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-