I’ve enjoyed all of Kelly Jamieson’s Aces Hockey books, but Top Shelf knocks it out of the park! There’s just something about this one that feels cleaner and smarter and sexier that had me plowing through it in less than 24 hours. And, Jared Rupp and Sidney Frayne may be my two favorite characters that Jamieson has written.
Like the previous books in this series, Top Shelf is set in Chicago, home of the fictional Chicago Aces hockey team. Jared is not only a veteran player on the Aces, but he also owns a local bar and restaurant, the Sin Bin. When he sees Sidney sitting at his bar, Jared’s immediately intrigued, checking her out and sliding onto a stool next to her just as she insults the Sin Bin’s cocktail menu. The flirtatious banter that follows had me smiling a mile wide as Jared works Sidney to find out why she doesn’t like his menu while trying to get her into his bed. This opening scene was delightful, the witty dialogue and clever innuendo shining light on these two very likable characters. It set the stage for the entire book.
Though Jared and Sidney fall into bed quite quickly, it doesn’t take away from the steady development of both their relationship and their characters. Like peeling back an onion, Jamieson takes her time revealing the motivations of these characters, never giving anything away too soon. It kept the pace steady and this reader desperate to turn the page. And, Jared and Sidney are just fun together! There’s a maturity to them that I didn’t find in the earlier books’ couples and it really made Top Shelf stand out for me.
I also found myself tearing up in more than one scene. There’s heartbreak and joy spread throughout the book, especially as the Aces players deal with tragedy that unfortunately is playing out in real life in the NHL. It put a face on the reality of cancer and had me choked up on more than one occasion. And, while hockey is, as always, central to the storyline, Sidney’s work as a mixologist/bar consultant was so interesting and fun to read about. I love when a book leads me to want to try something new!
Jared is sexy, confident, and funny. He’s serious about what he does, both with his restaurant and his hockey career, and while he works to be the laid back teammate, he gets tough when necessary, which made him very attractive. Sidney just jumps off the page. From the start, with Jared’s description of her physical features and then how she easily takes him on in a battle of wits, she quickly became a heroine I could get behind. She’s a survivor who hasn’t let life make her hard and bitter; rather, she has a sense of vulnerability to her that’s a contradiction to the face she shows the world. I loved watching the softer side of her emerge as she fell for Jared.
All the familiar faces of the previous books are there, giving the book a sense of family. 5 Stars for Top Shelf. Heat level: 4
I received a copy of Top Shelf from the publisher in exchange for honest feedback.
Top Shelf was published in October 2016 by Loveswept and is book 4 in the Aces Hockey series. Back Check, book 5 in the series, releases in January 2017. You can preorder it here.
About the author:
Kelly Jamieson is a USA Today bestselling author of over thirty-five romance novels and novellas. She writes the kind of books she loves to read–sexy romance with heat, humor and emotion. Her writing has been described as “emotionally complex”, “sweet and satisfying” and “blisteringly sexy”. She likes coffee (black), wine (mostly white) and shoes (high!). She also loves watching hockey. She is the author of the popular Heller Brothers Hockey series and the Rule of Three trilogy. Visit her website at www.kellyjamieson.com or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.