Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Review: After Hours ~ Cara McKenna

After Hours
Cara McKenna
Contemporary Romance
Penguin/April 16, 2013

Erin Coffey has been a nurse for years, but nothing’s prepared her for the physical and emotional demands of her new position. Needing to move closer to her dysfunctional family, she takes a dangerous job at Larkhaven Psychiatric Hospital, where she quickly learns that she needs protection—and she meets the strong, over-confident coworker who’s more than willing to provide it.

Kelly Robak is the type of guy that Erin has sworn she’d never get involved with. She’s seen firsthand, via her mess of a sister, what chaos guys like him can bring into a woman’s life. But she finds herself drawn to him anyway, even when he shows up at her door, not eager to take no for an answer.

What Erin finds even more shocking than Kelly’s indecent proposal is how much she enjoys submitting to his every command. But he can’t play the tough guy indefinitely. If they want to have more than just an affair, both will have to open up and reveal what they truly need.

I'm not always certain what to expect from Cara McKenna. She writes such a diversity of characters, settings, and situations. But I'm always able to find something about her writing to relate to. If not something I've personally experienced, then something I can apply to my own experiences.

One of the ways McKenna differentiates her stories is by the characters careers. After Hours is different in that neither the hero nor heroine have high profile jobs. Erin is a nurse and Kelly is an orderly. Neither would be considered glamorous or well paying. But both Erin and Kelly have the desire to do their jobs well. The care they show to the patients, both while working and away from jobs, comes through in their actions and words. These broken, sometimes violent patients have a profound affect on Erin and Kelly and what they want out of life.

The heroine of Erin Coffey is, in my mind, a true heroine for what she does. Erin is a nurse and has taken a job at psychiatric hospital, not an easy gig by any means. It's an environment the author paints with vivid strokes, giving readers an idea of the work required to take care of and help these patients. Erin has no experience in this specific type of environment but she bravely jumps in, and finds she is thankful for the formidable presence of Kelly Robak.

Kelly Robak is an orderly. Not exactly the type of career we think of when thinking of heroes. But Kelly has the same qualities I look for in a hero. He's this gentle giant who knows when not to be so gentle. When he cares about someone, he cares deeply. He's smart even though he doesn't have a college degree. I loved how he treated Erin. He's honest, and tells her upfront what he expects from her. I would have liked Kelly's POV. He was such an interesting character, to get into his head would have been heaven.

The patients Erin and Kelly take care of are not the only ones who are broken. Both Erin and Kelly come from childhoods that are less than ideal. They each have trust issues and have this way of looking at life as if they don't dare to ask for too much, for fear of being disappointed. The way McKenna shows how Erin and Kelly deal differently with their troubles goes to how different these two characters are and how they compliment each other with those differences.

I have yet to read a novel by Cara McKenna that didn't have scorching love scenes. After Hours is no different. Erin and Kelly have chemistry from the first look but they are not teenagers who can't control their hormones. They do let their wild side come out in full force with no doubt as to how attracted they are to each other. But they also talk and enjoy each others' company like mature adults. I liked this side of them - the intelligence and cleverness of their talks. Intelligence is sexy.

It looks like another winner from Cara McKenna!

Rating: A

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