Organ donation provides a backdrop for Doris Johnson's thought-provoking romance, Precious Heart.
Diamond Drew was still mourning her mother's death when she received a letter postmarked Charleston, South Carolina. The letter was from the son of a woman who had received her mother's heart after her death. Diamond and her mother had disagreed over her wish to donate her organs.
The son's letter had sought to reassure Diamond, but it raised more questions in her mind. What type of person received her mother's heart? Was she worthy of the precious gift she had received? Diamond wanted to be sure that her mother's heart “had been given to a deserving person, someone sweet and unselfish.” She decided to leave New York for Charleston in search of answers.
In Charleston, a chance conversation at a local diner provided information that the Rumsfords were looking for a live-in companion for the family matriarch. Cecelia Rumsford was the recipient of her mother's heart. Diamond, a trained physical therapist, applied for the job. In neither her application to the agency screening for the position nor to the Rumsfords did she reveal her relationship to the donor of Cecelia's heart. Diamond was hired because she wasn’t boring and “because she has a brain and I don't have to mince my words.” She was also hired because, much to his mother's delight, Steven Rumsford was dead set against it.
Once she took up residence in the Rumsford household, Diamond quickly learned that her employer never minced words. That the overbearing Cecelia Rumsford was nothing like her gentle, loving mother. That the five-member Rumsford clan was the classic textbook example of a dysfunctional family. And, that she was extremely attracted to the mercurial Dr. Steven Rumsford.
However, as Steven and Diamond get to know each another, they learn that they have both been wounded in relationships. They are wary of their attraction and fight it. After a whirlwind attraction, the relationship between Diamond and Steven settles into a more realistic pace. The dialogue is crisp and the secondary characters augment both the main characters and the storyline.
Doris Johnson has written an interesting story about love, betrayal, pride, family secrets and second chances. It is a compelling tale that looks at the issue of organ donation from several perspectives. Beyond the medical, ethical and emotional issues, the most fascinating aspect of Johnson's story dealt with transference of aspects of the donor's personality to the recipient. The story is informative without being pedantic.
Precious Heart is, in my opinion, Doris Johnson's best work. I recommend it.