I heard about this book on a DBSA podcast, and the idea of a doctor falling in love with a girl in a coma, while she can hear him, just pinged my romantic senses. Girlfriend in a coma, y’all!
Viola is the girl in question. Her car crashed into an icy river, and while she was in the ER, she had a reaction of some kind that sent her into a coma. Sam is an intern (“doctor in training,” as some people refer to him) assigned to her case. He was in the ER when she was brought in; he saw her fail to recover; and now he visits her during his off-hours and talks to her.
The novel is told in alternating points of view. From Viola’s perspective, we get dreams, nightmares, and pseudo-flashbacks, along with her recognizing the chlorine and cotton smell of Sam, and hearing his voice.
As it turns out, Viola is a rich wine heiress who’s traveled the world, and Sam is a smart middle-class guy who works all the time. He realizes that Viola is a fantasy in more ways than one, because their backgrounds and lifestyles would keep them apart, but hey, a guy can dream.
This is the first contemporary romance I’ve read that features a realistic doctor hero, because the working hours of doctors are not conducive to romance. I should know, I dated a medical student. He would call me once during the week, and we would go out on the weekends, but not too late, because he had to be up early to volunteer at a clinic. Luckily we met during the summer when he was still an undergrad, otherwise neither of us might have bothered (aww, romantic!). As it is, I married him right before his internship and now he’s a real doctor with a real job and he’s gone for 12 hours a day unless he’s working a 24-hour shift. I know this isn’t all about me, so I’ll just say that, unless you’re working with or living with the doctor in question, you’re not going to see him much, so he does make a challenging romance novel hero. And that’s why TV doctors only have sex with their co-workers. Moving on!
I hope I’m not spoiling things when I say that Viola does eventually wake up. An entire novel of coma girl would be creepy, I think. I read this hoping for a sweet, Sleeping Beauty-type romance, but Viola is not exactly sweet. She’s tough and sarcastic, and waking up from a coma is kind of the least of her problems. Her relationship with Sam didn’t progress the way I expected, mainly because there were unexpected plot twists. In fact, the post-coma part of the book was more of a psychological mystery than a romance. The chapter headings are all quotes from Freud, to give it context. Plus, there were times while I was reading that I thought we were heading for a cliffhanger (we weren’t).
I have to rate the romance separately from the plot. I’m used to seeing deepening emotions and a build-up of trust in a developing relationship, but I felt like that connection happened off-page. During the coma, Sam and Viola had feelings for each other, but afterwards they kind of danced around it and second-guessed themselves. They did learn how to tease each other, and they had off-page sex (heat factor: 1 for kissing), but they didn’t have any “how would this even work as a relationship?” talks, so I didn’t know if they were on the same page until the end.
I enjoyed the characters and loved the set-up, but the romantic elements didn’t bowl me over. Still, it was fun and written well. The sequel features Sam’s doctor friend Brady and a female doctor with Asberger’s, and I’m totally going to read it because I trust this author to pull off a hospital romance and I’m curious too see Brady get smacked around (metaphorically, of course). Plus, I might get a little insight into Sam and Viola’s HEA.
So I give this book a B+ as a romance, A- as a fun book with romantic elements.
Click to purchase: Amazon
Wake for Me
by Isobel Irons
Release Date: December 15, 2013