It Had to be You

 
A Sure Thing by Courtni Wright
(Arabesque/BET, $4.99, PG-13) ISBN 1-58314-48-9
***
A Sure Thing is Courtni Wright's fourth novel for Arabesque/BET Books. She has also written a novella published in last year's Season's Greetings anthology.

A Sure Thing is the story of Dr. Katherine Winters who heads the emergency room of Boxer Hospital, a busy Washington, D.C. medical facility. Until recently, she also served as the hospital's acting chief of staff. The board of directors decided to bring in Dr. Thomas Baker, a more seasoned administrator, to head the hospital on a permanent basis. Dr. Winters is not pleased. Boxer is her hospital.

Dr. Baker hasn't had time to unpack before the hospital is thrown into crisis. Someone has tried to assassinate the president. Boxer is the closest hospital and the E.R. team springs into action. As chief of staff, Thomas is thrown into the media spotlight to answer press questions about the president's condition and care. Katherine can't help thinking the job should have been hers. Later, as they meet to discuss the transition in leadership, she puts her cards on the table. "I harbor no grudges or thought of ill will against you, Dr. Baker. However, I do feel a strong desire to provide that the board was mistaken in its decision."

There is an attraction between the two physicians, but Katherine outwardly ignores it. The good of the hospital must come first. Besides, thou shalt not covet thy lover's job. A major part of that job will be to undertake a major development campaign. This will put him in direct contact with the "Three Sisters of Charity," the hospital's largest female contributors. Each woman is quite wealthy, extremely attractive, very eligible and extraordinary in their approach to, er, fundraising. Thomas is up to the task. He returns to the hospital with large contributions for the hospital. At this point, Katherine comes to grips with her growing feelings for Thomas.

A Sure Thing is, perhaps, Courtni Wright's best novel to date. To her credit, the author did not create a sabotage story in the plot development in which the heroine was the most likely suspect. However, there are large holes within the plot and organization. For example, in the scenes involving the assassination attempt, there is no mention of the hospital's role in saving his life -- particularly during the institution's aggressive fundraising campaign. No administrator worth his salt would have allowed such an opportunity to go unexploited. The novel's time frames tend to blur until the end, when we are allowed to see the change in seasons and the logical progression of time.

In Dr. Katherine Winters, the author has created yet another heroine for whom career takes center stage. Love and romance place a distant second...eventually. It is evident that Katherine wants Thomas. It is also clear that she wants his job more. As a result, the sexual tension between the two characters is a bit stiff. Thomas is a better developed character.

In addition, the secondary female characters are all infinitely more interesting than Katherine. I found myself wanting to know more about them. Thomas' initial scenes with the "Sisters of Charity" were very well done.

Despite its flaws, A Sure Thing reflects a marked improvement in Wright's work. I look forward to her next book.

--Gwendolyn Osborne


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