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When tough-as-nails ER surgeon Ali Torveau meets cocky, rebellious, but drop-dead beautiful Beau Cross, the mutual attraction is strong, but so is the mutual annoyance. Even though Beau might be one of the most beautiful women Ali has ever seen, she thinks Beau, a firefighter/emergency medical tech, is both reckless and a “glory hound.” Meanwhile, Beau, who is usually supremely confident, is shaken when she sees how quickly Ali dismisses her as a romantic possibility. However, when her co-worker Bobby bets her she can’t get Ali to go on a date with her, she accepts the challenge.
That may seem like a low stakes plot, but both Ali and Beau are emotionally wounded characters who are unwilling to open their hearts to anyone, and that’s where the true conflict surfaces. In my experience, the people I’ve known who are emergency medical workers have had to develop a protective mental shell to keep the horrors they witness at a distance. So it’s quite believable that a trauma surgeon and a “first responder” such as a firefighter would have immense trouble letting each other get close. The problems may be some of the typical devices of contemporary romance such as incorrect assumptions (Beau decides that Ali has called Beau’s boss and recommended that Beau be taken off duty, Ali sees Beau with another pretty woman and decides there must be something going on) and failures to communicate that serve to keep the romantic contagonists at odds. However, they’re more effective when it’s understandable why these characters refuse to ask the questions they need to ask and why it’s such a struggle to overcome stubbornness, fear, and hubris, therefore allowing oneself to be vulnerable.
While I’m sure many readers will be focused on the twists in the growing relationship as well as the painful secrets each character hides, personally I couldn’t get enough of the fascinating action scenes. The author, Radclyffe, is a doctor herself, and you can tell because the trauma room scenes just boom and so do Beau’s rescue scenes when she’s in the field. The writing is so strong in these moments, the pages fly. These scenes also underscore how risky it must be to fall in love with someone who has a job as dangerous as Beau’s.
When reading romance, I think the most important things are for the reader to feel the attraction the character does, for the reader to sense the chemistry between the characters, and for the reader to want them to get together as much as the characters do themselves. First, Radclyffe creates such a bombshell in Beau (Ali calls her “a walking orgasm”) that the bedroom scenes fogged my glasses. Second, I think readers will sense how both their pain and their similar personalities make these characters right for each other. Last, Ali and Beau are heroes in every sense of the word, and many readers will be yearning for the happily-ever-after these characters very much deserve.
Reviewed by Gavin Atlas