I rarely give out 5 stars these days as I’ve worked hard to develop a realistic rating system for the books I read and review. A book has to really hit a lot of marks for me to decide it’s worth 5 stars: solid, believable romance, strong story and emotional arc, engaging dialogue, secondary characters that add to the story instead of just taking up space, and the ability to draw me in and make me feel strongly about what happens to the characters. Shut Out by Kelly Jamieson does all of this and more.
Jacob has just been kicked off his Canadian junior hockey team after being accused of something he did not do, leaving his dreams of playing in the National Hockey League (NHL) hanging in the balance. He’s lost his eligibility for this year’s draft and only has one more year to prove himself. When he’s offered the chance to move to New York and play for Bayard College, he jumps at the opportunity. Knowing he’ll have to work hard to maintain the required grades and standout enough for the NHL scouts to notice him, he pledges to stay out of trouble which includes him not getting involved with women. Not an easy thing to do for any athlete on a college campus, especially a handsome and charming one like Jacob. He finds himself fending off girls left and right. Then he meets Skylar.
Skylar is recovering from a tragic freshman year at Bayard. One of her best friends, Brendan, committed suicide, leading to an emotional semester for Skylar that ended with her failing more than one class. Determined to prove to herself and her parents that she can successfully complete a pre-med course load, she vows to concentrate on just her studies and volunteer work with the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Program (SAPAP), a college program that in addition its obvious role, provided the counseling Skylar needed after Brendan’s suicide.
When Jacob and Skylar meet their chemistry is off the charts and for the first time in 8 months Skylar actually feels something. When Jacob rejects her proposition to move their make out session to somewhere more private she’s embarrassed and angry, but fate keeps throwing them together.
I’ll be honest. I’ve rewritten this review at least 5 times. There’s so much I want to say, but I’m pretty sure the review shouldn’t be longer than the actual book. I’ve read 6 Kelly Jamieson books before reading Shut Out and enjoyed them all, but in this one she blows me away. I don’t know if it’s the depth of the characters, their journey which actually led to a few tears on more than one occasion, or the very serious subject of sexual assault, but this book not only moved me but made me think. Though sexual assault isn’t anything new it’s certainly more in the limelight than ever before. Colleges and universities are doing more now than ever to educate and curtail it. Quite frequently (and unfortunately) we see college athletes at the center of these accusations and Jamieson uses the story of Jacob and Skylar to bring this issue to the forefront of the readers’ minds and teach us awareness and how our actions can make a difference. Their story, both the romance and the individual path they take, are powerful. I wish I’d had this information when I was a college student (and an example of a good, but flawed, guy like Jacob).
5 Stars for Shut Out. Heat level: 4
I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for honest feedback.
Shut Out was published in June 2016 by Loveswept.
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 email@example.com.