REVIEW: Necessary Medicine by M.K.York
With intelligence and humor, debut male/male author M.K. York delivers an emotionally charged slow-burn romance set in a prestigious Bay Area teaching hospital
In the high-intensity world of hospital residency programs, there’s no room for romance. So it’s a good thing for first-year surgical resident Neil Carmona that his crush on the gorgeous cardiologist Eli Newcombe is sheer fantasy. Not only is the sexy doctor Neil’s superior, he’s also recently divorced.
As Neil’s skill as a surgeon grows, so does his friendship with Eli, and his silent, hopeless longing for more. It isn’t until Neil’s final year that Eli at last admits his own deepest desires. But Neil’s joy is short-lived: Eli has no intention of pursuing a relationship. Their positions in the hospital would make it unethical, even if he was emotionally ready for someone new.
Wounded and furious, Neil is determined to forget about Eli once and for all. But when a near-tragedy strikes, a new question arises: Is a life without love—without Neil—a greater risk than laying his heart on the line?
Disclosure: I bought this book when it was out, but I first read it when Carina Press sent it to DA as part of their review query letter.
Dear M.K. York,
I am always happy when characters in a romance novel (or any novel, really) have a profession and the profession is described realistically or at least believably. I give your book top marks for describing the work of medical residents. I don’t know much about their work except that they work crazy shifts, but this book is just written with such an air of authority that I would be very surprised if the setting did not have a very realistic basis behind it.
It is not only that these doctors are working long shifts, catching a couple of hours of sleep between surgeries, it is also all the other details – the conferences they have to go to, the day to day details of their work, and quite a bit of medical jargon. I was not confused, but in the course of my job I often deal with medical terminology so I may not be the best judge of whether it would be confusing for the average reader.
We get to read about Neil Carmona training experience, starting from his last year as medical student to the end of his residency. We see how hard it is to survive a residency with your sanity and health intact, how much toll it takes on everybody around you, not just on the young residents but also on the older and more experienced attending physicians, and we get to observe decent people trying to do their best for their patients.
Neil is one of these decent people who is willing to sacrifice a lot in order to become a surgeon, but he has also had a crush on one of the attending physicians – cardiologist Eli Newcombe — for years, ever since Eli gave a lecture at their medical school
The romance in this book is *really* slow burn. In fact I would say that for most of the book there is no romance at all. All we see is Neil’s apparently one-sided crush. Eli’s behavior gives us some hints that it might not be unrequired, but there is certainly nothing explicit between them until about the seventy percent mark of the story. Instead, over the years we read about how Neil and Eli bond more and more as friends. Neil is openly gay, but Eli is divorced from his ex-wife and if he is gay or bisexual he is not sharing that information.
As Neil and Eli go to the same medical conferences, and as they work on more patients together (Eli is not a surgeon, but his consultation as cardiologist is often needed on the Neil’s surgical cases), Neil’s crush only grows because he gets to know the real Eli (who seemed like a nice guy to me). But once again, if Eli feels the same, he is certainly not showing it.
As the blurb tells you, he does eventually reveal that information – and I have to admit I was a little confused. Because even though I thought that Eli’s reasons not to pursue the relationship with Neil were understandable – he may not have been his direct superior, but he is still one of the attending physicians and could have made trouble for Neil if he chose to – the scene where Eli smells Neil’s shirt and almost cries was just not believable to me. Not because he was crying – of course guys could and should cry if the situation warrants that — but I guess I interpreted Eli’s character as somebody who would have been more open with Neil by now when they had been such good friends for years. Eli did not say anything to Neil first – Neil caught him smelling his shirt and crying by accident.
Neil was upset, but I was glad that he tried to be an adult and tried his hardest to maintain the friendship with Eli after that awkward conversation, and Eli did the same. It is always nice when romance heroes not only manage to remember that they have a job with its own rules even when true love is involved, and in general try to behave as adults.
I just hope there is enough romance in there for you readers – for me the book mostly delivered on the romance but some readers may wish that there was more romantic action in the first two-thirds as well.