After a series of books which broke my heart in various ways, I needed something a little more predictable. Predictable isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it can also feel comforting. I hadn’t read a Radclyffe novel in years but recently got books 4 and 5 in the Rivers community series (number 6, Love on the Night Shift, is coming out soon) and since I’d really liked the first three, it sounded like a safe bet.
One of the things I love with authors like Radclyffe is you know what you’re getting: consistently good writing, hot and badass women, steamy sex and sweet romance. This book was the perfect mix of all these, and exactly what I needed.
Carrie Longmire, Presley Worth’s executive admin and best friend, is incredibly efficient and precise, not to mention an extraordinary pitcher. When a misunderstanding delays the start of the building of the new ER extension, she’s all set to fix things ASAP, despite what Gina Antonelli, the construction crew manager, seems to think. Gina soon discovers she shouldn’t underestimate Carrie, nor the attraction they both feel. While Carrie is more than ready to be all in, Gina struggles with the past.
There’s a second storyline, which I liked, but I’m not sure about the balance. Blake, Abby’s trans son, is having top surgery, and he and Margie, Harper and Flann’s sister, are contemplating having sex. These are important and interesting stories but in a novel that’s about another couple, they take a tad too much space. And I know the Rivers family is perfect, even in its imperfections, and all these people are what everyone should be like (gorgeous, smart, talented, open-minded…), but it sometimes is a little too much, almost like a how-to guide to transition. Another detail grated some: I love Flann for adoring Abby and embracing her teenage son, but they’ve been together an objectively short time and she’s already calling Blake “our son”? Real-life experience shows that rarely happens (and when it does, it’s often fake). Flann loving Blake while still referring to him as Abby’s son would have worked just as well and felt more realistic. I won’t expand on Flann performing the surgery herself but it sounds like a lot of pressure. Then again, I guess Radclyffe knows the issue much better than I do.
Which brings me to this: most of my favourite Rad books involve doctors. I love authors who know what they write about, either through their own experience (Carsen Taite and lawyers is another example) or through thorough research (E. J. Noyes, Lee Winter and Jessica L. Webb come to mind, among others). There are doctors in this book but they’re all part of the secondary cast. Carrie and Gina’s story nevertheless benefits from the Rivers atmosphere, not only the “doctors” thing but also the small community. One of the parts I preferred was Carrie’s lightbulb moment at how much life in the countryside fits her: “She seemed to be rapidly losing her city sensibilities and replacing them with something slower and quieter and, in a strange way, deeper”. This I can absolutely relate to.