A Distant Echo

Family Practice

Yesterday's Gold

Full Recovery by Bobby Hutchinson
(Harl. Super Rom. #925, $4.50, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-70925-0
Bobby Hutchinson packs three love stories into one solidly written tale in Full Recovery. A baby stolen from a hospital nursery and the search to find her alive brings the main couple together.

Spencer Mathews is a former detective with the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) who now works as a hospital security guard. Four years earlier, Spencer, his ex-wife, and their teen-age daughter, Devon, were involved in an auto accident in which his ex-wife was killed and Devon crippled. Even though the accident was not his fault, Spence carries a lot of guilt because he and his ex were fighting just before the accident occurred. He left his detective job and went from one dead end job to another so he could spend as much time as possible helping his daughter. His mother also moved in with them to help.

Dr. Joanne Duncan is a veteran emergency room physician. Spence first encounters her when he is called to stop a knife-wielding patient. She shows great calm working with the drug-crazed man. That same evening, Spence and Joanne help deliver an infant whose mother just barely makes it inside the emergency room door. In the turmoil of the evening, Joanne forgets to put the special wristband on the baby that alerts security if an infant is moved out of the correct areas of the hospital.

A few hours after her birth, the baby turns up missing. Joanne is devastated and feels responsible. She asks Spence to help her look for the baby since the police are not having any luck. He reluctantly agrees. The search requires them to spend a lot of time together. They seem to have little in common, but she is attracted to his wild side, something that her deceased husband didn't have. He is attracted to her strength and straightforward talk, but has convinced himself that he can't get involved with anyone because he has to take care of Devon.

Both Spence and Joanne are likable characters. I particularly liked that Joanne speaks up to Spence about her feelings for him rather than hang back and wait for him to say the "right" words.

While Spence and Joanne is the main love story, Devon and Lillian, Spence's mother, each have a love story as well. Devon falls for Eric, a paraplegic. Spence, in his overprotective father mode, is not happy at all about this. Lillian has a cautious relationship with Bud, the owner of the security company that employs Spence. Bud and Lillian have a history together that is slowly revealed as the story unfolds.

The three stories intertwine seamlessly. One poignant sequence occurs when Spence finds Devon and Eric in an intimate situation. He later tries telling Lillian his feelings about the discovery and she tells him she understands since she remembers finding him in a similar situation with a girlfriend years ago. The emotions of each person involved come through unmistakably.

The clues to the missing baby are subtle and move the action along nicely. I had figured out the culprit about half way through the book, but that didn't mar my enjoyment of the final solution. Even though the baby is an important part of the story, the book shouldn't offend people who don't like a lot of babies in love stories. The main focus is on the relationships, not the baby.

In Full Recovery, Bobby Hutchinson has given us a tale of warm, loving people who have to fight to get the relationships they need and deserve. The result is a reading pleasure.

--B. Kathy Leitle

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