Heart Failure by Chris Zett is an enemies to lovers, rich girl / poor girl romance between a heart surgeon and a woman who does a number of menial jobs just to pay her bills.

Dr Jess Riley is a successful cardiologist. She is on track in her career and her personal life. Sure, she may not have have a wife but she does have a baby on the way, a luxury condo, nice car and a mother who can help her raise her daughter. Life, though, is never quite that easy and shortly after giving birth Jess collapses at the hospital. In a cruel twist of fate she has developed heart problems and is forced to take leave.

Jess has to move back home but she discovers that the guest house which she was planning to live is occupied by a woman she knows nothing about named Lena Walker.

Lena works several low income jobs and is battling to keep her head above water as she pays off debts that aren’t even her own. Her life has been less than idilic and yet she remains sunny and upbeat. At least she has a wonderful place to stay and a glorious garden in which she can sit and do her plant sketches. Maggie, her landlord, is a supportive friend and passionate gardener.

But when Maggie’s daughter, Jess storms into Lena’s life and tells her to move out. Lena doesn’t need this raging woman messing up her carefully constructed world and so they do not get off to a good start.
Over time the two women find ways in which to live together and they even form a tentative friendship and one night a sexy massage leads to more than just attraction. The question now is, can the sparks between them ignite into something more when their start was so rocky?

The Characters

Dr. Jess Riley is an entitled woman who has everything and has never had to be uncomfortable in her life. She expects the world to bow to her will and why shouldn’t she? She is young enough to be vital, successful enough to be top of her game and her plan for life is coming along just fine.

Her heart, though, decides to give her trouble and forces her to take a long hard look at what she really wants from her life and soon she sees that what she thought she wanted had a lot missing. And when she tentatively forms a bond with Lena she starts to realise exactly why her plan was flawed.

Lena Walker has had to work hard for everything. She has no personal life because she works pretty much as long as she can everyday. She doesn’t really trust people not to leave after being emotionally devastated as a teenager and the only way she finds peace in doing daily Tai Chi and sketching.

She cannot help being kind and when she sees that Jess is in need she offers to teach her Tai Chi and go on regular evening walks with her to help her heal giving them time to discover one another.

The Writing Style

The story is well structured and easy to follow. I loved that Zett added a load of great details without bogging down the story.

For those who enjoy the enemies to lovers trope and enjoy the misunderstandings, blow ups and make ups, this book is chock full of everything you could ask for.

I was thrilled by how Jess grew as a character and how Lena helped her by being a firm, yet gentle presence. It was a fantastic combination and I totally believed that they would be happy together forever.

The Narration

Lori Prince did a good job with narrating the story. The pacing and revelations were done well, nothing took too long or was glossed over.

My one complaint would be that I couldn’t always tell which character was which. I am not great at remembering names at the best of times so keeping track of that was difficult because the voices were not always distinct enough. Even so, I loved the audiobook and highly recommend it.

The Pros

For those who are fans of the first book set at the same hospital, Irregular Heartbeat, one of the main characters in that book makes an appearance in this one. I loved her character and it made me want to go read Irregular Heartbeat.

Another pro is that while this is technically book 2 set in the same world it is a completely stand alone book. I have not read Irregular Heartbeat and it made no difference to my enjoyment of this one.

Heads up

This is a slow burn and enemies to lovers romance so expect the first 20% or so to be tense between Jess and Lena with Jess being a downright ass to Lena at times. Having said that, Lena does get redeemed so keep reading.

The Conclusion

sheena's favouriteIf you love a book with a slow build of sexual tension between two characters who couldn’t be more different if they tried then this is the audiobook for you.

Zett managed a well paced, interesting story with great character moments and wonderful side characters that made the story relatable.The language and narration flowed beautifully and I often felt like I was sitting right there and watching the story play out in front of me.

I wanted so badly for Lena to find her happy ever after at the same time wanting to smack Jess’s head with a pillow and tell her to stop being an idiot. Of course, that means that Zett did her job perfectly.
This may have been the first time I have listened to a Chris Zett novel but it won’t be the last. Look out world, new fan coming through.

Excerpt from Heart Failure by Chris Zett

“I don’t have to explain anything to you. This is my family’s house. What are you doing here?” Jess stepped closer and towered over Lena by at least a couple of inches.

“I live here.” Lena snarled right back. She wanted to kick the intruder out, but then it clicked. Jess obviously didn’t know she had been living in the garden house for the last ten months. Lena’s anger deflated. “You’re Jess, right? I’m Lena. Maggie rented the house to me.” She held out her hand.

“Dr. Riley.” Jess ignored her hand and stepped past Lena, looking around the room with a frown. “My name is Dr. Riley, as is my mother’s.”

“Um…come in.” Lena didn’t know how to react, so she went with her default setting: politeness. Even if Jess had already entered the house. “If you insist, I’ll call you by your last name, but how I address Maggie is between her and me. Can I help you?”

“I don’t remember the furniture, so it must be yours. It’ll take a bit of time to move all that, so you can take until the end of tomorrow to remove everything.”

Lena blinked. Was she joking? But the tone didn’t hold even a trace of humor. “There must be a misunderstanding. Let’s go talk to Maggie and clear everything up. I’ll change my top, and then we can go to the main house.”

Jess’s icy blue eyes moved up and down as she studied her. “What are you doing with your top?”

“I burned myself when you stormed inside.” Lena held up the empty mug.

“Oh, um, I’m sorry.” Red spots bloomed on Jess’s cheeks. “You don’t need to come. You can start packing.” Without waiting for Lena’s reply, Jess stalked off.

Lena followed her to the door. “Hey, wait a minute…”

Either Jess didn’t hear or didn’t care as she stormed away. The dramatic effect of her exit was diminished by the fact that she stopped halfway to the house, clutched her side, and gasped for air.

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Medical Romances

Irregular Heartbeat

Heart Failure

Bits and Bobs

ISBN number: 9783963243165

Publisher: Ylva Publishing

Audiobook Publisher: Tantor Audio

Narrator: Lori Prince

Chris Zett Online

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Note: I received a free review copy of Heart Failure by Chris Zett. No money was exchanged for this review. When you use our links to buy we get a small commission which supports the running of this site

About the author

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Sheena is the founder of The Lesbian Review.

She discovered lesbian fiction when she was 19. Radclyffe and Karin Kallmaker soon became favourite authors and she spent a large part of her hard earned income on shipping books from Amazon.com to her home in South Africa.

Over the years she became frustrated with purchasing mediocre lesbian fiction feeling like it was a waste of her money and time. And so she decided to share only the best books and movies with lesbians who are looking for only the best. And so, The Lesbian Review was born