Erin Andreas has always tried to live up to the standard his father has set, but constantly fails, never able to please the man. Not only does he fail to run the hospital up to his father’s exacting demands, Erin is also hiding the fact that he will never willingly marry a woman. Erin has been infatuated with the same man for years—Dr. Owen Gagnon. Unfortunately, Owen has a reputation of being something of an ogre—irascible, rude, and a bit scary to everyone except Erin, with whom he argues incessantly.
When the hospital decides to do a bachelor auction to raise funds, Erin makes the decision to stand up to his father and reveal to Owen how he’s had a crush on him since they were both young by bidding on the man. What begins as a fake dating deal morphs into a true relationship, but both men have secrets—Owen struggles with his past and the trauma that turned him away from playing the violin he loves and Erin just wants to go home—back to a time when he didn’t live tucked away in a lonely attic room, alone and miserable.
The Doctor’s Date is the second book in Heidi Cullinan’s Copper Point Medical series and it picks up almost immediately where The Doctor’s Secret left off. With a familiar cast of characters, the story focuses on Owen Gagnon, the hospital’s anesthesiologist, and human resource director Erin Andreas. Those familiar with the first novel will remember Erin was instrumental in thwarting his father and reversing the hospital board’s rule on employees dating each other, allowing Simon and Jack to become engaged. When we begin The Doctor’s Date, the staff is getting ready for a bachelor auction aimed at helping raise funds for a much needed surgical unit and just about everyone is after Owen to allow himself to be put up on the auction block.
After reluctantly agreeing to participate, Owen is shocked when Erin outbids his friends. But Erin’s father is not happy about the public spectacle Erin has made of himself and lets his son know it. Owen recognizes the bullying and physical abuse Erin’s dad uses in order to manipulate his son, and hastily decides to step in and rescue the man. But announcing they are boyfriends is the last thing Erin expects Owen to do and suddenly what has always been just a dream becomes a reality when Erin is finally brave enough to tell Owen he has liked him for years.
Both men bear the scars of a past that has not been kind to them. Erin, who is incredibly shy, naïve, and most probably asexual, is sure that he can never really be enough for the fierce and brash Owen. But Owen feels such calm and happiness in Erin’s presence and his desire to care for the man and chase away his demons comes roaring to the fore whenever the two of them are together. Their relationship is gentle and slow moving, yet really incredibly romantic and heartwarming.
With a slow burning romance added to the ongoing financial battles at the hospital that include an embezzling scheme that has been going on for decades, this novel actually flies along, keeping the audience on their toes. The relationship between Erin and Owen is really incredibly sweet and they are a near perfect fit for each other. The only element that didn’t seem to gel for me was how the story played out with Erin’s father. He was such a cruel man and to have him suddenly change stride midstream didn’t really seem realistic. Other than that plot point, I really enjoyed this story—watching the two men navigate both Erin’s shyness and his low desire for physical sex was done very well and I liked how the author didn’t make a big deal of the fact that Erin was asexual—rather it was just taken in stride and Owen never pushed for more than Erin was able to handle or give.
The Doctor’s Date was a beautiful romance that hinged more on communication and understanding than sexual gratification. With both men invested in helping the other heal and to have the happiness each deserved, the novel focused on caring for each other and building a relationship and that made it a winner for me.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.