Hunter’s distinctive story-telling made Breathe a pleasant break from the some of the more improbable plot devices and characters I tend to run across in lesfic. There’s a wonderful sense of realism to this book that makes you feel like the author has plunked you smack-dab in the middle of a city in northern England. Hunter sets the and tone and atmosphere from the start with the use of local vernacular in the dialogue and narrative that puts you into the thick of things – you may find yourself inadvertently adding some of the idioms to your own vocabulary (but don’t because without the proper accent you’ll sound like a scrote).
I’ve been struggling at trying to categorize this book as there’s a bit of mystery, a bit of suspense, a bit of action, a bit of humour and a bit of romance. The elements of the mystery and suspense are woven neatly into the overall story as seemingly disparate incidents and characters expand the scope and gravity of the investigation. It’s a nicely balanced blend that allows the characters of Jem and Rosie to stand out and makes this a thoroughly enjoyable read.
Jemima Pardon is a paramedic who, if not for bad luck, would have no luck. She’s resolved to the fact that no one wants to partner with her – either on the job or romantically. Enter Rosie Jones, a funny and confident police officer, who doesn’t seem to mind Jem’s spate of bad luck. From their first meeting, there’s a tangible connection between the Jem and Rosie – they share an irreverent sense of humour as well a serious sense of responsibility as first responders. This connection grows as they cross paths again at a crime scene where a young teen is found beaten and bleeding out in the woods and in the resulting investigation into his death. The characters and their relationship build naturally as the story progresses. They both come alive on the page and you’d be hard-pressed to not get invested in them – either as individuals or as a potential couple.
It is obvious that Hunter herself is a paramedic and the level of authenticity that she gives to the story is impressive – she evokes all the frustration, anger, ridiculousness, sadness, joy and satisfaction through her characters and the situations they find themselves in. She immerses the reader into the action so that you feel you are right there, experiencing all the sights, smells, sounds and gives the book a level of gritty authenticity.
For one reason or another, I had taken a break from reading lesfic while Hunter put out several books so I missed them when they first came out. Based on how much I enjoyed Breathe, I’ll be digging through her back catalogue to get caught up.
Breathe will be released in September 2019.
Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this one.