A Caryn Review: Room for Recovery (Hearts and Health #4) by D.J. Jamison

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Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

This is the fourth book in the Hearts and Health series, and as far as I’m concerned, is far and away the best so far.  Like the others in the series, it can be read as a stand-alone, and once again several other characters from the previous books make cameo appearances.  Ashe is, after all, a small community!

The characters in this book are much younger than the others in the series:  Beau is an 18 year old high school senior, and Wade is a 19 year old who is redoing some of his senior classes because he failed the first time around.  They are unofficial cousins, with families who have been tied together by marriage and circumstance.  Wade’s story is really kind of tragic – he came out to his father, a successful surgeon, when he was 15, and though he was expecting full acceptance, what he got was a kind of half-hearted “maybe you’re just not sure yet” warning.  And the next day, with no explanation, his father killed himself.

So I guess I should stop here and explain why this book means so much to me.  I am also in the medical field, and the rate of suicide amongst physicians is higher than in the general populace.  It’s a very high stress career, and some specialties, like surgery, are worse than others.  Unfortunately, it is also more difficult for many physicians to seek help, because of censure by state medical boards, licensing committees, and so forth.  It’s a catch-22:  you’re more likely to be suicidal, and less likely to seek help.  I am also a survivor of suicide in my own family, and I appreciated all the misplaced guilt that Wade experienced.  Most suicides don’t leave notes, and that means those left behind must try to come up with their own reasons as to why it happened, and in a situation so fraught with guilt, those reasons don’t have to make sense.  From my own unfortunate experience, I have to say the author got it all right, and it was heartbreaking, but also skillfully and compassionately done.

After his father’s death, Wade (of course) changed, going from a happy teenager with good grades, to a withdrawn, moody young man who didn’t seem to care about anything at all.  He had supportive family, but because he felt his confession caused or contributed to his father’s suicide, he was unable to believe he had worth, and just didn’t care about his future.  He was finally realizing that he had to turn his life around when he was repeating his senior year, and that is when circumstances threw him in with Beau again.  Beau had always crushed on Wade, and Wade knew that, but he was trying to completely suppress any gay feeling or attraction, and in the past that meant ignoring Beau, even when their families got together.  Beau is a good kid, a “real goody two-shoes”, who gets good grades and volunteers at the hospital, and he hasn’t given up on Wade even when it seems that everyone else has.

The narrative of the two of them coming together, gradually opening up, learning more about themselves and each other and falling in love because of it, was heartwarming and at the same time very real.  The part that I think I most appreciated is that this was not a case of true love curing mental illness that I’ve seen done in less educated books.  Wade was already at a point of self-realization before he got involved with Beau, and when he considered coming out – as much to himself as others – he needed professional support to do so.  While Beau may have been a bit of a catalyst, he was not the reason for Wade’s recovery.

I truly enjoyed reading this book – despite the painful reminders of events in my own life – and I highly recommend it.  I’m not only looking forward to the next in the series, I think I’m going to go back and reread the others!

Cover art by Lucas Soltow is nice, matches with the other covers in the series.

Sales Links:: Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1 edition, 250 pages
Published February 26th 2018 by DJ Jamison
Original Title Room for Recovery
ASIN B07B3Z3MPZ
Edition Language English

Release Blitz for DJ Jamison’s Hearts & Health 1-3 Box Set (excerpt and giveaway)

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Universal Buy Link books2read.com/HeartsandHealthVol1

Blurb

Three full-length novels in a m/m romance series have been boxed up for one price! Sexy nurses with trust issues, overconfident doctors coping with reality checks, and hard-working students come together to find their hearts and health in small-town Kansas.

Heart Trouble (Book #1)

Fresh off his latest heartbreak, nurse Ben Griggs is wary when one of his patients shows an interest in him — especially when that patient showed up in the ER after a motorcycle accident. Ben isn’t the kind of guy who can hold the interest of an adrenaline junkie like Gage Evans for long. If he can’t find a way to trust Gage with his heart, they may be destined to have a fling that goes nowhere.

Bedside Manner (Book #2)

Dr. Paul Johnston can’t get a set of dark, somber eyes out of his head, and the timing couldn’t be worse. Zane Kavanaugh came through the ER, a victim of a hate-fueled assault, and Paul can’t forget him. But under review after a complaint, he also can’t afford to fall for a patient. Paul is afraid to start a relationship, and Zane can only handle so much more rejection. Paul may have to make a choice: His career or the first man to capture his heart.

