Let me begin by saying that writing a novel is a terrific achievement. I know, having written one ~ and only one. My hat is off to anyone who can complete a novel.
That said, here is my honest opinion of The Good Dr. Grant by Karen Einsel, a romance which I finished reading this morning.
Characters: Despite its title, The Good Dr. Grant revolves around Amy Price, an attractive dog-trainer in her mid-twenties. Dr. Grant Grayson, the new veterinarian, is one of three handsome, eligible young men interested in Amy. The others include childhood-friend, crush and dairy farmer Tom; and ex-husband Kent, a painter-artist.
In addition, there are family members and friends. Karen does a nice job of showing how her characters belong to a social and familial fabric.
Karen describes her main characters well, though some of the supporting players, like Aunt Helen and Grant’s mom and dad could’ve used some description. Here’s Amy, being checked out by Grant.
She has long black hair that she has pulled back and tied with a ribbon. Her emerald green eyes are fringed with long dark lashes, and she’s wearing a tank top and shorts, which really shows off her thin waist, natural curving hips and long legs.
All the main characters are well-portrayed, but Amy is definitely the star. Karen uses action and dialogue to paint a portrait of a smart, sexy, caring young woman; one who knows what she wants and won’t settle for less. I think this brief passage, where Amy wonders about Grant after their first meeting, tells a lot about her:
She wants to get the good doctor’s ire up. He’s so subdued and doesn’t show any passion whether he’s happy, angry or sad, and this intrigues her. Who is he really? Does he have any deep dark secrets hidden? And what she really wants to know is, is there a passion in him that she can unleash? Besides he is cute.
Plot: Grant, Kent and Tom are to varying degrees interested in Amy. Amy is interested in each of them also to varying degrees. Other women, including Pam the red-head with big boobs are interested in the men, and the men in turn are interested in Pam and other women. The story takes us through the interplay of these personalities and relationships, but their efforts to get everything sorted out is complicated by the fact that they all have trouble getting out of each other’s way.
Setting: The story is set in a town, probably ficitonal, called Stanten. For some reason, it felt like it was in New York State. The location is not central to the story, other than it’s a small town location. Amy seems to have a reputation, entirely undeserved, as a “loose woman,” which contributes to the small-town feeling. For the most part, the story takes place at Grant’s practice, various households, a bar and the park where Amy does her dog training. Could be almost anywhere.
What I thought could’ve been done better: The Good Dr. Grant could be improved by an editorial/proofreading going-over for mechanics. There are simple errors such as: “If I want to bring Peanut for the advance classes, do I need to sign up now so you’ll have room for him?” Should be “advanced classes.” I know Karen knows the right usage, because she has it correctly in the next sentence. So it’s just a matter of proofing.
There’s some missing punctuation. “I love you” And she walks out.
Awkward grammar: “Amy do you think it would have been different if you hadn’t have gone away to college?” Better: “Amy do you think it would have been different if you hadn’t gone away to college?”
There are also misplaced modifiers, which are actually kind of funny, except when they show up in my own writing. Karen offers this beauty: Wagging his tail, Amy hands him a treat through the wires. This sentence tells us that Amy is wagging the dog’s tail for him as she gives him the treat.
The best way to avoid this error is to keep sentences simple: “Peanut wags his tail. Amy gives him the treat.” If that seems too simple, then join the two for a basic compound sentence ~ “Peanut wags his tail as Amy gives him the treat.”
Again, I think the best solution to this and the other simple errors is an extra application of editorial review.
On the content side, I found only two things that gave me a little trouble. First, Amy visits Grant’s practice several times with the idea of finding out more about him. She has other good reasons for being there, though Grant is not aware of those reasons. Being a convivial, outgoing young woman, Amy flirts and jokes with the customers. Grant, evidently having heard about Amy’s reputation as a “loose” woman, jumps to the conclusion that Amy is a prostitute, trying to pick up her own clients in his office. The misunderstanding is quickly cleared up, but of all the conclusions to jump to — well, for one thing, isn’t a veterinarian’s office kind of an odd place to pick up tricks?
Could be that it was all in jest, and the young people were just having each other on — wouldn’t be the first time I misinterpreted something.
It also turns out that Amy is Grant’s boss, since she inherited the vet practice from her father. Yet she doesn’t come in to meet the new vet for five months, and Grant seems to have no clue who his employer is — despite the fact that Amy’s Aunt Helen is the office manager.
And when they do finally meet, Grant jumps to the conclusion that Amy is a prostitute. It’s giving me a good chuckle as I think about it now, though. Improbable as those two items are, perhaps a nice laugh was the intent.
What I thought was good: First, Amy is a wonderful character. Karen does a great job with her in every respect. She’s described well physically, and through her actions and dialogue. I knew I liked her from the book’s first sentences:
Standing there watching a couple of guys tossing around a football, Amy hears, “Ella no!” Just as Amy turns around “Ella” an overly excited Saint Bernard jumps up on her. Catching Amy off balance, Ella knocks her flat on her butt. Amy starts laughing.
“Ugh! Well hello Ella, I’m happy to see you too.”
In just these few lines, Karen shows that Amy is physical, outdoorsy, likes dogs and has a healthy sense of humor — which she’ll need.
I also liked Karen’s telling of the tale in present tense — gives it immediacy and works well in the story’s highly emotional landscape.
In the final chapters of The Good Dr. Grant, Karen does a great job of capturing the Christmas/New Year holiday spirit. She nails the bustle, the family get-togethers and visiting, and the warmth of the season.
In the end, this is a romance. It’s the romance that carries the day — the tears, the flirtation, the longing, and even the sex. Sex is not a major part of the book, but Karen doesn’t shy away from writing it where it belongs.
Much of the dialogue is sexy and fun, like this silly but intimate bedtime phone conversation between Grant and Amy:
“Alright, well I better let you go so you can get some sleep.”
“It’s kind of hard to get some sleep when there’s no one here trying to see if I’m naked.”
Amy chuckles. “Okay are you naked under there?”
“I don’t know, let me check…Yep, wanna see?”
Amy laughs out loud and quickly covers her mouth, not wanting aunt Helen to hear.
“What are you going to do, send me a picture?”
“Yep, you ready?”
“No! Don’t you dare!”
“Okay I won’t, but if you leave your window open I can come show you…”
“No that’s okay. You need to stay right where you are. If you come over here naked you‘ll freeze your balls off.”
“And you won‘t warm them up for me?”
That passage, and many more in the book made me smile. Its very silliness and simplicity gives it a wonderful ring of youth, truth and humanity.
Overall: So who writes a perfect book? Despite needing a few passes of the editorial comb, Karen has penned a light, funny, sexy, romantic read. Her story reaffirms the importance of family, friends and lovers. Karen reminds us that with all their heartbreak, happiness and humor, these relationships are always well worth it — and so is The Good Dr. Grant.
Good job Karen!