Today I'm featuring Debbie Kaufman's debut novel, The Doctor's Mission. It's a Love Inspired Historical by Harlequin and it's located in Liberia, a setting that I've never seen used before, but one I found fasinating since Debbie brought some of the tribal customs into her book for...flavor. Oh, did I mention that there are cannibals in this jungle?
Maybe you've never thought of a missionary as an alpha male...well, Debbie stepped outside the sterotype and gave us (Pastor) William Mayweather.
In the story, Mary O'Hara is a red-haired doctor and she's in a caravan through the jungle to the outpost hospital. A shot has been fired, so she rushed to the front of the procession, even though William has told her to stay to the back and remain out of sight.
Looking down the hill to the spot where the path widdened at the village edge, Mary saw William. Hanabo was on one side and another porter, Jabo maybe, stood on the other. She stopped were she was to take in the scene. No one lay on the ground or clutched a wound. Who or what had been shot?
All of her dramatic worries and it was just a serious discussion with a group of natives. No one was at war here.
All of them were deferring to the one native in a worn black bowler hat and bright red loincloth standing with his arms folded across his chest, a chest hung with some type of decorative necklace. Must be the chief.
Whoever he was, she knew the moment he became aware of her. He put out a bony finger and pointed. Was he ponting at her? All conversation ceased.
William turned to see what Bowler Hat was pointing to, and if there had been any doubt in her mind she was the object of attention, the glare from William removed it.
Bowler Hat began to speak. Mary wasn't close enough to hear anything. By the frequency of gestures, there was a debate or perhaps a trade. She knew that trading was one way a missionary made inroads into a tribe's favor.
The conversation ended abruptly. Bowler Hat's arms were back in place across his chest. William and Hannabo turned and headed toward the caravan. Hannabo looked on stolidly, but William's face morphed from blank and emotionless to raw fury.
When he drew near, his voice came out in a low hiss. "I told you to stay put. Turn around and follow behind me."
"I beg your pardon. I..."
"If you don't want to be that old man's newest wife, you'll do as I say and you'll do it right now."
Then there's the moments when Mary is wondering what's in the stew and, quite frankly, that's where I would have made the decision to run for home.
Debbie has proven to be an engaging writer, one who weaves facts into her story and leaves the reader wanting more about William and Mary when the story ends. I can only hope that there will be more stories set in Liberia because the first book is a very interesting trip through the jungle.