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#BookReview – “Playing Doctor” by Julie Rowe

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Dr. Abigail Westward has been home after two tours of duty in Afghanistan for about two months and she’s taken up an unusual hobby. A hobby that has the local sheriff scared stiff: tossing lit dynamite sticks into the still waters of Lost Lake in Montana. After locking her up for twenty-four hours, then a couple weeks later for forty-eight, the sheriff is getting desperate to find a way to combat Doc Abby’s explosive habit. He calls in a very special Doc-sitter, Jacob “Smitty” Smith, a fellow soldier of Abby’s and the only man who might be able to find out what was really going on with Bandit Creek’s doctor.

Smitty is in Bandit Creek for one reason and one reason only. He loves Abby, has from damn near the moment he met her in Afghanistan. He’s stayed at arm’s length until now because getting involved with anyone while on a combat mission is just plain stupid. But combat is over for both of them and he’s waited long enough. He wants her and he’ll play dirty to get her because he knows she’s hurting deep down in a place she doesn’t want anyone to see.

Seeing Smitty waiting for her on shore, Abby gives up the dynamite with little or no argument. It’s far too much fun to verbally poke at him and the sheriff, until she finds out he’s been hired by the town of Bandit Creek to ride herd on her. She’s resistant to the idea right up to the moment someone attempts to shoot her in the middle of town. Now she and Smitty have to figure out who wants to kill her and why before he’ll go, because if he stays she’s not sure she’ll be able to resist temptation. Smitty is her only weakness. He’s the one man she trusts absolutely, the one man she loves, the one man who knows her terrible secret.

She’s a doctor who’s guilty of murder.


In the first book of the Bandit Creek series, small town doctor Abby is suffering from PTSD from her time as a highly skilled Army medic. To blow off steam and to feel better, she lights up dynamite and throws it in the lake.

Smitty belonged to the Special Forces division of the Marines, and he was assigned to Abby’s med unit as security detail. They became good friends while fighting for their lives in Afghanistan, so when he shows up out of the blue in her little town, she readily accepts his help. What she didn’t expect was for romance to bloom between them or for a mystery military sniper to target her.

Abby is a strong, snarky woman and hides her pain through humor. Smitty is levelheaded, protective, and just the friend she needed.

The story is told only in Abby’s POV and in third person, so the reader gets to understand her pain, regret, and self-contempt. I liked Smitty, but I couldn’t really connect with him. I didn’t feel like I got to know him, so duel POVs would’ve been nice.

The story focuses a lot on PTSD, which doesn’t make this a light read. There weren’t a lot of taglines, so sometimes I didn’t know who was speaking. There were also some typos, and I’m not talking about the use of British English.

Anyway, the sex scenes were hot. Abby and Smitty made for a great couple.

3 Stars

— If you’ve read this book, I’d love to know what you think of it. Please comment below.