A Forgotten Love
by Courtni Wright, contemporary (2000)
Arabesque, $5.99, ISBN 1-58314-123-5


I am really torn about A Forgotten Love. As a romance, it is a complete flop. But as a taut ER-style medical drama, ah, it catches me by the throat and drags me right in. While I'm surprised this book is marketed as a romance when in fact the emergency cases in the ER take precedence over the romance, I had a fabulous time. The only thing missing is Goran Visnjic playing Dr Luka - er, enough of my Dr Luka obsession.

To reiterate, this book is a complete flop as a romance. The hero only appears in person at around page 90.

But ooh, the fabulous adrenaline-drenched scenes in the ER! Dr Joni Forest is acting head of a major Baltimore ER after the head, her old flame Don Rivers, resigned the ER for Greece. She is definitely an expert manager as well as doctor, as evident from the non-stop ER cases in this story (I really fear for the people of Baltimore, really). Painful pregnancy? Check. Gangfight casualty? Check. Accident victims? Check. Drug overdose cases? Check. Alien abduction? Er, no.

Then, she discovers that Don is coming back to be head all over again. This she would not accept, not when she has worked her sexy butt off for the ER. Also, the hospital is in danger of being privatized fully, and she has to lay off some of her already severely understaffed crew to make the cut. Oh, what to do? (She'll think about it after she attends to that poor pregnant 9-year old incest victim.)

Okay, I admit I have a soft spot for doctor stories, because of my own nostalgic memories of my own intern experiences (alas, no, there never were any Dr Lukas in that crummy hospital I slaved at for three years, dang). Not that I was ever in the ER, but the experiences Joni undergoes hit close to the real thing. The author also acknowledges the difficulties of doctors maintaining relationships (I have a friend whose parents were surgeons, and he says at even at 54, he still hasn't outgrown his woe-is-me-a-latchkey-child blues).

Oh yes, maybe I should talk about Joni and Don a bit. Uhm... they argue. They kiss, they boink. They marry. What else is there? Thing is, there's no indication that this time their second-time-around won't be like the first, where they let work tear them apart. I must admit here my own personal experiences come into play as well as the lack of actual quiet moments between Joni and Don. Joni gets promoted at the end, and without any indication that she or Don are willing to actually go all out on compromise, I see this as a final nail in the coffin of my doubts.

Then again, I know a happily-married couple of doctors, he a general surgeon and she a general practitioner at different hospitals across the island. They usually only actually see each other when she is dashing in at five and he dashing out. They do say the key to their marriage is probably they not seeing each other so much, and I think they're only half joking.

Anyway, maybe Joni and Don can work. This is a romance, so yeah, they probably will. Thing is, Joni never actually comes to life unless she has a scalpel or a syringe in her hand. Don never comes to life at all - he is one-dimensionally arrogant, rather pushy, and little else. No chemistry, nadda.

Readers expecting a romance will probably foam at the mouth, but me, I'm pleasantly surprised by the taut, skilfully-written drama, ER-style. Too bad it's so hard to envision the smiling Dr Luka as the rather flat Dr Don Rivers. Never mind.

Rating: 78


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