Body Search is the latest medical romantic suspense from real-life doctor Jessica Andersen. While I can’t really recommend it as anything more than a slightly better an average series romance, readers looking for something a little different may find it worth a look.
Fifteen years ago Dale Metcalf left behind his childhood home on Lobster Island to start a new life. In the years since, he became a doctor, traveling the world with Hospitals for Humanity to offer aid in emergency situations. He managed to convince the world he was from an upper class Boston family, revealing nothing of his true past to anyone, not even his partner, Dr. Tansy Whitmore.
As they worked together in disaster situations and outbreaks, Tansy and Dale became involved personally. Tansy eventually realized she was in love with him, but Dale only pushed her away, refusing to let her get too close. Then Dale’s cousin on Lobster Island contacts him with news of a suspicious illness that’s striking the islanders. Several people already have died, and no one has any idea what’s happening. Dale has no choice but to go back to the small island off the coast of Maine, and his boss orders him to take Tansy with him.
Their mission gets off to a rocky start when the landing gear on their plane fails and they crash into the ocean. Even when they’re safely on land, the mysterious incidents continue. It’s clear that someone doesn’t want them there. If that’s not dangerous enough, Tansy has to deal with her feelings for Dale, which become more complicated the more she learns about his sad past.
Needless to say, this isn’t your typical series romance plot. There isn’t a cliché in sight. It has a freshness that kept it interesting and helped it hold my attention. The setting is nicely different, even if it wasn’t as developed as it could have been. I liked the characters’ unique profession and enjoyed their remembrances of their past assignments in the field. This aspect helped give them a little extra dimension that made them stand out from the norm. The author’s expertise in some of the medical matters shows, and while the story really isn’t heavy on the medical aspect, the details she throws in add to the story. The villain is no real surprise, but the story moves at a steady clip and enough is happening that it didn’t really bother me. It’s a fast, light, and entertaining enough read. While better development all-around would have enriched the reading experience, I flirted with giving it a recommendation.
I changed my mind in the later stages during some of the more emotional scenes. It was during these moments when I realized how shallowly the characters were written. While they’re sympathetic, there’s simply not much to them. Tansy has exactly one character trait: since her mother spent her entire marriage suspicious of her philandering husband, investigating his whereabouts at all times and never trusting him, this taught Tansy never to be with a man who wasn’t honest with her. This is understandible, but it’s the only thing we know about Tansy as a person and she drives the honesty issue straight into the ground. If I had to read about Tansy thinking about her mother one more time I would have torn out my hair.
Dale is better, if only because his issues naturally get more attention because they’re so connected with the setting and the people on the island. There are some touching moments and ideas that really would have been more effective had they been explored a little deeper. Instead, the author seems content to coast over the surface of those feelings. There are times where it seems like she’s reaching for something deeper, like in a heated confrontation between Dale and Tansy. The end result is too melodramatic to work.
With better development of the characters and the setting, this could have been a stronger book than it ultimately is. In the end, it’s a little too shallow and forgettable for me to wholehearedly recommend, but it’s still an interesting book that delivers something a little different. Considering how rare that is these days in series land, that may be enough to make it worth a try.