Dr. Wonderful by Charlotte Douglas
(Harl. American #999, $4.75, G) ISBN 0-373-75003-X
***
Old-fashioned values are taken almost to extremes in Dr. Wonderful, with rural North Carolinians made to look they are living in the 1950ís. I almost expected Opie and Barney to walk down the street any minute. Despite that, this is a nice little romance for those who like nice little romances.

Rebecca Warwick is a thirty-something single mom with a five year old daughter, Emily, from a previous relationship. She conceived Emily while she was in the big city of Chapel Hill at college. She returned home in disgrace, but has been raising her daughter without incident and is accepted by the community, as evidenced by the fact that she is the schoolteacher at the one room schoolhouse. (I told you I felt like I was back in the 1950ís.)

Becca is ready to greet Dr. Peyseur, an older doctor who comes out to Warrick Mountain every summer and provides three weeks of medical care. Becca has a dream of turning an old feed store into a medical clinic. Her grandmother died because they were so far from the only hospital. Dr. Peyseur wants to help her, and is even talking about retiring here from California.

But Dr. Peyseur doesnít show up at her door. Instead his young partner does. Dr. Matt Tyler is a nationally known plastic surgeon who also happens to have a reputation as a playboy. He was on the cover of People Magazine and dubbed Dr. Wonderful. Matt is really a serious young doctor who has just lost sight of his original goals. He too watched his mother die and decided he wanted to rise above his poor upbringing to be a doctor.

Peyseur broke his wrist and canít perform surgery, so he sent Matt in his place. However, that leaves Becca in a fix. She cannot host Matt in her home because of the scandal that would result Ė she being an unmarried woman and Matt being an unmarried man Ė under the same roof. She is not concerned for herself, but for the effect it could have on Emily.

So Matt ends up staying at the feed store (fixing it up and making it into the medical clinic that Becca has dreamed of) and is then ready to administer to the people. But the people refuse to come since Matt has such a torrid reputation. Never fear, Matt is Dr. Wonderful and eventually wins over the citizens of Warrick and Becca too.

The story moves along nicely and is actually fun to read. Matt and Becca are both nice people and seem likable. There are plenty of small town characters that add to the little village. And Emily is a precocious little five-year-old.

There is a picnic scene at the fourth of July in which Emily wants Matt to be her ďdaddyĒ for the father and daughter three-legged race. Matt agrees only after Becca makes him tell Emily he is only her pretend daddy and it is their secret. Becca does this to ensure that rumors about the two of them donít start. But what five-year-old would keep this secret? Not many I know of.

The tale is also predictable. How Matt gets on the good side of the town is easily guessed at. The attitudes of the people go beyond small town values. I truly felt I was in a time warp and just wanted to scream at Becca for being so vulnerable. Itís almost as if she took one step outside and decided it was too hard out there, so she came back to the mountains to hide. Matt, meanwhile, canít believe the attitudes. However, he soon realizes he is missing something in his life and decides it is just what this mountain community has that he is missing. The shift was too much for me to believe.

Dr. Wonderful is a nice romance between two nice people set in the rural mountains in the present time. For some, the time warp in the mountains will be too much. For others who like sentimental romances, this might suit your taste.

--Shirley Lyons


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