Review: The Medicine Man by Sarah M Anderson

May Contain Spoilers

I have enjoyed several of Sarah M Anderson’s titles, so agreeing to review The Medicine Man was a no-brainer. Originally published by Samhain (I am still mourning their closure), the author has self-pubbed the title. While I am still not a fan of the cover, The Medicine Man kicks off the Men of the White Sandy series to a satisfying start.

Madeline Mitchell is stuck in a rut. Her boyfriend is not the love of her life, and she feels like she’s spinning her wheels. She doesn’t want to just settle, so she is desperate for a way out. She agrees to a two year commitment working at the White Sandy reservation. When she sees the clinic, and the lack of supplies, she worries that her skills as a physician will go to waste. How can she treat her patients when there aren’t even any bandages or supplies for simple emergencies?

Madeline’s job is made even more difficult when Rebel Runs Fast appears at the clinic. He has a distrust of white doctors, expects Madeline to pack up and run from the desolate reservation, and keeps steering her patients away from costly treatments that are not affordable. With the reservation’s high unemployment and high rate of alcoholism, the residents of White Sandy are used to making due and taking care of their own. Madeline, however, refuses to sit around and do nothing while the people around her suffer from preventative illnesses.

At first, Rebel really got on my nerves. While I understood his distrust of outsider Madeline, his interference with her patients was just irritating. Especially when Madeline spent her own money to stock the clinic with supplies so she could treat the people who finally came to her for help after they didn’t get better on their own. Rebel was very protective of his people, and he didn’t trust Madeline to even administer flu shots because of a vision he had.

Madeline  learns to quickly roll with the punches. Some of her patients don’t speak English, so she begins to rely on Rebel to translate conversations for her. He becomes a culture bridge for Madeline and her patients. She finds herself growing attached to her efficient staff and their families, as well as her patients. When she lets her guard down and allows herself to get closer to Rebel, she has to deal with the vast differences between them. Rebel lives in a tent, he seems to have no job, and yet he keeps paying the clinic bills for some of her patients. What is up with this guy?

I found Madeline a very compelling protagonist. She must put the life she’s used to, one of affluence, convenience,  and comfort, aside for this new life in a tiny, rundown cabin in the middle of the desert. There is no internet, no cable, no air conditioning. I would have lasted about ten minutes. Having left her job at a profitable hospital’s ER, she is shocked by how little resources are available at the clinic. With determination, not to mention her own funds, she stocks the clinic and settles in for the long haul. It’s a daunting task, and she’s not sure she can last the two years. Instead, she sets her sights on outlasting the previous doctor’s five month tenure.

Things got serious when an illness spreads through the White Sandy’s population. I could not put the book down. I was very worried that some of the characters I had come to like wouldn’t survive. That’s when I feel that Rebel finally mans up and makes his stand against his past and the ghosts that still haunt him. Can he really put his trust in Madeline, enough so that he’ll give up his rootless existence and allow himself to build a happy future with her?

Despite some quibbles with the hero, I enjoyed The Medicine Man, and I’m looking forward to other books in the Men of the White Sandy series (especially Nobody’s!).

Grade: 4 – 4.25 stars

Review copy provided by author

About the book:

The White Sandy Reservation needs a doctor, and Madeline Mitchell needs to do a little good in the world. It seems like a perfect fit, until she meets the medicine man, Rebel Runs Fast. As far as Madeline can tell, Rebel’s sole mission is to convince her patients that modern medicine can’t help them. And the fact that he makes her heart race every time he looks at her only irritates her more.

Rebel swore off the white man’s world–and women–years ago. But he’s never met a woman like Dr. Mitchell. She doesn’t speak the language, understand the customs, or believe he’s anything more than a charlatan–but she stays, determined to help his people. He tries to convince himself that his tribe doesn’t need her, but when patients start getting sick with strange symptoms, he realizes that he needs her more than ever.

Note: This book was previously published as Mystic Cowboy

Finalist in the 2014 Booksellers Best Award contest and the 2014 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence contest