Travel reading

>> Saturday, March 29, 2008

Hi everyone, I'm back! Scotland and Ireland were fantastic. I've already started posting photos at my travel photolog, so go take a look if you want to know more. So far, I've posted my first day in Glasgow, and I should be posting more in the next few days.

But this is a book blog, so on to what I read while I was travelling. It wasn't much, just two Mills & Boon Medicals that I picked up from the 20p bin at the library. The idea was to be able to leave them behind when I was done with them, and get rid of some weight.

TITLE: Crisis at Katoomba Hospital
AUTHOR: Lucy Clark

I confess I picked this one up because I was tickled by the sonorousness of the word Katoomba. Seems it wasn't so bad a strategy, because this was a nice one, both because of the likeable characters and the cool setting: the small town of Katoomba, in the Australian Blue Mountains.

Dr. Stephen Brooks has come to Katoomba to work with his twin sister, also a doctor. He's spent a year as a doctor on the frontlines in Africa, and he needs some serious unwinding after that. At the hospital he meets Dr. Nicolette Bourgeois and an attraction immediately develops between them, but Stephen is reluctant to get involved in anything before he gets his head screwed on right and recovers from his experiences.

As I said, this was nice. I won't go further than "nice", because the book was too short to really dig into some of the issues and felt a bit shallow, but it's got good bones. Stephen is a good guy. I loved his close relationship with his sister, Stephanie (who seemed really cool... she ends up with a shaved head and dyes the stubble green. She's got her own book and I've already borrowed it from the library), and I thought his reasons for not wanting to get involved with Nicolette just yet made sense. Best of all, Nicolette understood them perfectly as well. She'd spent a few months on the battlefront herself, a few years before, so she got why Stephen would need his space. That was the best thing in the book, actually: seeing how these two people were so perfectly suited for each other, how they understood what the other needed better than anyone else could. There's no sex whatsoever here, but their obvious compatibility meant nice chemistry.

MY GRADE: A B-. I hope whoever picks it up at the Dublin hostel where I left it enjoys it.

TITLE: The Spanish Doctor
AUTHOR: Margaret Barker

Eh. This one had a distinct Presents-ish feel to it, and compared to its shallowness, CAKH was deep as the ocean.

Nurse Pippa Norton is on her way to Spain, to join her friend Julia and work at a hospital in San Miguel. She's pregnant and alone, having found out that the baby's father was married and had a family of his own. Some further personal tragedy meant that she had to postpone her flight until quite late in her pregnancy, so obviously, she starts her labour right on the plane. Her baby is delivered by Doctor Carlos Fernández, who turns out to be the medical director of the San Miguel hospital, where she's due to start work. Carlos seems infatuated with baby Matthew, and once Pippa settles into her new life, she and Carlos start a relationship.

The story is very heavy on the wish fulfillment and fantasy, which is ok, I suppose, only it's not a fantasy that works for me. He meets her while she's in labour and immediately falls in love, and wants nothing more than to pamper her and help her take care of the baby? Yeah, not really interested.

Other problems I had include that Carlos is very broadly drawn. We never get to know him. There's nothing from his POV (unlike Stephen, from the previous book) and Barker doesn't succeed in making us get a sense of him through Pippa's eyes. He remains shadowy all the way. Pippa we do get to know better, and she seems to be a mostly sensible, nice woman. However, she has a moment of TSTL there in the end, when the action gets all melodramatic (all upper class Spaniards have family-arranged engagements, ya know?), and the book ended in a sour note.

MY GRADE: A C-. And this one went in the bin, since one of the pages was missing.


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