The Promise (Thunder Point series)
Harlequin MIRA / June 24, 2014 / $7.99 print & digital
Scott Grant has a bustling family practice in the small Oregon community of Thunder Point. The town and its people have embraced the widowed doctor and father of two, his children are thriving, and Scott knows it's time to move on from his loss. But as the town's only doctor, the dating pool is limited. That is, until a stunning physician's assistant applies for a job at his clinic.
Peyton Lacoumette considers herself entirely out of the dating scene. She's already been burned by a man with kids, and she's come to Thunder Point determined not to repeat past mistakes. When Scott offers her a job, at a much lower salary than she's used to, Peyton is surprisingly eager to accept…at least for now. She's willing to stay for a three-month trial period while she explores other options.
Scott and Peyton know the arrangement is temporary—it isn't enough time to build a real relationship, never mind anything with lasting commitment. But love can blossom faster than you think when the timing is right, and this short visit just might hold the promise of forever.
Robyn Carr is a very prolific writer, putting out numerous books a year, all of which I read. I do have to admit, however, that I have a definitely preference for some of her heroines and plots over others. Some just seem more significant, maybe because of her heroine's upbringing, such as Peyton’s:
That was something Peyton had devoted a great deal of time to thinking about lately. She’d grown up on a farm, and it was a very successful farm. But they’d never been spoiled. The kids each had tons of responsibility. . . And although her dad had hired hands on the farm, every last one of his children had had farm chores. “Work is good for the soul,” he’d said. “What are you gonna learn from sleeping late? You pick pears for a few weeks, you have time to think and you have a chance to learn.”
At the time, Peyton had not given her farmer father much credit for wisdom, but when she was in college she’d had classmates who’d gone out a lot or played cards in the student lounge all the time while she’d been at the library studying because she learned that you work first, then you play.
Or the fact that the way Peyton met Ted is very relevant, even if unwise:
That’s when she met The Man. Ted Ramsdale. He was so handsome he stopped her heart and took her breath away. Six-two, built like a god, dark hair, piercing blue eyes, straight white teeth. That was the first thing she’d noticed, but it was not what caused her to fall in love with him. He was a brilliant and powerful cardiologist, one of the best known and most admired in the state. He was charismatic; his success with patients had everything to do with his bedside manner. . .
Just as luck would have, it Ted came with three kids. . . Getting to know Ted professionally and then personally before she met his kids, there had been nothing to prepare Peyton for the fact that Ted had no parenting skills at all.
The problems the heroine faces are those that are commen when dating a man with kids. Who hasn’t heard horror stories of dealing with the ex-wife, or the kids’ resentment? And then there is the expectation that you will become a de facto mother, doing all the things a parent does for their kids but without the respect and love. But most of all it is dealing with “you’re not my parent.”
Peyton gave it everything she had and fully expected to be successful. She came from a large family, and over the years it had only gotten larger as her siblings married and had babies. If anyone knew kids, it was Peyton. But after three years she can’t do it anymore. But she didn’t realize that end of her relationship with Ted would mean that she was also out out of a job:
“Maybe we should just make a clean break,” Ted had said. “You’re through with me, that’s obvious. I don’t see how we can work closely together after this.”
“Who will do my job? Take my patients?” Peyton had asked.
He’d given her a shrug, hands in his pockets. “I’ll find someone. Maybe I should just give Lindsey a chance, see what she can do.”
“She’s an RN,” Peyton had said. “She’s twenty five. Inexperienced.”
“She’s ambitious. Resourceful.”
And suddenly Peyton had known. How had she never guessed?
So when Peyton finds herself out of work, she takes her time looking for a new position. She saved quite a bit while working for Ted, but she not the type who likes to be idle. Plus she is intrigued by Thunder Point and it residents. And she looking for a way to make a difference:
He thought for a second. “These people don’t have a lot of advantages. The cost of living here is low, but there’s one doctor, one lawyer, no dentists—it’s a working-class town, and a large percentage of the population holds second jobs. Our teenagers carry as many credits as the teens in upscale city schools, yet most of them also work part-time. And they do well in school. We get a fair number into college.” . . . “I find it’s kind of inspiring to be around a bunch of kids who don’t have it that easy.”
Peyton’s resolve not to repeat the same mistakes over again makes perfect sense. But she finds it impossible not to admire Scott:
She was caught on that smile, momentarily mesmerized. There was no veneer, no cover. He was completely accessible, maybe a little vulnerable. On that very first day she understood. He’s not about money or image; he all about being a good health care provider. That’s all it took—one day and that engaging smile and she knew, Scott was the real deal. A good man. Good to the bone. He was welcoming. Warm and giving and talented. And that was why the clinic was working. His patients clearly loved and trusted him. . .
Realizing this was almost a blow, given where she came from. Ted was the kind of man who could knock you off your feet, reel you in, get you to do anything he asked. Ted had articles written about him; he contributed to television medical news stories. Scott wanted to take care of his people. He was more embracing, anxious to give you something you needed. Ted was a Lamborghini; Scott was a Jeep. Ted was all flash, while Scott was unpretentious and solid.
Still she only needs one reminder that she has been there and got the t-shirt:
“Does this sort of thing happen a lot?” she asked, tilting her head toward the break room. “Kids in the office?”
“Only once in the past year. They’re very well behaved, but I don’t want them here as a habit. ."
Right then his cell phone rang, and Peyton had a sinking feeling. It matched the look on Scott’s face.
The Promise is such a relatable story—about a woman who recognizes that she got off track, and finds the determination to rectify the situation, only to find herself facing a similar scenario. How can she believe that this time will be different? But then how can she not?
Believable characters, realistic conflict, and joyful ending—isn’t this what romance books are all about?
Learn more or pre-order a copy of The Promise by Robyn Carr, available now:
Leigh Davis, blogger