Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Book Review ~ The Road Home by Elsa Winters and Brad Vance

Title: The Road Home
Authors: Elsa Winters & Brad Vance
Release Date: December 25, 2016
Length: 183 pages
GoodReads ~ Amazon


"I’m your friend, Andrew. I think I’m the only friend you’ve got." 

Nick Carpenter grew up in the foster system after watching his parents die in a car crash. Now, he's finally found a place for himself as an EMT. Partnered with a gruff but very competent paramedic as his first assignment in Seattle, he figures that it's best to keep this working relationship strictly professional, even if Andrew is hot as hell.

"You let the patient talk, Nick, because sooner or later they’ll probably tell you what you need to know." 

Andrew Hazard loves his job, even if he gets paired with a different EMT every couple weeks. Once an EMT proves himself incompetent, Andrew makes no effort to be friends with them. That's why it's such a relief when Nick comes along. He keeps the ambulance stocked, he can drive well, and he knows how to start an IV. He's great at saving lives, and also a great person to hang out with. From hiking to movies, they find themselves spending a lot of time with each other. Nick's homosexuality definitely isn't a problem, even though Andrew's girlfriend jokes that he wants to spend more time with Nick than with her.

"You wanna go on an adventure?" 

When Andrew gets the chance of a lifetime - going to the prestigious UCLA Medical School - his girlfriend doesn't share his enthusiasm. And so, freshly broken up, Andrew asks Nick to go with him on a road trip down south to check out the area. Nick wants to keep him as his best friend, even though his romantic feelings have reached a fever pitch. But he also realizes that this could be his last chance to let Andrew know how he feels. Will Andrew let Nick into his heart, or will this road trip be their last hurrah?


The call came in right before midnight, just as I was finally about to get one over on Andrew. We were idling in a parking lot, sipping our free lattes (a perk of the job, or at least of the uniform, if you’re lucky). 

“Dude, I’m telling you, there’s no way the Cubs can get to the World Series. Or did you forget about the Curse?”

Andrew looked at me from the passenger seat of the ambulance. As the EMT, I drove and Andrew the paramedic rode shotgun. “That’s the fucking Red Sox.”

“No,” I grinned, delighted that I could finally one-up Mr. Know It All. “I’m talking about the other curse. The Curse of the Billy Goat.”

He raised one dark eyebrow, his long lashes fluttering as he blinked at me.
I whipped out my phone and Googled it. That let me to Wikipedia, and I paraphrased what I read there for him. Cutting information down to the essentials was part of my job, and besides, Andrew and I had developed a shorthand in our time together in the van. 
“The Curse of the Billy Goat, supposedly placed on Cubs in 1945, Billy Goat Tavern owner asked to leave game 4 of the World Series against…”

The dispatcher’s voice crackled. We were like dogs, perking our ears up every time. We were on “coverage” tonight, moving around town to take the place of any ambulance already dispatched to a call, making sure each part of town had a van nearby. You might think coverage meant an easy night – after all, how often does lightning strike twice in the same neighborhood, right?
Well. That depends on the neighborhood.
A kid on a bike had been hit by a car, ten blocks away. I radioed back to confirm, and we pulled out of the supermarket parking lot. 

We didn’t talk, because we didn’t need to. When I started out as an EMT, a call like this would make my mind whirl, wondering if the victim would have a scraped elbow, a broken arm, a punctured lung, internal bleeding, and I’d be trying to recall everything I might need to know from my training all at once… 

Now I was a lot more Zen about it, thanks to Andrew. He was the one who had taught me to clear my mind, to stay calm, to wait and see what was really happening. Lots of times panicked and confused callers got it all wrong, calling in a heart attack when it was just an anxiety attack… or vice versa. 
We were the first ones on the scene, and a small crowd had already gathered. It was one of those rare Seattle nights when the temperature was actually warm enough that you didn’t need a coat, and everyone was hanging around outside for as long as they could – after all, you could sleep tomorrow, when the clouds rolled back in and the rain fell again. 
I grabbed my jump bag and we rolled through the crowd. 
“Coming through, let us through, please.” 

Andrew was six foot four, his voice deep, authoritative without being threatening, the kind of voice that people respond to instinctively, without thinking, doing what it says. 
Scene safety was something we did automatically, making sure that it was safe for us to get out of the van and respond – that is, making sure that there was no gunfight going on, nobody was threatening to riot, that no cars were heedlessly speeding past us, inches away from a crash. 
In my training, they told me to say “Scene safe” when I arrived on scene. The first time I did it, Andrew looked at me and busted out laughing. “No shit, Sherlock,” he said, looking around the park where we’d come to attend to a jogger’s twisted ankle. It was my first lesson in unlearning a lot of what I’d been taught. 

“Hey, buddy,” Andrew said gently to the boy on the ground, as he snapped on a pair of latex gloves. The kid’s bike was messed up, the frame bent and the wheels folded in half. “What’s your name?”
“Jeremy,” the boy said softly.
“Do you know what today is?”


