Rescue at Cradle Lake
by Marion Lennox
(Silh. Romance #1849, PG) ISBN 0373-19849-3
***
Many categories that try to heal people who have been devastated by loss resort to clichés and sentiment to make their point. They also try to handle more than can be covered in a short novel. This is an exception to the rule. Rescue at Cradle Lake wants to be a much more extensive novel and yet, handles the situations with ease and quite comprehensively with flair and style. Yet it is a sad tale.

Ginny Viental grew up in Cradle Lake and knew nothing but heartache there. Two of her siblings died of cystic fibrosis, her father took off and her mother drank herself to death. Her one remaining brother, Richard, is also dying of the disease and he has requested she come back to this small town to spend his last days with him. Despite being a doctor, Ginny isn’t sure she can handle it, but how can she say no? Yet she has gotten good at shutting her emotions off and just living.

Fergus Reynard is a surgeon who has just lost his lovable Down Syndrome daughter to congenital heart disease. She was too young to die, but in her short life she impacted many people. Fergus has to get away from the suffocating sympathy and shared grief. He picks a place no one has heard of and Cradle Lake becomes his place of refuge. Short of doctors, Fergus signs on for a few months to help the community and hide.

Now these two are thrown together. There are medical emergencies with both people and animals; there is Richard, who needs medication prescribed by someone other than his sister; there is Richard’s new-found daughter, who is only 4; and there is the community, who welcome them both with open arms.

This story starts off very slow, primarily because there is a lot of background to set and plenty of current stories to introduce. Many of the scenes make sense after all the facts are known, but seem out of place when happening. When Fergus and Ginny meet, a patient treats Ginny like white trash and she stoically accepts the treatment. When reading, it made Ginny seem like she was a person with such low self-esteem that she could not even stand up for herself, rather than a person showing a lot of restraint to get through an unpleasant experience.

Fergus is hard to figure out at first, too. Not understanding what made him tick hurt the perception of his character too. He seemed so cold in the beginning. Because of the start, it was hard to see the depth and reality of the characters come through until it was almost too late to care.

Yet, I did like this story on some level. The fact that the author takes a chance on these two battered and almost beaten people is a plus in her favor. The fact that the reader does come to care about them and hope they can find their HEA is an even bigger plus. And the fact that she allows these characters to work through their issues like adults is satisfying.

Rescue at Cradle Lake is not a traditional feel-good story, which cuts down on the enjoyment level. It ultimately provides happiness, but there is a lot of sorrow and angst to work through first. The combination of the sorrowful nature of the story and the excellent way it is handled by the author balances to make this an acceptable read.

--Shirley Lyons


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