Urgent Care (Book #3)

Dr. Trent Cavendish made a huge mistake when he walked away from the love of his life at age 18. When his best friend suddenly dies 12 years later, it rattles Trent into seeing how empty his life has become. He returns to his hometown, hoping to make amends to the man he left behind. Instead of the sweet but tame guy he remembers, Trent runs into a smoking-hot Xavier James dressed in bits of lace and silk at a gay nightclub. His plan to earn Xavier’s forgiveness immediately shifts to lust, and love’s not far behind.

Each of these books was previously published individually as part of the Hearts and Health series.

 

Excerpt from Book 1, Heart Trouble

The man had done a real number on himself. Angry scrapes covered his leg, and he was going to need sutures in two places. But everything looked clean and disinfected, so he reattached the bandage and slid the sheet up.

A smile tugged at his lips when, in the process, he glimpsed tight orange briefs under Gage’s hospital gown. Interesting underwear choice. This guy has a bit of flair.

“Is the leg your only damage?”

Gage chuckled, and Ben’s eyes shot up to his face. His lips smirked as he replied. “That’s debatable. What kind of damage are we talking: mental, emotional or physical?”

Ben laughed. “I only deal with the physical, honey.”

Gage’s smile widened, and Ben realized how that sounded. He hurried to get the conversation back on track. Flirting with patients was not ordinarily something he did, and he especially didn’t need to flirt with a biker. Despite what he’d said to Tripp, he was in no hurry to be another guy’s fuck buddy until he got bored.

“What I meant was, that jacket is looking abused. Do you have any other injuries?”

Even as he asked, Ben grabbed the chart to skim over the details once more. Not that he didn’t trust the patient, but he wanted to be sure he knew what had been detailed thus far.

“Jacket saved me,” Gage mumbled. “I might have a few bruises.”

Ben tsked. In addition to sutures, Gage was going to need a round of examinations to ensure there were no breaks or internal injuries to his body.

“Want me to take it off?”

Ben startled, glancing up. “What?”

“The jacket?” Gage said. “Do you need to see the rest of me?”

Ben bit down on his lip hard as images spilled through his mind. Even in a hospital gown covered by a leather jacket, Gage was a good looking man. His chest was firm and his shoulders broad. It was tempting to agree, just to look a little, after the dry spell Ben had experienced since Tripp dumped him.

That would be playing with fire, and he knew it.

Ben shook his head and replaced the chart.

“The doctor will make a more complete examination,” he said. “Let me go hunt down Dr. Johnston. I’ll scold him until he makes you his top priority.”

Ben smiled his polite nurse smile and turned for the door. He needed to get out of that room before he drooled all over his patient.

Author Bio

DJ Jamison worked in newsrooms for more than 10 years, which helped tremendously when she began her series centered on The Ashe Sentinel, a fictional small-town newspaper in Kansas. She lives in the Midwest with her husband, two sons and three glow-in-the-dark fish.

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A Jeri Review: Love By Number by DJ Jamison

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Rating: 3 Stars out of 5

This was a cute little book that could have gone a lot deeper.
Aidan is “close to being on the spectrum” of autism. But all of his mannerisms and quirks say that he is definitely on the spectrum. Quite a bit was spent on saying how different he was. Which is fine, and I actually really like Aidan, I just wish there wasn’t that qualifier right at the beginning of the book about being “close to”.
Jesse is drawn to Aidan when he sees him at a baseball game he is attending with his grandfather. And then quite literally runs into him in the parking lot. Jesse has about zero interest in baseball, but goes with his grandfather because it makes him happy.
So while Jesse and Aidan were complete opposites, I didn’t really get that opposites attract vibe from them at all. Their relationship kind of seemed like convenience brought on by a meddling grandfather. It was cute, for sure, but there was no substance at all.
I enjoyed Jesse’s grandfather a lot. I thought he was adorable- especially the way he tried to fix up Aidan and Jesse. And Jesse’s mother was great. Supporting him without being too overly protective.
The story was ok for what it was. I am glad it wasn’t longer, but I definitely think it needed more.
Cover art is eye catching and perfect.

Sales Link:

Amazon

Book Details:
indle Edition, 123 pages
Published October 11th 2017
ASINB076D783GK

A Caryn Review: Urgent Care (Hearts & Health #3) by D.J. Jamison

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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.

Sales Links 

Buy on Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 200 pages
Published May 4th 2017
ASINB0713YFW4T
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Hearts & Health:

A Caryn Review: Heart Trouble (Hearts & Health #1) by D.J. Jamison

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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.

Buy on Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 166 pages
Published by DJ Jamison (first published October 4th 2016)
Original TitleHeart Trouble
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesHearts & Health #1

A Caryn Review : Bedside Manner (Hearts & Health #1) by D.J. Jamison

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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.

Sales Links

Book Details:

ebook, 241 pages
Published March 7th 2017 by DJ Jamison at KDP
ISBN139781370601899
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesHearts & Health #1