by Candace Calvert, contemporary (2014)
Tyndale, $14.99, ISBN 978-1-4143-6113-0
Life Support takes us to another Grace hospital, this time to Houston Grace. If you are not familiar with this series, it's an inspirational one, or Christian romance to be more precise, which means God is always hovering over the bed, so to speak. Candace Calvert is one of the less preachy authors in Christian romances, however, so this one is pretty light on the sermonizing. It is only late in the book that God makes an appearance to fix up all the nonsense in this story, and He's actually the most awesome character in this story because of that.
Oh, and I hate to say this, but this review would contain spoilers because I can't discuss what bugs me about this story without mentioning things that happen late in this story. Hit the back button if you want to read for yourself how God saves some silly people from themselves.
When it comes to the synopsis of this story, it's basically "Crap happens. A lot!" Basically, Lauren Barclay, a nurse at Houston Grace, and Elijah Landry, a physician assistant, used to have a thing until Lauren's parents decided that Eli was the bad influence that drove Lauren's younger sister into running wild and getting hooked on drugs. Lauren agrees with her parents, so when Eli suggested that Jess might want to seek help, Lauren is like, "Kiss my virtuous rear end!"
It's awkward enough that they work at the same place, but Eli also sends his disabled brother to a home that Lauren contributes her time to, so yes, awkward. In the meantime, lots of things happen. Other colleagues have home drama. Patients have medical drama. Creepy children run around acting cute in heinous ways like singing to dogs during life-threatening situations. And when things seem to calm down a bit, look out, here comes the hurricane.
The author ramps up so much drama in this story that the main characters have rarely any chance to talk. This is a problem when the issue between Lauren and Eli is caused by Lauren's refusal to talk and instead live in complete denial. It's definitely a problem when the story moves past the page 200 point and the characters are still the same as they were on page 10 and still carrying the same baggage. I get this impression that the author doesn't have much of a story to tell so she tries to hide this by putting in one drama after another.
Lauren is a very difficult heroine to root for because of she doesn't do anything other than to judge other people when she's in a good position, while deliberately ignoring the fact that her sister may very likely be a screw-up responsible for much of the drama in this story. She tries to cut Eli off for daring to suggest that Jess may need intervention, is offended when her superior says that she doesn't want to treat Jess with leniency just because Jess is Lauren's sister, and is angry at Eli when Eli points out late in the story that Jess's usual thoughtlessness might have killed his daughter. Everything is about Lauren. My favorite moment is when she whines that there have been so many tragedies in this story - including two dead people - and the biggest people affected are Eli and herself. People are dead, but Lauren is the one suffering the most.
And when Lauren discovers that, oops, Jess isn't completely as wonderful as Lauren insists on thinking, and she may have lost Eli because of her attitude, Lauren wails to God that she has believed in Him all this while (never mind that she has never been caught praying in the story up to that point) so WHAT MORE CAN HE EXPECT HER TO GIVE? I'm not God but hey, I can suggest that she may want to pull her head out of her rear end and take a deep breath, for a start.
Compare her climatic prayer to Eli's, who, after doing all he can to save the world, asks for strength and guidance. No "I'm your best fan, so why are you doing to me?" nonsense like Lauren.
The story is also disappointing because, initially, the author introduces an interesting conundrum - Eli wants his brother to die with dignity, so this means not resuscitating Dave should the circumstance arise. This puts him at odds with his father. However, this matter is soon swept under the rug in favor for one drama after another, and is resolved basically by having everyone put his or her faith in God. Perhaps that is an acceptable resolution, considering the type of story this is, but given that the title of this story is based on Eli's dilemma, the way the author handles this matter feels like a big cop-out.
"Have faith in God and He'll fix everything" is actually the catch-all solution here, but given how the characters, especially Lauren, have behaved so far in this story, it also means that God steps in and fixes everything, leaving people like Lauren with no need to be held accountable for their actions. Like Eli's father, who treats his son like crap to assuage his own ego. Like Lauren, who enables her sister for so long and acts like a bitter judgmental twat throughout the entire story - someone should have slapped some sense into her, at least. Apparently putting their trust in God somehow enables them to hug and make up, and all their issues evaporate with the dawning of a new day. I'm not too convinced, unless God also gives these characters brand new personalities to go along with their rejuvenated faith in Him.
This story also tells me that simply going to church solves the problem of drug addiction. Think about that for a minute.
Too much drama, not enough credible resolution, and not even a good romance, with the added bonus of a mostly unlikable cast that get rewarded in the end without earning the happy ending. As I've said, God is the most awesome character in this story, and that is not a good thing here.
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