As "Dr. Botox" to the bored rich women of Chicago, plastic surgeon Max Jordan was shocked by the decision of his son, Joshua, to focus his medical talent on Haitian orphans. Embittered by Joshua's death, Max searched for resolution in the very place his son called home. The selfless labor of Joshua's coworkers stunned Max.
He was particularly taken by American volunteer Valerie Austin, whose dream of a honeymoon on a tropical beach had been crushed, replaced by a stint working in the impoverished orphanage. But Valerie's view of Joshua's sacrifice -- and her own -- challenged everything Max had lived for. Transformed by his visit to Haiti, and especially by his encounters with Valerie, Max wondered if he could ever return to his "Max-a-Million" lifestyle, or if the doors to his gilded cage had finally opened
Raney (Beneath a Southern Sky) submits a poignant inspirational romance about a doctor's change of heart and a woman's realignment of her dreams set against the backdrop of poverty-stricken Haiti. In the Chicago suburbs, Dr. Max Jordan builds a lucrative business giving Botox injections to wealthy women while fuming over his son Joshua's "wasted" charity work in Haiti with orphans. After Joshua's death, Jordan flies to Haiti to try to understand why his son chose to spend his talents and life there. While volunteering at the orphanage, Jordan meets the lovely Valerie Austin, whose broken engagement and frustrated longing for children has led her to Haiti. Sparks fly, and soon Jordan is re-examining his life's work and his refusal to share his son's Christian faith. The novel has flaws, including a contrived conversion scene and some flat characters. Raney also has a penchant for overdoing the adverbs and adjectives ("The tabletops were artfully arranged with softly lit lamps that illumined tasteful sculptures commissioned by a local artisan"). Despite these troubles, the story clips along at an even pace, and Raney admirably leaves some loose ends dangling. Evangelical Christian readers who like a strong moral message at the center of their fiction should enjoy this novel. (Oct.)
Copyright (c) Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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April 30, 2008
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Excerpt from Over the Waters by Deborah Raney
Chicago, Illinois, November 16
Dr. Max Jordan finished his dictation, clicked off the recorder, and slid from behind the polished mahogany desk. He strode across the plush celery-colored carpet to gaze, unseeing, out the window of his seventeenth-floor office overlooking Lakeshore Drive. After a minute, he turned and walked down the hall to his receptionist's desk.
"Okay, Dori, I'm ready," he said quietly.
"Yes, Doctor." Dori Banks rose gracefully from her seat and stepped into the waiting room.
Max heard her well-modulated voice call Felicia Sinclaire's name. Back in his office, he washed his hands in the corner lavatory.
A few minutes later he opened the door to the treatment room where his nurse had prepped Ms. Sinclaire. The woman, forty-three according to her chart, reclined in the comfortable chair, but her death grip on the padded armrests revealed her apprehension.
"Good afternoon, Ms. Sinclaire."
"Hello." She smiled tightly, her sun-baked skin crinkling into fine crow's-feet at the corners of her eyes.
It was obvious that Felicia Sinclaire had once been a stunningly beautiful woman. But the clock was ticking on her youth. She was a perfect candidate for Botox. She would be pleased with the results of his handiwork. Women like her were the reason Max Jordan enjoyed minor celebrity.
He glanced at the chart. "Felicia, is it?"
She nodded. "May I call you Felicia?"
"Yes... Of course."
He put a steadying hand on her forearm. "How are you feeling today?"
"I'm...a little nervous."
"This is your first treatment. That's completely understandable. You've seen the video?"
"Good. I'll go over the procedure in detail again before we begin. Of course, you can decide at any time to reschedule if you feel you're not quite ready. But as I'm sure you know, this is an extremely simple and safe procedure. We do hundreds of injections a year and pretty much the only complication we've had in the five years since we began using Botox is an occasional treatment that didn't 'take.'"
He'd started adding the "pretty much" clause to his disclaimer after a prominent Chicago businessman's wife had had an allergic reaction to the Botox, developing a severe respiratory infection along with swallowing difficulties. She had nearly died. Lawyers for Jordan & Associates were still trying to settle the case out of court.
Max opened a drawer in the tabouret beside the chair and pulled out a laminated card that illustrated the procedure. He pointed to a photograph. "Very rarely a muscle simply won't respond to the botulinum toxin. It's nothing more than an inconvenience. Ninety-nine-point-nine percent of the time everything goes just fine."
Felicia Sinclaire relaxed visibly, her fingers unclenching from the armrest. "It's just that it's a little scary shooting something into my skin that's...well, it's a poison, isn't it?"
It was a common question. Among his golf buddies, it was a joke that he'd made his fortune injecting women with poison. But he doubted Felicia Sinclaire would appreciate the humor just now. In practiced tones he soothed her fears. "Yes, Botox is derived from botulinum toxin, the bacterium that causes botulism, a severe form of food poisoning. But to be lethal, it would take up to two hundred times the quantity I use cosmetically. As you saw on the video, the amount I use for this procedure merely interrupts the nerve impulses to the specific muscles I inject. That's the beauty of it." He watched her face, waiting for the slow release of her breath that would tell him she was convinced. He'd become a master at reading body language.
"Well," she said, her voice reedy, "let's do it."
"I think you'll be extremely pleased with the results. You'll be gorgeous for the holidays."
She shifted in her seat and beamed at him.
Max yanked a surgical glove from the dispenser and pulled it on with a practiced snap.
Twenty minutes later, Felicia Sinclaire walked from his office with a few barely discernible bruises, a wan smile and Dr. Jordan's cheerful instructions: "Remain upright for the next four hours, exercise the facial muscles often, drink plenty of fluids and look forward to waking up in the morning even more beautiful than you already are."
He washed his hands again and took the short walk down the hallway to the waiting room. He usually used the back elevator to the surgery center and rarely set foot in his own waiting room. But today, for some reason, he felt the need.
Strains of Mozart met his ears as he poked his head into the forty-by-forty-foot space that could have belonged to a suite in a five-star hotel. The Qom silk carpets were plush beneath his feet, muffling his footsteps. Intimate groupings of overstuffed chairs sported Brunschwig & Fils upholstery, each cozy trio anchored by an expensive antique table.