Wednesday, March 15, 2017

#TBRChallenge 2017: Dare She Date The Dreamy Doc?
The Book: Dare She Date the Dreamy Doc? by Sarah Morgan

The Particulars: Contemporary Romance, Harlequin Medical #451, 2010, Book #4 in Series, Out of Print, Available Digitally

Why Was It In Wendy's TBR?: I discovered Sarah Morgan through her Harlequin Presents in 2011, and shortly after that an online friend sent me this book when she stumbled across it in a library book sale.  It was also a RITA finalist and I try to pay attention to the RITA finalists for category romance.

The Review: I didn't start my TBR Challenge read until Sunday and wouldn't you know it?  I ended up DNF'ing that book.  So, once again, limited time and poor planning means I went rummaging through my Harlequin TBR Rubbermaid Tote of Doom.  Sarah Morgan is an autobuy for me (even if I am grossly behind on her backlist) so she fits well with this month's Comfort Read theme.

Once you get past one of the dippier titles in the Harlequin universe (and there are plenty of dippy titles to go around) this was a pretty solid read, although not without faults.  Jenna Richards has been divorced for less than a year and she's still in shock.  She married young, which means 33-year-old Jenna is also contending with a teenage daughter, Lexi, who is not all that happy with her mother at the moment.  Why?  Because Jenna has moved them from London to Glenmore, a tiny Scottish island in "the middle of nowhere."  I mean, the cell phone reception is crap.  Jenna is a nurse and the island is isolated enough that the medical staff is pretty much on call all the time.  Meeting the ferry to greet her?  Dr. Ryan McKinley who puts the yum in yummy.  He also has a past he's trying to move on from, but one look at Jenna and he's smitten.

There are some really well done aspects to this brief (185 pages) category romance.  Morgan does a great job of creating a small town contemporary romance on a light page count.  The setting is quaint (the hero lives in a lighthouse!), the residents amusingly meddling and sweet without being annoying and saccharine.  It's a perfect example of why I prefer my small town reading in the category format over a bloated single title word count.  Ryan is sexy and charming without being a notorious playboy or brooding angst factory.  Lexi is a woman who at 33 is still young but feels old before her time thanks to a surly teenage daughter and an ex who blindsided her.  I fell right into this world from the moment I read the first page.

What doesn't work so well?  The romance here is Grade A Insta-Love. Basically it's one of those romances where the couple sparks immediately and they seem to jump straight from "Hello, nice to meet you" to "I love you" without so much as a cup of coffee.  Ryan's baggage slightly annoys me (Ambitious First Wife) but it's not as egregious as other conflict of this ilk I've read in romance (still, I was a little annoyed).  And Jenna?  I did like her.  I did.  But dang if this woman isn't a martyr.  She's really overprotective of Lexi, which is somewhat understandable, but she's willing to throw herself into a pit of misery to placate a teenager who doesn't really need placating (here's an idea - talk to your kid!).  She also acts like 33 is 95.  She literally says to Ryan: "You deserve children Ryan.  I'm thirty-three.  I have no idea whether I can even have another child."


She's a nurse. It's 2010, not the 18th century!

Then there's Lexi who acts like a typical surly teenager.  Lexi didn't bother me.  Actually I think she's the most authentic character in this story.  Lord but this child acts like a real teenager.  Which I guess serves as a warning if you're a reader who has a teenager at home and you're looking for a bit of "escapist reading."  You may want to steer clear of this one.

I liked this one, and it's a pretty good category romance.  It's not Morgan's best work (of what I've read), but she's created an interesting community in Glenmore and after DNF'ing my first choice, I positively sank into this story.  Worth a look for Morgan fans and readers who love all things small town contemporary.

Final Grade = B-


Miss Bates said...

This was the first Morgan I ever read, maybe because, at the time, I was new to romance reading and combed the Rita titles for buying options. But the writing and setting definitely captured me and I knew I'd go on to read more Morgan ... then, I read The Twelve Nights of Christmas, with its hilariously delightful opening, and was hooked. I'm behind on the backlist too ...

Jill said...

I love Sarah Morgan's medicals and I haven't read this one! I love UK, Aussie, and Kiwi stories set in small towns (which Medicals are full of!). Not so much American set ones. A little harder to enjoy the fantasy when you "escaped" out of your American small town at 18 and didn't look back. ;-) But it totally works for me in other settings.

My comfort read was "Eloping with Emmy" by Liz Fielding. This was a revised version of an earlier Harlequin Romance. I bought it when it went on sale a while ago because I love, love Liz Fielding.

So, our heroine, Emerald (Emmy) Carlisle, is a young heiress who is on the run from her father. She is planning to elope with a starving young artist. Her father has hired Tom Brodie, a young ambitious lawyer, to persuade Emmy's fiance to back out of the engagement. For reasons that I won't get into here, Tom and Emmy both end up heading off to France to find the artist.

I really wanted to like this one, but it just feel flat. Maybe because there were too many twists and turns to keep the characters on the move? I'm not someone who needs my romances to be super plausible, but I just didn't buy into this one. Also there was a final plot twist that was hidden from the reader (I think, maybe I missed it) and changed one character's motivation and I felt that was kind of a cheap trick.

So this was a skim to the end, C kind of read. I still love Liz Fielding, I just wouldn't recommend you start here. (That's your hint, Wendy b/c I know you enjoy category and Harlequin Romance ;-))

Wendy said...

Miss Bates: Ooooh, I have Twelve Nights of Christmas in my TBR! Uh, somewhere. I think I have it in digital. During one of Harlequins last big sales I went back and bought all the Morgans I didn't already own.

Jill: I've read a couple by Liz Fielding. Her books have a romantic comedy feel to them I enjoy and she writes the "meet-cute" really well.

This Sarah Morgan is actually the fourth book in a series set on that tiny Scottish island. I really loved the feel of the world-building so I'm pretty happy right now I glommed all of her Medicals during a Harlequin sale :)

willaful said...

I think I may have DNF'd this one. Probably because I have my own surly teen.

Wendy said...

Willaful: LOL! Yeah, the teenager is surly from the opening page and doesn't really let up until the final couple of chapters. I read a review on GoodReads that was basically, "OMG, the teenage daughter annoyed me!!!" and my first thought was, "Well, the author did her job then" ;)

Nikki said...

I really like Morgans' contemporary novels, especially the latest ones. I haven't read any of her medical series, and I think I'll pass on this on. I am so over the surly teenagers since teaching 6th grade foryears did it for me.