Title: Calling Dr. Love
Author: G.A. Hauser
Publisher: The G.A. Hauser Collection
Buy link: Amazon.com
Genre: Contemporary M/M
Length: Novel (69K words)
Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5
A guest review by Leslie
Pride and ego make a very unlikely combination for finding true love. Unless you discover another who is your mirror image.
Twenty-five year old Phil Andrews left his family in Eastern Washington to escape the small town attitudes of his siblings and the locals to be free to be himself in the liberal area of West Hollywood. But without an education or work experience to fall back on, Phil uses his good looks and physique to make ends meet, working as a go-go boy at night, and a gay porn star on the weekends.
Intelligent, out of the closet, Dr. Christopher Love was thirty-three years old and a success in everything but his relationships. He knew his life was lacking something, a partner to share it with. Trying to find the kind of man he found attractive sexually and one who was also was willing to bend to his demands was an impossible task. Until he met Phil Andrews.
Two men, two opposite worlds. One educated at the finest schools, an asset to the community, a philanthropist and a surgeon, the other, a high-school drop-out, former drug addict with a criminal record, meet during a stormy night while the lights are blacked out. The physical attraction bonds them instantly, but soon their differences bring to the surface that deadly pride.
This book was available as a free download during the “Twelve Days of Christmas” promotion at All Romance eBooks. I almost didn’t download it because I thought the description was a little corny, but hey, free is free, so why not? When I started reading, I was about to quit after a few pages because of two egregious spelling errors right in the beginning (sheilds and fettish), but the initial encounter between Chris and Phil—in a dressing room at Nordstorm’s—reminded me of another famous Nordstrom’s dressing room kiss (DJ and Randy in The Dreyfus Affair). It was enough of a hook to pull me into the story and keep me reading and I am glad I did. This is the first thing I have read from author G.A. Hauser and all in all, I quite liked the story, much to my surprise.
Phil and Chris meet under an unlikely and sort of improbable circumstance, but it’s written in an amusing way and sets up the premise of this Cinderella story. They are trying on slacks in adjoining dressing rooms when the power goes out, leaving them in pitch darkness and stranded. As they try to find their missing pants and shoes, they begin talking and describing themselves, then touching as a way to “learn” their faces. There seems to be a spark and an attraction and things progress rapidly. When they finally get out of the store—and see each other in the light for the first time—the attraction is still present. They go to Chris’ house for a little more hanky-panky but when Phil sees Chris’ degrees on the wall (note to author: physicians receive MDs, not PhDs, and they usually don’t hang them in their bedrooms), he becomes thoroughly intimidated and bolts.
The story then progresses on parallel tracks, following the day-to-day life of each man. It’s an effective device to showcase the differences in their lives, but also the similarities—both are lonely (in spite of friends), looking for friendship and love, and both continue to feel the pull from their brief, but passionate encounter.
Eventually they do manage to reconnect but there is still a great deal of wariness (Phil) and confusion (Chris) between them. They work to find their mutual common ground and eventually do, leading to what I found to be a believable HEA. One nice bonus was the story didn’t end there, as so many do; there was an added scene of Phil meeting Chris’ parents, which gave a glimpse into what their lives together would likely hold. I appreciated the extra chapter because it helped round out the story and made it feel complete and finished.
I thought Phil and Chris were complex and believable characters, although the blurb above does them both a disservice. Phil wasn’t “a former drug addict with a criminal record”; rather, he smoked some dope in high school and had a few brushes with the law. In LA he was trying to do the right thing and make good choices, but he was saddled with credit card debt and a lack of education, which made opportunities difficult. Given statistics on the number of GLBTQ youth who are homeless and attempt suicide, I think there are a lot of “Phils” out there, and Phil in Calling Dr. Love is probably doing better than many. As for Chris, he came across as a pretty regular, hard-working doctor, not some paragon of the community who walked on water. He had friends and a caring family, but he longed to meet someone and settle down, something he had not been able to as yet achieve. When the man of his dreams appeared in the package of a go-go dancer who made porn movies on the side, was he necessarily going to reject him out-of-hand? Phil had to sort out his choices and Chris had to do some soul-searching and what they both went through, I found to be an interesting journey.
If I were rating this on story alone, I might go as high as 4.5 stars. I enjoyed it that much. But, unfortunately, the mechanical errors—spelling, misused words (council instead of counsel, as one example), mixing up character names (in one scene, Phil was cradling Phil in his arms…sigh)—were numerous enough that I just couldn’t ignore them. It’s a shame, too, because most of these errors were obvious and easily fixable. A careful edit could have also tied up a few loose ends and edited out a few repetitious scenes, which would have made the book be more polished and tighter overall. But, the presence of these mistakes made me feel like the push to publication was rushed and careless and that, frankly, annoys me as a reader.
Overall, I can recommend this book on the basis of well-drawn characters, a good story, and a nice amount of (but not overdone) hot sex. But I must add the caveat that the presentation is less than stellar. Individual readers will need to decide if that is a deal-breaker and purchase (or not) accordingly.