Sunday, April 24, 2011

My Sunshine by Catherine Anderson

My Sunshine (Kendrick/Coulter/Harrigan #6)My Sunshine by Catherine Anderson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Like the sun comes up after a dark night, so love comes into the hearts of those who thought that they had no chance at being loved. Catherine Anderson has made this kind of story her stock and trade, and she truly does it well.

In this heartwarming story, Laura Townsend is the unsuspecting heroine who will find love in a very unlikely place. Five years ago, Laura had a great life: an exciting career, a boyfriend, and lots of friends. Until she hit her head in a swimming accident, and obtained irreversible brain damage in the process. Now, she’s barely making ends meet with her disability, and various odd jobs. Her grandmother and her friend Mary Coulter suggest interviewing at Mary’s sons’ veterinary clinic. Laura loves animals, and taking care of them is something she can do really well, so long as she is not required to do a lot of reading. Her anxieties about not being able to do that are the only part that has her worried.

She never, ever thought that the gorgeous, successful, intelligent clinic owner, Dr. Isaiah Coulter could fall in love with her, even if she loved him in return. But she was wrong.

Isaiah is a busy man. He loves his job as a veterinarian, even if he has so much work that he doesn’t even have time to eat. He agrees to consider hiring the brain-damaged young woman who is his mother’s friend’s granddaughter, but he makes no promises that he’ll hire her. She has to be able to do the job. His brother and he cannot afford to carry dead weight at their hospital. He’s sure that she won't even make it past the interview. When he sees her, he realizes how badly he’s stereotyped mentally-handicapped people, and he’s a big enough man to admit it. Laura has a beauty, a light and a sweetness, bringing joy to his life, and she’s incredible with the animals. She takes wonderful care of them and they love her back. She also takes care of the clinic employees, feeding them and making the clinic a warmer place for her presence. His life with Laura in it will never be the same. Before, his mind was focused on medicine. He didn’t even have time for dating. But each day he spends with Laura, opens his mind up to different possibilities. Even though he tells himself he’s not ready for marriage and a family, images of settling down and having a life with Laura seem to play constantly in his brain. And he admires Laura. She’s lost a lot, but worked hard to regain her independence, and to compensate for her lost ability to speak, and read words and numbers. She impresses Isaiah with her generous nature, her intelligence, and her determination. He comes to see that his life without Laura means nothing, because she brings such joy to it.

But there is someone who wants to sabotage Laura’s reputation at the clinic, and have her out of the picture. Does Isaiah trust Laura enough to believe in her integrity, and her commitment to doing what’s best for the animals in her care?

To my great joy, Isaiah did trust Laura. Even when the evidence was stacked against him. It made me livid to see how this person was sabotaging Laura (hurting animals and people in the process). And some people found it too easy to believe that just because Laura suffered from aphasia, that she was stupid and irresponsible. Honestly, I am glad I read Isaiah’s brother, Tucker’s book (Sun Kissed) before I read this one, because he really annoyed me. He was very judgmental and dismissive of Laura. His advice to Isaiah to break up with Laura was just about the last straw for me. I liked him in his book, but I didn’t end this book being such a big fan of his.

I think that the portrayal of how the mentally handicapped are perceived was daring, but truthful. Through Isaiah, I question my perceptions of mental disability. I have heard of aphasia, but I haven’t encountered someone with this disorder. Even though Laura was no less intelligent, she couldn’t communicate as well, so people would assume she was a stupid person, and some treated her that way. One would hope that people wouldn’t hold that against a person, or judge them. But Laura had faced prejudice. Her boyfriend broke up with her because of her disability, and her friends stopped calling. Although her family was loving and supportive, they had their own lives to live. Thus, Laura was trapped in a lonely world, other than her grandmother and the animals she adored. Working at the clinic opened her life to possibilities, and showed her that although her past career as a scientist was over, her ability to lead a productive, happy life was not. Isaiah was a darling guy. He truly wanted to make Laura happy, and accepted and loved her for who she was. He wasn’t ashamed because she had to speak slowly, and couldn’t read writing as easily as others. He was patient with her need to spend a lot longer at tasks others might find easy. But this wasn’t a one-way relationship. Laura takes great care of Isaiah, turning his house into a home, making sure he eats well, and has clean, neat clothes to wear. Although his stupid brother tells him he wouldn’t be happy with a woman of Laura’s shortcomings for long, Isaiah knows that it’s just the opposite. She’s the woman he had been waiting for his whole life.

This is another favorite, sweet, inspiring romance from Ms. Anderson. She has way with characters, writing lovable heroes and heroines you are happy to see fall in love. Once I started this book, I literally didn’t want to put it down. Definitely a keeper for me.

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