Four Harlequin Medical romances, one single title contemp, and one women’s fic.
1. A Baby for the Doctor, Safe Harbor Medical, Harlequin Medical (May 2014)
Blurb: BABY STEPS
A baby is the last thing surgical nurse Anya Meeks expected from her passionate New Year’s Eve fling. Growing up, Anya shouldered more than her share of responsibility, even raising her three younger siblings. She isn’t ready to tackle a lifelong commitment to a child—or to a man—no matter how caring and attentive he seems.
A drop-dead-gorgeous doctor like Jack Ryder is used to the women of Safe Harbor Hospital vying for his attention. Too bad the only woman he wants is avoiding him. Jack longs for a family—he’ll do anything to persuade Anya not to put their baby up for adoption. But with her jaded views on relationships and family, it won’t be easy. Can he convince her that their love is no accident?
I’m working on a new project, this time with a focus on nursing. I guess I got spoiled by the Penhally Bay series, because after reading this one I realized that even if the doctor and nurse on the cover are professionally attired, there need be very little actual medical detail in a medical romance. So this one was pretty useless to me as far as research goes, but was it a good read? Not really. The heroine had a rough childhood and doesn’t want to parent. Also, she’s not in a relationship with the daddy. The vast majority of American women in this situation would go for the dafe, early abortion (provided they had access, which this heroine does). This one decides to go for adoption. The vast majority of American men in this situation would go for the big sigh of relief. This one decides to talk the heroine into keeping the baby and letting him raise it. Putting aside the implausibility of the plot, the relationship had all of the allure of a wet towel.
2. Saving His Little Miracle, Jennifer Taylor, Harlequin Medical (May 2014)
Bound together by their child
Pediatric neurosurgeon Vincenzo Lombardi is stunned by nurse Lowri Davies’s dramatic reentry into his life—he hasn’t seen her since their passionate few days together five years ago. But with the news that he’s the father of her adorable but seriously ill little girl, he’s left both reeling and heartbroken. Vincenzo had thought he never wanted a family, but Lowri and Megan are awakening in him strong new emotions! Saving his little girl will mean making love to Lowri one more time—except Vincenzo realizes once will now never be enough….
I actually liked the way this one started, with the heroine at the hero’s door step (in Italy), ready to tell him about their kid and, oh, by the way, ask him to help her conceive a second one for the purpose of donating bone marrow. A little Jodi Picoult in my Harlequin! Hero had a tragic past and eschewed emotional attachments of all kinds. I felt the hero’s fear of human connection was written in a believable way, with even his co-workers joking about him behind his back. I don’t like secret babies to begin with, but the reader also has to accept that in the 21st century, someone would think mailing a letter, once, was good enough attempt to contact the father of her child. Worse, the hero decides he’ll only agree to help if they can have actual sex, and the heroine readily agrees (if the heroine was furious but reluctantly agreed, that would have worked better). Yes, because when your toddler is dying you figure you’ll chance it with one-if-you’re-lucky, probably-not-matching embryo!
3. Six-week Marriage Miracle, Jessica Mathews, Harlequin Medical (March 2011).
When nurse Leah learned that she couldn’t give her beloved husband, Dr. Gabe Montgomery, the family they’d dreamed of, she knew she needed to walk away—even though it broke her heart into a million tiny pieces….
Determined not to give up on his incredible wife, Gabe persuades the reluctant Leah to accompany him to rural Mexico, where he dedicates his time and skill to the poorest children. Under the fiery Latin sun the magic starts to reappear, and Leah finds herself tumbling, heart-first, for the man who vowed to love her—for better…and for worse.
This was the best of this medical bunch, in terms of both my research and my enjoyment as a reader. Leah thinks Gabe is dead, but he shows up after a near-death experience and asks her to try again on their marriage, which is over except for the signatures. This plot is a classic: heroine can’t have kids, leaves hero to allow him to find true happiness with a real woman. However, it was done pretty well. It was really more the strain of the infertility, combined with a failed adoption, and the hero’s workaholic tendencies that crushed a marriage weakened by lack of communication. They end up in Mexico saving the nobly diseased brown people , and while she doesn’t have a miracle baby (can you believe it?), they end up taking a few home.
