Losing Patients by Virginia Taylor

In brief: Bree starts work at a new hospital and two shocking things happen: the suspicious death of a patient and the return of surgeon Sam Vincent, her former fling.

The good: Liked the hospital as a setting for a romantic suspense and the characters were easy to relate to.

The not-so-good: Some of the hospital practices are a bit different to what I know, which made one of the events unlikely to happen…but, hey this is fiction and stranger things do happen in real life.

Why I chose it: Enjoy medical romance and had enjoyed Dr No Commitment previously.

Year: 2014

Pages: 224 (eBook ARC)

Publisher: Random Romance (Random House)

Setting: Adelaide, Australia

My rating: 8.5 out of 10

I do love a good medical romance and when that’s combined with a suspense element…well, I’m in my element! I enjoyed Virginia Taylor’s previous book for Random Romance, Dr No Commitment, so I just had to read this one. Set in Adelaide (lovely to see other Aussie cities as the setting), the novel revolves around Bree, a nurse starting at a new hospital. Bree is planning to study medicine, hence the change to a new place where she can eventually work part time. She’s also hoping she doesn’t run into surgeon Sam Vincent, a man she had a fling with several years ago before deciding their world were just too different. (He’s from the wealthy Vincent Pharmaceuticals family; she’s from a family of plumbers).

Bree’s first shift at Pemberton Hospital (occasionally referred to as Pendleton in my eARC) is even more eventful than she could have dreamed. Not only does she meet Sam Vincent, but a patient dies under suspicious circumstances – potentially a morphine overdose. Bree was the last person to have the keys for the Schedule 8 (aka Dangerous Drugs) cupboard when two nurses checked the balance (standard procedure at the end of each shift) but other things are strange too. Why did the chief nurse on the ward empty the patient’s patient controlled analgesia bag? Why does Sam have empty morphine ampoules in his pocket? Where is the deceased lady’s very expensive diamond ring?

As investigations continue, Sam and Bree decide to start their own. This develops into a friendship and then something more. But Bree feels she’ll never be good enough for the Vincent family – she’s from the wrong side of the tracks, plus she’s got a career to build. Can Sam convince her otherwise?

While I enjoyed the premise of the story, there were a couple of components to the suspicious death of the patient that didn’t quite sync with what I am familiar with. The first is that while Bree was on shift, no patient needed any breakthrough analgesia for pain which I found unlikely over an eight hour period considering she worked on an acute surgical ward that involved major surgery. Maybe all the patients were on patient controlled analgesia (the button they press themselves) and none needed changing during shift. The second was that anaesthetists had access to the Schedule 8 cupboard, which seemed odd for a ward. However, I’m not familiar with South Australian legislation so this may be the case. The nurses on the ward seemed rather relaxed with the whole suspicious death and missing morphine and I was surprised the investigation was kept internal, rather than involving the police when the drugs couldn’t be accounted for. However, these factors allow for a good ‘whodunit’ aspect to the story and I have to say, the killer was a complete surprise for me.

Both Bree and Sam were strong characters, each with definite ideas but Bree was more stubborn. I didn’t find this annoying, as it only made me more in awe of Sam’s generosity and patience. (Where are all these lovely surgeons hiding?) I enjoyed the subplot about Bree’s family (her mum is convinced her father is having an affair with his receptionist) and even the initially formal Vincents grew on me. The plot moved at a good pace and there were just enough fun events to detract away from the murders that plague Sam and Bree. I loved the pair’s assessment of Bree’s nurse colleagues – each of them was crafted with just enough suspicion to make them a potential murderer. Bree’s clandestine digging was always a joy to read (she’ll definitely make a good doctor) and the follow-up with Sam was fun. I’d be more than happy to read another of Virginia Taylor’s books in the future.


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