There are just some of those books that are like home – a part of your childhood, something that’s always familiar when you come back to them, the characters like your friends.
That’s what the Cheney Duvall, M.D. series is to me.
This series was authored by Lynn Morris and her father, the prolific Christian fiction author Gilbert Morris. These books were published in the 90s and the early 2000s, and there was even a spinoff series, Cheney and Shiloh: The Inheritance (and yeah, the title is a complete spoiler), after the original series ended after eight books.
So why is this series so lovable? To be honest, the books aren’t the best-written I’ve ever read. I think Lynn Morris plotted a lot like I have—without regard for the following books in the series! Therefore, the plots are a little random, and it reads like a TV show or something. The characters travel around the US and have all kinds of adventures that are not really connected nor always logical. There’s instances of inconsistencies (like the one time Shiloh grew an inch, then was back to his normal height in the next book.) There’s parts in the first books where it just sounds like Gilbert Morris—which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but Lynn Morris wrote more of these if I had to guess, so they usually sound like her. Except for a few sentences, especially the first one in the series, that are blatantly Gilbert Morris. And then there’s thousands of adverbs. The books are littered with those things—and they even crept into my own writing when I was on a Dr. Cheney marathon. Those little words can just get addictive, can’t they? 🙂
So, what is it about this series that makes it so good?
The characters, hands down. There are eleven books dealing with Cheney and Shiloh, and by the time you’ve read all of them, you know these characters so well. You’ve been with them through thick and thin, seen them in their worst moments and their best. How many series these days have eleven books about the same characters?
Cheney isn’t your average heroine—she’s a doctor; tough, but sweet and vulnerable; thoughtless but kind. She makes mistakes (and drives me crazy!) and can be quite selfish. She goes through her early years as a doctor all the way to when she’s a mature lady.
And then there’s Shiloh. That man, with all of his inconsistencies and confusing comments, is the original book hero for me. Tall, strong, handsome, easygoing, Confederate, and orphan with a mind of his own. He’s a perfect foil for Cheney, and as they work together as doctor and nurse, they form an unbreakable bond. Granted, on my recent marathon, I noticed Shiloh was basically a superhero except for a few key occasions. I don’t really remember that from when I was a kid. But Shiloh can do anything, guys. Anything. Even be perfect and overly-capable and make me still love him. 🙂
Then there’s a whole plethora of side characters in each book – Cheney’s parents, her adopted brother, her maids, her patients, a Confederate general and his half-brother, Shiloh’s long-lost family, her stuffy New York high-society friend. All kinds of characters that add color and excitement to the series. It’s like one big happy family. (Except it’s not always happy. It can be very dark, but there are also legitimately humorous parts in these books, too.)
Besides the character, the plots – random as they seem sometimes – are usually very interesting. Ocean voyages, Reconstruction-era Charleston, volcano explosions (yes, that’s right)—you’ve got it in this series. Not to mention the romance that’s strung out for eight books, but it’s worth it.
Last of all, these books are decidedly Christian. You get to watch Cheney turn from a young, immature believer to a solid Christian. Along the way, she meets all kinds of faithful Christians and goes through all kinds of struggles. The Gospel is presented several times throughout the series, and Scripture is woven throughout. I also really like that each title is pulled from a verse. Very cool. Books like these are not as common anymore in Christian fiction, and I wish they’d return!
In short, I love these books! And it certainly gives an author hope that books that aren’t perfect can be loved as much as I love these!
What is your favorite series? Have you ever read the Cheney Duvall, M.D. series?