Dr. Paul Johnston can’t get a set of dark, somber eyes out of his head, and the timing couldn’t be worse.
The last thing he needs is to fall for a patient. Not now, when he’s been put on paid leave pending review of a formal complaint. One that most likely accuses him of sexual harrassment or impropriety of some kind. It’s possible he let his newfound freedom as a divorced, out-of-the-closet gay man go to his head, but he’s certain — mostly — he didn’t do anything wrong. Now, he’s struggling to handle the reality that his job is in danger and the only guy he wants should be off-limits.
Zane Kavanaugh is floundering, and there’s only one man who soothes the storm inside him.
Reeling from an assault that landed him in the hospital and the painful estrangement from his family since coming out, Zane is trying to get his feet under him and find his independence. He moves in with a roommate and searches for a job, all while recovering from a fractured arm and cracked ribs. None of that hurts as much as the emotional damage he’s suffered. When he connects with Dr. Paul Johnston outside of the ER, he’s drawn to the man’s calm, collected manner. It doesn’t hurt that Paul’s lack of experience with men is sexy as hell, and so are his over-the-top responses when Zane gets his lips on him.
There’s no right time to fall in love.
Paul is afraid to start a relationship, and Zane can only handle so much more rejection. Will these two find their perfect moment, or will they realize you can’t choose when and how you fall in love? If Paul can’t take a risk, he may have to choose: the career he loves or the first man to capture his heart.
Bedside Manner is Book 1 of the Hearts & Health series. This is a spin-off series from the book Heart Trouble and includes characters from that novel, but it can be read as a standalone.
There is something so heartbreaking about a person who has had to deny themselves a true life for three plus decades. That’s Paul, who is barely out of the closet after a spectacularly failed marriage to a woman who resents him for finally coming out. He’s unsure how to be himself, navigating his feelings for other men with all the clumsiness of a pubescent teenager. The poor guy makes quite a few fumbles, and at least one of them lands him in pretty hot water.
It doesn’t help that he has a thing for younger guys. Not actual jailbait, but men young enough to make people (including himself) perceive him to be a bit of a lech. He’s not, really truly.
Zane knows that from the beginning. The age difference means nothing to him. Nor does the fact that Paul had been his attending doctor in the ER. The way Zane sees it, they’re no longer in a doctor/patient relationship after Zane is discharged, and they’re attracted to each other, and that’s all that matters.
Things are much more complicated on Paul’s side, and he throws up numerous roadblocks as he struggles to come to terms with his feelings. Accepting himself doesn’t come easy, but when he finally allows himself the satisfaction – lets go of the guilt and the worry – it’s so sweet.
Zane’s struggles aren’t internal. He’s been physically abused by his stepfather – hence the ER trip – and emotionally abused (in the sense of not being accepted and basically shunned) by his father. Those complications don’t stop him from trying – and trying, and trying – for something with Paul.
Love stories can be frustrating, but it helps when you’re rooting so strongly for both characters. It makes the HEA extra rewarding, too.
DJ Jamison worked in newsrooms for more than 10 years, which helped tremendously when she began her series centered on The Ashe Sentinel, a fictional small-town newspaper in Kansas. She lives in the Midwest with her husband, two sons and three glow-in-the-dark fish.
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