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Harlequin Medical Romance Lightning Reviews: Down Under Edition

I am so far behind reviewing my beloved Harlequin Medicals that I thought a review roundup would be better than nothing. I read three novels that are releasing in April (the fourth is part of a series which deserves its own post).

Click for more info on The Man with the Locked Away Heart / Socialite...or Nurse in a Million? The Man with The Locked Away Heart / Socialite......  MELANIE MILBURNE  /  MOLLY EVANS First up is The Man With the Locked-Away Heart, by Melanie Milburne. This is a gentle and somewhat melancholy romance between a doctor and a police sergeant. It’s set in a small town in the Australian outback, where both our hero and heroine wound up when they (separately) ran away from trauma and tragedy in the big city. After three years in Jingilly Creek, Gemma Kendall has inherited the lodge she’s lived in as well as an old dog from the proprietor, who had become a good friend, and she is the sole doctor for miles around. She finds her job fulfilling and she feels like a member of the community, but she wonders if she’s losing the chance to find a husband and build a family. Marc Di Angelo is taking a leave from his position in Brisbane Homicide to fill in as police sergeant after a traumatic event. Gemma reluctantly offers Marc a place to stay when the only hotel in town claims to be full up, and although they are attracted to each other, Marc is suspicious of Gemma and Gemma knows he’s not going to be around for long. Nevertheless, they grow to know and like each other over the course of the book, and by the time they slept together I felt it was a logical outcome of their growing relationship. The ending was predictable (and the epilogue was a little sappy), but I believed in their HEA. The setting adds to the melancholy tone of the book, because the town is small and relatively poor, and the people have a hard life. But it’s an unusual romance and it reaffirms why I read the Medicals line. Grade: B-

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US digital version available in May. Can purchase digital at Mills&Boon

 

Single Dad's Triple Trouble by Fiona LoweNext I read Single Dad’s Triple Trouble, by Fiona Lowe. Gabe Lewis and Elly Ruddock split up two years ago because she wanted children and he wasn’t willing to commit to them. When they meet again, Gabe is the father of triplets. Elly feels understandably betrayed, and when she learns the circumstances she’s sympathetic but not much mollified. But they are still extremely attracted to each other, Elly loves the kids (and they love her), and there is much mental lusting mixed in with the reliving of the past. The writing is smooth, the setting is well depicted, and the trials of raising triplets is presented realistically (Gabe is tired all the time, and his transformation to dad of multiples is fun to read). I don’t like mental lusting, but the rest of the book kept me reading happily until the last few chapters. Gabe wants to marry Elly, but apparently not because he loves her (although he was definitely in love with her in the past). And while she loves Gabe’s children, Elly is determined to have a child with Gabe and won’t marry him unless he agrees. I don’t share this need for a biological child, but I know it can be very powerful. But I thought Gabe’s unwillingness to commit to another child was entirely understandable. The way their impasse and Gabe’s feelings were resolved in favor of an HEA hit my over-the-top meter hard. Ms. Lowe is a good writer and her books pack a strong emotional punch, but this resolution didn’t work for me. Grade: C+

Book Link | Kindle | Amazon | nook | BN | Borders
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US digital version available in May. Can purchase digital at Mills&Boon

The Honourable Maverick Alison RobertsThe final book I read was The Honorable Maverick, by Alison Roberts. This is the first in a trilogy about three leather-clad, motorcycle-riding Kiwi doctors. I think they are supposed to be rebellious and dangerous and therefore sexy, but I couldn’t help thinking of white affluent middle-aged Harley riders, who are usually not all that. But Ms. Roberts writes compelling categories with unusual plots and settings, and this book is no exception, so I went with the setup. Ellie Peters, heavily pregnant and running from the stalker-rapist-doctor who impregnated her, knocks on her friend Sarah’s door and instead finds the Biker Trio. Max McAdam has sublet the flat from Sarah, and he and the gang come to Ellie’s rescue when Dr. Stalker catches up with her. Max’s impulsive decision to help Ellie out snowballs into fake fatherhood, fake marriage, and a real joint living arrangement. He bonds with Ellie’s newborn baby and quickly develops strong paternal feelings toward her. But Dr. Stalker doesn’t give up, and the story turns into romantic suspense at the end (which is uncommon for a Medical, I think). Ms. Roberts specializes in unusual heroines, and Ellie is certainly that, given that she’s broke, hugely pregnant, and then a new mother who needs help and protection. Max is a terrific hero. Watching him fall in love first with the baby and then with Ellie was a pleasure, and while the plot is not exactly believable, the motivations and interactions of the characters ring true. The epilogue is a straight setup for the next story, which I will definitely read. Grade: B

Book Link | Kindle | Amazon | nook | BN | Borders
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US digital version available in May. Can purchase digital at Mills&Boon

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, Sarah Morgan, Marion Lennox, Josh Lanyon, and Susanna Kearsley. She blogs as VacuousMinx and tweets as @sunita_p.

15 Comments

  1. MaryK
    Apr 04, 2011 @ 14:56:37

    I like roundup reviews. I think I’ll check out the Roberts book.

    Your comment about “motivations and interactions of the characters” is well-taken. I’m used to HPs so over-the-top plots aren’t a problem for me. :) On the other hand, I DNF’d a Silh. RS over the weekend because I didn’t believe in the motivations and interactions within the framework of the plot. It made me think about DNF reviews again. One of the arguments against DNF reviews is that the part you didn’t read might be the best part or might change your opinion about the book. But nothing is going to fix wonky motivations or interactions.

