REVIEW: Lights and Sirens (Emergency Services #2) by Lisa Henry
Paramedic Hayden Kinsella is single and the life of the party. He likes driving fast and saving lives, and he doesn’t do relationships—he does hookups. Except he wouldn’t hook up with copper Matt Deakin if he were the last guy on the planet. Hayden thinks the feeling is mutual . . . until clearing the air leads to a drunken one-night stand, which leads to something neither of them was expecting: a genuine connection.
Police officer Matt Deakin moved to Townsville to take care of his elderly grandfather. In between keeping an eye on Grandad, renovating his house, and the demands of his job, he somehow finds himself in a tentative relationship with Hayden and very slowly gets to know the damaged guy beneath the happy-go-lucky persona.
But the stressors of shift work, fatigue, and constant exposure to trauma threaten to tear Hayden and Matt apart before they’ve even found their footing together. In the high-pressure lives of emergency services workers, it turns out it’s not the getting together part that’s hard, it’s the staying together.
Dear Lisa Henry,
I have read a lot of your books; and to me the two books in these ongoing (?) series about the life and love of emergency workers in Australia is probably your very best work. It is not that I did not enjoy some of your darker or YA books, I did, some more than others. However these two books to me seem the most realistic thing (still romance of course) that you have written so far.
The books can be read separately, the couple from the first book very briefly mentioned in the beginning of this one but that’s about it. I can wholeheartedly recommend the first book too, but I was unable to write the review – sometimes it is just not working and all you can say that you loved or hated the book.
The book is written from the third person limited POV and the author lets us be in Matt’s and Hayden’s heads by turn. We learn in the beginning of the book that Hayden apparently does not like Matt because Matt gave him a speeding ticket and ignored his flirting, however Matt apparently thought that Hayden was trying to *flirt his way out of the speeding ticket* and lo and behold misunderstanding was born. When the boys cross paths during the jobs – of course paramedics and policemen often have to come to the same accidents, they think they are not happy to see each other. Actually even that is not true, Hayden thinks he is not happy to see Matt, while Matt is mostly annoyed that outgoing friendly Hayden does not like him because he may have rejected Hayden’s advances.
Luckily the author does not drag this for too long at all, because of course they are attracted to each other (and both Matt and Hayden are honest about that) and they hook up and end up realizing that they want to try to meet again and do some real dating.
Both of them have never had a long relationship, especially Hayden, but surprisingly for him he wants to give this thing with Matt a try.
Of course we should not expect a smooth sailing in the romance book, but I really liked how real the tension between the men and the way they dealt with it felt. Hayden’s scars (as he keeps insisting his past was not tragic and maybe it was not, but it was not happy either, and I think even Hayden eventually realizes that it left scars on his soul that needed to be dealt with ) may not have been all that visible, but of course Hayden’s past influenced the way he dealt with the world, the protection shield he sometimes put around himself. I liked that the author did not dial the angst up to eleven, somehow all of what was happening in Hayden’s head felt so, I don’t know, fragile and very genuine and I believed that a real human being could have acted and reacted the way he did.
And then there is a stress of the jobs of first responders that gets to Hayden and Matt, which felt very realistic as well and that author really knew what she was writing about. By the way I know the book is set in Australia, so I apologize for calling them as they are called in the US, I also noticed that paramedics were called ambos in the book, I was not sure if that’s the only nickname for them, but as I said I decided to call them what they are called here. As an aside, the Aussie book friend noted that the book has a really good depiction of contemporary life in Australia, so I am going to take her on her word since I would not know.
As I said, I really liked how the men dealt with the issues, of course in the early stages of the relationship they still did not know each other well, and old and new hurts could appear unexpectedly, but I really liked that they both tried to keep this new and fragile thing rather than destroy it before it really took off.
“Matt cupped Hayden’s jaw. “We did all this shit arse backwards, didn’t we?” We had sex before we dated. Then I dragged you home with me before we could even talk about whether we were going to move in together some time in the future, and you’re meeting my parents way before we’ve had that conversation.”
“It didn’t matter that they’d come at this whole thing backwards. It only mattered that they’d come at this whole thing backwards. It only mattered that they were both on the same page now.
Matt rubbed his thumb along Hayden’s collarbone, smiling as it brought up a red mark that faded rapidly. It reminded him of light trails in a photograph, ephemeral and beautiful. He also liked how Hayden gasped and arched off the bed, his spine bending like a bow, when Matt leaned down and bit him gently.”
I loved pretty much everything about the book hence the grade.