Posted in 4 paws, fiction, Review on November 3, 2013

a medical affair


Nobody talks about it, but it happens all the time. Twelve percent of medical doctors admit to having had at least one affair with a patient.

Until the night of her first asthma attack, Heather Morrison is a successful New York City executive in the process of adopting a daughter from China. On the first night in her newly-purchased condo on the Upper West Side, she awakens in a panic, fighting for breath.

Moments later, her panic-stricken eyes meet those of Dr. Jeffrey Davis, a pulmonary specialist. Jeff gets Heather’s breathing under control, but their mutual attraction is undeniable. Despite the fact that he is married, Jeff Davis soon steps beyond the bounds of ethically correct behavior to pursue Heather, resulting in a late-night tryst in his office that escalates quickly into a passionate but dangerous affair.

Despite her increasing discomfort with the situation, Heather rationalizes her relationship with Jeff, hoping for a happy ending she knows deep down won’t occur. Six months into it, Jeff’s wife discovers his involvement with Heather, driving him to abruptly break off the affair, but not before Heather begins, with the help of friends, to understand the ethical and legal impropriety and seriousness of what has transpired. Emotionally overwrought and fragile after the breakup, Heather also struggles with an addiction to several medications Jeff prescribed while she was under his care.

With initial misgivings, she begins the process of bringing Jeff to justice, discovering to her horror after initiating legal action that by doing so, she has jeopardized her chances of adopting the daughter she has dreamed of adopting for so long. Heather’s life comes crashing down around her as she sinks into the depths of humiliation and despair, only to find the strength within her, through the help of friends and compassionate professionals, to fight her way back into life, and to bring the doctor to justice.

A MEDICAL AFFAIR is a story that must be told.


After Melissa left, Heather stayed behind in the restaurant. She went through the motions of taking care of the bill. Smile. Pay. Tip. She lifted the two crisp tens Melissa had left on the tray. Adding two of her own, she returned them to the gold-trimmed jade tray that held the bill. Her legs were weak and shaking, her knees grazing the bottom of the table.

She stood and left the restaurant. Instead of heading for the subway, she walked a few blocks until she saw a Rite Aid drugstore. She went inside and bought two gigantic bags of M&M’s—one plain, one peanut.

“Sweet tooth got ya, sister?” the checkout clerk asked.

“I just need chocolate,” Heather said.

“Got to be a man, then,” the clerk said, two gold front teeth centering a friendly smile.

Heather felt a bond with the woman, a bond with every woman who had ever been wronged by a man. “Isn’t it always?” she asked, not needing a reply.

One block turned into another. Barely noticing how different this part of the city was from her own, Heather trudged forward, shoveling the candy into her mouth. Shoveling, chewing, and swallowing. She felt like she was walking beside herself, an unsettling feeling at best, calmed only slightly by the chocolate.

Melissa had said her affair with Jeff had lasted over six months; Suzanne’s had lasted only three. Heather counted back the months since July. Clearly I’ve met my expiration date, too.

Surrounded by the brilliant sights and sounds of Harlem, she saw nothing and heard less. It was just her and her two gigantic bags of M&M’s shoved inside a plastic Rite Aid shopping bag. Red, yellow, green, and blue. When had they started adding blue to the mix?

She walked as if on auto- pilot, navigating the streets and sidewalks, robotically obeying the Walk and Don’t Walk signs, crossing the streets with the crowds. Along the way, she stuffed one candy after another between her lips, filling the cavernous emptiness inside her with anything that tasted remotely like love.


My first thought when I read the synopsis is, wow, does this really happen?  And then I think about society and the people in it and then I realize, of course it does and it probably happens often.  There are some doctors that have a “god” complex and think they can do no wrong.  That would be the main character Dr. Jeffrey (Jeff) Davis.  He is tending to Heather when she is brought into the ER for a severe asthma attack.  He notes that she is rather attractive and his type, but he tries not to act on anything.  That changes when Heather makes a follow up appointment for his office.  I’m sure he thought, why not?  Now don’t think that Heather is totally innocent in this whole matter, most normal people would realize that you don’t meet your doctor for coffee or lunch and you don’t let your doctor try and treat you for things that are not within their specialty!

I had mixed feelings about the characters while I was reading the novel.  I wasn’t wild about Jeff because he is a typical philanderer and I don’t like people that can’t be faithful to their spouse.  Heather was caught up in a moment, but then couldn’t figure out how to get out of the situation and I’m not sure she wanted out until it was a bit too late.  I felt pity for her but then at times I just wanted to throttle her and ask her what she was thinking!  I think her friends wanted to do the same thing!

This type of story can never end well.  There are winners and losers and those that win also lose something and this is no different.  A gripping read and we gave it 4 paws.



About the Author

anne straussAnne McCarthy Strauss is a versatile writer, researcher and public relations professional.  She is also an avid supporter of victims’ rights.  She has spent the last decade educating women and men on the seldom revealed but all too frequent occurrence of affairs between doctors and their patients.  Her novel, A Medical Affair, is the story of a doctor who violates a sacred trust by having an affair with one of his patients.

The veteran of dozens of MediaBistro courses and Maui Writers Retreats, she is a staunch advocate of lifelong learning.  She is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA), and holds a B.A. in Journalism from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Anne’s byline has appeared in Old House Journal, Waterfront Home & Design, Design Trade Magazine, Design New England, Distinction, Log Home Design Ideas and Florida Design Review.  She has been a regular contributor to Martha’s Vineyard Magazine and Vineyard Style.

A lifelong New Yorker, Anne lives on Long Island with her husband and their two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.

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