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Harlequin Medicals 2-in-1 Review: Neurosurgeon and Mum by Kate Hardy /...

As promised, here are the first of my reviews of books published in the US Harlequin Medical line. Both are set in the UK.

Neurosurgeon – and Mum!, by Kate Hardy. Amy Rivers is a successful neurosurgeon, but a difficult operation has caused her to doubt her skill and suitability for the profession for which she has sacrificed a great deal. She takes a leave from her London practice and goes to her aunt and uncle’s home in a coastal Norfolk village in order to recover and regroup. She has to share the large house with a newly arrived GP, Tom Ashby, a widower and single parent who is staying there while he fills in for Amy's uncle as a locum during their trip abroad. Amy is standoffish and self-protective at first, but she and Tom are soon attracted to each other, and Amy reluctantly feels a strong kinship with Tom’s 8-year-old daughter, Perdy. Tom and Perdy have their own issues to deal with, and they has moved to the village to try and begin a new life.

This is a sweet and gentle story which seemed slow in the beginning but really captivated me as I kept reading. It’s nice to see a heroine who has a higher-status job than the hero in the same profession, and it’s even more unusual to encounter a hero who seems utterly comfortable with it. Tom is a great beta hero. He worries about his daughter, he listens to his patients and he tries to be considerate of Amy’s wish for privacy and emotional distance even as he’s growing increasingly attracted to her. At first, the prospect of Amy and Tom getting together under the same roof as Perdy squicked me out, but Ms. Hardy is a very good writer, and she pulls it off. Amy and Tom are careful to behave only as friends in front of Perdy, and they constantly think of her feelings as their relationship deepens. There are a couple of very good sex scenes, and the relationship progresses over the course of a couple of months.

This is a pretty realistic, down to earth story with characters who could live next door to you, and with whom I would happily have dinner. The hurdles Amy and Tom face in terms of Amy's decisions about her professional life, deciding whether they are committed enough to move forward as a family, and the lingering effects of their past relationships are dealt with very well. As usual, Ms. Hardy puts a lot of medical information and terminology into the novel. At times these scenes feel way too long and didactic (such as when Tom is meeting with a patient who may have diabetes), but at others the discussions are the way Tom and Amy connect and clearly propel the story along.

The book flagged a bit for me in the final chapters, when the focus turned to the various problems being solved. This may in part be because Amy and Tom clearly loved each other by then, so it was just a question of how they would get together. Nevertheless, the lovely characterizations of the main characters, the realistic feel of the setting and the storyline, and Ms. Hardy's usual excellent writing made this a very enjoyable read. Grade: B+.

This book can be purchased digitally or in paper via Book Depository.

Prince Charming of Harley Street, by Anne Fraser. Rose Taylor has taken leave from her position as a practice nurse in Edinburgh to take care of her parents during her father’s convalescence. She finds a temporary receptionist position in Harley Street, where the GP turns out to be an aristocratic playboy with a long list of rich and famous patients. Rose can’t imagine she has anything in common with Dr. Jonathan Cavendish, but as she works with him she finds that there is substance beneath the party façade. Nevertheless, she is afraid to allow the relationship to develop, both because their lives are so different, and because of the secret she is keeping, a secret which will determine the course of her future.

I have enjoyed a couple of Fraser’s previous books (including one Jayne reviewed favorably here
), but this one fell flat for me. I never really connected with either of the characters, and I couldn’t figure out what made Rose fall in love with Jonathan. Yes, he was rich, titled, and handsome, but that’s not supposed to be enough in a category romance. He never really did anything that convinced me he had transcended her initial antagonism toward his lifestyle and his apparently cavalier attitude toward his profession (at one point Rose thinks of him as Little Lord Fauntleroy, which was hilarious and apt). We discover over the course of the book that he does like and respect his rich, sometimes spoiled patients, and he treats them with care and consideration, but that strikes me as a relatively low threshold for heroism. Jonathan tells Rose that meeting her has made him want to give up his partying ways, but I didn’t really feel the change in him. He struck me as a superficial but decent guy, relatively unformed at this point, but who had a chance to grow up to be a somewhat dull but worthy person. I found Rose to be a slightly more interesting character than Jonathan, especially in her relationship with her parents, but she was also kind of blah (despite her singer-songwriter talents) I did enjoy the scenes with Rose, her parents, and Jonathan, especially Jonathan’s efforts for Rose’s father. They seemed both genuine and in character.

