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Dr. Devastating by Christine Rimmer
(Silh. Sp. Ed. #1215, $4.25, PG-13) ISBN 0-373-24215-8
Dr. Devastating is the final book in the Prescription: Marriage subseries. From House Calls to Husband and Prince Charming, M.D. were the first two, also reviewed here. I thought from the very beginning that these titles, particularly Prince Charming and Dr. Devastating were clever. We all know that it takes more than a clever title to make a good book. I'd guess it takes about 80,000 well-chosen words, words which encompass some interesting events and likable people, not stock situations and annoying characters.

Nurse practitioner Lee Murphy, one of the three nurses who signed the vow never to marry a doctor, has watched her two best friends fall in love and become engaged to –horrors – doctors, that subspecies of masculinity with too much ego and arrogance. Lee may want no part of doctors, but her fantasy life includes the newest hunk in Honeygrove, Dr. Derek Taylor. He even catches her daydreaming, staring through him while her fantasy plays out. Her goofy grin and vacant stare give her away. When he asks if he's the object of her daydreams, of course she lies and denies any interest. Foolish man, to ask a woman that kind of leading question.

Derek is interested in Lee, but can't figure out why. She's far from the gorgeous, perfect blondes he usually chooses. Every day is a bad hair day for her, she has no chest to speak of and irritates him with her seeming lack of time-management skills. When she rebuffs him socially, he takes his irritation out on her at the work place and is approaching harassment. When Lee calls him on it, he's mature enough to change his behavior. He's chagrined that he really has been wrong in his treatment.

Lee and Derek are aware of the pitfalls of working together and seeing each other socially, so they agree that friendship is a good beginning. Their relationship is growing, but we've always got the specter of Lee's self-doubt to deal with. Her dad, a physician, left before she was born. To this day, her mother feels inferior in every way, and this dead-end attitude has filtered down to Lee. Lee knows that she isn't the type to keep Derek's long-term interest. She's not a busty blonde. So what does she do? She blows it. Her insecurity is so extreme that it won't allow her to trust Derek. Their relationship is fizzing, fast.

My interest fizzled fast, too. I agreed with Lee. No, she can't keep a man like Derek happy. Who really wants a 'Poor Pitiful Me', a woman who's so self-deprecating that she's never had a meaningful relationship with a man and instead has a sizzling fantasy life? This behavior may be more suited to a teenager than a thirty-year-old woman.

Let me give you a sample of Lee's fantasizing. She and Derek are watching TV when she loses interest and fixates on his ear, rhapsodizing about it. Yes, it was a truly fine ear. An ear with good color–not too red and not too pale. An ear that was neither too large nor too small. An ear that heredity had determined would stay close to his head, as perfect in shape as some lovely shell.

Oh, puhlease.

When Lee isn't fantasizing, she's unwittingly manipulating the situation so that she will lose. When she changes her appearance to be like his 'other' women, the ones she sees as more to his liking, he reacts negatively, exactly what I think she's subconsciously planned on. Here's Derek's analysis of the situation.

Any fool could see that something's eating you, but you keep saying it's not.... And if I say it looks fine, then you know I'm lying. And if I go ahead and say I hate it, then you can call me a damn heartless creep.

The poor guy knows that he's going to lose Lee, no matter what he does. Her imagined inadequacies are all in her head, inaccessible by reason, logic or even love.

It's rare that I dislike both of the main characters. Rare, but not unimaginable. Derek, Dr. Devastating, is too pushy, too impatient and isn't really my idea of a romance hero. Lee the Loser is combative, insecure and emotionally challenged, believing the worst about herself for most of the story. Her reversal is totally unconvincing. Perhaps these two are well-suited. I just know that the story couldn't end soon enough to suit me.

--Linda Mowery

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