Tempted By Her Italian Surgeon by Louisa George
The Particulars: Contemporary romance, Harlequin Medical #742, 2015, out of print, available digitally
Why Was It In Wendy's TBR?: Pretty sure I got this at RWA 2016. It's a category romance, I was at a conference, so naturally I picked it up. I'm at the point where I can turn down "free books" at conferences, but not when it comes to category. They're my kryptonite.
The Review: My habit of impulse grabbing category romances means it's an ideal format for the New-To-Me Author TBR Challenge prompt. This was floating near the top of my Harlequin Rubbermaid Tote of Doom, and it was a safe grab since George has written in two lines I'm not well-read in (Harlequin Medical and Harlequin Kiss). In other words, I was vaguely familiar with her name, but knew I had never read her before.
Lawyer Ivy Leigh hasn't even had a chance to settle into her new office at St. Carmen's Children's Hospital when she has her first fire to put out. Seems one of the doctors has posted a picture of his bare backside (a delicious bare backside - but still) on the internet and it's gone viral. To make matters worse? In the background are a pair of green scrubs with the St. Carmen's logo as clear as day. St. Carmen's is a children's teaching hospital and rather old school, so this kind of publicity will not do. Ivy sets out to find the culprit and soon does. Sexy as sin Italian surgeon, Dr. Matteo Finelli.
Matteo was not responsible for his butt becoming the latest internet sensation - rather it was a friend's prank. But instead of getting upset about it, Matteo is all set to laugh it off. I mean, really? What's the big deal? Well apparently it's a rather "big deal" to this new lawyer the hospital has hired which means Matteo now has to spend four whole days in social media "workshops" with the rest of the hospital staff. Frankly he's got better things to do - like performing life-saving kidney transplants on sick children. But "Poison Ivy" isn't budging, which means battle lines are being drawn. He'll spend time in her pointless seminars and she'll spend time shadowing him in the operating theater watching the real work being done.
Basically what we have here is a Battle of Wills romance. It doesn't quite qualify as Enemies-To-Lovers (no shared history between the couple), but things start off on an antagonistic foot. George plays things safe here with neither Matteo or Ivy being deliberating cruel or mean. They're both good at their jobs, passionate about their work, and that passion naturally spills over into their early interactions with each other. As often happens in romances of this ilk, the passionate nature of both characters is hiding past emotional baggage - Matteo smarting from a relationship gone wrong and Daddy Issues, Ivy from a traumatic injury and Mommy Issues.
This was an easy read but not one that ever elevated itself, nor did it sink to the depths of dreck. The very definition of an OK read. Not bad enough for me to DNF, but not good enough to make me hug my print copy to my chest and fall into a swoon; and I'm still trying to put my finger on why. Ivy is just the sort of wound-tight heroine I tend to like but Matteo is rather one-note. Yes, the past baggage is there, but I kept waiting for him to experience his Black Moment. To get knocked down a few pegs. And that never really happens. Ivy goes off, running scared, but the reader doesn't see a ton of fallout from Matteo's perspective. Which means he comes off a bit like Teflon Man. Nothing sticks. I guess I wanted him to wallow more. The Italian playboy coming to grips with the fact that he's finally found The One and she can't seem to run away fast enough. Don't get me wrong, he gets angry. He gets ticked off. But there's no good emotional wallow.
It's the sort of book that won't have me running out to buy up all of the author's backlist, but I'm also not going to turn my nose up if another falls in my lap. And as luck would have it - thanks to my impulse Harlequin grabbing tendencies at conferences? I've got another one of hers in the TBR. Which means my damning with faint praise recommendation is this - if it's already in your TBR, there are worse ways to kill a Sunday afternoon. But it also means I'm not going to tell you to drop your life and buy this book right now.
Final Grade = B-