Saving Dr. Ryan
I picked up Saving Dr. Ryan because several of my colleagues have had great things to say about Templeton’s books. Well, either I chose the worst possible book to start with, or this is a case of serious taste differences. I kept thinking of my reading experience in terms of a personality clash; I just couldn’t manage to get along with either the hero or the heroine.
Maddie Kincaid meets Dr. Ryan Logan when she shows up at his door with two kids in tow and a third minutes away from birth. She’s recently widowed, and her late husband left her nothing but a pile of debts and broken dreams. Ryan helps her into his house, delivers a healthy baby girl, and then finds out she has no money and nowhere to stay. He invites her to stay in his large, mostly empty home while she recovers, and after that she beings working for him part time. Part of her pay is room and board, and she is desperate to save the rest so she can get a home of her own.
There just isn’t much to this plot. Maddie falls for Ryan. Ryan falls for Maddie. Maddie doesn’t want to be a burden to Ryan, so she fights her feelings and keeps them to herself as long as she can. Ryan doesn’t think he will be good for Maddie, which is what he tells her when she finally can’t stop herself from admitting her love. He knows that marriage to a country doctor is just no life for anyone. So they hem and haw, and finally they get together, affirming their love with a tepid, unexciting love scene.
What I can say for this book is that the writing itself is fairly competent and smooth, with the exception of a few typos (at one point the baby, Amy Rose, is referred to as Audrey Anne for some reason). The secondary characters aren’t too bad, and I kind of liked Ivy, a midwife who sometimes assists Ryan.
Unfortunately, there was little else that I liked. This book is the first in a three book series about Ryan and his two brothers, and I can’t see myself reading the other two. The youngest brother, Cal, is the only one who doesn’t come across as a whiny jerk. Both Ryan and Hank (the other brother) spend most of the book knee deep in self-pity. No one has celebrated a holiday in years because their parents died young, so they are all very moody about that. Ryan is bitter because a former fiancé left him, and Hank’s fiancée was killed. Hank has decided that the best way to handle his pain is to nurse his bitterness and seclude himself from meaningful interaction with society. Ryan prefers to pretend to be normal as he comes home to mouth watering microwave dinners and an empty home. The book hits an all-time low when Ryan admits that he loves Maddie, but doesn’t want her to have to live the tough life of a doctor’s wife. Yeah, right, Ryan. Like a single mom with three kids under the age of five and a high school education is better off on her own?
Maddie’s character didn’t work well either, but for different reasons. Maddie is not unlikable – she’s simply boring. She got married at 17 and by 24 was the mother of three. Her interests are limited to her children, cooking, and frequent trips to Wal-Mart. I kept thinking that if anyone could identify with Maddie it should be me; after all, I married quite young and had children early myself (though I also had hobbies, interests, and an education). A few months ago there was a conversation going on one of our message boards about whether one had to be able to identify with a heroine to enjoy a book. I don’t think heroines need to be carbon copies of ourselves in order for us to be intrigued by them. I’m not as dark as Eve Dallas nor as pure as Anne of Green Gables, but I love them both. The problem is that there is really nothing to Maddie’s personality. Aside from her early mistake of picking a total loser for a husband, she hasn’t done anything wrong in her life. She has no discernable faults, and no burning passions. She never even has a cross word for one of her kids. In other words, she’s neither interesting nor human.
I also found the frequent mentions of Wal-Mart both distracting and annoying. Ironically, I’ve complained in a few recent reviews about authors who feel the need to tell us about every expensive item that the characters own. While reading this book I discovered that I was equally annoyed by the opposite situation. Do we really need to know that all the kids’ Christmas presents, the heroine’s new leggings, and the doctor’s new flatware came from Wal-Mart? Do we need to hear that Maddie will be making another trip there today to pick up something else? Okay, it’s the low price leader. We get it. Wal-Mart hasn’t gotten this much free advertising since Billie Letts wrote Where the Heart Is.
One last caveat: this book is a Silhouette Intimate Moments, but it sure didn’t read like one to me. While I’m not as much of a series maven as some at AAR, I’ve read enough to know that SIMs usually have at least minor suspense overtones and warm-level sensuality as well. The very title of the line implies some sort of intimate contact between the hero and heroine, and there is very little of that here. This down-home country doctor tale seemed more like a straight Silhouette Romance, or maybe even a Special Edition. I wish I could recommend it to someone, but unfortunately I found myself alternately bored and annoyed. All in all, it was quite a disappointment.