This is my first book review for Step Up Magazine, and I’m so excited to introduce you all to the wonderful world of romance. I like to focus my readings on contemporary topics with relatable characters of color, as well as people who have disabilities and disorders. It’s important to have representation in romance for all kinds of people, to me, because everyone deserves love.
Summary of Medicine Man:
Goodreads summarizes Medicine Man as “Willow Taylor lives in a castle with large walls and iron fences. But this is no ordinary castle. It's called Heartstone Psychiatric hospital, and it houses forty other patients. It has nurses with mean faces and techs with permanent frowns. It has a man, as well. A man who is cold and distant. Whose voice drips with authority. And whose piercing gray eyes hide secrets, and may linger on her face a second too long. Willow isn't supposed to look deep into those eyes. She isn't supposed to try and read his tightly leashed emotions. No, Willow shouldn't be attracted to Simon Blackwood, at all. Because she's his patient and he's her doctor. Her psychiatrist. A Medicine Man.”
Why You Should Read It:
Not only is this a well-written romance, but it also steps outside the usual love story between a heterosexual and white couple. The fact that 2019 has just begun and I've already found a novel to add to my "favorite books of the year" list says something big. If reading over 400 romance novels has taught me anything, it’s that mental illnesses like clinical depression aren’t commonly represented in romance. Saffron A. Kent, the author of Medicine Man, is a woman of color and a writer whose dream is to be the Lana Del Rey of the romance world (love stories tangled in taboo tropes with undertones of feminism). She currently has four New Adult romance novels published. She is also featured in two anthologies.
Kent brings Willow Taylor to life by making her a warrior and a princess heroine who saves herself. Willow is her own knight in shining armor because Dr. Simon Blackwood only helps her see she was always able to save herself. While she may have clinical depression, Willow is also an eighteen-year-old girl who loves Harry Potter and struggles, like any other teenager who doesn’t feel like they fit in.
Pairing Willow and Simon in this novel doesn’t emphasize the differences between them but why every part of them belongs together. Simon knows better than anyone; he doesn’t disassociate them from their illness. The overarching message in this book signifies that love is something that makes you stronger and helps you become a better version of yourself. Your other half compliments your good attributes and strengthens your weaker ones. Willow already had the ambition to live, and Simon just helped her see that.
Though their circumstances aren’t typical, Willow and Simon struggle like a real couple, giving a voice to women who have a mental illness and who want to see themselves represented in romance. After reading two of Kent’s novels I’m beginning to see her style is "Realistic Romance." There isn't one main issue the couple is going through, they don't meet, fall in love, run into a problem, and have an epilogue. Kent writes a story that gives you multiple facets. She highlights characters that are complex and need to discover themselves before they can be together as a couple. With a disclaimer of triggering subjects, I highly recommend this book because of its reinforcement of my belief that everyone deserves love.
Rating: 5/5 stars
Unless you have a lot of time to spare, don't start a book conversation with Maxine, because she can talk for hours. She's an avid reader, primarily contemporary romance, but every once in a while she'll pick up a suspenseful thriller. She's been writing since high school, mostly fiction, and thinking of characters and situations to put them in for as long as she can remember. Her motto is "everyone deserves love," and therefore her dream is to help push representation for different races, disorders, and disabilities in the romance genre.