Title: The Doctor’s Orders (Copper Point Medical #3)
Author: Heidi Cullinan
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: August 20, 2019
Page Count: 384
Reviewed by: ParisDude
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.90 stars out of 5
Sequel to The Doctor’s Date
Copper Point Medical: Book Three
Once upon a time Nicolas Beckert was the boy who stole kisses from Jared Kumpel beneath the bleachers, but now Jared’s a pediatrician and Nick is the hospital CEO who won’t glance his way. Everything changes, however, when they’re stranded alone in a hospital elevator. Ten years of cold shoulders melt away in five hours of close contact, and old passions rekindle into hot flames.
Once out of the elevator, Jared has no intention of letting Nick get away. It’s clear he’s desperate for someone to give him space to let go of the reins, and Jared is happy to oblige. But Jared wants Nick as a lover in a full, open relationship, which is a step further than Nick is willing to go. They’ve traded kisses under the bleachers for liaisons in the boardroom… and it looks like the same arguments that drove them apart in high school might do the same thing now.
Jared’s determined not to let that happen this time around. He won’t order Nick from his shell—he’ll listen to what his friend says he needs to feel safe. Maybe this time he can prescribe his lover a happy ever after.
When I received this third and (probably) last instalment of Heidi Cullinan’s excellent “Copper Point Medical” series, I thought I’d, you know, open it, then set it aside to let it breathe and settle, the way I’d handle a good bottle of Bordeaux wine. But call me a wino—this turned out to be impossible. I simply needed to know how things would turn out for the two “new” MCs the author more than hinted at in book #2, “The Doctor’s Date”. Therefore, I plunged head-first into the book and finished it in no time. Not because it’s so short, but because it’s so good.
This time, it’s the story of Jared Kumpel, the openly gay pediatrician of St Ann Hospital, and the hospital’s CEO, Nicolas “Nick” Beckert, still very much in the closet. Both are in their middle to late thirties, and both have been close friends in high school. Well, cross that out: they have been much more than just besties—we learn very quickly that they have been secret lovers. Their friendship ended when impetuous Jared asked Nick to come out and the latter refused. His reasons were solid ones, at least to him: his father having died under the circumstances the reader of books 1 and 2 is aware of, he always felt he had to live up to his family’s and his local community’s high expectations. Being gay had no place in that universe, so Nick has been fighting his true self ever since. But now, he’s working in the same hospital as Jared, and the latest developments have brought them closer together again. Both are wary of each other, for a simple reason: both are still very much in love with each other. Yet the obstacles for a fulfilling HEA for these two haven’t changed one bit. Add to that Jared’s nigh inhuman workload and the fact that Nick as the hospital’s CEO has more than plenty of challenges to face himself, and you understand the troubles they’re in.
Then, one evening, chance (or bad luck) would have it that the two of them take an elevator in the hospital. And… that elevator has a major blowout. For five long hours, they’re stuck together in that dark and dangerous cabin, fearing their lives might end then and there. Moreover, this follows a short discussion between the two where Jared has disclosed his still searing feelings for the handsome CEO. Unsurprisingly, what with fear and emotions flying high in that confinement, reassuring, tender, loving gestures and a couple of torrid kisses are exchanged. And Nick confesses he’s never got over Jared either. But still… his overbearing mom and grand-mom… his status as the city’s most outstanding black citizen… his role within his church and the local black community, where homosexuality is frowned on in the best of cases… his inbred reluctance to acknowledge that his feelings for Jared mean he’s gay… and then, there’s Matt Engleton, the handsome young owner of Engelton’s Clothes Department, who’s always making sheep’s eyes at Jared… and the hospital’s future being at stake, too…
Undeniably, the road to happiness is long, twisted, and hazardous for our two MCs. You will suffer during the read (I did), you will hurt, you will become impatient, you might even shed some tears (er, I confess I did). But not because the book’s badly written or absurdly constructed. No, Ms Cullinan has her art at her fingertips and delivers yet another convincing and skilfully written novel. We could bring up the plausibility issue, alright. Six people working in the same small-town hospital turn out gay and end up forming three beautiful and harmonious couples “till death do us part”. Not something you’d expect in real life (and not something, I gather, that you’d really come across). But frankly, what do we care about plausibility when the three plots are so good and the three books so rewarding to read? Moreover, each couple struggling to become a couple has its own plausibility. Nick and Jared are very believable, in addition to being just as endearing as the former four MCs have been. You ache for them to become a serious item.
Ms Cullinan must have a degree in psychology, otherwise it’s hard to explain how she can describe the MCs struggles so accurately. Or she’s simply empathetic enough to guess what could go on in someone else’s mind when facing the obstacles she throws in their paths. One minor quibble I might have with this book is that, throughout the first build-up chapters, I got the impression the author was a tad exhausted by her trilogy writathon. There were maybe some awkward word repetitions that could be smoothed out. But she probably dropped a couple of vitamin pills because that impression vanished the more I read on. Of course, this being the third of an announced trilogy (where, therefore, you only ever get three books), I couldn’t help feeling a wee bit left alone when I’d finished the book. Maybe, sometime in the future, Ms Cullinan could be sweet-talked into writing a follow-and-clear-up sequel where we could learn about how everybody’s faring later on? I would love that no end…