by Virginia Taylor
Published by Random House Australia
on August 1st 2014
Genres: Romance, Romantic Suspense
The blurb misled me on this book! I read this:
“It’s Bree Branson’s first day at Pemberton Private Hospital and the last thing she needs is a patient dying in suspicious circumstances on her watch.”
And I thought to myself, I thought, “Yay! A hospital-based thriller romance set in the little lumber town of Pemberton in my state! This is MY BOOK NOW.”
But it wasn’t set in Pemberton town, it was just set in a private Adelaide hospital called Pemberton Hospital. No matter! Moving on. It’s still an Australian-written hospital romantic suspense, and I’m all over that.
So. Bree. She’s a working-class nurse starting work at a new hospital, where she runs into a fellow from her past, silver-spoon surgeon Sam Vincent. Then people start dying, and Bree starts to wonder why. Her investigation leads toward it being an inside job, and the tension of the books lies in Bree’s wondering which of her co-workers might be a murderer. Who was the last person to have the Schedule 8 cupboard keys? Why were those morphine ampoules in Sam’s pocket? And where is the jewellery from the dead folks disappearing to?
The B plots include Bree and Sam’s wrong-side-of-the-tracks romance, some family drama with Bree’s mum and dad, and Bree confronting and examining the fact that she holds some stereotypical ideas about people from certain social classes, just as they hold certain stereotypes about her.
A lot of this book was fun, and the whodunit was well written. But there were annoying things too, sexist romance-novel mainstays that always get up my nose. There’s the unwanted kiss, where the hero keeps on kissing without consent until the heroine changes her mind:
‘Sam, no. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m not your type.’
Slowly and gently, he kissed her until he could feel her indecision.
And there’s this little turd-in-the-swimming-pool of a Nice Guy(tm) conversation:
“I think you’re the only woman I’ve dated who likes me because of me.’
‘Likes you? Who said I like you?’
‘Sweet face, you had sex with me after you’d only known me for a couple of hours.’
‘That means you’re manipulative, not that I liked you.’
He shook his head. ‘And now we’ve been together for almost two months and not slept together once.’
‘Strictly speaking, we did sleep together.’
‘I ought to get good-guy points for that. You knew I wanted you.
So this book loses some stars for me. I’d read Virginia Taylor again, but I’d hope for a little more attention to respectful consent all round, and a hero who’s less of an arse.