Book Review: Shut Out by Kelly Jamieson

Funny story about this one. Sometimes ARCs have weird typos that (hopefully) don’t show up in the final copy. I happened to look at the cover page and noticed that the author was there as Kelly Jammiest instead of Kelly Jamieson. Jammiest is such a fun word, and ever since then, anytime I want to talk about something I like, I want to call it “the jammiest.”

On a more serious note, date rape and sexual assault is a huge theme in this book, so consider this a trigger warning.

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I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

One-Sentence Synopsis
After being accused of date rape, a Canadian college student is sent to a college in the states where he can still pursue a hockey career. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

When Life Hands You Lemons, Change Countries
Jacob is accused of rape at his college in Canada, and even though he’s a favorite for the NHL, he’s now being kicked off his college hockey team. Jacob is actually a good guy who didn’t have anything to do with the rape and at the time, perceived the situation as one where consent was being given.

One option offered to Jacob is that he go to a college in the U.S. to finish out his college hockey career. However, he has to keep keeps his GPA up, not get into trouble, and attend a class about sexual assault. He’s not happy about the situation, but he wants to play hockey, so he rolls with it.

Shot Down
Skylar is into Jacob the first time she meets him at a party, and though he seems to be interested in her, he turns her down when she asks him if he wants to “go upstairs.” Not realizing he has a good reason not to go upstairs with anyone, she feels dejected. But as luck would have it, she helps teach the sexual assault classes he has to take, so they find themselves thrown together again and Jacob is able to explain his side of things…minus the date rape thing, which he decides not to disclose for various reasons.

Faking It
Since Jacob wants to focus on school…which means avoiding the women throwing themselves at him…he enlists decide to have a “fake relationship” to help his cause. Skylar goes along with it because she has no intention of dating anyone. She’s in the same boat. A tragedy with a friend of hers caused her to fail out the previous semester, and now she needs to do well if she wants to stay in school.

Fake relationships rarely work out in romance novels because that stuff doesn’t stay fake for long, and Skylar and Jacob spend a lot of time pretending it’s not serious when it really is. Their relationship quickly becomes a close friendship with a lot of sex on the side.

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Sensitive Issues
I thought the topic of date rape was handled really well, with levity and complexity. Skylar and Jacob have several discussions about it, and through these conversations, Jacob realizes how he could have handled the situation he was involved in differently. This gives him some guilt, but Skylar plays devil’s advocate, and the result is a situation that reminds you that things aren’t always black and white.

Side Stories
College hockey plays a big part in the book, and I loved the personal nostalgia. There’s also a side story involving Skylar’s best friend who’s going through a rough time and adds to the issue of consent while intoxicated that’s part of the date rape discussions.

The Romance Factor
One of my favorite parts of Jacob and Skylar’s relationship was how much he supported her. Skylar is going to school to be a doctor, but she’s doing it because her parents expect it of her, not because she wants to. Jacob stands behind her and encourages her to pursue what she wants to do. I also loved the angst caused by the whole “We’re supposed to be faking this relationship but I’m falling in love” thing both of them had going on…and of course didn’t communicate to the other. 4/5

The Steam Factor
The first sex scene doesn’t even involve them touching each other, and it’s still hot. The scenes are frequent enough to make the book feel racy without taking away from the serious points of the novel. 5/5

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Final Thoughts
I’m really excited about this new hockey series, and I hope we get to know some of the other characters we caught a glimpse of in this first book. It was well written without being preachy or offensive, and it was overall a great romance.

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