I’m on a Kelly Jamieson streak! Another great one from Ms Jamieson. This book is the sequel of Shut Out, of the Bayard University series, college hockey players. In the first one, we see Jacob Flass and Skylar. In this one, we have their best buds, Ben Buckingham and Ella. Their issues are different, but in no way less important. Ben comes from a poor background, from a neighborhood infested in crime. When his father was murdered, his mother moved him away and went to work as a housekeeper at a rich family’s mansion. There he grew up, humiliated by the snobbish and spoiled daughters of the family. He has problems feeling worthy, so he compensates by dressing stylishly, with good quality clothes. Ella lost her best friend Brendan to suicide a year ago. She loved him secretly but he loved Skylar instead. Since his suicide is related to Skylar, Ella blames Skylar. Her issues of unrequited love, anger at Skylar, and loss, drove her to drink and promiscuousness, winning her a bad rep at the University. Ben was one of the guys who labelled her as a slut. So when they are thrown together, as a consequence of their best friends, their exchanges were laced with innuendos and insults. What I loved about this book is that it presents the problems of many YA’s during University. It deals with hazing, rape culture, indiscriminate drinking and sex, slander and labelling. This group of friends are dealing with this in a constructive manner, facing their problems with counseling, making constructive moves to bring knowledge to the athletes in the university to stop their entitlement issues re acquiring sex from their groupies, who may be too drunk to consent. As Ella and Ben deal with their own personal issues and the prejudices each had against each other, they discovered true quality persons underneath the façade they had donned. And they had great chemistry!
As per Ms Jamieson style, there were some hysterically funny scenes, like the one where the guys were discussing their hockey sticks but it could be traduced to other “sticks”, and the one in the bus, where the guys discuss dreams and sleepwalking. The book was entertaining, mostly from 60% on. In the beginning we get a lot of the fights between Ella and Ben, which got a little tiring, but things start to move around 60% and get great.
Ella was on university probation at the beginning of the book, from all the partying and drinking of the previous year, so this year, she’s studying hard, working at repairing her friendship with Skylar, improving her reputation, and growing up to be a responsible adult. Ben, who is on a short list of hockey players to be drafted to the NHL, has to work hard on his skills and strengths for when the scouts arrive. They have a full plate, what with their issues, their friends, studies and hockey. As with all Ms Jamieson’s books, the characters start with issues, they work at them, fight a little, party a little, play good hockey, and end up more mature than when they started. I love these HEA’s!