The Book: House Calls by Michelle Celmer
The Particulars: Silhouette Desire #1703, January 2006, Out of Print
Why Was It In Bat Cave TBR?: Like pretty much all category romances by unknown-to-me authors, the back cover blurb tickled my fancy.
The Review: Dr. Pete Morgan was a well-respected (and hunky) ER doctor in Detroit when a shooting left him with a shattered knee and guilt over the death of a respected colleague and friend. His answer to this guilt is to hole himself up in his parents' mansion and hide. His parents, while not being real touchy-feely, are concerned - so they hire physical therapist Maggie Holm to kick their son's butt.
Maggie works at the same hospital that Pete did, and in fact had a crush on him. But he was engaged, she was engaged, and besides - she was the "fat" girl. In fact, she's been the fat girl her whole life. That is, until recently. Thanks to a strict diet and exercise plan, she's dropped 40 pounds. But crush or no crush, she can't stand to see Pete wallow. So she's going to help him, whether he likes it or not. And that means hauling his butt up north to a cabin near Gaylord. Just the two of them, a bunch of physical therapy on his reconstructed knee, and a whole mess of sexual tension. To make it really convenient? Yeah, they're both single.
This was a nice, pleasant read that pretty much delivered what I expected. What I really liked was the fact that both Maggie and Pete talk to each other. Quite a bit actually. Him, about his "cold" parents, his years at boarding school, his determination to be nothing less than perfect, driven and successful. Her, about her self-esteem and weight insecurities, her mother's hurtful barbs about said weight, her picture-perfect (and thin) sister, her summers spent at fat camp, and how her search for acceptance as a chubby teen saw her spending time in the back seats of cars with various boys.
Ultimately both hero and heroine have issues. Pasts that they're still baring scars from, but not necessarily dwelling on. Maggie is a straight shooter, and doesn't take any BS from Pete. Pete is fairly surly, but once he's at the cabin, and under Maggie's spell, he puts on the full court press. But her past relationship disasters, and her belief that Pete is only focusing on her because of proximity, keep her a bit gun shy.
There's a lot of internal conflict in this story, and some of it is glossed over. Namely, Maggie has all the classic symptoms of someone with an eating disorder. Sorry, I just don't believe that it's that simple for someone with Maggie's past to reconcile her relationship with food and her self-image. Falling in love, and the support of a good man, is all well and good - but I'm hoping girlfriend took her ass to a therapist at the close of the last chapter. My advice? If you're looking for conflict that realistically addresses all the ugly details of having an eating disorder? Yeah, this book will likely just make you angry. It's really glossed over, and it's never even really stated, as fact, that "Yes. Heroine Has Eating Disorder." But here's the thing - some of her behaviors screamed eating disorder to me, which means it could scream for other readers as well. To not have it addressed more thoroughly is a tinch problematic.
In the end though, this was a nice, pleasant read about nice, pleasant people. I liked these two crazy kids and am glad it worked out for them.
Final Grade = B-