“The Queen of Hearts” by Kimmery Martin is everything I love in a compelling summer read. It has complex and likable female characters, a smart storyline, a little romance, a bit of a mystery, and it is written in a very smart and humorous voice. A physician herself, Martin’s debut novel is chock full of exciting medical drama.
The story centers around friends, Zadie and Emma—best friends since medical school. The two women went through medical school, marriages, children, and successful medical practices in Charlotte, NC together. Zadie is a pediatric cardiologist and Emma is a trauma surgeon. They seem to be leading lives everyone dreams of when a man from their past, fellow physician Nick, shows up and shakes up their lives. Throughout the book, the story is told both in present day and in the past, when Zadie and Emma are in med school. Repeated mention of “what happened in their third year of med school,” a mysterious event that nearly ended their friendship, compels the reader to keep reading to find the answers. In the beginning of the book, I liked Zadie’s character, but didn’t like Emma much at all. As the book progressed, the layers and nuance of her character won me over.
As a huge “Grey’s Anatomy” fan, I can’t help but describe “The Queen of Hearts” as a literary version of “Grey’s.” “The Queen of Hearts” has the strong female characters, humor, and medical drama that “Grey’s” is known for, right down to an emergency poolside tracheotomy!
The story is smart and entertaining, and the ending was a surprise to me. I am the kind of reader who usually figures out the way a book will end before I get there, but Martin surprised me. I’ve recommended this book to a lot of people, readers and non-readers alike, and I even gave it to my mom for Mother’s Day. I have only praise for Kimmery Martin’s debut novel!
Rachel Holbrook writes from her home in Knoxville, TN. She is the author of the syndicated serial, Little River, Volumes 1 & 2. Her short fiction and poetry have appeared in Burningword Literary Journal, *82 Review, Ink in Thirds, Akitsu Quarterly, The Avalon Literary Review, The Society of Classical Poets, and various other literary journals. She recently won an Honorable Mention for her short story “A Slow Burn” at the Sigma Tau Delta International English Honor Society’s annual convention. She also received the Springs of Helicon Award for Poetry, awarded by Tennessee Wesleyan University. When she’s not writing, she enjoys going on literal and literary adventures with her husband and six children.
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