Book Review

Dr. Perfect by Louise Bay

Dr. Perfect is a low stakes, low angst contemporary romance that’s as much about loving what you do as it is about finding the love of your life.

Ellie Frost set aside her passion for cooking to work as a manager for her motorbike racer ex. When he breaks up with her, she’s left with a huge gap in her CV, no severance and few options (he, of course, kept her off the books). Ellie is determined to restart her life and scrape together the money she needs to study at the Cordon Bleu. Finding a job isn’t easy given her official lack of work experience, but when she’s hired to be Dr. Zachary Cove’s assistant, she’s committed to making herself a success so she can save her tuition as quickly as possible.

There’s just one problem: Zach seems largely disinterested in his fledgling private practice. He doesn’t have a website or business cards or even a single patient. The more Ellie presses him on how they can move the business forward, the more he hides in his office.

What the highly-motivated Ellie doesn’t know is that Zach actually doesn’t want to practice medicine. He comes from a family of doctors and has always done what’s expected of him. What Zach really wants to do is write. The two days a week he’s not at the hospital he uses as office time to write a cozy mystery.

Zach, of course, doesn’t tell Ellie this so there’s a lot of tension along the lines of Ellie trying to get the practice off the ground on her own and Zach resisting her every effort. As I described it to the SBTB team, “He secretly really wants his practice to stay dead so he can write cozy mysteries in his office and she’s determined to make him a gastroenterologist to the stars.

“So he’s like “why do I have a website?” and she’s like “why can’t you appreciate me?”

When Zach gets the opportunity to have his manuscript shopped out he decides to go to his family’s remote Scottish cottage to write–and of course forgets his manuscript with the agent’s notes on it. Ellie, going above and beyond, decides to hand deliver it to him (he forbids her from opening it) to ensure he gets it on time. Once at the cottage, though, a bad storm snows the couple in, forcing them to actually talk to each other and address their mutual attraction.

There isn’t a lot standing between Zach and Ellie getting together once he’s honest with her about what he’s been doing locked in his office all this time. When he learns of Ellie’s culinary ambitions, he’s supportive. The biggest obstacles in this book are what Zach and Ellie overcome in order to find happiness in their professions.

Zach is worried about disappointing his family by giving up medicine, since his parents and four siblings all work in the medical field. He’s also unsure of he’s giving up a lucrative career as a doctor for a far less reliable one as a writer.

Ellie is still smarting from her breakup. She’s the type of person who gives her all to the person she’s working for–she’s absolutely a fixer–but that leaves little time and energy for her own pursuits. She has to break that cycle and put herself first if she’s going to achieve her goals.

The obstacles these two face are, honestly, largely logistical as they’re both embarking on new careers. As a result there wasn’t a lot of tension or drama in this book, which, depending on what my brain wants at the time, is perfectly fine for me. The situation Zach and Ellie have to navigate is entirely realistic, and does require some growth on each of their parts, so I had no issue with the conflict being light.

This is also a delightfully tropey book. Zach and Ellie are snowed in when they first act on their physical attraction to each other. This book is marketed as “sunshine/ grumpy” although I think a more fair assessment would be “sunshine/ oblivious.” Zach never struck me as grumpy, just so focused on his own issues he appeared indifferent to Ellie. A word of warning, though; there are so many descriptions of Ellie’s cooking and baking that this book will absolutely make you hungry.

If you’re looking for a contemporary that’s conflict-light, has food p0rn, and is a little tropey, then Dr. Perfect should work nicely for you.

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Dr. Perfect by Louise Bay

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  1. Ms. M says:

    Maybe it’s because I know some doctors and how much it takes to get into that profession but I’m not sure this premise sits right with me. I believe in following dreams but throwing away that much time, money, and skill? Reading this would stress me out!

  2. Annie says:

    I keep thinking about how hard it is to find a doctor who’s accepting new patients within the next 12 months and now it turns out they may be hiding in their office aspiring to be the next Joanne Fluke!

  3. chacha1 says:

    1. Forgets his manuscript?! Who gets notes in hard copy these days?! 2. All the bad financial decisions would totally stress me out. 3. This is another case where I read a description or review and think ‘these MCs need therapy, not a relationship.’

  4. Empress of Blandings says:

    @Ms.M, I can see that someone would follow their dream to be an author, and might not be happy in a high pressure career like medicine, but I agree that it seems daft to walk away from a steady income, and being creative for money can be quite crushing in its way (and a fairly recent UK survey of author earnings gave some pretty gloomy results). I mean, he could just… doctor part time and write part time?

    The book does sound like a nice read, though – I might read a sample and see if the writing style & characters are enough to get me over the speedbumps of plot improbabilities.

  5. Kris Bock says:

    In real life, or at least real life anecdotes, men seem more likely to leave high-powered careers to write later in life, like in their 50s – or they do both jobs. But certainly some women have gotten law degrees and decided to become authors instead, including Courtney Milan and Lauren Willig, I think. I also know people who have gotten PhDs in physics and then switched careers. Sometimes by the time the intensive education is over, people can’t stand the field anymore.

  6. DonnaMarie says:

    Happy to see the A-, but skipping the review as it’s book three on my Kindle queue. I’ll be back to compare notes.

  7. Lisa F says:

    This sounds charming!

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