This is an example where you can judge a book by its cover as Kimmery Martin’s debut novel The Queen of Hearts features a gorgeous, vivid design that is instantly appealing. But a pretty cover can only get you so far and I’m happy to report the story kept me engaged as well.
I’ve always been drawn to stories involving the medical field, maybe because other than visiting the doctor for a yearly appointment, the inner workings of that type of lifestyle is somewhat of a mystery to me. It’s why I was an avid watcher of Grey’s Anatomy for the first couple of seasons until the storylines became too extreme for me (remember the Izzie/Denny ghost story?). Still, when I read The Queen of Hearts, it reminded me of old-school Grey’s Anatomy, as it provides a behind the scenes feel of medical training, a tale of female friendship and relationship drama.
It centers on two best friends – Zadie Anson and Emma Colley – as they navigate medical school and romantic relationships. The narrative switches back and forth between the two of them and takes place both during their med school days and in their present, where they’re both wives and mothers with successful but not perfect medical careers. And when Nick Xenokostas, the chief resident during their med school days returns, past secrets are finally revealed and their friendship is put to the ultimate test.
Whenever books have alternating perspectives, especially when they’re both female and the same age, sometimes it’s hard to differentiate between the two and make all the characters feel true and fully realized. So I think Kimmery did a good job of making the characters distinct enough to not confuse the reader. I didn’t expect there to be many twists but there are so I won’t give it away but it definitely is an interesting story choice that adds depth to the characters. Kimmery is a physician herself and she provides vivid medical details, which helped to paint an image of how chaotic and stressful that line of work can be.
Another aspect that stuck out was it takes place in two locations, Charlotte, NC and Louisville, Ky. I like when novels go outside the norm of New York City and LA because if done right, cities can serve as another character as well.
If you’re a fan of medical TV shows, you’ll definitely enjoy this one. It’s a fast-paced read with yes, plenty of heart, even some humor and somewhat unexpected story choices that felt true to how humans behave.