Everyone appreciates a good book recommendation, including me. So when I realized I’d read few of the books nominated for an inspirational RITA award (Romance Writers of America’s contest for excellence among published romance novels and novellas, with the winners being announced July 1 at the annual convention in New York City), I picked up a copy of nominee Doctor In Petticoats by Mary Connealy.
Set in 1870s Texas, the book follows Beth McClellan (whom Connealy fans will recognize as the daughter of Sophie from Petticoat Ranch), who wants nothing more than to serve as the doctor of her hometown, Mosqueros. Alex Buchanan can’t quit doctoring fast enough—but with medical emergencies landing at his feet and bossy Beth insisting he do his part to patch up folks, there’s no escaping the blood on his hands.
While this book contains all the ingredients that make Connealy’s books pure magic—it’s funny, poignant, inspirational, and adventurous, with a boo-worthy villain and characters you care about all in a western setting—this one is a little different, because it features a hero who’s utterly broken, an emotional wreck hiding from his memories as well as the law. Alex is still full of the masculine charm Connealy’s readers have come to expect from her heroes, but he’s clearly a man in need. As his story unfolds, he realizes he not only needs the Lord, but he comes to terms with who he is and what he’s done to land him on the wrong side of the law.
Best of all, Alex grows stronger and more fully develops his gifts when he works as a team with Beth. I can’t remember reading a novel where the hero and heroine are such complimentary (and necessary) partners. Neither can do without the other, professionally or emotionally. I enjoyed reading about their relationship and watching both grow, in character and faith.
An unresolved subplot involving Beth’s sister Mandy sets the stage for Sharpshooter in Petticoats, the last installment in the Sophie’s Daughters trilogy. Sister Sally’s story, Wrangler in Petticoats, is the second novel. All are available at your favorite Christian retailer or amazon.com.