Book Review Series: Doing No Harm

Doing No HarmGuest Post by Kalliope. Kalliope is a former college instructor in both written and oral communications courses. She earned an MA in Linguistics from BYU and recently began a PhD program at University of London. She has two naughty kitties that fill her days with glares and snuggles. You can read another post by her here

 

Doing No Harm by Carla Kelly is a historical fiction following the exploits and adventures of a recently retired Royal Navy surgeon desperately seeking fewer exploits and adventures. The surgeon, Mr. Douglas Bowden, gets unexpectedly drawn into the needs of Edgar, a small Scottish village by the sea. He befriends many residents, and most especially on Miss Olive Grant, proprietor of a tearoom and overall saintly, spunky spinster.

 

This book dealt with some themes I did not expect, but greatly appreciated. I admit that I was expecting a fairly standard historical romance: boy and girl meet… boy and girl hate each other… but it was all a misunderstanding… so now boy and girl love each other. But that wasn’t this book at all. Both Douglas and Olive gave themselves in service to their neighbors and it is through that path that they find each other – while they are caring for the destitute refugees from the Scottish highlands driven from their lands and dumped on the shores of Edgar by crass, capitalistic landlords. This was unexpected, but appealing to me. I really liked how the main characters worked with each other to cajole the townspeople into taking better care of each other. This, to me, was far more the focus of this novel than the romance was – the idea that working together and sharing together and giving freely makes everyone wealthier, in more than in just money.

I always like a spunky lead female, but she’s more than the embittered spinster trope so often seen – she’s incredibly good-hearted and has risked, and continues to risk, her own livelihood to care for those around her. Quite luckily, a nice doctor comes along to share and ease that burden. I also really liked that the emphasis of the novel was more on collaborative service than on a cookie-cutter romance. It’s there, but it’s not the main event. The whole town is the main event! Douglas doesn’t just fall for the girl. He doesn’t just save the girl. He works with the residents, the refugees, and his own friends to save the whole village.

 

If you like a historical drama or romance, or you’re intrigued by characters brought together by selflessness instead of hormones, I’d say give it a go. For me, it was a really nice change of pace from standard romances. Douglas and Olive team up to heal Edgar’s wounds, literal and metaphorical, and in so doing they find an unexpected partner.


This is a part of the Exponent Book Review Series and Cyber Monday Giveaway. By making a thoughtful comment on this post, subscribing to the Exponent, or making a donation to Exponent II by sending a PayPal donation to treasurer@exponentii.org, you will be entered into a drawing to win one of many books being reviewed! Check the intro post for information and terms. Entries accepted until the 5th of December 2015.

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9 Responses

  1. Emily says:

    Romance is soooo not my genre. However, I love historical novels and learning about new aspects of history and, particularly if the romance isn’t a stereotypical one, this book sounds intriguing. Thanks!

  2. spunky says:

    Thank you so much for this, Kalliope! This book sounds really interesting– I love the focus on service!

  3. I enjoy historical fiction. This sounds like it could be worth a try.

  4. OregonMum says:

    I love books like this! Sometimes you just need something light and kind to read.

  5. Sal says:

    Not a big reader of fiction, especially of the romantic variety, I have to say I’m curious. The book sounds like it has the ingredients of a great story, even if it is made up. I’ll be watching for it at my local book store.

  6. Sara B. says:

    I’m always in the mood for a good romance, although becoming a feminist has made me a bit more selective. I’ll have to try this one out.

  7. Caroline says:

    This sounds like a light, fun read. I love historicals and I’ve been known to consume romance novels as well. Thanks for the review!

  8. fMhLisa says:

    I think I read a book by Kelly years ago, I’d love to read another and I do love me some romance.

  1. November 23, 2015

    […] Exponent: “This book dealt with some themes I did not expect, but greatly appreciated. I admit that I was expecting a fairly standard historical romance: boy and girl meet… boy and girl hate each other… but it was all a misunderstanding… so now boy and girl love each other. But that wasn’t this book at all. Both Douglas and Olive gave themselves in service to their neighbors and it is through that path that they find each other – while they are caring for the destitute refugees from the Scottish highlands driven from their lands and dumped on the shores of Edgar by crass, capitalistic landlords. This was unexpected, but appealing to me. I really liked how the main characters worked with each other to cajole the townspeople into taking better care of each other . . . If you like a historical drama or romance, or you’re intrigued by characters brought together by selflessness instead of hormones, I’d say give it a go. For me, it was a really nice change of pace from standard romances. Douglas and Olive team up to heal Edgar’s wounds, literal and metaphorical, and in so doing they find an unexpected partner.” […]

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