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Thursday, January 21, 2010

TBR Challenge 2010: Let's Play Doctor

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-


SarahT said...

The first TBR challenge of 2010! It feels so good to dust off a book which has been lying around for a while and finally sit down and read it.

Nice review!

Amy said...

I'll be coming back to read the review better than my Tylenol PM'ed brain will allow right now. Must. Get. to. Bed. Work tonight...ugh...

azteclady said...

wow, you must've liked it a lot--a B!

Jest kiddin'!

Wendy said...

Sarah: I read a lot of category, but I still have a mountain of it languishing in the TBR.

Amy: On noes! Tylenol PM! I'm hoping it's kicked in my now.

AL: B- = I liked it, it delivered what I was expecting, but with some quibbles. This was a nice read, and it was only the eating disorder stuff that really gave me pause.....

Lynette said...


I really like her Desires, especially the ones that take place in MI. Of course Desire is one of my favorite HQ lines that in Intrigue. You should check out some of the newer titles.

JamiSings said...

The communication thing has my wanting to read it. The way the eating disorder is glossed over makes me want to stay far away. As a fat girl, one who deals with her issues of self esteem by holding everyone at arm's length and even purposely pissing them off when I feel they're too close - I don't think I could handle something like that that's just glossed over.

Anonymous said...

Not that this solves anything, but if you want to imagine an unwritten epilogue, maybe Maggie starts going to Overeaters Anonymous meetings. Anonymous, so she doesn't have to tell us (the readers) or Pete, but she gets the benefit of support and understanding from the rooms. And it's a better move than assuming true lurve solves an eating disorder!

Wendy said...

Lynette: Desire used to be my favorite line, but then they all started sounding like HP-clones to me. I haven't bought one in ages ::sob::! And I loved the Michigan setting. It was a nice surprise!

Jami: My advice would be to avoid this one. Yes, the communication was great - but the Desire line is just too short to accomodate conflict this involved. The heroine's issues with food really are not addressed well at all (IMHO). I could roll with it - but if it's a hot button for you? Yeah, this one will probably make you Hulk-like angry. Jami mad! Jami smash! LOL

Magdalen: I like your idea of a mental epilogue!

The heroine definitely exhibits classic anoerxia behavior. She "needs" to lose five more pounds even though she's UNDER weight to the point where she's unhealthy. There's even a scene where the hero forces her to start eating a balanced diet, and after "gorging" herself on a sensible dinner, she actually thinks about running to the bathroom to purge!

Um, yeah. Twu Wuv is not going to solve that problem cupcake! Get thee to a therapist!

JamiSings said...

Wendy - Have you been spying on me when I'm POed? Cause that's about the long and short of it! LOL

Only I don't want to sleep with Betty. Now GAMBIT on the other hand....

Or I might "settle" for Blade.

CindyS said...

Hey Wendy - I want to start reading some series books and was wondering if you have already done a post on authors you would recommend. And yes, I need the sex so no HPs ;)

And wouldn't be nice is twue wuv healed all things. Damn panic attacks didn't leave when Bob showed up.


Wendy said...

Cindy: From the "best of" that I read last year - Let It Ride by Jillian Burns (a Blaze) and The Man Most Likely by Cindi Myers (an American). Everyone seems to be swearing by Sarah Mayberry, but alas I haven't read her yet. She had an HSR out recently, but mostly writes for Blaze.

Let's see - Karen Templeton, who writes for Special Edition. Ellen Hartman and Tracy Wolff who both write for SuperRomance.

I also really, really like Carrie Alexander's Supers - but her most recent (which was GREAT! - A Holiday Romance) features Ye Olde Closed Bedroom Door. I think the sexxoring is in her others though - specifically her North Country series, that takes place in Michigan's Upper Penisula.

I've also really liked Beth Andrews - who writes for Super. Gee, ya think I read a lot in the HSR line? LOL

That's what I got off the top of my head - and without any caffeine yet.....

LoriK said...

I think I'll have to pass on this one, which makes me sad because I love books where the h/h actually talk to each other. I just know that I won't be able to deal with the eating disorder stuff.

Stories where a character clearly has an eating disorder, but it remains unacknowledged always make me worry that it's like that because the author thinks the behavior is normal. Then I start worrying about what's going on with her IRL and it totally pulls me out of the book.