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This review is also available on my blog, Bows & Bullets Reviews
Isabel Jenkins has always been a prodigy, picking up the science of medicine quickly and effectively. She is a PhD by 18 and she's a psych test away from legally being able to practice medicine without supervision. Unfortunately, she fails the psych test. Now, she's has to find something to occupy her time while she waits for the next opportunity to take the psych exam. She ends up going to college for her third degree, just trying to assimilate into the "normal" college experience. But she doesn't really understand people, her roommate hates her, and the only person she seems to get along with is her extremely off-limits RA. Marshall (the RA) seems to be constantly flirting with her, but does he really like her? Maybe this third degree will be the most useful yet.
Imagine Gregory House as a teenage girl and that's basically Isabel. Except without the Vicodin addiction. She's crazy smart when it comes to medicine and diagnosing people, but less than skilled with the bedside manner. It's not that she is insensitive or indifferent, but she just doesn't see her patients as human. That sounds bad, but it's what made her so relatable for me. I struggle to understand people as well and to fit into their roles. Sympathy and empathy aren't things I'm good at displaying or faking. Watching her slowly and awkwardly find her place in this college environment was addictive and hilarious and endearing. Her medical training is never far even though she's trying to conceal that part of her past and the situations she gets herself into range from funny to horrifying. Cross did a great job of taking a character that should have come across as condescending and making her completely down to earth. I'm imagine it would be hard to stay on cloud nine after having your dreams taken away, but she continues to hit the new challenges straight on which was more admirable than the ability to have a doctorate at 18.
Then there is Marshall. Strong and athletic with a great sense of humor and smarts and he's probably at the top of many swoon-worthy male lists. The way he approaches Izzy, even when she's being difficult, having an open caring nature that she can't help but open up to him. He's so sweet and strong, in spite of his problems and he never lets Izzy's weirdness get in the way. This is all from her perspective so we never really get to see what he was thinking, but I imagine his inner monologue would just make the world fall for him even more.
The writing was intriguing. The chapters opening with a new and interesting medical fact really amusing me. I loved the whole idea of rich supersmart kid getting knocked down a peg. She's led such a privileged life, with parents several steps above financially stable and every opportunity provided for her to make the quick ascend up the academic ladder. Watching her not get what she wants for the first time ever was beyond entertaining. This is a new adult romance, so that entails a love story at the core with a bit of smut on the side. Cross keeps the smut to a standard romance level, thankfully not venturing to fully erotica level. Not that I don't like that, but lately it seems like every NA I pick up feels the need to go that far and sometimes I want it to be more about the romance than the sex. They are <i>romance</i> novels so let's focus on that, shall we? Good.
Anyway, this is the first novel I've read by Cross and I'm wholly satisfied. I have The Tempest but haven't gotten around to reading it yet. If this novel is any indication, that will be pretty epic. This little romance enthralled me. I read the majority of it in one day, stopping only when it was absolutely necessary to go to sleep and then quickly finishing it the next day. Isabel's story about what happens after your dreams fall apart is uplifting in a way I wasn't expecting. Maybe what we think we want isn't what we really want or, better yet, it isn't what we need. Isabel really needed to get out in the world and experience people because she wasn't an adequate doctor without that ability to sympathize with her patients. I really loved the whole and can't wait to dig in to anything else Julie Cross plans to write! I think fan of the new adult genre will enjoy this immensely.
****Thank you to Flirt, an imprint of Random House, for providing me with an eARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review****