Monday, August 4, 2014

The Proud Italian - Alison Roberts (HMED #667 - May 2014)

Series: 200 Harley Street (Book 3)

Top-notch surgeons Rafael and Abbie de Luca were once the Hunter Clinic’s ‘dream-team’. But when their baby daughter fell ill, their idyllic life came crashing down.

Now reunited, it’s clear to this proud Italian and his wife that their time apart has changed them -- but can they rekindle their once bright and burning passion?

This was a very emotional book. Rafael and Abbie had to deal not just with the critical illness of their daughter but also with the stress that it put on their marriage. They had married quickly, not really knowing much about each other's past. They had been working together for awhile and felt that their excellent connection in the operating room would also extend to their marriage. All seemed to be going well until baby Ella became critically ill. The stresses wore on them both, and when Abbie insisted on taking Ella to the US for an experimental treatment that Rafael didn't agree with, they worried that it would be the end of their marriage.

Both Abbie and Rafael had equal blame in their problems. Abbie remembers her older sister dying of cancer when she was a child, and the effect it had on her family. She's never told Rafael how she felt responsible for her parents' breakup, or her fears that their daughter's illness is fate's payback to her. She is determined that Ella have every chance available to get better, and when Rafael forbids her to put Ella through any more pain and suffering from treatments, she walks away from him. She doesn't understand how he can not want to do everything possible. Now that she and Ella have returned to London, with Ella on the mend, Abbie wonders if it's too late to save her marriage. While they were gone she could feel Rafael growing more and more distant and she's afraid that she has lost him forever.

Rafael loves Abbie and Ella with every fiber of his soul. His child's illness has been tearing him apart. But the only way he can deal with and keep functioning is to lock his emotions away. Years earlier he'd had a young patient that he had tried everything to help, putting the boy and his parents through many things in his attempts. The child died anyway and Rafael has never forgiven himself for it. He never told Abbie what was behind his refusal to allow Ella to undergo the experimental treatment and she thought that he just had stopped caring. When he told Abbie that if she went, their marriage was over it was an desperate attempt to preserve Ella's quality of life. He regretted saying it almost immediately, but his pride wouldn't allow him to back down. When Abbie and Ella came back he hoped that everything could go back to the way it was, but he was afraid to open up his emotions to her for fear of rejection.

I ached for both of them as so much misery could have been avoided if they had just talked to each other about their feelings and fears. I loved how in tune they were while operating and kept wishing that they could show the same kind of respect to each other in their personal lives. I liked the way that they quickly admitted to each other that the love was still there, but also that they had to get to know each other all over again. Abbie began to see that there was more to Rafael's attitude than a lack of caring and finally had the maturity to look beyond the rather shallow relationship they'd had before and work toward really getting close. I loved that she actually started asking questions and listening to the answers. Rafael wanted them to get bsck together but he didn't know if he could open up his emotions the way that Abbie wanted him to do. When they agreed to start spending time together in an attempt to actually get to know each other he began to feel more hopeful. I loved seeing things from his point of view as he tried to open up his feelings in a way he had never done before. When another crisis loomed he was determined to be there for Abbie this time.

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