I have never come across M.K.York’s work before, but found out after reading this, her first novel that she has a background in a fan fiction and, as she seems to be a medical student, I’m presuming that background is in medical fan fiction. The publisher describes this novel as ‘an emotionally charged slow-burn romance…’ I’m sorry, but I found it to be a damp squib.
There are particular tropes and formulas that need to be applied to a ‘slow burner’. This doesn’t mean they should be formulaic, merely that there are tried and tested ways to keep the reader’s interest. For me, unresolved sexual tension or even unreciprocated sexual tension are musts. However, the most important is balance and getting that right. If it’s a paranormal romance never forget that the vampires or werewolves should not completely over-shadow the romance. In historical romance never bury your main characters so deep in exactitude that the reader can no longer relate to them or their emotions and romance. The same applies to medical romance, and this is where Necessary Medicine goes wrong.
This is a medical romance set around the career of a first year resident, Doctor Neil Carmona, who develops a crush from afar on an older cardiologist Eli Newcombe, after Eli gives a lecture to the residents. Neil keeps his feelings mainly to himself throughout the years of his residency. The two eventually develop a working friendship, which is aided by Neil’s medical mentor and Eli’s friend, Pete Wendling.
I don’t mind slow burn romances at all, in fact I usually dislike insta-love. However, there is a difference between ‘slow burn’ and ‘nothing happens until the end’. I also don’t mind a medical romance at all and have a fairly in depth medical knowledge via studies and familial connections. However, as I mentioned before there has to be a balance and that balance in Necessary Medicine is skewed to the medical so heavily that the romance is a buried afterthought. There is little sexual tension at all to keep this slow burn romance enjoyable and interesting. Remember, the events of this novel cover several years.
The first signs of friendship and even exchanging smiles don’t occur until forty per cent into the book and only occur during a talk given by Neil on esophageal stenosis. At sixty –two percent Neil and Eli share a kiss in an elevator during a medical conference, which Eli strictly says will not occur again because of their positions in the hospital etc. To this, Neil responds with –
…”Oh, look,” he said snidely, “there’s a session on emotional literacy. You should check that out.”
Which did strike me as a little childish for a Doctor in his thirties, and as a total overreaction to the circumstances, but unfortunately it means we really don’t get any credible romance or physical interactions until we’re about eighty percent of the way into the book.
Even stranger, we have passages like the one below that do not further the story, do not include known characters (apart from Neil), and feel like they have been slotted in to make things more medical. Perhaps this was the Necessary Medicine –
It took Neil twice as long as it should have to finish the surgery, because the bowel was so frail. But finally, finally, he had the intestines patched together, and he could start sewing up the surgical incision.
“Aorta’s still looking good,” he reported to the vascular attending, who was hovering at his elbow.
“No mystery blood?”
“No mystery blood. How far did the aneurysm extend? Iliacs?”
“Common iliacs, yeah. We cut clear down to the bifurcations.”
This continues for pages!
At eighty-two percent something happens and yes, it is medical, but gives the couple the push to go for romance but the happening starts with –
The day it happened caught him completely off guard. He had a nasty lap chole that morning that they’d had to convert to open, so he was already tired and on edge…
The last six percent of the book includes dealing with the results of the happening, declarations of love and a ‘when did you know?’ type discussion. Then telling friends about love and discussion and an epilogue with HEA.
I cannot work out who this novel is aimed at, as the medical aspect far outweighs any romantic plot; my feeling is that the author’s fiction plotting and style is being stymied by her concomitant academic essay writing.
I cannot recommend this novel but wish the author well in her studies.