Friday, February 12, 2016
Book Review: Heart Conditions
While I was in college, I volunteered to answer phones at the campus hotline. One of the leaders who ran the training warned us that many people who entered the psychology profession did so to figure out their own neuroses. When I didn’t pass the probationary period, I told myself it was because I wasn’t as messed up as the people who did pass. (Those who knew me back then may disagree with this self-assessment.)
In any case, Heart Conditions, the third book in Phoebe Fox’s "Breakup Doctor" series, reminded me of that warning. Relationship therapist Brook Ogden has a thriving career with a newspaper column, radio show and private clients needing her advice on their love lives. But her own love life is as much a mess as ever. She’s still hung up on her ex-boyfriend Ben, who has moved on with “Perfect Pamela.” Brook tries to play it cool and settle for Ben’s friendship and doggie play dates, but every time she sees Pamela, she turns into a babbling idiot. And then Michael, the ex-fiance who jilted Brook via text message in the back story to Fox’s first book, returns to town. He’s grown up in his absence, and wants Brook to forgive him. Will she? And can she get over Ben while watching him get ever-closer to Pamela?
Fox sets up a nice love triangle, as neither man really stands out as the obvious guy for Brook. I was genuinely torn as to whom I wanted her to end up with. A last-minute entry could have also worked out well. For a sub-plot, Brook is preoccupied with her best friend Sasha’s relationship with Brook’s brother Stu, which is threatened by Sasha’s sudden doubts. Sasha’s scenes defending Brook are the funniest in the novel.
The book moves at a fast clip, and Fox keeps readers guessing about her intentions until the end. It’s a nice offering of light women’s fiction. Fans of the series might miss Brook’s desperate clients, as Fox emphasizes the business end of Brook’s career over the people this time. And as a resident of Florida’s Gulf Coast, I appreciated the shout-outs to the particular problems romantically challenged women face in the Fort Myers area.
My friends in St. Petersburg have the same problem – there are just too many single women and not enough single men. That’s something even Brook Ogden can’t fix.
Thanks to Henery Press for the book in exchange for an honest review.
See my reviews for The Breakup Doctor (99 cents through February 14th) and Bedside Manners.