Some books keep you reading late into the night, long after you should have been asleep. This is one of them. Not only was I breathless with anticipation regarding the romance between Trevor and Kate but I was deeply immersed in the history of tuberculosis and its treatment.
Kate Livingston’s only chance to continue her excellent academic career is to receive a scholarship to college. She loses it by one equation to brilliant, wealthy Trevor McDonough. Kate goes on to marry well and have a fine job as government servant – but she never quite manages to forgive and forget that loss. Then the perfect little life she has built for herself begins to crumble around her. Her husband dies far too young. Her job moves on to shaky ground as the new adding machines begin putting women statisticians out of work all over the city. When she receives a letter from Dr. T. M. Kendall to apply for a position at the prestigious Washington Memorial Hospital she jumps at the opportunity. She may not know who Dr. Kendall is but the opportunity is a godsend if ever there was one.
Kate is mightily surprised when she arrives at the hospital only to learn that the renowned Dr. Kendall is none other than Trevor McDonough. For reasons he refuses to explain he had legally changed his name. The position he is offering her is very challenging and rewarding. It is also very dangerous. Trevor works with terminal tuberculosis patients. The disease has spread from their lungs into their blood and he is doing his best to extend their lives – and possibly even cure them of the disease. When Kate goes to the library to research tuberculosis she realizes just how much danger she will be in at the hospital. She also knows Trevor has taken every precaution to protect his employees and that his work is vital since TB is the leading cause of death in America at the time. She takes the job.
Trevor and Kate clash on her very first day. Kate insists on calling the patients by name rather than number. Where Trevor is all cold science, Kate brings warmth and vitality to the ward. Their sparring, rather than causing them to grow further apart, brings them closer together. But so much is going on around them. There are the missing two years to Trevor’s life that he refuses to share with Kate. He refuses to talk about his past, name change or why he was determined to win the scholarship from her when he could so easily have afforded to go to school. And then there is the fact that someone is determinedly maligning Trevor and his study in the press. Even as Kate finds herself falling for the handsome doctor she wonders if she can truly trust him – especially with her heart.
There’s nothing like a good book, is there? And this is a very good book. It’s so hard to tell you everything I loved about the story. Of course I loved Trevor and Kate. They are both fascinating characters drawn with depth and sensitivity. You can fully understand why Kate, who has lost one husband, is reluctant to fall for a man with so much risk surrounding him. Factored in is the issue of the scholarship, a subject which Trevor stubbornly refuses to discuss for many months. In fact, one of the big differences between the two is that Trevor is all secrets while Kate is very open and honest. As Trevor’s secrets are revealed one by one we realize why his life has been lived in the shadows and watching him share that information with Kate makes us really feel the budding of their romance. Kate is vulnerable from the fact that her life seems to constantly be on the edge – from the loan on the boarding house her parents run to the death of her husband and her own job struggles we see her battle with the issue of a life she just can’t get settled into a comfort zone. We get to see how they have to grow and change to accommodate each other in their lives not just because of their differences but because it is time for each of them to become who they are meant to be. I just loved how they made each other better, stronger people.
I also loved, just absolutely loved, the history in this book. From everything I learned about medicine to what I learned about politics and life in late 19th Century Washington D.C. each new tidbit was a joy. The author weaved her history effortlessly into her tale, never resorting to notes or lectures but bringing the period to life through her characters and their story.
The religion factor in this book is fairly light. I would place it at about a three or four on a scale of one to ten, with ten being deeply religious. The primary issue discussed is the importance of trusting God through hard times. Since Trevor and Kate have both faced some very hard times the theme went very well with the story being told.
A charming love story, excellent historical setting and intriguing storyline all combine to make this novel an exceptional inspirational romance. I strongly recommend it to fans of that genre.
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