Part of my problem with the book is the writing style, which employs somewhat melodramatic language when Rose is thinking about her difficulties, but which can be almost flat and unemotional when Rose and Jonathan are talking to each other. And when Jonathan’s father is talking to Rose near the end of the book and telling her how she resembles Jonathan’s mother, I read it but I couldn’t feel it. But I think that the main flaw is that I never felt that there was something essential between Rose and Jonathan which made them look at each other and think, “This is it.” Oh well. Grade: C.

Book Link | Kindle | Amazon (This actually is a 2 -1) | nook | BN | Borders
| Sony | eHarlequin

Sunita has been reading romances since she ran out of Cherry Ames, Student Nurse and Chalet School books and graduated to Mary Stewart and Georgette Heyer. Other old favorites include Mary Burchell, Betty Neels, Elsie Lee, and Edith Layton. Among current writers, she reads and rereads Anne Stuart, Tamara Allen, Jordan Castillo Price, Sarah Morgan, Marion Lennox, Josh Lanyon, and Susanna Kearsley.

20 Comments

  1. Sarah Frantz
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 17:26:50

    That is NOT an 8 year old child! 4-6, maybe. NOT 8. o_0

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  2. Sunita
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 17:28:46

    You are so right! Shockingly, the cover does not match the content. Also, the neurosurgeon is not a mum during the course of the book, nor does she cuddle in bed with Perdy. Sigh.

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  3. Wendy Marcus
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 19:36:01

    Thanks for the summary and review of each book. It’s so nice to see medical romance getting some attention!

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  4. Robin
    Sep 14, 2010 @ 22:56:28

    @Sarah Frantz: Maybe it’s one of those metric conversion problems (KIDDING!)

    Sunita, what’s your favorite medical Romance, or at least your top three?

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  5. Julie
    Sep 15, 2010 @ 08:38:23

    I read both of these, Sunita and thoroughly enjoyed them. Kate Hardy is fantastic and this book was another winner from her. I love her books and always enjoy the fact that I always learn something from them. I read her latest Modern Heat and loved it.

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  6. Sunita
    Sep 15, 2010 @ 08:55:31

    @Robin: Hmm, I think I have to try top 3, because favorite is really hard. For an ambitious, prickly, brain surgeon heroine, Hardy’s His Honorable Surgeon (not available in e-form unfortunately). For older heroine pursued by younger man, one of 2 by Amy Andrews: Top Notch Surgeon, Pregnant Nurse, or A Doctor, A Nurse: A Christmas Baby. And for flat-out good writing, characters, and context, one of Sarah Morgan’s Glenmore books: either The Rebel Doctor’s Bride (shy heroine, bad-boy hero) or Dare to Date the Dreamy Doc (recently divorced single-parent heroine, head-screwed-on-properly, yummy hero).

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  7. Sunita
    Sep 15, 2010 @ 08:59:04

    @Julie: Kate Hardy’s Posh Docs trilogy got me hooked on medicals. I agree with you about her Modern Heat books too. Even when she’s writing Millionaires or aristocrats or Sheikhs, her characters are believable.

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  8. Kate Hardy
    Sep 15, 2010 @ 12:04:58

    Just wanted to say thank you very much for the lovely review and all the compliments on here – they blew me away, and it’s made a hard-going week a lot nicer.

    What I also like is that you didn’t shy away from the bits that didn’t work for you, but you said so in a really constructive way – that’s really helpful and you’ve given me something to bear in mind to improve future books. (I hear you on infodumps! *g*). Much appreciated.

    As for the cover… Sadly, we have no say in covers. (On the US one, the child looks even younger!)

    For readers new to medical romance, I’d second the recommendations for Amy Andrews (Greek Doctor, Cinderella Brida – aka her jellyfish book – is particularly good) and Sarah Morgan (just about any of hers, though I have a big soft spot for her very first, ‘Worth the Risk’). I’d also recommend Maggie Kingsley (her Belfield books are good, and ‘The Surgeon’s Marriage’ is one of the best marriage in jeopardy books ever) and Caroline Anderson (The Girl Next Door is still one of my all-time fave category romances).

    All the best – and thanks for giving Medicals the shout-out they deserve
    Kate x

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  9. Sunita
    Sep 15, 2010 @ 12:48:59

    @Kate Hardy: How kind of you to comment! And I’m so glad you found the review helpful. Amy Andrews said on a previous post that many readers like the medical information, so I know authors have to perform a balancing act.

    I also enjoyed your Medical from earlier this year, The Doctor’s Lost and Found Bride. I’m a sucker for storylines featuring estranged spouses who are thrown together, and I thought the miscarriage aspect was very well done.

