The Doctor's Wife
Dr. Caleb Chaney was such a nice guy that it was quite a pleasure to read how he transformed the frightened and wounded Ellie Parrish into the warmly loving woman she deserved to be. Caleb was not the sort of romance hero who is nice to everyone but the heroine, nor was he the sort to wallow in his own angst. He was, however, a hero made very real by the author, and one any reader would love to meet – if she were very, very lucky.
Ellie Parrish has her arm broken by a con man as she tries to exit her train in Newton, Kansas. She is taken for treatment to Dr. Caleb Chaney. After her arm is set, Ellie realizes she’s in a bind – she has to pay for room and board at the hotel where she waitresses, but with one arm useless for some time to come, how will she work and where will she live? And how will she make money to retrieve her younger brothers from their foster family, where they are mistreated?
As luck would have it, Caleb needs someone to care for his infant son while he’s at work. It’s not that he has all that many patients, but his schedule is erratic. Money isn’t an issue for Caleb – his family owns a successful ranch, but the town doesn’t think much of his doctoring skills – after all, he couldn’t save his wife, could he?
As Ellie takes care of his son, they get to know one another. He sees in her a good soul, albeit one with secrets. For her part, Ellie finds herself enjoying the time she spends with Caleb a little too much. When he proposes marriage in order to ensure his son will have a mother, Ellie says yes, providing Caleb agrees to help her get her brothers and have them all live together as a family. Also, he must agree to a marriage without physical intimacy. Surprisingly, Caleb accepts her terms.
Ellie’s life is not the one she deserved until this time. Her past is filled with incredible pain and suffering, and she fears that if her secrets were known, Caleb would be disgusted. He proves himself to her little by little – first by rescuing her brothers and allowing them time to know he wouldn’t mistreat them, and later, by not forcing himself upon her physically.
The Doctor’s Wife is also made enjoyable for its small moments. The moment when Caleb’s parents look at him with a sort of sorrowful happiness after he tells them he’s marrying Ellie. The moment when Ellie comes to Caleb and offers herself to him as payback for his kindness and he tells her that she is prostituting herself. For those who read the book, this statement in particular is touching in its irony.
Even when Ellie is endangered by someone from her past, the book does not falter. All too often a nice little story is ruined by a melodramatic and unrealistic episode. That does not occur here – what does happen is realistic and does not involve super-human efforts.
If you are looking for a romance with true to life characters who deserve the chance at happiness they will find together, I recommend reading The Doctor’s Wife. I’m sure Ellie and Caleb will be glad you came for a visit.
|Reviewer:||Laurie Likes Books|
|Review Date:||September 17, 1999|