Carla Kelly's "The Surgeon's Lady" - #2 in the Channel Fleet series

The Surgeon's Lady - Carla Kelly

Very nice story, very noble and self-sacrificing characters, but the book didn't really draw me into the story emotionally. Too much "telling", not enough "showing".

IMHO, there were too many subplots for a story of this length:
- Laura and Philemon's story, which should have been the main story but almost got relegated to the background
- Laura's backstory with her father, the school and her first marriage
- the whole jumble of the medical, hospital and war subplots
- the continuation of Oliver and Nana's story from "Married to the Captain"
- the subplot of Laura's father.

All these plots got jumbled together in my mind and it was hard to keep them straight, especially the hospital subplot and the characters in it. Besides which, I never could remember what exactly "Stonehouse" meant when it was mentioned in the story, and why it was different from "Torquay" - and I don't regard having to retrace the parts I've already read so that I can figure out what's going on to be a good thing in a novel. Because of all this I actually felt stupid at times while I was reading the book. I have to wonder who the intended audience for this book is since I consider myself to be fairly intelligent and well-read.

I would have much preferred to read the hero and heroine's love story and especially Laura's growth and recovery from her sexually traumatic marriage into love for Philemon. The other subplots should have been considerably decreased in volume and complexity.

Too much plot, character and location confusion do not make for a great read. Finally, if one hasn't already read the previous book in the series (Married to the Captain) things would be even more confusing: Nana and Oliver would be strangers and the chapters at the end with Laura's father would leave the reader completely in the dark.