Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Ruby Lang - Acute Reactions

The man with allergies never gets the girl, at least according to the movies—and Portland restaurateur Ian Zamora wants to be the guy who gets the girl. So to rid himself of the sensitivities brought on by his sometimes-girlfriend’s cat, he makes an appointment with allergist Petra Lale. But he suddenly finds himself acutely attracted to the very woman who is supposed to be helping him take care of his problem.
Petra’s intrigued by Ian’s quiet strength and sexy body, but her solo practice is new and struggling. She can’t afford to compromise her ethics—or risk her medical license—by dating a patient. Falling in love certainly wasn’t this doctor’s order. She tries to stay away from Ian, but fate, and her weak willpower, keep bringing them back together.
Do two career-driven people with inexperienced hearts stand a chance of finding the right prescription for love?

Comment: This is the first book in the Practice Perfect series by author Ruby Lang. This is the first book by the author I try and I was captivated by the blurb which promised a story featuring an allergist doctor, probably a profession I had not yet seen in any protagonist of the several romances I read until now...

When this story begins, doctor Petra Lale is fretting over the state of her private practice. She opened her own place right after graduation and now she is having second thoughts because things aren't as smooth and easy as she imagined and it's not only a financial problem.
Then one day Ian, a new patient shows up for his appointment and she can't help but liking how he looks and although they don't start with the right foot, as the appointments continue, the more they seem to want to look at one another. When it seems Ian and Petra can't fight their attraction anymore, he stops going to her consults and some time after that they see each other again in the street.
From then on, it feels as if their connection was always inevitable and they start dating. But can Petra afford to date an former patient? Or are the ethical lines so easily ignored?

This was a cute book to read for the situations created and the almost shenanigans the characters face over their attempt to stay away from each other. I can understand why some readers would think of this as a rom-com. In fact, the base is all there to actually make this story work as a romantic comedy movie, with even some serious and deep issues to interfere in what could only be silly scenes.

However, the writing style felt a little...suffocating, as if the descriptions and advances in the plot were done in such a way, it started to feel very heavy. Were the situations as seriously treated as they deserve? Well yes, but they ere also analyzed a little too much and for me this means there was no actual balance between the fun and the serious tones the author used throughout the book.
Were Petra's doubts as serious too? I felt they were but from a certain point on I feel like the situation was overdone and perhaps a simple phone call to the medical association or any equivalent could have solved her questions...

The big issue in this novel is the fact Petra dates (and falls in love) with a former patient. The ethics of this are obvious a serious matter and I don't think any doctor should be inconsiderate of the possible negative results of being too close to their patients. But I also kept thinking, using this fictional story to start with, on doctors who see a patient for years, don't they develop an instinctive care anyway? Aren't doctors human too, to simply care or like the patient? Falling in love or sexually wanting the patient is another matter yes, but to be clear, in the novel, Ian and Petra are only patient and doctor for a few sessions and she is an allergist, so he doesn't even need to be unclothed in her presence. Besides, they only get intimate weeks after he is no longer her patient.
I can obviously see this isn't as easy to deal with as I'm describing but whereas in some novels the problems are solved very quickly, here it looked as if they kept thinking on them until the very end.

There are other issues with both protagonists and some were a little too much, considering what was already the complication of how they met. For instance, Petra also has some issues with her mother and her mother's new boyfriend at some point of the story.
The romance itself was rather sweet because at the same time they thought about why they shouldn't (mostly Petra) they also thought about how much they liked one another and to be honest those were the best parts of the story, the evidence of how much in sync they were.

I'm not certain about what to feel about this author's style. On one hand, the story is engaging and many situations are thought provoking but on the other, the idea of keep going through so much "should I/ should I not" can also look a bit too tiring. Are her novels all like this? I think the positive aspects still make for the not so great ones but still, I think the characters could have been a bit more balanced in how they dealt with their own quirks and inner thoughts.

There is a HEA in the end and I was, obviously, glad about it. However, in novels like these where so much of the plot is focused on struggles not always connected to the main characters' relationship, I keep wondering how realistic their HEA could really be, I can't help imagining perhaps there are more problems and they might not solve them so well.
Nevertheless, this was an interesting book to read. I'm debating on whether to read another one by the author.
Grade: 6/10

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