Andrew looked at his watch and grinned. “Actually, it’s 12:01, so no, it’s Tuesday now. You lose.”
The boy smiled slightly. That was a good sign – Andrew had taught me that trick, that cracking a joke was the fastest way to gauge a patient’s responsiveness, their level of pain, the possibility of head trauma, all in a few seconds, before you even started wielding equipment. 
“You know where you are, Jeremy?” 

“On the ground.”

Andrew laughed. “Yeah, that you are. Let’s have a look at you,” he said, his eyes flicking to me.
ABC time. Check the airway, listen to breathing to see if there’s wheezing or fluids in the lungs, check the pulse for circulation. I nodded at Andrew.
“You in any pain, buddy?”
Jeremy nodded. “My arm hurts.”

I checked his pupils for signs of any skull fracture or head trauma. His responsiveness was good. “You’re doing great,” I said to Jeremy, simultaneously reassuring him and telegraphing to Andrew that I hadn’t seen anything major at first glance. How many fingers am I holding up? was our code when I saw something that might be seriously wrong.
“Yeah, looks like you broke it,” he said softly. “Did you fall off the bike?”
“A car hit me.”

Andrew froze for a moment. There he was, the other Andrew. Angry Andrew. The guy who made me shiver with… Be here now, I told myself.

“Zen, buddy,” I whispered, calling off the dogs in his head.
He relaxed, refocused. That was a story for the cops to hear when they got there, to act on when we’d moved on. Our job was to fix what just happened, and it was someone else’s to avenge it.
We loaded the kid into the ambulance. I called in the details to the ER, so that they were prepared for whatever level of trauma we were gifting them with tonight
Andrew sat in the back with Jeremy, helping him dial his phone so he could call his mom. It was better for the patient to be the first voice the loved one hears than anyone else’s, if possible.
“She wants to talk to you,” Jeremy said to Andrew.

“Hello, ma’am. Yes, he has a broken arm, and a few scrapes. Yes, the ER will check him out more thoroughly.” There was a pause, a change in tone, and I knew from his answer what the question was. “No, ma’am, it was a vehicular hit and run. The police will be there to question him about that. Yes, ma’am, we’ll see you there. He’s doing great, don’t worry.”

“How come you don’t have the sirens on?” Jeremy asked.

“Well, we’re not supposed to scare these nice people late at night unless it’s an emergency, but, I tell you what? Nick, do you think we can make an exception?”

“Roger that, boss. Lights and sirens it is. Now administering diesel therapy.”

I lit up the streets, red and blue, and punched the gas, the siren sound of howling cats a fair warning to everyone to get the fuck out of our way.

“Cool!” Jeremy said, and I smiled. 

I fucking love my job.

*Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie by the author for my reading pleasure in hopes of an unbiased opinion, a review was not a requirement.*

After surviving a car crash that killed his parents, Nick grew up in foster care planning to one day become an EMT. Though it was a struggle after coming out of the system, he was provided support that encouraged him to become certified. He accepts a job as an EMT in Seattle, a position created by the local government that no one wants to see succeed. He's heard the horror stories about working with the Medic Andrew, who keeps EMT's the minimum number of days required by policy before getting them fired. Andrew is a perfectionist and no one has met his standards, until Nick. Though their working relationship is not easy, eventually Andrew learns to trust Nick and they build a friendship. Nick falls in love with Andrew, but works hard to keep their relationship as best friends and to not let Andrew know how he feels. But, one day Nick tells Andrew that he's interviewing for medical school at UCLA and Nick knows that this could be the end of them. Andrew invites Nick on a road trip to UCLA, and along the way, the men further their friendship, but finally, both men open up to what they're feeling now, to their past, and what they see for their future.

This story was told completely in Nick's POV and he is young, only 20 years old. He has had a rough life with only a few enjoyable years thrown in. Because of his years in foster care, he doesn't have the support system that many people have, so even though he's fallen in love with Andrew, he's not willing to put his friendship on the line to tell him. It seemed even though Nick and Andrew spent a lot of time together, they really didn't communicate with each other about anything of importance. Until their road trip, neither really knew much about the other. The road trip was a great chance to learn about the men, and their stories and eventually it forced honest communication among the two.

This was a slow-burn love story and of the men finding themselves. It had a lot of information about the Medic/EMT field that I had no idea about, so it was a great insight into those fields. It had a nice HEA type ending that gave you a little look into what the future held for these two characters. Definitely an enjoyable story!

Rating: 4 stars

About the authors:

Hi! I'm Elsa Winters! I just graduated college and am ready for whatever the world has to throw at me! I'm currently working as a bartender in Seattle but I hope I'm able to make something of this writing thing. Send me an email at elsa.winters.author@gmail.com any time! Keep smiling! :)

Brad Vance writes romance, erotica and paranormal stories and novels, including the breakout hits "A Little Too Broken" and "Given the Circumstances." Keep up with Brad at BradVanceAuthor.com, email him at BradVanceAuthor@gmail.com, and friend him on Facebook at facebook.com/brad.vance.10.

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