Overall Grade: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
It has been some time since I’ve read a new author to me. When I saw the blurb for J. Saman’s Doctor Heartless, I wanted to read about a cruel, heartless doctor and his love-hate relationship with a woman he meets as a one-night stand. I love a hardened hero; it’s my romance catnip. We know that they have emotional walls built from past trauma, and they fall so hard for the heroine, who is usually kicka@@ and in charge. All of this is true of J. Saman’s Elle and Landon. However, while seemingly different (he’s a billionaire from a prestigious, renowned Bostonian family, and she’s a middle-class woman from Texas), their pasts make them more alike than different. The beauty of J. Saman’s Doctor Heartless is the emotional journey that each of them must pass to overcome past traumas. What transpires is a tortured, steamy push/pull story that beckons you to turn the page towards their happy ending.
Landon’s characterization is delicious. He’s buttoned-up, a single dad whose life is all about his daughter. He carries the pain of his wife’s death and has decided that he is not worthy of love. As such, he’s stern and closed off to everyone except his daughter and family. This means he is due for a fall into love, and J. Saman doesn’t make it easy on the man. When he meets Ellery in a bar one night, he is haplessly and instantly attracted to her. Throughout much of the story, he fights his attraction to her, when he realizes she’s his next-door neighbor and his daughter’s teacher. And each moment he fights, he falls deeper and deeper until the poor man can’t help himself but love her. Landon’s evolution is one of the best parts of Doctor Heartless because we learn through his story that past mistakes don’t negate the ability to love and be loved.
Ellery aka Elle is essential to Landon’s journey. Like Landon, she has endured past trauma at the hands of her ex-husband. Unlike Landon, though, she decidedly leaves her comfortable life and marriage behind in order to become the best version of herself. She’s bold, compassionate, and strong. She challenges Landon in a way that no other woman has, and like him, she struggles to avoid her attraction to him, only to find herself addicted to the man. There is no Landon without Elle in this story. Together, their chemistry is pure fire.
Add to this Landon’s thirteen-year-old daughter, Stella, who is oftentimes the wisest person in the room. She binds them together, and J. Saman has written this in a way that feels meaningful, not tertiary to the story. She also reminds us that Doctor Heartless is book 3 of a larger series of standalones, and even though I haven’t read books 1 and 2, I don’t feel as though I’ve missed anything from this series. J. Saman beautifully integrates the Abbot-Fritzs well into this story, teasing us with the details for their stories while avoiding stalling Landon and Elle’s story.
Doctor Heartless is everything I wanted to read. Landon and Ellery’s journeys are apt reminders of our ability to overcome our pasts through the action of loving and being loved. If you’re like me and love yourself a grumpy, closed-off hero who is brought to his knees by a willful, strong heroine, then grab this newest book from J. Saman.
In love and romance,