The Queen of Hearts

In former ER doctor Kimmery Martin's debut novel, The Queen of Hearts, two female physicians find cracks in their rock-solid friendship when a face from the past returns, bringing buried secrets to light.

As a third-year medical student in the late 1990s, Zadie fell hard for chief resident and notable bad boy Nick Xenocostas, known as Dr. X. Their white-hot, secret relationship consumed her even through a series of tragic events that still haunts Zadie and Emma, her best friend since they were teens at summer camp.

More than a decade later, Nick belongs to a closed chapter Zadie and Emma never bring up, one that nearly put an end to their friendship. Now both successful doctors--Emma is in trauma surgery and Zadie's a cardiologist--the two have also embraced marriage and motherhood. Zadie finds it hard to maintain her composure, as an often-alone mother of three school-aged children and a toddler, and Emma struggles with the impostor syndrome ingrained by her dirt-poor childhood as a miner's daughter. When Nick lands a partner position at Emma's practice, the women are thrown for a loop.

Martin writes impressively about the inside of the human body, but even more incisively about the landscape of the metaphysical heart. Furthermore, Martin wisely plays the chaotic toddler for laughs, but saves plenty of rage and tenderness for the lost battles of youth that shaped the two women and their friendship, yet remained lodged like shrapnel in wounds that never truly healed. Bittersweet and graceful, The Queen of Hearts marks Martin as a fresh voice filled with promise. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

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