  2. Sally
    Apr 04, 2011 @ 19:42:00

    Oooh, a medical romance with a splash of suspense–I think I need to check that one out. Thank you Sunita for the reviews.

  3. rebeccaj
    Apr 04, 2011 @ 19:56:46

    I’ve been reading Harlequins since Jesus was in Pampers and the name “Gemma” used to be used soooo frequently in the Mills & Boon books. And it drove me NUTS because I really didn’t know how to pronounce it! Yes, it drives me crazy when I’m saddled with a name I can’t pronounce when I’m reading. But I never knew if it was “Jem-ma” or “Gem-ma” or neither!;)

  4. SN
    Apr 04, 2011 @ 22:06:12

    RE ‘Gemma’. Is it a difficult name for Americans? I’m curious because it’s SO common in other English-speaking countries, particularly England.

    Jem-ma and Gem-ma are pronounced exactly the same way.

    I’m no real fan of medical romances (I find doctors creepy!), but I might look into the first Australian one. Great reviews!

  5. MaryK
    Apr 04, 2011 @ 22:49:59

    @rebeccaj: Yes, and I have the same trouble with “Gillian.”

    @SN: But is it “g” as in “gem” or “g” as in “gum”?

  6. Fiona Lowe
    Apr 04, 2011 @ 23:38:34

    Gillian can be pronounced Jillian of Gill-ian….it ususally a choice by the owner of the name. It’s currently not in the top 20 Aussie girl names at the moment :-) probably because it confuses everyone down here too!

  7. Fiona Lowe
    Apr 04, 2011 @ 23:44:17

    Thanks for the review, Sunita. The triplets exhausted me writing them ;-)so I’m glad Gabe came across as bewildered and exhausted on the page.

    Best wishes
    Fiona

  8. FiaQ
    Apr 05, 2011 @ 05:59:04

    @MaryK: ‘Gem’. Soft ‘J’ and soft ‘G’ sound alike.

    Gillian/Jillian
    Gemma/Jemma
    Genny (Genevieve)/Jenny

    All same. I think the trick lies with the third letter. Gabriella, for instance, has a hard ‘G’. I’m not too sure if this trick is that reliable, to be honest!

  9. cead
    Apr 05, 2011 @ 06:53:53

    @FiaQ: It’s mostly reliable, maybe less so with names since there’s a lot of stylistic variation in spelling names.

    The basic rule is, when the vowel is “a”, “o”, or “u” (in most of their pronunciations), “g” gets pronounced as in “gum” (and “c” as in “cashew”), and then you get the other pronunciations with other vowels. It’s not a perfect rule, especially with “c” (because “c” has more than two pronunciations), but it works most of the time. A lot of the words with the “gem” pronunciation were borrowed from e.g. French, which is part of why it’s weird.

  10. DS
    Apr 05, 2011 @ 07:41:18

    “white affluent middle-aged Harley riders”– I call then accountants on Harleys. There’s a Harley dealership within a stone’s throw and I love watching all the upper middle class show up for events– you know, the ones who use their Escalades to tow their bikes in trailers for Bike Week in Daytona.

  11. Sunita
    Apr 05, 2011 @ 07:53:37

    I learned Gemma/Jemma from the Betty Neels book, A Gem of A Girl (the heroine is named Gemma of course). A Neels book is always educational!

    When I came to the US from India as a kid, I was a couple of years ahead of my grade level in terms of reading, math, etc. But while I had a great vocabulary from reading, I had no idea how to pronounce words because I was surrounded by non-English speakers. So I would resort to Indian pronunciation rules, which never worked. It took me years to catch up.

    @Fiona Lowe: I have friends with twins and a singleton, all under 5. They love each other to death and try as often as possible to get grownup time, but they’re tired all the time. I loved the way you brought that across for Gabe, how he *wanted* to be in love and had lustful thoughts, but was also tired and distracted all the time. It’s not romantic, exactly, but it’s so endearing.

  12. Sunita
    Apr 05, 2011 @ 07:56:50

    @DS: Exactly! The setup did make me giggle a bit, but the characters are definitely more than their leathers and bikes. And it was a clever way to create group ties that weren’t based on family or workplace. Hopefully we will never see Spies for the Crown in Medicals, but I live in fear of vampire/werewolf doctors.

  13. MaryK
    Apr 05, 2011 @ 11:06:30

    I’ll try to remember the “gem” example. I don’t usually have the same problem with guy names. Except once with Giles and then the author worked an example of the pronunciation into the story.

    English is a crazy language. There seem to be as many exceptions as there are rules. I’m always impressed by the ability of non-native speakers to become fluent. If I hadn’t been born into the language, I’d be SOL.

  14. rebeccaj
    Apr 05, 2011 @ 20:36:30

    @ Sunita: Yes! Betty Neels is one of the authors who used that name. I used to read her all the time.

    Oh, Gem = Gemma. I used to end up pronouncing it “Gmm-ma”! Thanks everybody! It seems like such a simple name, but since it’s not one that’s common in the U.S., I was never sure of the pronunciation.

    @Mary Kay: I always thought Gillian was pronounced the same as the Gilli- in Gilligan’s Island and Jillian was the same as the Jill sound.

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    Apr 09, 2011 @ 19:03:01

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