The Doctor's Proposal, by Marion Lennox

>> Sunday, April 13, 2008

TITLE: The Doctor's Proposal (excerpt)
AUTHOR: Marion Lennox

PAGES: 187
PUBLISHER: Mills & Boon Medical Romance

SETTING: Contemporary Australia
TYPE: Series romancey
SERIES: First in the Castle at Dolphin Bay series, but stands alone.

REASON FOR READING: Malvina recommended the author as a good one in the M&B Medical romance line.

Tragedy has left Dr Kirsty McMahon afraid to fall in love. So when she meets commitment-phobic single father Jake Cameron - Dolphin Bay's gorgeous doctor - she assures herself that the chemistry between them will never amount to anything...

Kirsty busies herself with caring for her patients, getting to know the people of Dolphin Bay - and generally doing all she can to keep her mind off the handsome single dad. But when the attraction between her and Jack becomes too strong to ignore they find themselves having to reconsider the rules they've made for themselves.
Wow, that blurb above is pretty uninformative. Everything there's quite true, FWIW, but it doesn't come close to describing the book. Let's see if I can do any better.

Kirsty McMahon is desperately worried about her twin sister. Susie is a recent widow, pregnant and clinically depressed. She won't try to heal from the injuries sustained in the accident that killed her husband, she won't take care of herself, she won't even eat. As a last resort, trying to save Susie's and the baby's life by giving her something that will make her react, Kirsty decides to take her from the US to Australia to meet her late husband's Uncle Angus. Making a 7-months-pregnant woman travel around the world is not ideal, but Kirsty's a doctor, so she knows she can control the situation. And the alternative is much worse.

As the book starts, Kirsty and Susie have arrived at Angus' remote house after spending a whole month in Sydney because Susie almost delivered her baby prematurely. To their surprise, it's not a mere house, but a castle, and Uncle Angus is a Scottish laird. And he's dying.

Dr. Jake Cameron is just as desperately worried about his elderly patient as Kirsty is about Susie. After Angus' wive's death, he just feels he has no reason to live and is slowly letting himself die, to Jake's frustration. When after a visit Jake opens the door of the castle to a woman claiming to be part of Angus' family, he lashes out at her for being a vulture who neglected him when he needed family the most and is there just to get an early start claiming the inheritance. But Kirsty's no pushover, and in a wonderful scene, she sets him straight. Even better, he immediately acknowledges that he was completely out of line and that his reactions were really dumb.

And this sets the tone for the whole book. Kirsty and Susie are soon ensconced in the castle, where Susie and Angus engage in a beautiful process of reciprocal healing. And while she waits for her sister's due date, Kirsty helps Jake by applying her specialist skills of a palliative care physician (the area's classified as a remote location, so getting her accredited in Australia is a snap). Close proximity generates some strong attraction between them, but Jake is still running scared after his wife left him.

Actually, I did think the romance was nice enough (even if the motivation for Jake's commitment-phobia wasn't so solid), but it wasn't what made the book so lovely to read. What did was:

a) Kirsty, who's sensible and smart and won't take no shit from anybody, not even Jake. She's the reason why Jake's behaviour (presumptuously telling her he didn't do relationships when she'd just invited him over to dinner -with the whole family, no less- and so on) didn't make me dislike the book in the least. She reacted like I wish I would react, telling him exactly how ridiculous he was being. And again, as in the first scene I described, he sheepishly sees her point. So even when he wasn't behaving well, I didn't think too badly of him, because at least he could see he'd behaved badly and seemed to learn from his mistakes.

b) The warm fuzzy feeling I got from reading about all that's going on around them. Angus and Susie and the way they immediately saw each other as a lifeline practically brought tears to my eyes, and the whole book takes place in an atmosphere of love and caring that warmed my heart. And humour; some gentle, extremely funny humour which prevented the warmness from becoming mawkishness and which kept some of the things going on from feeling too harrowing (remember, Kirsty does palliative care, which means that the cases she sees tend to be people who are in a lot of pain and won't be cured of their disease).

The ending, that scene at the fête, was just fantastic, and illustrated the atmosphere of the book perfectly. From the scene when the pumpkins were judged to the way Kirsty found to send her message to Jake, it was perfect.

MY GRADE: A very solid B+. I'm going to be raiding my library for Lennox's backlist.

NOTE: I sigh when I see those titles. Why, M&B, why??


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