Janet Dean has written the historical fiction book of my heart. I love a hero who must fight past his inner wounds to win the girl. In fact, in Courting the Doctor’s Daughter, Dean writes of two people, wounded by life’s harshness and the failure of those they had depended upon, who come together over the fate of a young orphan boy.
Mary Graves, the heroine, raises three sons as a widow, one of which she took in after an orphan-train placement fell through. She assists her aging father’s medical practice, praying and plotting for an assistant to relieve some of her father’s burden.
Enter Luke Jacobs, a peddler of tonics—the bane of Mary’s existence. How dare he bilk her beloved townspeople out of their money for his snake oil? What she learns about him, through the layers of his self-defense, and about his medicine, will not only affect her, but set a chain of redemption in motion for all she cares about: her father, her sons, and the people she loves and serves.
I loved the way this romance covered topics ranging from disability, to alcoholism, lying, forgiveness, trust, and even anxiety. Dean accomplishes this in a realistic and deeply satisfying way through well-fleshed-out characters who journey through their conflicts to find faith in God, faith in themselves, and faith in one another. This story resonated with me, and I know it will stay with me for a long time to come.