A Candle For Nick by Lorna Michaels was going to be my December holiday TBR choice, but I got caught up in other things, so here it is, fresh for 2010. Good thing, because it’s not a holiday-themed book. Yes, the characters are lighting a menorah on the cover, and the Harlequin Holiday Red Ribbon™ is there as well, but there was no Chanukah in the story!
Mallory Brenner is a widowed mom who learns that her 10-year-old son Nick has leukemia. Kent Berger is the pediatric oncologist at the hospital they go to for treatment. Ten years ago, Mallory worked at the resort where medical student Kent vacationed, and the two dated, but kept it quiet as it broke the non-fraternization rules of the resort.
Kent left for a medical conference in Italy and Mallory never heard from him again. Mallory found out she was pregnant, and when she couldn’t contact Kent, married Dean, her childhood friend who was in love with her. When Mallory and Kent meet up again, they both face some unresolved issues: Mallory feels she was simply a fling, and Kent feels Mallory used him to bring Dean to heel.
Mallory and Kent dance around their history and never really talk about it. Nick is treated for leukemia, and Mallory is really hoping that chemo works because then Nick won’t need a bone marrow transplant. If Nick needs the transplant then the truth of his parentage might come out and Kent will no longer be able to treat Nick. During the course of Nick’s treatment, Mallory and Kent become lovers again, with Mallory still withholding the truth.
Mallory joins with the moms of other kids to form an advocacy group for marrow-registry awareness and plants a garden. Kent attends several medical conferences. Mallory finds out why Kent never contacted her again. Mallory’s mom reveals that she and Mallory’s dad figured out Kent is Nick’s dad but Dean’s parents don’t know.
Mallory’s family observes Rosh Hashanah, then Yom Kippur, and a suddenly penitent Mallory feels that she needs to tell Kent the truth, but before she can, Kent discovers that Nick is his son and also that he’s a donor match. Much anger ensues. Nick takes part in a drug trial and doesn’t need the transplant. Kent forgives Mallory and The End.
I wanted to be emotionally engaged by this book, and I just wasn’t. There was no sense of urgency about Nick’s illness, and the story was just as dry as my review of it. Mallory kept the truth from Kent even after knowing what happened in Italy, and after they became lovers again.
There was no real acknowledgment that as a doctor, Kent should not be involved with the mother of a long-term patient. The years-in-the-future epilogue acknowledges that everything wasn’t all ponies and rainbows after Mallory and Kent got married. They waited to tell Nick that Kent was his biological father, and afterward he rejected Kent for a long time, and Dean’s parents worked the truth out for themselves. Grade, C.
There was also a note that while she was writing this book, the author’s husband was diagnosed with the same type of leukemia as Nick and died before it was published.
This review is the first of the TBR2010 Challenge! Please make sure to visit the other participants! My review will post at 7:00PM CST.