Heart Stop by Radclyffe: Book Review

Heart Stop by RadclyffeHeart Stop by Radclyffe is a book that I have been eagerly waiting for, and it did not disappoint. Radclyffe writes really strong medical romances, and I loved this story because it is a medical romance with a twist in that it is based in the ‘Graveyard’ (the morgue) and the patients are all corpses. In addition, the story involves the police, drugs and organized crime. There is a crossover with the Justice series of books and the First Responders book Trauma Alert.

The romance involves Dr Olivia Price, the assistant Medical Examiner, and Dr Jay ‘Flash’ Reynolds, a trauma surgeon. Olivia is forced to employ Jay as a forensic pathology fellowship student by her boss despite Jay not attending the normal interview procedure. Olivia has an ordered life with her career as her number one priority and she is aiming to take the Chief Medical Examiner role as soon as her boss retires. She has no room for romance in her life.

Jay is recovering from an accident that has left her with physical injuries and thus is unable to work as a surgeon again. She starts off not wanting the role of fellowship student, but very early in the story it is obvious that she is both enjoying it and good at it. She is physically attracted to Olivia and her slow, and sometimes not so slow, burn runs through a lot of the story.

The drama that unfolds around their relationship starts with Jay’s first day when Olivia throws her in at the deep end as they conduct an on-scene medical examination in a row of deserted buildings. The body leaves a lot of unanswered questions and slowly the police and the High Profile Crimes Unit are drawn in.

The Characters

Valden: Olivia considers her role as Medical Examiner as giving her a unique view and providing the only voice for the dead, with whom she considers she has a special relationship.  She has that kind of logical ordered mind that impresses me, and the way she conducts the role is awesome. For example, she has the kind of desk some of us dream of having, with everything neat and ordered! She had a disastrous marriage as a very young woman that has left emotional scars

Jay, who had a small role in Trauma Alert, spends much of the story coming to terms with the fact that her injuries have stopped her from practicing as a surgeon. All her life she has looked up to her older sister and Ali Torveau (the Chief Of Surgical Trauma from Trauma Alert) as both surgeons and role models; she followed them both to medical school and surgical training, and Ali latterly was her boss. With her physical limitations, she no longer has them to follow and thus she struggles to work out exactly what she wants to do. She finds herself drawn to the medical examiner role and to Olivia.

So this might be a good place to talk about the side characters from the previous books/series like Ali Torveau and Beau from Trauma Alert who have cameo roles. They have both been part of Jay’s support system while she recovers and it was good to see them married and obviously very happy together.

There are also roles for a number of characters from the Justice Series, Sandy Sullivan in the Drug Squad and Dell, Watts, Sloan and Rebecca from the High Profile Crimes Unit. Catherine also makes a small appearance. Sandy has the bigger role in the story and it is good that she has found a role that suits her in the Drug Squad. She is well accepted and is very happy with her life with Dell. Rebecca is the character in the story that draws the Justice series characters together and, as in the Justice series, she is driven to get results.

Sheena: I enjoy the way Radclyffe writes. Her characters are always unique enough to keep me interested and she makes it easy for me to identify them without having to remember names. This is especially important when you have a large cast as with this story.

The Writing Style

Valden: I must fangirl Radclyffe here. This book shows how to grab your reader and take them along with you without the slightest effort. The main romance is cleverly intertwined with the storyline of the Justice series, and has moved that story further along. It is so well done that when you go back to the main romance you almost don’t notice the subtle shift.

All the examinations and autopsies are really interesting and keep your attention riveted on the smallest of details and I found I didn’t really notice the careful, yet obviously violent approach, to the examination of the bodies.

Sheena: This one kept me guessing. It was a kind of odd crossover with police procedural and medical examiner so I wasn’t sure where the story would take me. We weren’t really trying to solve a case, although we kind of were. This one felt a little bit all over the place because of it and even the romance didn’t always seem to be the overriding theme.

I suspect that if you are familiar with the series then you will love this book. I haven’t been keeping up with this series so I felt like I was missing some previous stuff with the side characters.

The Narration

Sheena: Paige McKinney did a good job with the narration. She kept the characters clear. The sex scenes were well narrated (not easy to do) and the pacing was good. She was a solid choice for this book.

The Pros

Valden: The slow burn of the romance worked really well for me with the added bonus of the additional characters from previous books that seemed like old friends.

Sheena: I really enjoyed the behind the scenes look into a whole new sector of the medical world. It is one that we don’t really get to see in lesbian fiction and I enjoyed that.

The Cons

Valden: The medical examination is really well done but the description of the autopsies may be off-putting to some.

It’s a small point, but I have read the previous books that provide the crossover and knew all the characters well. Like the other First Responder novels, this is a stand-alone story but it may be that a reader without the background of the previous books may not get the depth of characterisation that I have had.

Sheena: No cons really. I agree with Valden that it is better if you have read the series but it didn’t bother me enough to put me off. I still appreciated the book.

I felt like Radclyffe missed an opportunity to really make Olivia an ice queen. The beginning of the book made it feel like I was in for a thawing the ice queen novel but then she kind of became nice all of a sudden. It wasn’t a big thing this is just a small note so you don’t get too excited about that.

The Conclusion

Valden: I thoroughly recommend the book, particularly if you have enjoyed the Justice series and the First Responder series. It is both a crime drama and a slow burn romance.

Sheena: It’s a sweet romance. There is a lot going on in this story so listen to it when you don’t need to concentrate on anything. All in all, I enjoyed it and recommend it as a solid audiobook for your collection.

Excerpt from Heart Stop by Radclyffe

Olivia shook her head. “Dr. Greenly has accepted you on somewhat unusual terms, but you’re here now. As long as you are here to work and to learn, I’m going to do my damnedest to make sure you do both.”

Jay grinned. “I can get behind that.”

Olivia shot her another look, and this time there was a hint of fire in her eyes that rocketed a bolt straight to the center of Jay’s chest. She’d been wrong in her initial assessment. There was nothing icy about Olivia Price. She was a banked fire, smoldering and ready to flare, but only on her own terms. A twist of interest coiled in Jay’s belly, a feeling she hadn’t experienced in a long, long time. “Why did you choose forensic pathology?”

“It suits me.” Olivia looked back to the road and didn’t answer.

So there was the barrier—the personal. Intrigued, Jay wanted to probe but decided to wait until she understood the ground a little better. If she made the wrong move one time, she’d never get another chance with Olivia.”

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Bits and Bobs

  • ISBN number: 9781626399006
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
  • Narrator: Paige McKinney

Radclyffe Online 

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Reviewer at The Lesbian Review

I am from near Bournemouth in the UK and live on a lesfic book diet of thrillers, adventure, crime and law stories. I also devour every sci-fi, fantasy and dystopian book I can get my hands on. I have a particular love of stories of people in uniform!


When I am not reading and reviewing, I am at a beach somewhere in my camper van or playing in a brass band.


Valden Bush

I am from near Bournemouth in the UK and live on a lesfic book diet of thrillers, adventure, crime and law stories. I also devour every sci-fi, fantasy and dystopian book I can get my hands on. I have a particular love of stories of people in uniform!

When I am not reading and reviewing, I am at a beach somewhere in my camper van or playing in a brass band.