Cheri: “There’s a new Radclyffe. You want to read it?”
MEC: <stammering> “Uh … yeah, I guess I could give it a try. You know … when I can make some time.”
Cheri: “Well, if you’re too busy …”
MEC: <starting to sweat> “eep.”
Cheri: “Hmm, maybe I’ll read it and do the review.”
MEC: “Damn you … give it to me!”
Cheri: “Don’t stay up all night ….”
And with that little bit of torture out of the way …
As anyone who has read my past reviews knows, I have a soft spot for anything Radclyffe. I can’t explain – I just love me some Rad There’s something familiar and comforting between the covers with angsty, brooding characters, medical emergencies and smoldering chemistry. I know what I’m going to get and rarely come away disappointed. And for the record, I didn’t stay up all night to finish it. I read it all day.
Unrivaled is the latest in the Philadelphia Medical Centre (PMC) series but can just as easily read as a stand-alone. The book takes place shortly after Passionate Rivals and we get to check in with Emmet and Syd, Honor and Quinn and some of the other characters from the previous books – they are mostly supporting characters but they do get a good amount of page time. Now that this is considered a series rather than a few loosely connected books, I find that I keep my eyes open to see if I can figure out who will be moving from supporting to main character for the next book.
Declan Black has returned to PMC as an ER attending after a tragic accident changed the trajectory of her career and personal life. Tragic accident immediately translates to broody and of course she’s tall dark and handsome to top that off. Already we’re off to a good start. As she arrives, the hospital is inundated with victims of a nine car pile up and Dec is in the thick of things before she’s even had a chance to be introduced to the ER staff. Enter Zoey Cohen, fourth year resident who is just starting her new rotation in transplants, pitches in to help with the incoming trauma victims. You may remember Zoey as one of the supporting characters in the last book whose casual relationship with Emmett ended when Syd arrived on the scene. As casual as the relationship was and the fact that they remain friends, Zoey’s confident exterior hides her vulnerability and fear of never being enough for someone to stay.
As with most of Rad’s medical romances, the two tortured souls are drawn together with some push and pull as they struggle nobly – the ghosts of their pasts seeming to keep them from moving on to their futures. Declan’s backstory is more developed as she comes to terms with the decisions that she made that led her to leave PMC as well as the guilt and regret from the accident. Interestingly enough, Rad gives a bit of a twist to the backstory that worked well. Zoe also benefits from more development of her character, rounding her out and making her more sympathetic than I remembered her from the last book.
Chemistry is never an issue with Rad’s characters, but in spite of Zoey’s (supposed) reputation, the initial relationship spends a bit of time getting to know each other and has some sweet moments. That’s not to say the attraction isn’t there, simmering in the background; and, once things ignite, there’s definitely lots of heat. Despite all that, both women are unsure of the other wants or how to ask for what they want and the ghosts and doubts keep them from moving forward.
This was a short book – sadly- and so things did move relatively fast relationship-wise and there wasn’t as much focus on the medical aspects. I would have loved to spend a bit more time with Dec and Zoey and have the build up of their relationship take even more time. They both had a lot of baggage to unpack and when the characters are engaging, I don’t mind a longer courtship. I really appreciated the subplot dealing with Zoey’s rotation in the Transplant service – from tragedy can come come hope, and I think Rad wove the plot into the larger story with compassion and sensitivity.
Overall – another hit for the PMC medical romance series. It’s always nice to see Honor and Quinn and the bustling setting of the hospital always gives these books a number of fast-paced and fascinating subplots. Most importantly, the romance between Declan and Zoe hits all the notes you would expect from Rad – chemistry, angst and characters who you want to see again and again.
Recommended – for those of you who can’t get enough of Radclyffe’s medical romances.