Dr. Olivia Price, Assistant Medical Examiner, is dedicated, serious, professional and running away from any life beyond her day job. In the opening scenes of Heart Stop, Olivia shows us a precise ME, good at her job, undeterred by roadblocks—that is, until her boss intervenes with a request that she interview someone for a fellowship outside the normal operation of the pathology program. Olivia is first confused, then annoyed, when the request becomes an order to accept the new applicant into the program.

Dr. Jay Reynolds’ life changed in an instant. One minute she’d stopped at the side of the road to assist in an accident, the next minute, she was in ICU with life-threatening injuries, facing a long and painful recovery. Once she’s able to negotiate her world again, albeit with the use of a cane, she realizes her career as a trauma surgeon is over. The accident has robbed her of a steady hand, among other things. Her sister and her friend, both mentors, intervene to get her into the program with the Medical Examiner’s office to get her out of her depression and give her purpose again.

When Olivia and Jay meet, the assistant Medical Examiner is cautious, even a little resentful of Jay’s presence, but Jay soon proves her ability. However, when an attraction quickly blooms, Olivia refuses to act on it and Jay feels it’s inappropriate anyway. However, it won’t take long for these two to learn that the kind of passion between them is difficult to ignore.

Heart Stop is part of the First Responders series. Part romance, part murder mystery, part mobster story, it features a list of supporting characters from other Radclyffe books. Minor characters, Dell and her partner, Sandy, along with Rebecca and Catherine, among others, support the story and help move it along to its conclusion. It gives readers who are familiar with them the feeling they’ve accidentally bumped into old friends. The story itself is a stand-alone, however, so those who are not familiar with these characters won’t feel lost. In this account, Radclyffe has given us romance, mystery, death, emergency room activity and turf king action all combined to coalesce into a fascinating (and sizzling) tale.

Strong yet flawed, Jay and Olivia are easy to empathize with–Jay’s self-confidence grows as she navigates her way through a new job, and a re-awakening of her libido. On the outside, Olivia appears to be extremely poised and good at her job, but her personal life is a bit of a mess as she carries past betrayals and hurts around because she’s never faced them head on. They make her cautious and hesitant, even dismissive of her initial attraction to Jay. As these two grapple to overcome their reservations and accept their attraction, they must negotiate the dangerous crime scenes to which they are called.

The inner voices of the main characters are especially insightful into their struggles. Jay’s is especially refreshing–presenting us with humor, at times, as she battles the changes in her life and looks for her new place in the world she now inhabits. Olivia’s slow reveal of what makes her so afraid to give in to her feelings for Jay, make it apparent how much her past experience has traumatized her.

This tale is populated with various points of view, sometimes as many as three in one scene, which occasionally makes it difficult to discern who is speaking. However, masterful storytelling dominates and makes this technicality seem minor. Radclyffe knows how to make characters come alive and gives their attractions an undeniable magnetism in the midst of a heart-stopping tale. Heart Stop is an excellent addition to the First Responders series and is sure to thrill fans and first-time readers alike.

 

Heart Stop
By Radclyffe
Boldstrokes Books
Paperback, 9781626398993, 240 pp.
July 2017



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