Shut Out is the first book in the Bayard Hockey series from Kelly Jamieson. This book can be read as a standalone though, as each book in the series will feature a different couple. I am a huge fan of sports romance stories and I have really enjoyed books by Kelly Jamieson in the past. While there were things that I liked here, there were also things that just didn't work for me and I was left with mixed feelings about the story.
As a rising hockey star in the Canadian major junior league, Jacob Flass thought that he would be an NHL star by this year. But after an incident changed everything, he finds himself attending college at Bayard while playing for their hockey team. He knows that he needs to focus on school and hockey in order to get to where he wants to be, but when he meets Skylar Lynwood he can't help but be drawn to her. Skylar is determined to get into med school and is just as determined to avoid complications. But the more time they spend together, the harder it becomes for each of them to avoid the connection between them.
I liked Skylar and Jacob well enough. Jacob was a bit cocky at times, but never a jerk. It was more confidence than anything, and he was actually really sweet at times. Skylar was a bit rigid at times, but I understood some of where she was coming from. She had a goal and was determined to make it happen, all while dealing with losing one of her best friends. These two had strong chemistry from the start and were really hot together. I enjoyed seeing them get to know one another as well though, and you could see the connection forming between them. I do wish that Jacob's secret had come out earlier in the story though, because I really felt like the author almost purposely drug it out for the drama of it. Once everything was revealed, I hated how Skylar acted. I think if it had been revealed earlier on, some of that might have been avoided.
I also had a tough time getting into this one at first. The first third to half of this book felt like there was just so much set up for the series and all that was going on. At times it was awkward and felt choppy, with the main focus not being on Skylar and Jacob as much as I would have liked. There were also times at the beginning, but even later on in the book as well, that things not only felt awkward but also a bit forced. As though the dialogue wasn't entirely natural. I did love that the author dealt with some issues that can be very controversial and I liked that she didn't shy away from exploring several sides of each. It was great to see these characters really face many of these issues head on. While I did have some issues with this story, it was one that I did enjoy. I thought that Skylar and Jacob were great together and they were a lot of fun to read about. I liked a lot of the secondary characters as well, and I look forward to getting to know them better as this series continues. If you are a fan of NA or sports romance, this one is worth giving a shot.
**ARC Provided by Publisher**