Marion Lennox’s Pregnant Midwife on His Doorstep should have, could have, and on some level, probably was a fine romance. It contains many love-worthy elements: forced-proximity, one-bed, puppies, a super-nice hero, and likeable heroine. And yet.
Here is, verbatim, Pregnant Midwife‘s blurb-summary:
Neurosurgeon Josh O’Connor’s isolated island hideaway is on lockdown, but nothing will stop him entering a raging cyclone to rescue mom-to-be midwife Hannah Byrne. Hannah hasn’t found happiness since leaving her beloved Irish village. Yet stepping into Josh’s warm house, she starts to feel she might finally have found a home—for her and her unborn baby. Might Josh’s rescuing Hannah from the storm change both their lives for the better?
It doesn’t do justice to Lennox’s fine writing, her ability to capture landscape and stormy weather, to draw the reader in with a knight-in-shining-armor, breath-holding rescue scene, one of Lennox’s favourite openings. Put the heroine in danger, match her with a knight-hero, have her be rescued and then, have her, in turn, emotionally rescue the hero. It’s a lovely theme and it should have appealed more than it did. Together, Josh and Hannah are lovely. They’re not given to sentimental dialogue, nor do they snap and banter their way to a reluctant liking and truce. They’re gently humourous, no-nonsense, and good at their work. They make a great team when they have to rescue another family stranded in the storm on the other side of the island. So, what made this a desultory read?
To start, let me give an idea of what Lennox can do, a snippet of the stormy rescue scene. Josh struggles to get Hannah out of her car after precariously hangs from the island bridge collapse:
A massive plank was wedged against the driver’s door. It was being shoved in by more timbers. The car was being pushed further in. He could see a face at the driver’s window. A woman’s face, framed by a mass of copper-red curls. A mask of terror. The woman was struggling. She was youngish. Soaked. Small but bulky. Terrified.
It’s spare, immediate, and draws the reader in. The same with the family rescue scene. The engagement ended there.
What I found was a slog was buying-into Josh and Hannah’s backstories, which served as their obstacles to love. Josh is guilt-ridden from an accident five years ago, when his younger sister was killed. It was his fault, but he remains haunted by it and has retreated to this island refuge, eschewing human connection. And yet, Josh is the warmest, friendliest, most helpful of men. And he spends most of the novel doing the opposite of what he thinks, and think he does, way too much. Hannah, on the other hand, craves human companionship, especially after her boyfriend left her when she became pregnant. And yet, she spends most of the novel declaring how she can handle things on her own. Except she never does: Josh to the rescue. On the other hand, given she’s eight-months pregnant, her protestations are unreasonable, more about bravado than realistic. From the start, it’s obvious Josh and Hannah belong together: they’re utterly and completely compatible. Their inner journeys to realising so, not terribly interesting. They doth protest too much. On the other hand, the final scene, a proposal, is magnificent, almost making up for the pages of ho-hum exposition. With Miss Austen, we deem Pregnant Midwife on His Doorstep “real comfort,” Emma.
Marion Lennox’s Pregnant Midwife on His Doorstep is published by Harlequin. It was released in July 2020 and may be found at your preferred vendor. I received an e-galley, from Harlequin, via Netgalley.