All three of these books are in a similar grade range, which is why I wanted to group them together, but they are very different. There is fantasy on audio, a f/f workplace romance with an ice queen doctor, and a contemporary romance with a grumpy Scotsman.
author: Lola Keeley
Veronica Mallick is a damn good surgeon and knows she’s on track to eventually run the whole hospital. The next step in her plan is to have her protege installed as head of the Trauma unit, but that’s blown to pieces when the job is given to an outsider.
Cassie Taylor is excited to step back to civilian life in London after years doing surgery as a medic in Afghanistan. While she doesn’t expect to gain an instant enemy in Veronica, Cassie is more than happy to keep her distance from the icy, beautiful other woman.
Between trying to save a badly injured veteran-turned-local-hero and Cassie being implicated in some financial shenanigans at the hospital, the two manage to put their differences aside and start being civil to one another. But can they actually acknowledge the attraction that’s been brewing between them?
The main problem I had with Major Surgery is that they shifted from enemies to interested in each other very quickly and I’m not exactly sure what did it or why. It seems to be related to the whole situation with the veteran (I’m trying to avoid spoilers), with the hospital book-cooking being the clincher for them. I was happy to see them get together and the sex is great when they get there, I just wish the shift had been precipitated by something more clear.
If you like medical romances, thawing ice queens, and protagonists that are smart asses, you’ll enjoy this book. Major Surgery may not be my favourite book from Lola Keeley, but I still found it hard to put down. It’s a fun, gentle read that’s especially great for when you’re looking for something to hide from the world, and now I’m eagerly awaiting the tennis romance she’s releasing this fall.
author: Lois McMaster Bujold
I read this novella about two years ago, had fond memories of it, and then spotted the audio version. Adding it to my library on a whim yielded four hours of deep relaxation in Beltway traffic (not an easy feat), on my patio while cross stitching (pretty easy) and while cooking (always good).
The plot is simple and complicated: Penric is a good-hearted dude on his way to his betrothal when he stops because a woman is dying in the road. Turns out the woman is a sorcerer, and when he asks how he can help her, she accepts his help and presto! The demon that lives in her jumps to Penric upon her death. This causes no shortage of logistical, theological, familial, and political problems because having a demon makes one a powerful sorcerer in this world, and Penric has exactly zero training in that department.
It’s a novella, so the story moves along rapidly as people plot against Penric because they want his demon. Meanwhile, Penric has to figure out what to do with the demon, who contains 13 different identities, the left over lifetimes of the people within whom the demon has lived. The demon has its own personalities, and each person has added languages, skills, experience, and memories, all of which the demon carries forward to Penric.
The best reason to read this story is Penric and the demon, whom he names Desdemona. Desdemona is kind of a Guile hero, quiet, savvy, powerful and watchful, but used to being, well, used for her powers, while Penric is what TV Tropes would probably call “Good is Not Dumb.” The two of them together are terrific, as Penric is determined to treat Desdemona as a being with feelings and preferences, and Desdemona has no idea what to make of that. Their relationship and the demon/human relationships in this world are a subtle examination of parasitic symbiosis versus mutual support, and Penric and Desdemona’s conversations are my favorite part. So much development and character evolution happen in a handful of lines between them, and I savored and sometimes replayed scenes a few times each.
The narration by Grover Gardner is extremely good: dry and witty then earnest and heartfelt, with excellent vocal nuances for Penric, Desdemona, and the other characters. It helps that Gardner has McMaster Bujold’s writing to narrate. The next book in the series, Penric and the Shaman, jumps ahead a few years, and I am starting that immediately. I have cross stitching to finish and traffic to sit in, and they’re coming with me.
– SB Sarah
Ten Days with the Highlander
author: Hayson Manning
Ten Days with a Highlander is a good pick if you want a quick read with some top notch sexy banter. There are some elements, though, that lacked convincing emotional depth.
Georgia Paxton has ten days to convince grumpy Callum MacGregor that his quaint, Scottish hotel would benefit from joining the Airbnb-esque company she works for. Callum isn’t a fan of change and is worried that increasing awareness would cause an increase in tourism, which would then overrun his small little village and ruin everything. Of course, Georgia wins all the locals over and Callum gets crankier and crankier.
At times, I felt like I missed a chunk of time with the way things jumped around or progressed emotionally. For example, Georgia is incredibly confident in her career and the success she’s accomplished. Good for her! But by the end, she does a complete 180 and realizes that traveling the globe looking for hotel acquisitions feeds into her feelings of never belonging. It comes out of nowhere, as there are no earlier stirrings of job uncertainty from Georgia.
It’s a short read, but still rather charming. Also, Georgia doesn’t seem to know what a landline is and she’s not much younger than I am. What.
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