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  10. Robin
    Sep 15, 2010 @ 14:40:13

    @Sunita: Thanks, Sunita. I think I’m going to start by looking up those Morgan books. I wish the Hardy book was available in digital, tho.

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  11. Statch
    Sep 15, 2010 @ 18:25:58

    I love ebooks! Sunita, I read your review last night and was starting Kate Hardy’s book 20 minutes later. I’m really enjoying it and have The Children’s Doctor’s Special Proposal in my shopping cart now.

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  12. Sunita
    Sep 16, 2010 @ 09:01:52

    @Statch: Yes, the instant gratification of ebooks is wonderful and dangerous, isn’t it? I have Amy Andrews’ jellyfish book in my cart, somehow I missed it in my previous Andrews glom. I’m so glad the Hardy book is working for you.

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  13. Sheila Hodgson
    Sep 20, 2010 @ 03:36:01

    Hi Sunita, and everyone, I’m delighted that you and other readers are enjoying the Kate Hardy and I’m thrilled to see that you are reviewing some of the Medical Romances. Thought your original article was great too. It is so helpful too receive feedback from US readers in terms of what you are all enjoying or would like to see in the series. That’s so valuable. Thank you.

    Just wanted to say too, to anyone, who would like to read the Medicals that they are available in both print and ebook format from http://www.eharlequin.com and http://www.millsandboon.co.uk, both frontlist, and some backlist.

    Best wishes

    Sheila Hodgson
    Senior Editor, Medical Romance

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  14. Statch
    Sep 20, 2010 @ 18:29:48

    @Sheila Hodgson, how great to see you posting here! I’d like to put in a plea for more digitization. For example, I’ve seen Maggie Kingsley recommended several times, but I don’t see any ebooks by her, and I pretty much only read ebooks now.

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  15. Maggie Kingsley
    Sep 21, 2010 @ 10:39:25

    Statch, thank you very much for mentioning me. I’m sure there’s an e-book download here
    http://www.millsandboon.co.uk/books/Medical/a-baby-for-eve-ebook.htm
    and here where I’m in a duo with Laura Idling
    http://www.millsandboon.co.uk/books/Medical/a-knight-for-nurse-hart—a-nurse-to-tame-the-playboy-ebook.htm
    on the UK M & B site, but be warned. The first book – A Baby for Eve – was a bit controversial in its subject matter
    Maggie Kingsley

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  16. Statch
    Sep 21, 2010 @ 17:49:24

    @Maggie, thanks for the link. I bought A Baby For Eve. (I remember the previous discussion on Dear Author about the theme, so I’m curious :->.)

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  17. Sunita
    Sep 21, 2010 @ 18:21:17

    I wish more of the M&B medicals were released in the US line, for readers who aren’t able to buy from the M&B website. I checked Book Depository and they have some M&B medicals available in e-form, but I don’t know what geographical restrictions are imposed, if any.

    The entire Penhally Bay series is available from Mills & Boon UK in ebook form. There are 4 bundles of 4 books each. You can access them on the “offers” page.

    Ms. Kingsley (and Ms. Hodgson), I’m still kind of dumbfounded that you published a book with that storyline. Pleased and impressed, but nonetheless dumbfounded! I

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  18. Statch
    Sep 21, 2010 @ 19:29:33

    Ms Hodgson, I’m curious what the reason is for not publishing all of them in the U.S. Is it felt that U.S. readers wouldn’t like them as much?

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  19. Maggie Kingsley
    Sep 22, 2010 @ 05:42:26

    And that’s what I can’t get over, Sunita, the ‘dumbfounded’ bit. Call me naive – ‘Hello, naive! – but I can honestly say, hand on heart, that I didn’t sit down and decide, This will be controversial, this will rattle some cages, This has never been done before. I didn’t even know whether it had been done before, I just thought, I want to tell this story. Maybe medical romance writers are simply allowed more freedom, maybe our editors are just more, ‘Go for it’, I don’t know, but it’s one of my personal, all-time favourite books even though I cried buckets over it when I was writing it. As for why medical romances aren’t more readily available in the US …. That’s the 64 million dollar question. I have heard more will be available as ebooks in the future, but I’m afraid that won’t help if what you want is a hard copy.
    Maggie Kingsley

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  20. Sunita
    Sep 22, 2010 @ 11:52:33

    @Maggie Kingsley: I’m really glad you were able to write it too.

    I think having the ebooks available is huge, because it generates more online reviews and word of mouth. And maybe if ebooks sales are good, it will allow Harlequin to issue more of them per month. I’d also love to see more of the UK books (like yours) make it to the US, but one thing at a time.

    ReplyReply

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