Review: Shut Out

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Shut Out
Shut Out by Kelly Jamieson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A sweet, sexy and poignant young adult story. Kelly Jamieson expertly balances between fun and cute lightheartedness, the excitement of hockey entwined in serious matters such as rape culture and bystander intervention.

He started to walk and play hockey at the same time and ever since, Jacob Flass’ dream is to join the NHL and he was well on his way until a not well thought out decision almost ruined his chances. Bayard College is willing to give him a second chance though if he can prove his worth, maintain good grades and in general keep his nose clean and away from girls. How will he ever accomplish the latter though when there are so many vying for his attention and he can’t stop himself from flirting with the one girl who barely gives him the time of day? Easy, he’ll just ask her to be his fake girlfriend, right?

Skylar Lynwood needs to make it into med school and try to achieve a fraction of what her sister has become as a doctor. She’s already let her parents down by flunking two courses last year after one of her best friends committed suicide, she can’t afford to be distracted by the intense attraction she feels towards the gorgeous, wishy-washy hockey player, no matter how benign his proposition sounds. She especially shouldn’t risk her heart when it’s still getting over the events that led up to her friend’s death. But nothing has ever felt so natural than spending time with the smart jock. Can they help each other or will their pasts break them apart?

These past few days “rape” has been a buzz word all around the internet after a decorated Stanford college student was tried and convicted of sexual assault. Reading all these articles had a definite impact on my reading experience of this story and I’m very glad and grateful for authors like Kelly Jamieson who not only strive to give us an entertaining romance but also educate while doing so.

The hero in this story got mixed up in a gang rape scandal, but unlike the real person I mentioned above, Jacob was guilty of leaving a party before making sure the involved parties were sober enough to give consent. He’s first angry and frustrated with what he feels is an unfair situation but trying to make the most of it with the options available to him.

“The only real mistake is not learning from them.”

After he goes to the school’s awareness program lead by none other than the sexy Skylar, a whole new outlook opens up allowing him to reflect on his actions and driving him to want to help raise consciousness with his peers. Something I very much appreciated about this story because it emphasizes matters such as consent and intervention without it being over the top or taking over the plot which revolves around Jacob’s need to do well in order to get his shot at the NHL and Skylar worry over pleasing her parents and their mutual attraction.

Jacob and Skylar were sexy, fun and sweet together with great chemistry and an equal interest and investment to help each other. Of course there were some clichés and overreactions typical of young people learning to be in relationships, but mostly these two are young people who see the best in each other and support and help one another become better as individuals and a couple. The ending was perfect, without it being a hearts and flowers forever after which would have been outlandish for the two, it ended with them in a good and happy relationship.

“She knows me. She sees past the tough bravado and cocky ‘tude, sees my fears and insecurities, and still likes me.”

Shut Out is book #1 in the Bayard Hockey series by Kelly Jamieson. It’s a standalone, hockey, young adult romance. Told from both points of view with a happy ending.

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* I was given an ARC of this book courtesy of the author via NetGalley. The excerpts are from that copy. *

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