Monday, May 16, 2016

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

The blurb as seen on Goodreads:
Release Date: June 7, 2016
Publisher: Loveswept
274 Pages

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 isn’t where Jacob Flass thought he’d be a season ago. He was a rising star in the Canadian major junior league, cruising toward a spot on an NHL roster—until a single disastrous night on the town brought it all crashing down. Now he’s out of options, except for playing well, studying hard, and staying away from girls. He’s not supposed to be flirting with the hottest, sweetest chick he’s ever met. But how could he possibly stay away?
Skylar Lynwood knows that Jacob is out of her league. She’s just trying to go with the flow, which isn’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. Skylar’s head tells her that this rugged athlete isn’t worth her time, but her body says something altogether different. Risking her heart for Jacob may be the craziest thing she’s ever done . . . but she won’t let him shut her out.

*Warning: This book may be a trigger for some. It deals with sexual assault.*
To say this book surprised me would be an understatement. I went into this book with the attitude that this was going to be your typical sports NA book – girl reluctantly falls for bad boy athlete, some misunderstanding happens, happy ending, lots of sex – and while some of those things did happen, Shut Out also focused on a major problem surrounding college athletes – sexual assault.
Up and comer Jake Flass is well on his way to becoming an NHL player, his goal since he was a child, when one night with his a few of his teammates sends everything spiraling out of control. He’s kicked off of the team and sent to play college hockey in upstate NY – a far cry from the his place on Canadian junior league. But Jake is determined and his plan is simple – keep his head down, focus on hockey and his new classes, and no girls. Then he meets Skylar.
Skylar’s had a rough past year. With the death of one of her closest friends and her inability to live up to her sister’s greatness weighing heavy on her, she sets out on a mission with no distractions. Throwing herself into volunteer work helps greatly with that, however, she never planned on Jake Flass showing up in her group.
I’m always weary when I pick up a hockey book. Why? Because most of the time the game is written completely wrong. Tip: if you don’t know a sport, either don’t write about it or don’t try to do play-by-plays of games. Your inexperience will come across to those who are diehard fans, like moi. Anyway, Jamieson either knows hockey inside and out or did her research because she was on point. From the way leagues are set up to how the juniors feed into the NHL. I loved the passion in Jake for the sport and how he related it to physics. He was smart and knew what he wanted and he knew the game. I rooted for him. I wanted him to succeed. And the chemistry between him and Sky was palpable. It just radiated off the screen of my kindle. They were playful and adorable, but also helpful and mindful of each other. Each just wanting the other to succeed, but also not wanting to compromise on their own goals.
So where’s the sexual assault in all of this? I don’t want to spoil the book but I will say that there are a few instances where this topic becomes apparent. While at times the way the characters delivered the information seemed a little self-helpish, the message still came across. Maybe this is just so fresh in my mind because I’d recently watched The Hunting Ground but this story just felt so important right now. Jamieson doesn’t shy away from the stigma or gloss over the assaults. She brings it to the forefront of the story. Jamieson talks about how much colleges rely on their sporting teams for funding and are more reluctant to report issues or discipline their athletes. About how a high percentage of sexual assaults are perpetrated by athletes. How the mentality of a star athlete boarders on entitled. This is something that has always been going on but has just been recently discussed in mainstream media and I applaud Jamieson for bringing it up here.

I received a copy of this ebook from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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