Top Shelf: An Aces Hockey Novel
In the latest installment of Ms. Jamieson’s Aces Hockey series, Jared Rupp both tangles wits and bedsheets with Sidney Frayne. Jared, a star NHL player and restaurateur, agrees to let mixology consultant Sidney revamp the menu at his eatery, Sin Bin. She’s determined to not mix business and pleasure, but his persistence eventually wears her down as they enjoy a steamy, whirlwind romance in Top Shelf.
While this book is part of a series, it’s easily read as a standalone. The couples from the two previous books make appearances, but new readers need not be deterred. Sidney is a hockey outsider, and so she’s the reader’s eyes and ears into the world Ms. Jamieson has built. If you’re looking for a steamy read and enjoy the dude earning a living slapping pucks, then I’d definitely recommend a one-click.
Sidney has had her heart broken and is not in any particular hurry to risk it happening again. Her restaurant consultancy business is growing steadily and she loves her work. She’s got her dog, Lulu, to keep her company and her life is pretty well organized and set as far as she’s concerned. Then she goes to have a drink one night at Sin Bin. Not only is she spied by a gorgeous man, which leads to a whole lot more than looking, but that gorgeous man happens to be the owner, which leads to more business. She tries to keep her love life and professional life separate, but cannot seem to excise Jared or his interest in her personal space.
Jared has a good life and is in no hurry to settle down. He sees some of his teammates have success in their personal relationships, but systematically making his way through the throngs of puck bunnies suits him just fine. Well, it suits him just fine until he meets Sidney. It’s certainly lust at first sight, but it’s also something a little more. He’s intrigued by her, in that magic way romance heroes often are, and is bound and determined to make her his.
All in all, this is a fairly quiet story. There’s not really a lot of drama, just the growing pains of two people learning to love each other. We spend time with other members of the team and their wives, fleshing out the world and making it all feel more cozy. Jared and Sidney are both affected by the lives of their friends, in the way that we all are in real life. I appreciated that Ms. Jamieson never presented these two as though they were in a vacuum.
While this is quiet in the way I described above, it is not quiet in the chemistry department. Sidney and Jared have immediate physical chemistry and act upon it just as quickly. This is a sex-leads-to-love story, and a quick one at that. It’s less than a hockey season between meeting in the Sin Bin and their happily ever after, and they spend a good bit of their time together in bed, which Ms. Jamieson describes in detail.
I’m a total sucker for sports romances, and so Top Shelf ticked a lot of boxes for me. If you’ve got a similar bent, I’d recommend it to you, too.