The Sicilian Doctor’s Mistress: Gio

Another Harlequin! I feel a little weird reviewing a Harlequin not recently published because the company releases so many category romances per month. Kinda like fashion trends, I wonder if I’m going on about something that has already passed us by. But this is one of my of Harlequin’s categories so…yes.

Like Protecting Plain Jane, this book is short in length. Thus I will analyze a lot of the book but I won’t be discussing the ending.

The most basic premise of this book is something I like to call “Busy Busy Business Woman” as dubbed by Family Guy. (Ignore the second half of the clip, whoever put this up decided to add some “special effects.” I don’t know why.)

You know the plot. You’ve seen a dozen rom-com movies with this. (For the male equivalent please see Manic Pixie Dream Girl.) I’m not a huge fan of the trope, just because I see it A LOT. (The only example I really like is 27 Dresses.) But I think I like this version of it because it combines “Busy Busy Business Woman” with the redemptive love story. And one of the few I’ve encountered where it’s the women who is healed by love.

When Dr. Alice Anderson’s colleague David leaves their clinic in their English seaside village to spend a summer with his true love…she is not happy. Not only because her talented co-worker is leaving but because Dr. Alice doesn’t believe in love and thought her friend felt the same.

Alice is a pragmatic woman, filling her life with work. She has friends in her co-workers but displays little warmth towards them or her patients. Her childhood was rough and has left her disillusioned about relationships (more on this later.)

Enter our hero. Dr. Gio Moretti, a former surgeon, comes to replace David. He’s warm, rugged, handsome and romantic. The female patients and Alice’s co-workers are all a-twitter. Alice is oblivious.

“I’m sure he’ll look more respectable when he’s had a shower and a shave.” Alice frowned. “And possibly a haircut…I didn’t think it mattered.”

“You didn’t even notice, did  you?” Rita shook her head in disbelief. “Alice, you need to do something about your life. The man is sex on a stick. He’s a walking female fantasy.”

Alice sighed and wished she didn’t feel so completely out of step with the rest of her sex. Was she the only women in the world who didn’t spend her whole life thinking about men? Even Rita was susceptible, even though she’d reached an age where she should have grown out of such stupidity.

P.S. “The man is sex on a stick” is one of the best lines ever.

Through some meddling by Rita and Mary the receptionist, someone else rents the house Gio was supposed to stay in. Where can he stay? Alice’s of course! Alice isn’t happy but Gio promises he’ll be respectful. He’s not upset because he’s finding himself very attracted to the doctor.

Of course Alice is not having any of it and keeps rebuffing Gio. And this is where I’m a bit skeptical. Alice’s main argument is that she doesn’t believe in love and we learn it’s because various events in her childhood taught her that people do very selfish things and hurt people in the name of love.

Alice is written as both unemotional and bewildered when confronted by others’ emotion. Which seemed a little off to me because one would expect that her interacting directly with her patients would lend her some understanding about their emotions. Not empathy/sympathy since she closes herself off but I’d expect some insight. (As opposed to someone like Dr. Brennan from Bones who works primarily with science and has little interaction with other people.)

There is one episode where Alice and Gio go visit an elderly patient who has fallen several times but denies anything is wrong. Alice is confused as Gio invites himself in and instead of asking medical questions asks about the house and all the treasures within it. Shes also not sure why the patient, Edith, is so wary of them.

“…From her reaction today, you would have thought we were planning to take her away and lock her up.”

“I think that’s exactly what she thought.” Gio turned and walked down the path towards his car.

“What do you mean?” She caught up with him in a few strides. “You’re not making sense.”

Gio, who gets emotion, tries to help her understand.

Alice tried to grasp the relevance of what he was saying and failed. “But that’s emotional stuff. What’s that got to do with her illness?”

“Not everything about a patient can be explained by science alone, Alice.” He checked the rear-view mirror and pulled out. “She doesn’t want us to know she’s falling because she’s afraid if we’re going to insist she leaves her home. And she loves her home. Her home is everything to her. It contains all her memories. Take her from it and you erase part of her life. Probably the only part that matters.”

Desite the way Alice’s cluelessness irks me, I do like this scene because I like how Gio is. He’s all warmth and sympathy to the older woman and he does his best to teach her about love. And he’s sweet about it so the way the relationship unfolds is more endearing.

Over the novel Alice changes in her interactions with her patients and the way she relates to Gio (though she drags her feet much of the way). Gio is indeed sex on a stick and is fun to watch while he teaches Alice about enjoying life, food and people. All told it’s a sweet, fun read even if the heroine falls a little flat at times.

Breakdown

Appearance:Tall, handsome, dark-haired (“sex on a stick”)

Personality: Warm, kind, enjoys the pleasures of life

Best Quality: Is a very caring individual.

Worst Quality:Is somewhat pushy. Alice doesn’t like to be touched and Gio takes it upon himself to make her used to touching. Alice doesn’t want to get involved, he’s going to get involved with her. At least the outcome turned out alright.

Grade: A-. Hes a good hero but not as stirring as others.

 

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