Author: Nicki Edwards
Critical Condition is the 4th in the Escape to the Country series set in the small NSW town of Birrangulla.
Our handsome hero is Liam O’Connor, a passionate paramedic who moved back to his hometown earlier in the series. He professes to be a happy bachelor and has gained a ladies man reputation but really he’s just looking for the right woman to come along so he can settle down and have what his siblings have found.
The story begins about the same time Life Support ends, and I don’t want to say where that is because it would be quite the spoiler for the previous book.
Liam claims to be happily single but those who know him best can see that it’s not quite that simple. His previous relationship did not end well and it burnt him badly, he wants to find love but he’s not willing to settle. He is loving his job and enjoying being back in his home town surrounded by his family, which is quite close and has grown in recent years.
Poppy is in New York when the book begins and it takes a while to work out how this story is going to come together. Poppy is an ex-pat who has been living in New York for years. A phone call out of the blue pulls her back home, for reasons even she doesn’t really understand. Her estranged father whom she hasn’t seen since she was 13 has lost his life in the line of duty and his partner calls to request her presence at the funeral. Poppy has not been in contact with him since the day he left so she’s not even really sure how this man got her details but she had been considering a trip back to Australia and this is the last sign she needed that the time is right.
A holiday is just what Poppy needs and she organises a few days in Birrangulla for the funeral, a trip to Queensland to visit her mother and then a couple of weeks holidaying on her own. The relationship with her mother is quite strained also but she always checks in.
Yet again Edwards has written some very complex and troubled characters with interesting backstories. The cast for this series grows ever larger as we are still checking in with the couples from earlier in the series, and most of them are now related. I will be interested to follow and see if there will be more stories in the series because I think the O’Connor family are all well and truly accounted for now.
There are elements of this story that absolutely broke my heart. The idea of a passionate paramedic forced to face a life without her job because of a medical condition she has no control over, and the way she deals with the news, touched me on different levels.
A couple of days is all Poppy has in Birranbulla but it is enough time for her to start to connect with her father’s new family and fight an attachment to the town. Her Queensland trip is surprisingly eventful and shortlived, she arrives in time to help her mother finish packing and drive her to the new house she has rented…. in Birrangulla. So she heads back with her mum and decides to stay long enough to get her settled.
Poppy is an emergency department nurse, which means she fits in just beautifully in Birrangulla and it isn’t long before she is offered a casual position at the hospital; one that takes much deliberation before deciding to take on because her flights are still booked to take her home.
I loved this story, I loved Poppy having the chance to take a look at her father from a different perspective; even if it was too late to be able to make amends. I loved the strength she found within herself. The O’Connor family were just as tight and welcoming as they have throughout and all the women were just beautiful.
Birrangulla is a gorgeous small town that welcomes and embraces new residents, and helps people who have been looking for a sense of belonging to find it. I hope that this isn’t the last in the series because I will really miss my ventures into the small town with it’s surprisingly busy base hospital.
Critical Condition is book #50 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2016.