Jess Riley’s career as a cardiologist has always been her first and only priority. At 37, she’s about to become a single mother, having decided not to wait for the perfect woman to have a family. She’s a planner, always following her plans to the letter since they usually work, but she’s misjudged how complicated and exhausting it would be to take care of her newborn daughter and keep her career on its tracks. When heart failure due to the pregnancy forces her to take a break and move in with her mother Maggie, her world collapses. Lena Walker is Maggie’s tenant and friend. She juggles three jobs to pay off debts she can thank her unfit mother for. Despite all she’s been through, Lena is sweet and patient, never letting anger and bitterness take over. And she’ll need patience with Jess…
Authors often say the second book is the hardest. Sure, when you’ve already been published, you know you can do it, but with this knowledge come expectations. And that can be really tough to deal with. So I’m often kinder on with second books.
Heart Failure did need a little kindness at first. Jess was so hard and rude I wasn’t sure I wanted to care about her. However, having read and enjoyed Chris Zett’s first novel, Irregular Heartbeat, a lot, I had to give this one a real chance. It got much better after a while, and I liked seeing the real Jess underneath the self-centred ice queen she let herself be when life got admittedly rough. She didn’t change completely and still had lessons to learn about becoming a nicer and kinder human being, and I couldn’t help thinking Lena deserved better.
Even though Heart Failure can be read as a standalone, it’s set in the same universe as Irregular Heartbeat and one of the main characters from that first novel appears quite often in this one. Not knowing about her background beforehand won’t stop you from understanding anything, but as I love reading books in order, I’d recommend reading the first one before this.