Two people meet under unexpected circumstances—and Heart Trouble abounds. Hope Finlay, ER doctor, has kept people at arm’s length since losing her mother and entering the foster care system at the age of eight. Hope is a loner, preferring to work nights and holiday shifts, sleeping and keeping to herself during the day. Occasionally, she chooses to come out into the daylight and play a game of racquetball with her friend, Jordan, another doctor at Griffith Memorial Hospital in Los Angeles.

Laleh Samadi keeps a long line of men at bay. They are the ones her Persian parents parade before her, hoping she will pull someone suitable out of the queue and marry him. But Laleh finds none of them enchanting enough to give them a second look. Then there’s Laleh’s racing heart issue—not the kind precipitated by a handsome suitor, but a physical issue: heart palpitations that she cannot control and that are growing more and more worrisome until a particular episode sends her to the emergency room, where Hope Finlay is on duty.

When Laleh collapses, Hope must save Laleh’s life using a defibrillator. She succeeds and Laleh finally gets the diagnosis and life-saving procedure she needs to return to a normal life. However, these two women find their lives are far from normal after their encounter in the ER and they find their existence is inexplicably changed.

After the life-saving action Hope takes to keep Laleh alive, the young Persian woman seems to be able to diagnose illness like a well-trained, seasoned physician. Hope can understand and converse in fluent Farsi, a language she didn’t speak or even understand prior to Laleh’s arrival in the ER. Added to these strange occurrences, the two women have exchanged their love of certain foods while harboring distaste for things they once enjoyed. The real upheaval begins when they start to experience each other’s emotions and the strong attraction that grows between them doesn’t help the turmoil, either.

Jae quickly asks us to suspend belief in this one, but the story is so unique, so appealing, so compelling, that it’s easy to do so. The characters of Hope and Laleh, although they come from very different experiences and backgrounds, struggle with similar issues that prevent them from getting too close to anyone who might claim their hearts. Flirty, even a little risqué, Jordan Williams is a challenging friend, who in the end proves herself to be supportive and sympathetic. Laleh’s family members are boisterous, earthy and just a little bit meddlesome. In her search for independence, Laleh’s aunt Nasrin, in whose restaurant Laleh works with aspirations to take over someday, proves to be a strong, loving ally.

Descriptions and medical information are skillfully written to be easily understood. Laleh’s food and cooking knowledge are well written and contribute to the story, enhancing who the character is. Dialogue is crisp and believable. Conversations among Laleh’s parents are especially delightful, even entertaining, as they try to keep her grounded in her heritage.

Within the context of this creative and captivating story, a romance blooms that is both curious and compelling. Consuming page after page, the reader will want to know more about these two main characters and find out if they will reject their heart trouble or embrace it and allow healing and wholeness to grow from their blossoming relationship.

In the end, the message that communication comes in many forms to create the ever-important basis of any relationship comes through loud and clear. Heart Trouble is full of tension and difficulties balanced with humor and romantic interludes that will thrill and entertain. The premise is creative and intriguing. It’s a story filled with sensuousness and imagination, written with skill and delivered with a dash of spice by an award-winning author.

Heart Trouble
By Jae
Ylva
Paperback, 9783955337322, 312 pp.
September 2016



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