4. Heatherdale’s Shy Nurse, Abigail Gordon, Harlequin Medical, (May 2014).
How to mend a broken heart…
Heartbroken, Leonie Mitchell is throwing herself into her work. Saving her little patients in a new countryside hospital seems like the best way to deal with the loss of her baby and her relationship. But Leonie hasn’t counted on her charismatic new boss, surgeon Callum Warrender. She can’t deny her attraction to Callum, nor can she ignore the comfort she finds in his arms…. Could he be the key to healing this shy nurse’s broken heart?
Here’s another one where the heroine’s broken heart has led her to swear off men. In both Six-week Marriage Miracle and this one, a stillbirth causes these professional women, both nurses, to barely be able to tolerate babies, pregnant women, or mentions of motherhood. But the shy nurse works through her sadness by leaving London and gaining employment in the pediatric ward in a country hospital, and in comes a dashing new doctor. This book has an incredibly old-fashioned feel. The heroine pretty much stonewalls the doctor the entire book. I kind of admired her unwillingness to break down. Even her body didn’t betray her! The relationship unfolds very very slowly, on her terms.
5. It Happened One Wedding, Julie James (May 2014)
SHE KNOWS BETTER THAN TO SAY “I DO”
After a humiliating end to her engagement, investment banker Sidney Sinclair is done with commitment-phobic men. But when her sister winds up engaged after a whirlwind courtship, Sidney is thrown into close contact with exactly the kind of sexy playboy she wants to avoid—the gorgeous best man. She’s stuck with him, for better or worse, until her sister walks down the aisle, but that doesn’t mean she has to give in to his smooth advances, no matter how tempting they are…
BUT HE MAKES IT HARD TO SAY “I DON’T”
Special agent Vaughn Roberts always gets his man on the job and his woman in bed. So Sidney’s refusal to fall for his charms only makes him more determined to win over the cool and confident redhead. Only what starts out as a battle of wills ends up as a serious play for her heart. Because the one woman who refuses to be caught may be the only one Vaughn can’t live without…
This is easily my favorite romance I’ve read this year. I loved it. You know what you are getting with James: professional couple, witty banter, sexual tension, a “guy’s guy” hero and a heroine who doesn’t put up with his shit, and not too many sex scenes. Those are all things I love so I loved this book. I took a James break, not having read her last two, so the similarities of this one to her other books didn’t bother me. I felt she did an especially good job with the hero. Except for one deus ex machina towards the end, I thought it was one of the most touching and believable cad-to-hero character arcs I’ve read.
6. All Fall Down, Jennifer Weiner (June, 2014)
I got this one from Net Galley. I was very intrigued by the plot: professional middle class blogger with rocky marriage and challenging child slides into opiate addiction. It was super compelling. I couldn’t put it down as the protagonist slid into riskier and riskier behavior. The way her drug intake began as a way to help her achieve her goals in life, and then slowly began to crowd out her every other concern was superbly narrated. Because it’s Jennifer Weiner, the protagonist doesn’t end up giving blow job in an alley, but there are some harrowing scenes. She ends up in rehab and I felt the book faltered a bit from that point forward. At times, it seemed like a take-down of the concept of rehab, and at other times, it seemed that the problem wasn’t rehab but rather the unreliable narrator. I would have liked the novel to delve a little deeper into the question of why someone who is so successful develops addiction. A late-novel “surprise” that was anything but did not fit that bill. As a romance reader, I felt the weakest link was the protagonists’ marriage. Her husband was a remote and under-developed figure from beginning to end. None of their issues were addressed to my satisfaction. Although the ending was bittersweet, emphasis on sweet, I wasn’t sold.