A Family Practice
by Gayle Kasper
(Silh. Spec. Ed. # 1848, $4.99, PG) ISBN 0373-24848-2
I find it hard to believe that I am giving an acceptable rating to a book that I am able to identify so many flaws in, yet the romance was so engaging, I can’t resist. A Family Practice is full of life when the two main characters and the little girl Callie are in the scene. Beyond that, there is predictability galore alongside tons of introspection, neither of which signals a solid read. You too may be surprised.

This is the story of a mixed-blood American Indian woman, a trauma physician from Chicago and the woman’s disabled daughter. Mariah Cade has struggled through life, but never more so than when her husband left her because he could not face life with their daughter, who suffers from juvenile arthritis. Her disability is delicate and she must have special braces as well as limited but structured activities to keep the disease from being debilitating. He chose the easy path of walking away. Mariah has since used her knowledge of herbs and holistic healing to help Callie.

Dr. Luke Phillips is the head of trauma of a major Chicago hospital. He loses his ability to heal the night his eight-year-old son is brought in on a stretcher, the critical victim of a car accident. When his son dies, Luke undergoes major doubts and guilt, ultimately leading him to run off on his motorcycle to nowhere. He ends up in the middle of the Arizona desert on a winding road, where he hits an armadillo crossing the road. Luke ends up scraped from head to toe and the motorcycle wears the worst of the injuries from the armadillo. Mariah, out collecting her herbs, rescues him.

Luke and Mariah both have scars, but are soon in fatal attraction status – knowing the inevitable sexual encounter will occur, but fighting it all the way. Luke, of course, believes he has no soul left and can’t really offer anything to Mariah. Mariah has had her share of men who can’t/won’t commit and doesn’t want another man to leave her high and dry. Luke ends up staying in her guesthouse to heal and to find the parts to fix the motorcycle. Callie is a delightful young girl who has dealt with the worst her disease has to offer and she has carried on like a trooper. Between the three of them, they have a great romance that turns to love.

What does not occur is any action. Sure, riding over rough terrain to get to a small town to order a part can be considered adventure…but it isn’t very riveting. Sure, knowing Luke is fixing up Mariah’s house for her to fill his time is nice, but hardly the action that will keep a reader coming back for more. What does occur is page after page of introspection and repetition as to why this relationship can never work. First we hear from Mariah, then from Luke, then Mariah, then Luke…okay, you get the picture.

Thank goodness the author has thrown in some romantic, tender scenes. Thank goodness Luke is a flat-out hunk who is also gentle and kind and the kind of guy that melts a woman’s heart. Thank goodness Mariah is gentle, sweet and someone who has learned to rely on her own judgments and actions for fulfillment. Thank goodness Callie is a normal little girl – not just a martyred disabled child. These three clearly are meant to belong together and the scenes when they are building relationships and trust are well worth the read. Sadly, you have to plow through the rest to see the beauty.

A Family Practice is getting an acceptable rating from me. But within those three hearts is a hint that this will not enthrall everyone, and only readers willing to bypass the negatives will find the treasure within the total.

--Shirley Lyons

@ Please tell us what you think! back Back Home