Review: RJ Nolan's 'Wounded Souls'
This offering from RJ Nolan is a skillful slow-burn medical romance.
At its core, RJ Nolan’s latest, Wounded Souls, is a medical romance about two doctors falling in love on the job. But it’s much more than that, too, which is what makes it so appealing. Nolan’s skill at intertwining a love story with intriguing mysteries and a journey of healing is what really kept me up at night turning the pages of this book.
While this is a sequel, Wounded Souls stands easily on its own. The central story is the romance between LA Metro’s ER physician Dale Parker and Ashlee Logan, a doctor who arrives for six weeks to fill in for another ER doctor on pregnancy leave. By the first few chapters, the two are strongly attracted to each other. Of course, part of the fun is watching these two bounce off of each other like oil and water while secretly pining for and admiring each other. But there is even more compelling stuff waiting underneath the main romantic storyline.
As a military medic, Dale lost part of her leg in Afghanistan and now conceals this information from her co-workers. She refuses to let anyone see her as helpless or pitiful. Meanwhile, Ashlee, who hides her first name from everyone—a sign of how she keeps herself and her past a secret from everyone—has purposely made her life very small, living in an RV and staying at each job no longer than six weeks. While, at first, Logan seems like a standoffish jerk who won’t even take a free scone as a thank-you from Dale because it would indebt her to someone, she is slowly revealed as a wounded soul with a guilty secret in her past.The only relationship she’ll allow herself is with her Great Dane, Drake, into whom she pours intense affection and who himself is a talisman of Logan’s guilt.
When an unruly ER patient assaults Dale, Logan insists on following hospital protocol with a medical exam and discovers Dale’s prosthetic. This discovery cracks some of Logan’s own walls, for as she puts together Dale’s backstory, she is impressed by Dale’s ability to overcome tragedy.When Logan tactfully leaves the fact that Dale has a prosthetic off her incident report, it is the beginning of an awkward friendship between the two women. Logan fiercely resists Dale’s efforts to thank her or to get to know her better, despite her growing attraction to Dale. But Dale, ever the dogged soldier, pursues the mystery wrapped in an enigma that is Logan.
Through a well-balanced series of plot threads, Dale’s pursuit of Logan eventually forces Dale to face her own demons about her injury and her time in Afghanistan.
In the hands of a less capable writer,this could be recipe for a big ball of emo. But Wounded Souls is an immensely likeable medical romance that makes watching all the different balls being juggled a pleasure to watch. There’s not only the building romance, but the daily grind of a busy metropolitan ER, the piece-by-piece reveal of long-held character secrets, and yes, the gradual healing of two wounded souls so obviously in need of it. This is a great, quick and satisfying read from Ylva Publishing.