Why, when my ARC list is so long, did I choose to read a book that is not on it? After a couple of intense reads, I was in need of something familiar, something reliable. Radclyffe is nothing if not reliable. And once again, I’m so happy I followed my instinct, because Love on the Night Shift is now my second favourite book in the Rivers Community series. My favourite favourite being the first one, Against Doctor’s Orders.
There’s nothing like the first book in a new series, when you get to discover a new universe, a new set of characters, new dynamics. When I first read Against Doctor’s Orders, I fell in love with the Rivers – the hospital and the family. As much as I enjoyed the next four books, I never really got that feeling back, until Love on the Night Shift. I’m very character-driven, and I absolutely adored both Blaise and Grady, and got invested in their story – and stories – from the start.
Blaise Richelieu is a single mother and a night shift ER nurse at the Rivers. She’s very focused on her job and on raising Taylor, her teenage daughter, and is definitely not looking for any sort of drama in her life. Grady McClure is the opposite. She’s a surgeon, with the attitude that goes with it. Unlike Brody from Love to the Rescue, she’s not a Flann clone, even if Flann is her mentor in many ways. She’s arrogant and extremely self-confident, but she’s also genuinely charming and attentive.
As I’ve written before, what I like most about these books is the familiarity. I’m not reading them to be surprised, I’m reading them to be with people I care about. Blaise’s secret isn’t difficult to guess and the reader knows all along that it will be the main obstacle to her relationship with Grady. What matters isn’t the secret itself but how Blaise has dealt with the situation and what she will decide to do now that someone else is in the picture, especially given who that someone is.
With each new story, Radclyffe changes the perspective, giving the reader a chance to see characters from previous books through someone else’s eyes. I appreciate Flann’s fierce loyalty better when she’s not the main character. I liked seeing Abby as Blaise’s best friend. And Taylor’s arc shows a different side of the group of teenagers, with, still, a slight focus on Margie and Blake.
There are all the usual ingredients in this novel: a city girl falling in love with the small-town lifestyle, the sense of community, the instalove mistaken for instalust. Radclyffe’s talent resides in her capacity to bring something new to a well-tried recipe and make you feel like you’re coming home.