Samhain Publishing, $4.50, ISBN 978-1-61923-494-9
Contemporary Romance, 2016
Ever since the accident that left her still needing some physical rehabilitation therapy, Jess Langford has been chaffing under the “care” of her overzealous, overprotective brother Cole. When the story opens, she has sneaked out of her college dorm with her best friend to attend a party. Woo-hoo! Having a one-night thing with a hot hunk would be a great way to end this evening, don’t you think? So she ends up in bed with Van Sheffield – oh lord, that name – who turns out be a physiotherapy consultant. Talk about lucky.
Or maybe not.
In every other city, Van had hooked up with a nurse, naughty neighbor or the occasional waitress or two. Temporary sex in a temporary apartment in a temporary town. It never went further than stripping them from their panties and a good time being had by all.
Okay, so this guy is a cliché and every lady can have him without working too hard. That’s not so bad, as long as he doesn’t have STDs,
Which was yet another reminder why Van needed to keep Jess at arm’s length. He couldn’t afford to get tangled up with someone who didn’t understand the rules. She was all fire and energy now, but he’d been around enough accident victims to know how quickly they crumbled. And then you were trapped. Because only an asshole would walk away from someone in pain. Pain came in all shapes and sizes. Van had seen Jess’s file. He bet she was hurting, inside and out.
Okay, I’m no longer in the mood, because the subsequent sex thing now feels rather… it’s like a psychiatrist sleeping with his patient, which is basically what the dynamics of the whole relationship is – someone in the position of authority shagging someone under his authority.
And then the sex thing gets interrupted by Jess feeling pain in her leg. Van knows how to provide relief, which causes her to realize that he’s a doctor – a realization that only adds to her humiliation. Still, the two of them are at the same university, and there’s no easy way to avoid him as he is the new physiotherapist that everyone is pushing her to see. Meanwhile, Jess struggles with trying to get Cole to stop treating her like an invalid child, although that one sort of dissipates after Cole finds someone to sleep with and he subsequently has no time to play the bossy old brother any more. Men, sigh, can be such simple creatures.
My problem with Not for a Moment is that I cannot shrug off this sense of disquiet stemming from the fact that we have a physiotherapist sleeping with an emotionally wounded patient of his. It never feels right to me, no matter how the author tries to make this relationship palatable. The whole thing feels off, probably because the medical field is something I have familiarity with, and I have seen such affairs happened in real life – and very few of them lead to happy endings. It doesn’t help that Van is given this player background – the whole thing may go down easier for me if he’d been a more goody-goody, stable, and emotionally reliable guy, who will be good for Jess rather than another guy with his own set of issues.
The story isn’t so bad, and Jess’s behavior, which may seem flaky and inconsistent at times, actually feels pretty real to me as this is a young lady who is still getting used to the changes and limitations forced onto her by her accident. The author is aware of her characters’ strengths and flaws, and she doesn’t sugarcoat their issues. Perhaps under other circumstances, I may enjoy this one more. As it is, the whole doctor-vulnerable patient dynamics just keeps pulling me out of the story.