If you’ve read other reviews for this novel, mine won’t be very original. After loving Payback last year (so much so that I got the paperback too), I was hoping to enjoy Body of Work at least as much.
At first, it was more because of my own issues than anything the author had written. When we first meet Noa Stevens, she’s depressed and keeping herself away from the world. A few years ago, she lost her wife to a heart defect. That loss came after Noa’d already survived her brother’s disappearance when she was eleven. Chris left home one day and never came back. The police never found him. The family never recovered. These two tragic losses would be a lot for anyone, they’re too much for Noa, who has become a reputed painter but spends her days and nights drinking too much and sleeping on the floor of her house. So when her agent suggests she leaves London for a while, she reluctantly agrees. He helps her move into one of his friend’s house in the countryside, and Noa slowly learns to appreciate her new surroundings. And her new neighbour, nurse Paige Clarke. The attraction is instant between them, and quickly grows into a lot more, as if Paige, who’s also suffered through her share of loss, had come into Noa’s life at the exact right time for her to be ready to finally open up to someone else.
As I wrote above, at the beginning of the story, Noa’s depression made it hard for me to enjoy what I was reading, which, I guess, means Mills did a good job at describing her character’s state of mind. I got more invested in the story as soon as Noa met Paige. I liked their interactions, the chemistry was plausible, everything about the two of them together was enjoyable, even though I felt Paige’s patience with Noa was admirable. Maybe as a nurse she’s used to people not showing their best selves. Or because she’s lost so much too, she gets her.
Then there’s the mystery surrounding Noa’s brother. I didn’t see the point of it, as if the author had wanted to tell two stories at once. At first, it was very light, in the background of the love story, and when it got in the foreground, I had this feeling of déjà vu (think Psycho)… Also, as others (mainly Carrie in her own review) have pointed out, the secondary characters took a lot of space for no particular reason.
The best part was the sex scenes, they’re hot and tender and believable. It’s not enough to make a great book, but at least they were nice to read. Added to Mills’ writing style, which I really like, they account for the three stars.