Review of ‘L.A. Metro’ by RJ Nolan.

Dr. Jess McKenna is the busy ER Chief of the LA Metropolitan Hospital. She’s known for her impenetrable facade needed to get her through difficult cases and essential to guarding her past personal burden. Dr. Kim Donovan is a psychiatrist relocating after a disastrous stint at a hospital near her hometown in Detroit. Her ethics were questioned while working on a case and much to her devastation, everyone near her, including her closeted girlfriend, deserted her. Now her job is to liaison with the emergency department and the formidable Dr. McKenna. Can these two women help each other heal and move past their insecurities?

Confession time- I enjoyed this book more than I probably should have because of the hospital/medical setting. The book is well written with well defined characters, including a handsome Great Dane. There was no depth to the medical cases but enough said to be enjoyable and also propel the story forward. I also loved that Kim is a psychiatrist as it seems the majority of the hospital settings revolve around first-responders, ER and trauma specialties. Who knew psych would be such a novel and welcomed field?

The women had immediate chemistry and attraction. However, do not be fooled. This is a slow-burn romance. I enjoyed the characters’ journey was great and interesting. The only thing that I disliked was how many “inner thoughts” were literally shared and how at times they were simply not needed since the thought was obvious or even cliche.

This is the first of three full length books in the series. There are two novellas to go along with the first book and one prequel. Gaby reviewed the third and final novel ‘Wounded souls’.

Overall a good read that will appeal to anyone who loves medical romances. 4 stars.

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Review of ‘Listen’ by Kris Bryant.

‘Listen’ is part of the ‘Senses’ series by this author along with ‘Taste’ and ‘Touch’. It’s the story of Lily Croft, a former Classical music’s child prodigy who quit music altogether unable to handle the pressure of her career. She now suffers from anxiety and works as an actuary trying to keep to herself. One day she hears beautiful piano music coming from The Leading Note, a music education charity. Slowly she gets drawn to the place and its founder, Hope D’Marco, who is a very talented musician. Will Lily bring her walls down to accept Hope into her world or will her anxiety prove to be too much?

This novel is written in first person, as it is usual for Ms. Bryant, from the point of view of Lily. In my opinion, it is the right choice as the reader spends a lot of time in Lily’s headspace and can experience how anxiety affects her. The author, a sufferer of anxiety herself, has poured her heart out in this book. My understanding of this subject has increased exponentially from seeing it as an outsider to an insider perspective. It’s curious how Ms. Bryant stresses the role of music in calming her own anxiety and how music is the source of conflict for Lily. Anxiety comes in many forms.

After a childhood full of pressure to perform as the music prodigy she was, music for Lily is something to conquer, not a source of pleasure. By contrast, random surrounding noises calm her down. Hope understands this perfectly and prompts her to describe what she can hear in different life situations. That simple mechanism seems to bring about Lily’s musicality without any anxiety. Ms. Bryant describes this soundscape with some exquisite metaphors, it’s true what they say that music is everywhere. The whole book is beautifully written and makes the reader’s heart go out to people suffering from anxiety or any sort of mental health issue.

The characters are multilayered and well written in their strengths and weaknesses. Lily’s low self-esteem but, at the same time, her will to go out of her comfort zone, and Hope’s insecurities but positive personality, make them so human and loveable. Their chemistry together is incredibly off the charts and their intimate scenes are really well done. The secondary characters, including a very skittish and empathic cat, complete the cast perfectly. For me, as a former musician, the music scenes are realistic and bring out its beauty. All in all, it’s been a pleasure to read.

Overall, an excellent novel about anxiety, music, love and getting out of one’s comfort zone. 5 stars.

ARC provided by the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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Review of ‘Ask me again’ by E. J. Noyes.

This is the sequel of ‘Ask, tell’ which was one of my favourite lesfic books of 2017, so I was anxiously waiting for it and wondering where was Ms. Noyes taking one of my favourite couples in lesfic. If you haven’t read ‘Ask, tell’ I strongly recommend that you read it first as this sequel won’t have the same emotional impact if you don’t understand the background story and, anyway, it’s a must read for any lesfic fans.

‘Ask me again’ is a different kind of book by Ms. Noyes. Normally, she writes romances in which conflict is a mechanism to create tension and move the story forward. In this case, the conflict is in the driving seat of the story and the romance is in the background. The main issue is Sabine’s PTSD as a consequence of serving as an army surgeon in Afghanistan and her partner Rebecca trying to help her cope with it. As you can imagine, this isn’t a light read. It’s intense, raw, emotional and even heartbreaking. At times I wanted to crawl inside the book and give the characters a hug, it’s a story that gets the reader that emotionally involved.

This author normally writes in first person point of view. ‘Ask, tell’ was written from Sabine’s but this sequel is written from both Sabine’s and Rebecca’s points of view in alternating chapters. It works well as the reader has a prime view to Sabine’s OCD and anxiety issues and it gives a new dimension to Rebecca’s character. Both of them have their own distinct voices and their personalities are built to the tiniest of details. This couple works not only in their chemistry but in a deeper level of relationship which feels realistic and believable. A surprising addition is Jana, Sabine’s sister, a larger than life character who introduces some very much needed levity to this book. Ms. Noyes is planning to write a book based on her and I can’t wait to read it.

Overall, a novel with a surprising level of depth and a sequel that does justice to the characters’ story. Both highly recommended books to read in chronological order. 5+ stars.

ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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