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The Lady's Physician (Sinclair Brothers #1)


Doctor Xavier Sinclair dedicated his entire life to finding treatments for melancholy, hysteria, and illness of the mind so that others did not suffer and die as his mother had. However, when he failed to cure his sister’s amnesia, he questioned all that he had learned, especially after an obstinate woman, Lady Olivia Westbrook, challenged his authority. What could a woman know of medical matters, especially something so difficult to understand as the mind and memory?

     Had Lady Olivia Westbrook been born a male, she would be a doctor. Instead, she did the next best thing and read every medical journal, paper and book published, and even disguised herself as a man to attend classes and lectures when possible. She had also been a great admirer of Dr. Sinclair until she actually met him and found him arrogant and dismissive.

     After a battle of wills, Olivia believed she had seen the last of Dr. Sinclair, leaving their disagreements in the past. Or so she thought until he showed up at Westbrook House, a home for orphans and women seeking refuge from unpleasant situations.

     Forced together to help solve an attempted murder and a mysterious illness, can they put their differences aside or will their stubbornness stand in the way of love?



Chapter 1

 

London, Spring 1816

 

Lady Olivia Westbrook slipped into the upper gallery of the lecture hall anxious for the presentation before the Royal Society of Medicine to begin. As was her habit, she found a seat at the back and in the shadows. Her disguise had been rushed this afternoon and it would not do to have anyone look too closely.

Though Olivia tried not to miss any lectures, there were times that she must because of one crisis or another at Westbrook House, a home for orphans and women who had no place else to turn. Luckily emergencies did not occur with too much frequency. However, despite a few children who were put to bed with a running nose, occasional cough, and low fever, and one woman in labor, Olivia could not miss the lecture being presented by Dr. Xavier Sinclair. She only wished that it was being given in the evening when she was less likely to be recognized, even in disguise.

The topic was amnesia brought on when someone had witnessed something so traumatic that their mind could not accept the truth, or the pain was too horrific that the brain or mind had simply blocked all memories.

Olivia listened as Dr. Sinclair spoke of a case with which she was quite familiar—that of his sister, Lady Elaina Hopkins.

Her recovery had been quite remarkable to witness and despite having been present when it occurred, Olivia could not ignore her curiosity as to how Dr. Sinclair would describe the events from his arrogant perspective.

To think that she had once greatly admired his mind and read his papers as soon as they were published. Then she’d met Dr. Sinclair, and all illusion of a brilliant and thoughtful gentleman vanished with his superior and dismissive attitude toward her.

Except, that aspect of his personality was missing this evening. Though, it could be because he was presenting to his peers and not a mere woman.

“Therefore, what we have assumed and have been taught is not always accurate. Reasons for amnesia are not always from a strike to the head or a sudden illness. As in the case that I described, the withholding of information almost proved to be more detrimental than the condition the lady suffered. It may be wiser to provide information to the patient, even if it does not assist in bringing forth memories. We had no way of knowing that the patient believed something that was not true, and I am humble enough to admit that perhaps I was far more cautious in my treating of this patient than necessary.”

Olivia nearly snorted. Dr. Sinclair had been autocratic and stubborn in his treatment of Lady Elaina, and not once had he been humble. Yet, she understood. Not only had the patient been his sister, but Olivia had also become privy to something quite personal and traumatic in Dr. Sinclair’s past that likely clouded his judgment of how best to proceed.

As the attendees applauded Dr. Sinclair’s lecture, Olivia prepared to slip from her seat. She must be out of the building before the others started for the exits. She glimpsed one more time at the presenter as she stood to find Dr. Sinclair looking up and directly at her. Then he frowned.


***


As the last of the spectators had arrived for Xavier’s presentation, a man entered the upper gallery and settled into the shadows. Xavier had seen him before, and the man’s presence was always most unnerving because it was nearly impossible to make out any features of his face. Almost as if the doctor, assuming the attendee was a doctor, was sitting back in judgment and quietly questioning any findings.

Nobody knew who he was because the man always came in late and left before everyone else. Many assumed that it was O. W. Brook, a gentleman who penned articles for the medical journals and the only author who did not identify himself as a physician.

Though Xavier couldn’t see him clearly, there was something familiar about this O. W. Brook, if that was who the man was, but he couldn’t quite grasp where he might have seen him before. Had he allowed his brother-in-law to send for Brook to consult on Elaina’s amnesia then the man wouldn’t be a stranger. But, at the time, Xavier hadn’t wanted anyone else to advise on Elaina’s condition, or worse, overshadow his care or prove him wrong.

Xavier put aside his questions, and looked to the others who had gathered and began his memorized presentation. When it was finished, he finally relaxed. That had not been an easy lecture, but necessary. Though it had been hell to watch Elaina suffer, and he’d been impotent to help in any way, it had also brought enlightenment to a condition they knew so little about.

As Xavier gathered his papers, he glanced about the chamber of attendees. The gentleman in the back stood, just as others stirred. Xavier met the man’s eyes, though he couldn’t discern a color from this distance. Again, he was struck with a familiarity that he could not place.

The man quickly ducked from the chamber, avoiding contact with anyone. 

Abandoning his lectern, Xavier pushed past those who wished to congratulate him or ask questions. Though he was polite and promised to return, it also slowed his progress. He needed to catch up to the illusive doctor, or this O. W. Brook, but just as he gained the walk, the man stepped into a hackney.

“You, doctor, a moment,” he called.

But Xavier was ignored as the door was snapped shut and the hackney pulled into traffic and disappeared.

If it was the last thing he did, Xavier would learn the name of the elusive, silent doctor who sat in the shadows, even if he needed to begin sitting there during lectures himself.



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