Rating: 3 Stars out of 5
Published October 11th 2017
Rating: 3 Stars out of 5
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
This is the third in the Hearts and Health series by this author, and once again characters from the previous two books appear in minor supporting roles, but it is basically a stand-alone. I think this was my favorite of the series, and I enjoyed it, but still not a book I’d put on my re-read list.
Both of the MCs are in the medical profession in this book. Xavier James is a nursing student, a little older and with a lot more life experience that most of his peers. Dr. Trent Cavendish was Xavier’s high school boyfriend, but he went on to college, medical school, and ultimately a career as a successful but workaholic surgeon. When Trent’s best friend and fellow surgeon cracked under the pressure, it served as a wake up call to Trent, who took a good look at his life and where it was going and saw that it really held little meaning. So he decided to go back to the beginning, back to his hometown of Ashe, Kansas, and gave up surgery to work in an indigent care clinic. He and Xavier had been in love, but that blew up dramatically when Trent left town to go to school and Xavier stayed home to care for his family. Though the men hadn’t spoken in 12 years, Trent still hoped that Xavier might be available to give him a second chance.
I really enjoy second chance stories, when you have the chance to reconnect with “the one that got away”. And I think this one was well done – both men certainly had changed quite a bit, and matured, and with that actually were able to recognize why it ended so badly all those years ago. The path back together required not only that they face those old truths (through wiser eyes), but also that they re-evaluate where they wanted to be, and how they wanted to get there. The character development was much stronger in this book than the others in the series, and I ended up liking these men quite a bit better as well. I also found Trent to be a much more sympathetic doctor than Paul in Bedside Manner. As in the other books in the series, the medical details were pretty authentic – I had to laugh about the process of granting emergency privileges to Trent in the rural hospital. I guess it could happen, but I couldn’t help thinking that any non-medical readers were probably wondering what all the fuss was about.
Overall, a decent read. I haven’t read the rest of the author’s books set in Ashe, but I am sure fans of that series would enjoy this one as well.
Cover art works for branding the series and is more eye-catching.
Kindle Edition, 200 pages
Published May 4th 2017
Series Hearts & Health:
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
This is the first in the Hearts and Health series, which is a spin-off of the Ashe Sentinel series and also set in the rural Kansas town of Ashe. I reviewed the second book in the series, Bedside Manner, a few months ago, and though each book can be read as a stand-alone, I did find that reading them all in order made each of them more enjoyable. The characters from all the books appear in the others, though mostly as cameos.
This book introduces the reader to the staff in the ER of the local hospital. Ben Griggs is a dedicated nurse who has found that his life has gradually become centered around his job only. He doesn’t date much, and hasn’t gone out at all since the biker he was dating last – an admitted adrenaline junkie – abruptly dumped him, and Ben realized that he had been deluding himself all along in thinking things were more serious than they were. Ben’s history was more of the same, and he had come to think of himself as a kind of boring guy who would probably never be able to hang on to a man worth having.
When Gage Evans first showed up in the ER, he was covered in road rash from a motorcycle accident. He was immediately attracted to “Nurse Hotness” as he dubbed Ben, and made a clumsy pass at him, which Ben shut down hard. Since Ashe is a small town, they did end up running into each other several times again, and eventually Gage talked Ben into a series of dates.
It was interesting how both of these men are somewhat insecure about relationships, but that insecurity affected them quite differently: Ben was avoidant, Gage just pursued harder. In the end, though, the angst just wasn’t that believable to me, and I got more than a little tired of Ben talking himself out of trusting Gage. It felt like there wasn’t that much plot to the story, and I didn’t connect much with either character.
Overall, this was a quick, cute, and moderately enjoyable read, but not one that I’d go back to for a re-read.
Cover works for the subject matter if not especially distinguishing.
Kindle Edition, 166 pages
Published by DJ Jamison (first published October 4th 2016)
Original TitleHeart Trouble
SeriesHearts & Health #1
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
I had to pick this book to review just for the title. I love books with medical characters, or medical settings. The book was well researched (although I disagree to some extent with how conservatively the author interpreted the ethics of doctor/patient romantic involvement) and well written. The conflicts were plausible, as were the resolutions. I just never really connected to either of the characters as much as I would have liked.
What was interesting in this book is that it’s a little bit of a coming out story for both Paul and Zane. Paul is a 39 year old ER physician who has been struggling with his sexuality for years, mainly by living in denial. He got divorced and came out as a gay man at the hospital where he worked, but his lone attempt at trying to date was disastrous. He was awkward, insecure, and his attraction to younger men made him feel like a creeper. When Zane came through the ER after a severe beating from his mother’s homophobic boyfriend, Paul found himself unable to stop thinking about him.
Zane has his own scars – physically and mentally – from coming out. He was rejected by his father before the beating, and although he had friends providing support and a place to live, he was still feeling pretty adrift. Paul showed up unexpectedly, and was just what Zane needed to get him out of the funk he fell in to after the assault. The two men complemented each other – in his professional life Paul was mature and sure of himself as you would expect from a 39 year old, but inexperienced and hesitant when it came to dating and living as a gay man. Zane was impulsive and temperamental, with little thought to consequences of his actions as you would expect from a young college student, but he was much more comfortable with being gay, and flirted confidently. They both had the possibility of being exactly what the other needed, if they could get past some real obstacles. Paul was suspended from his job due to a complaint about professional misconduct, and that created a whole host of current and potential future problems.
I was a little frustrated several times because I felt there was some back story that wasn’t explained as well as it should have been. For instance, how did Zane end up living with his professor after the beating? Why was Gage so antagonistic towards Paul? Why did the person bring the complaint against Paul? I found out what that was all about in the author’s note at the end of the book – although Bedside Manner is the first book in a series, it is a spin-off of a book in a previous series by this author (Heart Trouble) which told Gage and Ben’s story prior to the events of this book, and I am sure would have filled up all of the holes that I noticed. So that was a little annoying. I’m sure if I had read the earlier books that I would have connected to the characters much better. So maybe I’ll have to go back and read the others…
Cover art by Lucas Soltow fits pretty well with what I imagined Zane would look like.
ebook, 241 pages
Published March 7th 2017 by DJ Jamison at KDP
SeriesHearts & Health #1