When a Man Loves a Woman
This book snagged me right away. It features a heroine and hero who are both doctors. Their profession is an integral part of the storyline, as is their friendship. Theoretically I knew the hero didn’t look anything like that yummy Dr. Luka on ER, but hey, that’s who I pictured. Where can I sign up to meet this hero?
Dr. James Elliot, Head of the Pediatric Trauma Unit at Los Angeles Valley Hospital, and Dr. Deborah Brody, Chief of Pediatric Neurosurgery, have been friends for 20 years. They have weathered many crises and shared incredible joy on their journey as friends. There is one small bump in an otherwise beautiful relationship. Elliot has loved Brody for many years. Brody refuses to recognize his feelings, mainly because she loves her husband Max dearly. Max has died unexpectedly, shattering Brody’s life. Max was a good husband to Brody, and accepted Brody and Elliot’s friendship, even when others did not.
Brody is a brilliant doctor, absorbed in her career, and just beginning to realize she has taken both Max and Elliot for granted. Max spent many nights alone during their marriage because of the demands of her career. And Elliot has always been there to shoulder her burdens – Brody has not been as good a friend in return. The journey of realization is agonizing for Brody, and the author does a skillful job of bringing the reader into the emotions of the characters.
When Brody turns to Elliot for comfort in her overwhelming grief and it turns into something else for both of them, their friendship will never be the same. Elliot feels deep seated guilt, partially because he has gotten what he wanted, Brody. She wants to move on with the status quo, and just forget, injuring Elliot’s feelings even further. Watching them struggle to come to terms with their feelings for each other, especially Brody’s realization that she has feelings for Elliot, is heart wrenching.
Elliot is an incredible hero in many ways. He has put his needs in the background to maintain a friendship that was important to him, but once the obstacle to his love is gone, he is almost at a loss. He truly wants to love Brody, but cannot let her continue to use him. He wants and deserves more.
Up until this point, it was hard for me to put the book down. Then the Big Misunderstanding occurs. For 20 years, Elliot has put Brody’s needs above his own and done everything in his power to be an excellent friend. For people who have been friends for that long, the assumption that Brody then makes is absurd, even if she is selfish and clueless. Thankfully, the author handles the emotions surrounding the misunderstanding with skill, which kept the situation from ruining the book for me. The feelings of both these characters are poignant and painful, and the resolution brought a tear to my eye.
In a way, this book was like some visits to the doctor’s office, uncomfortable and frustrating at times, but ultimately, a positive experience. By the time you close the book, you’ll have a pretty clean bill of mental health.