I loved this book for three reasons: The characters are well-written and believable, the plot weaves together multiple threads to form an engaging narrative, and the ending is sweet. I wasn’t sure how much I’d like the book due to a somewhat slow start with seemingly predictable characters. However, it ended up being a wonderful read only a few chapters into the book.
Trauma Plan is one book in Candace Calvert’s Grace Medical Series. I want to read the other books in the series now; thus far I’ve only read Trauma Plan. If they’re all as richly charactered as Trauma Plan I’m in for a treat when I get around to reading them!
The plot revolves around a free clinic for the poor and needy in a wealthy area of San Antonio, Texas. The clinic is run by the less than gracious Dr. Jack Travis. He’s made enemies of the surrounding neighbors by letting unseemly types around their exclusive neighborhood. He also isn’t extremely friendly or understanding, although he is extremely passionate about the work he does at his clinic. The people Jack surrounds himself with, knowingly and unknowingly, all have stories that are woven into a strong narrative that tugs at the heartstrings.
His clinic manager, Bandy Biggs, is a Christian who wants nothing more than to see Dr. Jack become a man whose life isn’t marked by anger and living for himself.
Riley Hale is a former ER Nurse who comes from a very wealthy background. When she shows up at Alamo Grace Hospital where Jack occasionally picks up shifts, they butt heads immediately. Riley is now chaplain at Alamo Grace because of her family connections and an attack she suffered a year prior which rendered her dominant arm numb. Unable to do the work she loves, Riley struggles with finding a place for herself at Alamo Grace. Jack, interested in her connections and in her, offers her a volunteer shift at his clinic. Riley sees a chance to practice her nursing skills and goes for it, all the while planning to leave the clinic when she can become a Triage Nurse full time.
There are several more characters who round out the story, including a mysterious neighbor who is too afraid to leave her home, partially because of Jack.
The plot builds and gains traction as we, the readers, are left to guess at the fates of Jack, Riley, and Jack’s clinic.
Ms. Calvert writes from experience, which makes this book engaging. She is a former ER Nurse who uses just enough medical language to build interest in the plot. I never felt confused by the medical terms used or felt they detracted from the story.
The ending of this book is sweet for many reasons, one of which is what happens to soften Jack. It’s a real surprise – not at all the kind of thing you’d expect from a romance novel. Watching the characters in this book overcome fear and spiritual paralysis was a joy. It is absolutely worth a read, and may even make you cry, just a little. I certainly did.
For the record, Bandy Biggs was my favorite character. Read the book and you will surely know why.
Rated NC-17: There are drugs, physical interactions between characters, and some difficult circumstances in the book. A main character has flashbacks to an attack which broke her neck, for instance. Another character is a battered, pregnant teenager who is left for dead at the clinic. The scenes surrounding her are somewhat graphic.
Reviewer’s personal copy