THE SURGEON
Kate Bridges


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Harlequin Historical, December 2003
Reviewed by Barbara Fielding

Sarah O'Neill travels to Fort Calgary in response to an ad for a mail-order bride. After exchanging several letters with her prospective groom, she takes the eight day train trip to accept his offer. At twenty-eight years of age, and following her mother's lingering death from tuberculosis, she hopes to start fresh in a new place, and locate her long lost brother, Keenan. It's been several years since she heard from her brother. The last time she received a letter he was living somewhere in Calgary.

Dr. John Calloway is a commissioned police officer and Chief Surgeon for the North West Mounted Police. He's extremely overworked since his best friend and fellow surgeon, Wesley Quinn, was killed in the line of duty. After an exhausting day of surgeries and hours on his feet, he is informed by Corporal Travis Reid that there is a visitor waiting in his office. When the beautiful young lady announces she has come in answer to his ad for a mail-order bride, he believes there has been an incredible misunderstanding.

John questions his assistant, Corporal Reid, to find out what he knows about this matter. Reid informs him that his best friend Wesley Quinn started the whole business, and got all the men to pitch in for the train ticket. Now, Sarah and John are left to figure out how to sort through this embarrassing situation.

Kate Bridges has written a tale with a delightful twist using "the big misunderstanding" conflict. I loved the Canadian frontier setting and the unusual characters. Sarah O'Neill is full of fascinating surprises, including a hidden talent for watch design and gunsmithing, something she learned from her late father. Dr. Calloway struggles with his rigid black-and-white view of the world, which I found believable, since many law enforcement types seem to share this view. It was entertaining to read about these two characters as they found their way through the misunderstanding. There is a secondary suspense plot involving the gang of outlaws who killed Dr. Quinn, but it was plagued with too many coincidental connections. Still, Kate Bridges is a promising author to watch.

Kate Bridges says she based this story on a real life incident in which a group of Mounties ordered a mail-order bride for their commanding officer. In the true historical incident the bride returned home, but THE SURGEON has given readers another ending to this tale that is sure to please.

 

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