Out of His League
I’ve reviewed two other books by Ms. Parry, and her books continue to interest me; this is no exception. At its bare bones, the story seems trite: a successful woman doctor meets a star baseball player in a hospital. I thought I knew where this was going: she’s all brains, he’s all brawn, but somehow they get together. I was completely wrong. These are two complex characters with numerous issues and problems. Their mutual attraction is only part of the story.
Unlike some romance readers, the most important character for me is the heroine, and Dr. Elizabeth LaValley is difficult to like. Elizabeth’s an anesthesiologist at a major hospital. She chose anesthesiology because it involves only minimal interactions with patients. Elizabeth wants nothing to do with most people. She’s spent her adulthood building an ordered, peaceful, quiet life with no room for complications and messy people.
Elizabeth’s peace is disrupted when her sister Ashley appears at the hospital and wants to leaves her son Brandon in Elizabeth’s care. Brandon, a leukemia survivor, is at the hospital for further testing and Ashley says she has an appointment she can’t get out of. So who wouldn’t hop in and care for their young nephew? Not Elizabeth. She wants nothing, not even her family, to disrupt her life.
Elizabeth’s ordered life takes another shock when she talks to pre-surgery patient Jon Farell. Jon, a baseball pitcher, is in the hospital to have a tumor removed from his right hand. While not his pitching hand, the lump may be malignant, bringing back memories of his mother’s death from cancer when he was a child. When Elizabeth comes in for his pre-surgery interview Jon sees a pretty woman with tears in her eyes and tries to get her to open up to him. Jon wants to be distracted by the conversation, but as a life-long caregiver, he also wants to help this clearly unhappy woman.
Unlike most of Boston, Elizabeth has no idea who Jon is; she doesn’t follow baseball. And she doesn’t want to spill her feelings to anyone, let alone a patient. But she feels some kind of connection, an attraction, which disturbs her. Elizabeth doesn’t want to feel anything, other than relief when he goes under from the anesthesia.
But a few hours later Jon gets involved again in Elizabeth’s life when Brandon escapes a nurse and wanders straight into Jon’s recovery area – yes, this is a huge coincidence but I let it pass. Brandon, a true baseball fan, knows who Jon is, and invites him over to his Aunt Elizabeth’s home to give him an autograph.
Elizabeth is furious when Jon appears unannounced that night. She’s not handling Brandon’s invasion of her space well and doesn’t want anyone else there. Initially this seemed mean-tempered and rude. But as the author slowly reveals details about Elizabeth’s childhood, her ways of coping make sense; the patterns are ingrained. Elizabeth’s issues go well beyond “prickly.” She shakes and panics when dealing with Brandon over simple issues such as what to make for dinner. I’m not a psychologist, but Elizabeth seems to have emotional issues that render her incapable of interacting with other people. When her sister reveals that she’s going into a 30-day alcoholism treatment program and Elizabeth will have to keep Brandon for a month, I was uncertain if she could cope.
Elizabeth isn’t the only one with problems. Jon’s career is in turmoil. His team didn’t make the playoffs and the media is crucifying the pitching staff, and Jon in particular. Jon’s contract is up and he hasn’t been offered a new one. Jon now needs to focus on his career rather than helping his teammates and family. But somehow he keeps getting pulled back into Elizabeth and Brandon’s realm.
If you don’t like children in romances, you’ll want to give this a pass, Brandon is a major, fully-developed character. It’s through Brandon that Elizabeth begins to recognize her fears and change. And Brandon, with his love of baseball, keeps Elizabeth and Jon in each other’s sphere. There’s nothing simple or straightforward about Elizabeth and Jon’s romance; they have too many personal problems to allow for that. But I completely believe that they come to love each other.
Although the characters are difficult, I highly recommend this romance. Moreover, I would love to see what happens to Elizabeth’s sister and nephew, and hope they’re featured in a future romance.