially, their relationship is one of mutual convenience, but they can’t deny their feelings for one another and the lines between what’s fake and what’s real become blurred.

The romance and sex scenes were well-written and I totally ship our couple. Because they are both battling such heavy, complex demons, they inevitably lose their way at one point. I love these type of angsty stories so this book was right up my alley.

I loved Jacob’s group of friends, less so Skylar’s. I always enjoy NA that’s set in uni with a sports theme and the worldbuilding was great.

The plot is predictable enough, but it doesn’t matter because this book has a lot going for it.

Both Jacob and Skylar have been impacted by rape. While Jacob is guilty of walking away without considering the consequences for all those involved, Skylar’s experience has been more personal. Through their interactions and the amazing training programme that Skylar part-delivers, Jacob begins to reflect on how he could have acted differently. It changes him and we see concrete evidence of that in later scenes. While this is a heavy and sensitive subject matter it is dealt with in an exemplary fashion, and in a way that doesn’t overshadow the rest of the plot. This element was superbly executed in my opinion, and I love that Kelly explored how training, education, and support can help all the victims of rape. This plot line wasn’t sensationalized or glossed over – it was very appropriately handled and I applaud the author for that.

I really enjoyed Kelly’s writing style and it flowed effortlessly.

All in all, this was a great read and a great introduction to this author. I look forward to checking out more of her work and more in this series.

Thanks to the publisher for providing an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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