Visiting Hours by Tagan Shepard is a contemporary romance with a dramatic twist. Dr Jess Baker is new to Richmond, Virginia and the hospital where she works. She’s a confident, independent, hotshot physician from the West Coast who is now treating Beth, a high-risk pregnancy patient and trying to get the attention of Beth’s best friend Alison Reynolds.
Ali finds Jess unprofessional, unnerving, and intriguing. Alison is a history professor and wears the suits to match. She’s planned her career and likes her life as it is. She’s just as self-confident as Dr Baker (on the surface).
The more these two bump into each other, the more friction is added to their encounters — and with friction, as we all know, comes heat. The author teases the reader in a wonderful dance of attraction using Ali’s friend Beth, and her teaching assistant, Jennifer to reflect Ali’s reluctance and doubts back to her and to coax her hidden fears and wants out into the light.
I like to read about Ali, she’s in her head a lot like I am. But I want to meet Dr Jess in that bar in Virginia and have a dance. Just one. Jess Baker has all the qualities that a good physician needs, but she also has an awareness of her own needs for tenderness and love. Though there are supporting characters that figure prominently in the story, and are needed for this novel this is Jess and Ali’s story.
The Writing Style
The story of Ali and Jess unfolded nicely around and within the story of Ali’s best friend Beth and her high-risk pregnancy. The climax is painful and crushing for the characters. I think I held my breath for several paragraphs.
I liked to read a romance with a character who identifies as bisexual and who isn’t portrayed with stereotypes. I liked the tension around Ali’s reticence to enter into a relationship with a lesbian. The ending surprised me. It makes sense for these characters, but it’s HEA with a twist.
I kept wondering where Beth’s child was. Beth is pregnant and confined to a hospital bed, but doesn’t seem to miss her child or talk about her child very much. This was a very minor distraction for me.
This is a good read by an author who has done her technical research (I believe she works in a hospital) which adds depth to the story. Jess and Ali’s first encounter is one of the best first encounter scenes in a romance novel I’ve read in a long time. And the boundaries and/or blurry boundaries of women’s friendship gets some page time with Beth and Ali’s friendship. I liked these characters and I thoroughly enjoyed this book. This is Tagan Shepard’s first novel I believe and I’m going to keep my eye out for her next one.
Excerpt from Visiting Hours by Tagan Shepard
Alison looked back at the mirror and took a deep breath. She tried one more curl and finally found the right look. Casually seductive. She smiled at herself and realized with a jolt that she looked slightly crazy. She tried a softer smile. Better. She lowered her eyelashes. Good. Stepping back from the sink, she smoothed the sweater over her stomach. She tugged at the waistband of her skirt. The elastic slipped a little lower on her hips. With one more deep breath, she turned and left the kitchen.
Jess leaned against the back of the couch, her eyes fixed on the bottle in her hands. She held her shoulders high and her legs stretched out in front of her. The pose was familiar. Nearly identical to the one she struck while waiting outside of Hibbs to ask Alison on their first date. Alison had found her compelling to the point of irresistible that day, and she could not deny that Jess’s power to captivate her had grown dramatically since. Her clothes hugged her curves in all the right places and exposed just enough skin. She looked like a Calvin Klein ad. Perfectly, elegantly at ease. Alison needed more than anything else to touch her and be touched by her. She needed it more than air.
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Bits and Bobs
ISBN number: 9781594935701
Publisher: Bella Books
Tagan Shepard Online
Note: I received a free review copy of Visiting Hours by Tagan Shepard. No money was exchanged for this review. I will always review books as honestly as possible and on occasion I refuse to review books.