Doctors on the Frontline

Author: Olivia Gates

Publisher: Mills and Boon

Release Date: May 2004 UK/July 2004 US

Blue Ribbon Rating: 4.5

Format: PRINT

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The Global Aid Organization's head doctor on the Balkan warfront has been missing for two months.  Dr. Sherazad Dawson has been sent to beef up Dr. Banducci's volunteer medical staff in his absence.  Medical volunteers are always needed by the GAO, especially on the frontlines. 

Sherazad's service is both a penance and a refuge from her past.  A qualified and experienced emergency physician, she hasn't been near a patient in a year.  Guilt and pain has kept her on the sidelines, and she's both excited and nervous about practicing medicine again.

If she makes it to the front at all.  She's just woken up from what she thought was a nightmare to find that her dreams were all too real.  The prone man bleeding to death on top of her is the same man she shot in self-defense. The attack on her truck and her colleagues comes rushing back to Sherazad.  Their unmarked truck was on its way to the relief station at the front when they had been attacked.  The other members of her party were killed.  Then this man tried to get close to her, and she shot him.  Inexpertly, but still enough to kill him, if he bled out through the gaping shoulder wound.

Her conscience and humanity win over her survival instinct, and she wriggles from beneath the large man and binds up his shoulder, then prepares to perform surgery on the wound and remove the bullet. The man comes to, and during the ensuing conversation, Sherazad discovers that he is the missing GAO doctor, Lorenzo Banducci, renowned surgeon.  She shot her own boss.  And now she has to remove the bullet from his shoulder.

After the successful surgery, the pair travel by night to avoid a repeat attack on the truck, filled with medical supplies.  Lorenzo navigates by the stars and his knowledge of the area.  Sherazad realizes that she would never have made it alone.  They sleep together on the seat of the truck to conserve body heat, and a bond develops between them, born of shared experience, respect, and a healthy dose of sexual attraction.

After days of close proximity, they arrive at the field hospital.  Dr. Banducci steps back into his role with ease.  Dr. Dawson has more difficulty, starting with the sleeping arrangements.  The colonel in charge of the facility suggests she bunks with some of the women, and she practically grabs hold of Lorenzo, unable to imagine sleeping in this foreign world without the security of his presence. Sharing a tent proves an unmanageable temptation for the doctors.  The tension is heightened by working together in the emergency room.  In a matter of days, they succumb to their attraction and become lovers. 

Sherazad is not the only one who serves on the frontlines in an effort to banish the ghosts of the past.  Lorenzo sees no future for himself involving personal relationships, or a career outside the GAO.  Living moment to moment and serving others in this larger-than-life atmosphere is the only life he will ever have.  And Sherazad can't continue working in the traumatic environment of the warfront.  Six months is her limit, emotionally, as well as contractually.  Can their relationship last past the final day of Sherazad's contract?

This medical story has a spark of life that is unusual in the line.  A hot commanding hero (ice water required!!!) and the field work on the war front lend a dramatic feel far different from the usual emergency room tale.  While retaining the international/cosmopolitan air that Mills and Boon is known for, there is a unique sense of intimacy between the hero and heroine that goes far beyond sex.  This is real passion, surpassing the physical needs of the characters.  Emotional sex is a real turn on.

This novel resonates with truth.  The setting and the action felt so real, I felt certain that the author must have been to the Balkans and served in war time.  She is a skilled writer with incredible imagination and in-depth research.

Olivia Gates' debut novel, DOCTORS ON THE FRONTLINE, strikes the perfect balance between fast-paced adventure, medical casework, and intense romance.  A compelling read I couldn't put down.  Don't miss it!  And don't miss her next books, EMERGENCY MARRIAGE in September 2004 and AIRBORNE EMERGENCY January 2005.  These are additional GAO stories in continuity.  I've got my copies on reserve!

By Romance Junkies Reviewer: Grace

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