After Hours by Cara McKenna
April 16, 2013
Reviewed by Mandi
I never know what to expect from Cara McKenna (or her Meg Maguire pen name), which is why I always have my eye out for a new release. They don’t always work for me, but when they do they really work for me. She takes chances and seems to push the envelope with her characters and the situations she places them in. Her latest, After Hours takes place at a dangerous psych ward. I really liked it.
Erin Coffey had a crappy childhood and has spent the past six years caring for her grandmother who was suffering from Alzheimer’s. During this time, Erin completed training to become a LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse). Now that her grandmother has passed, it’s time Erin put her LPN degree to use. Needing to stay semi-close to her somewhat out of control sister who has a young son and a sometimes boyfriend who causes a lot of trouble, Erin takes a job at the Larkhaven Psychiatric Hospital. She will not only have to put her nursing skills to the test but she will have to learn to protect and defend herself from mentally unstable patients.
It’s here she meets Kelly Robak, an orderly who is a huge, scarred guy. He previously worked at a prison and he looks like it. Feeling lost and alone on the job, Kelly takes Erin under his wing (err, big strong arm) and buys her a drink and tries to make her more comfortable. He is kind, but don’t let that fool you. As Erin learns the ropes at the hospital, she also learns Kelly has a very bossy side once he decides he wants something. And he wants Erin in his bed.
With the setting of this book taking place not only in a psych ward, but also in a run down, poorer town, it makes the book take on a bit of a darker, dreary tone. I like that you are always on edge not knowing if a patient is going to suddenly lose it and try to harm Erin. It brought in some suspense. I don’t know anything about psych wards or the mentally ill, but it seemed like the author really did her research, bringing in a lot of details that add to the story. I love this type of setting and the author really paints a vivid picture and gives you time to settle in before all the naughtiness occurs.
But let’s get to that naughtiness. Kelly is very much a “I’m going to tell you how to act and that is how you will act” type of guy. The type Erin saw plenty of hanging around her mother growing up which makes her nervous. But she also knows he has depth and kindness within him which makes him less scary.
“I got exes who might try to tell you I treated them like servants. They were all fond of telling me as much, anyhow. But I work hard. I’ve got needs. If they don’t get met to my satisfaction, I get grouchy.”
But there is a lot more to Kelly than just getting his needs met, and Erin soon realizes this. She also realizes she is deeply attracted to him, so when he offers a weekend of just sex at his house, she eventually gives in.
“Come to my place, some weekend.” His voice was low and deadly serious.
I snorted. “Don’t be coy, now, Kel. Spell it out for me.”
“Come to my place and be mine. For a weekend.”
And I’ll tell you, it’s no lie Kelly likes to boss around. But what I liked even more is that Erin takes a turn at being the bossy one and Kelly loved it. I think they have a great dynamic together. I like how Erin handles him. She has a quick wit about her and doesn’t get overly dramatic about things. She is very mature.
I also think Erin’s relationship with her less stable sister is handled well. Her sister has a horrible boyfriend (father of her child) and their relationship is left unsettled and I’m glad of that. I’m glad it wasn’t resolved because that would not have fit her sister’s personality.
I think a good word to describe this book is gritty. Oh! And one of the best parts – no one is rich in this book! The hero is an orderly, the heroine is a LPN. There is no hidden trust fund or million dollars awaiting to be inherited. Shocking, right?
It’s a well done, real life, gritty erotic romance with a bossy, bossy hero and a heroine who can fight right back. Well done.