February 3, 2015

By Your Side: A Review

The book: ER nurse Macy Wynn learned essential, gritty lessons in the California foster care system: land on your feet and trust no one. She’s finally located the fellow foster child she loves like a sister, but the girl’s in deep trouble. Macy’s determined to help, no matter what it takes. Her motto is to “make it happen” in any situation life throws at her—even when she butts heads with an idealistic cop.

Deputy Fletcher Holt believes in a higher plan, the fair outcome—and his ability to handle that by himself if necessary. Now he’s been yanked from Houston, his mother is battling cancer, and he’s attracted to a strong-willed nurse who could be the target of a brutal sniper.

When everything goes wrong, where do they put their trust?

The review: By Your Side, the first book in Candace Calvert's new Crisis Team series, really starts off with a bang--literally. Holy smokes did this story hit the ground running! (read an excerpt here)

I've been a reader of Calvert's books since her first novel. The last series, Grace Medical, was my favorite until this one came along. Now, I'm finding myself torn but that's a good thing.

Calvert was a great writer to begin with but even the best get better with time. I've seen the development of this author's ability to craft a story grow and grow. And just when I thought she'd written her very best book ever, she has surprised me with one that is even better.

This book had me at the very first page. Typically it takes time for me to warm up to characters, in any fiction story, but not so in this case. There are always a few lingering references, at the least, to already familiar characters from past books. But even if there weren't the new characters in By Your Side grabbed my heart immediately.

By Your Side highlights the difficult and sometimes unrecognized work of hospital chaplains. I've often considered becoming one. This book has caused me to ponder that decision further. It also made me thankful for those already serving as chaplains. They can't be honored enough for their committed compassionate service.

One of the great strengths of this writer is her ability, in the midst of the narrative, to touch on very sensitive issues bringing their complexities to light. In this book a few of the issues that stand out are life-threatening illnesses, foster care, addiction, and mental illness.

Calvert's style isn't one that is preachy but rather lends itself to gently nudging others to view these issues through the lens of faith. As such each story she writes brings hope. Her books are often times referred to as "hope operas" and rightly so.

The backdrop for By Your Side is Sacramento which is the author's hometown. Many times while reading I felt as if I were there. That's fiction writing at it's best. Calvert's familiarity with the area makes it possible for her to paint vivid pictures of the scenery. And of course not only can she take you to the scene she can put you on the edge of your seat waiting to see what is coming next.

And speaking of what is coming next, I'm already anxiously awaiting the next book in this series. I know, I know. This review is supposed to be about this book. Yet to say much more would give away plots and spoil your potential experience as a reader. I can tell you this. I'm missing the characters already.

You can pre-order  By Your Side here. The release date is pending. I anticipate it will be earlier than projected.

I will work to get my hands on a copy of the next book prior to the release date just as I have the last two. I don't do this often but Candace Calvert's writing is that good. I find myself driven her books as soon as they go to print. Each time I get to the end one my only disappointment is having to wait for the next one.

What can I say? I love this author's work. By Your Side is a great read. It is only the beginning of what I know is going to be an outstanding series.

The author: Often called the author of "medical hope opera," Candace Calvert is an ER nurse who landed on the other side of the stethoscope after the equestrian accident that broke her neck and convinced her love, laughter--and faith--are the very best medicines of all.

Her popular medical drama series (Mercy Hospital and Grace Medical) offer readers a chance to "scrub in" on the exciting world of emergency medicine, along with charismatic characters, pulse-pounding action, tender romance, humor, suspense--and an encouraging prescription for hope. Think "Grey's Anatomy finds its soul"!

A native northern Californian, mother of two and proud grandmother to seven, Candace is a passionate "foodie," equally at home with a whisk in her hand as she is penning stories. Folks who follow her on Twitter and Facebook will find photo-embellished recipes, funny insights into the writing life, snippets of upcoming work, and a chance at book giveaways. Please visit her website at: www.candacecalvert.com. She loves to hear from her readers!

(I was given an ARC of  By Your Side. The choice to review it was mine.)

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