Blog Tour and Book Review: The Heart of Doctor Steele by Colette Dixon
Are the rumors about him true? She intends to find out.
The mysterious Dr. Steele has taken up residence next door, and scandalous rumors about him are spreading through Margaret Landeau’s small Massachusetts town. Rumors of women he’s ill-used and exploited for his experimental surgeries. Never one to believe gossip, Margaret arms herself with a basket of baked goods and ventures to discover the truth from the man himself.
John Steele has lost everything. His parents, his aunt, too many women he intended to save, and his good name. All he has left is his aunt’s home in a far-flung village and a library he’s stocked with whiskey. He has nothing to offer anyone. Especially not the bold woman next door whose passion for healing reminds him of the man he once was.
But when a dangerously ill girl arrives on his doorstep, pleading for help, Margaret is thrust into his world. She will learn who the real Dr. John Steele truly is, and soon, not even his dark past can stop her from fighting for the brilliant doctor she now loves. But he must deny his crushing desire for her—loving a man like him can only cast a shadow over her own bright future.
This is a combination of two genres you don’t often see together; medical romance and historical romance. Frankly, the state of medicine in the mid-19th century doesn’t lend itself well to doctor heroes, considering most of them were very keen on bloodletting and had little clue about hygiene.
Doctor John Steele, however, is on the cutting edge (no pun intended) of medicine. He believes in the germ theory of infection, and has specialized in surgery on ‘women’s troubles’ which, in practice, means performing hysterectomies and oophorectomies (ovarian removal). This in an era when many doctors wouldn’t even touch a female patient, to protect their reputation, set him up as a target when something goes wrong - which of course, it does. After the death of a patient for which he is blamed, John retreats to lick his wounds, with a convenient bolthole of a house his aunt just left him after her passing. And this is where the heroine comes in… Margaret is his next door neighbour, daughter of a well-respected family.
Margaret is rather fascinated by their grumpy new neighbour. He’d obviously like to keep her at arms length - but he’s unwillingly impressed by her calm good sense, and soon enough he’s asking for her help, needing her to assist in a surgery when he cannot turn a desperate young woman away. (Trigger warnings: the surgeries do get a little gory). Margaret is very intelligent and keen to pursue the study of medicine herself - she even applies to Harvard - and I really liked that John was so supportive of her goals.
The romance is never in danger of being overwhelmed by the medical issues side of the story here; the attraction is there from the first moment for John and Margaret, but they don’t start to act on it until a level of trust has been established between them. There are a couple of nicely done love scenes (I thought from the cover this might be a sweet/inspirational romance, so don’t be taken in - this isn’t closed-door).
Overall, this is a really excellent story, inspired by real-life historical figures and events, with a solid romance at the heart of it. I have no hesitation in awarding it five stars.
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this title via Rachel’s Random Resources.
Author Bio – Colette Dixon writes steamy stories with heart and humor about slightly tortured people who learn how love can heal. For more years than she cares to admit, she worked in a hospital while dreaming up love story plots. A farm girl who landed in Chicago, she loves to eat (food made by others), drink tea, and sun herself at every chance she can get to survive the Midwest winter.
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