Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Is There A Doctor In The House? "Strictly Professional" by Sandy Sullivan

Savannah Gibson needs a ‘stud,’ and time's running out. Her parents have already given her and her sisters an ultimatum. A grandchild or no trust fund. One thing keeps her awake: who does she ask?

Doctor Brandon Cooper is hot with his dark curly hair, solid chest and sexy blue eyes, but he’s also a colleague and a cowboy from Montana. He steer-wrestles on his days off and rides a Harley.

Thoughts of Brandon wrestling her to the bed and having a round of hot sex encompass her dreams and make her panties wet, but she doesn’t want a permanent fixture in her life, especially a cowboy.

Having grown up on a cattle ranch in Texas, she’s learned to hate cowboys. Cows are stupid, horses are ornery, and cowboys are arrogant, selfish, commitment phobic, mean, rotten… Can she possibly ask him to be the father of her child?

Back in my upper elementary school days and into my junior high days I was a fan of all things medical, starting out with the series, Sue Barton, R.N. Old fashioned, to be sure, but then I was set on a career in nursing (among others who were in competition for my interest) and I read everything I could get my hands on that was about doctors and nurses. Ultimately, I did have some years in nursing and found out that doctors have their own persona, their own ways of looking at the world, and I left nursing when I decided I was tired of being a "handmaiden to the gods with M.D. behind their names."

So I was just a little surprised at myself for even paying attention to a novel that involved two doctors. What caught my interest was the fact that this was a Sandy Sullivan novel and having read a number of her books recently, decided to take the plunge. Boy, am I ever glad that I did. And I discovered a novel that held my interest, kept me glued to the pages, and one that really turned out to be a reading delight. It didn't hurt that I understood lots that was going on with these two main characters medically, but that was not at the heart of the story.

Here we have a woman who has worked hard to establish herself as a doctor, only a year away from finishing her residency in emergency medicine, having supported herself entirely rather than tap into the extensive resources of her wealthy family. She is proud of her accomplishments and is devastated to learn that her parents, while they acknowledge her considerable achievements and her hard work, are far more interested in her as a producer of grandchildren who can assure their goals for the future, take a part in the family enterprises, and carry on the family presence in the world. No baby, no trust fund. Period. Her parents make the token statements that they want her happiness, but when push comes to shove, their desire for grandchildren takes first place in their interests and considerations.

Savannah is one of those strong, competent, independent women who is duly offended and saddened by her parents' demands, but she realizes that her trust fund is necessary if she will reach her goals once she is ready to strike out on her own as a fully licensed physician. How Savannah and Brandon came to be parents is the foundation of the story and while I will not give away those details, suffice it so say that the ins and outs of their relationship, the ups and downs of their pre, during, and post pregnancy encounters are, in large part, the bulk of the tale. However, at the heart of the story I think we have a woman who wants all that life can offer but she is tired of men who see her parents' affluence before they see her, including her very first love who is now a professional football player. Even when she encounters him again after ten years he is still more in love with her father's money than with her. She also carries the remembrance of cowboys who were willing to role in the hay with her because she was a means to an end, being the boss's daughter. All these factors mixed together, especially the fact that Brandon is a weekend rodeo champ and a Montana-born and bred cowboy, makes for a very rocky relationship.

I find these kinds of romances very fine reading as they are not simplistic, have some human substance and give the reader much to consider that are instructive. I find that fiction is a more than worthy tool for teaching life lessons, and everyone of us knows that we are wise if we learn from the experience of others, whether real or fictional. Somehow this story sounds so real, possibly because of my medical involvement in the past, but I don't think that is the whole reason. Sullivan has created characters who are struggling with life challenges, albeit in a very constricted set of boundaries as physicians, but still meeting some very human challenges. That Savannah's parents have put her in a bind is certainly unusual, but it still requires that she respond in a way that is responsible and consistent with who she is. It was that response and Brandon's as they were faced with some fairly difficult scenarios that give this story its dimension and verve.

I liked this novel a lot, and as it is the first in a new "Stud Service" series from Siren Publishing and Ms Sullivan is only one of a number of fine authors who will be contributing their efforts to this series, I am delighted that more such novels are on their way. I give this book a rating of 4 out of 5.

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