When a Man Loves a Woman is the title of a classic song from 1966 by Percy Sledge. It’s also the title of an enhanced ebook by Alina Adams. What’s an enhanced ebook? An enhanced ebook has added content from other media. In the case of this particular book, the added content happens to be music videos. Appropriately, one of the music videos is Percy Sledge singing the title track.
But what about the story? The story is also a classic. James Elliot met Deb Brody in med school and fell instantly in love with her. There was just one problem. Deb Brody was already married, to a really nice guy named Max. So for the next 20 years, James Elliot was the perfect best friend. Always there, always helpful, always supportive, and never letting Deb suspect for one single second that he felt anything other than friendship for her.
Fast-forward 20 years. Deb and Elliot are both successful doctors. So successful that Deb is Chief of Pediatric Neurosurgery and Elliot is the Chief of the Pediatric Trauma Center at Los Angeles Valley Hospital. There have always been nasty rumors about their close friendship, but Max always knew that the rumors had no validity. Because Deb never let herself see that Elliot played the field vigorously because all the women he dated had one fatal flaw that Max pointed out to her exactly once, all those other women were not Deb.
But Max died of a heart-attack at the age of 44, and the situation was suddenly very, very different.
Deb’s friendship with Elliot is the most important relationship in her life. She loved her husband, but he is gone and she is alone. The first night after all of Max’ relatives leave, after the funeral is over, she asks Elliot to stay. He’s stayed before, the guest bedroom is practically his. It shouldn’t mean anything different.
But it does. She and Elliot never touch. They’ve always maintained a professional distance. In the middle of the night, when she can’t sleep and starts trying to clean out Max’ closet, Elliot tries to stop her, to help her. To let her cry. And instead, they make love. He thinks she finally sees his heart. Instead she thinks that sex may have ruined their friendship.
Deb and Elliot spend a lot of time trying to find a way back to each other, misunderstanding each other and trying to interpret each other’s feelings. They’ve known each other so long, and yet they haven’t known the fundamental truths about each other. In the process, they nearly lose everything.
Escape Rating B: This was a good friends-into-lovers romance. The story that Deb doesn’t want to see that Elliot is in love with her reminded me of the story line in the TV show Bones (we just finished watching season 5). Deb needs Elliot’s friendship too much to upset the applecart by seeing something she doesn’t want to see.
When Max dies, the blinders come off. I was reminded of a quote from science fiction author Robert A. Heinlein, “There is only one way to console a widow. But remember the risk.” Elliot stayed knowing what was probably going to happen, hoping for it. It’s the results that cause so much trouble for the rest of the story.
I felt like they tortured each other a bit too much. The budget fiasco and how the characters treated each other over it, was one tragedy, or at least melodrama, too far for me. I was ready for the happy ending by then. I’m glad they got there. They both suffered enough grief.
About the enhanced part of the ebook…This is an interesting idea, and I can see, or rather hear, how this might work in the future. The neat thing about having an iPad is that I can just touch a link and off I go to the video of the song. And some of the songs were very evocative of the mood of the chapter. I can’t get If I Could Turn Back Time out of my head. There is an issue with mobile rights. I read the book on my iPad. A significant number of the videos did not have mobile rights available, although they work fine on my PC. This is an issue that should be tested before publication as most readers will be using either a reader or a tablet. But it’s a neat concept. The additions to my playlist were great ones.