I’m away at RWA Nationals this week, but before I got there, I did get my TBR Challenge book read for the month. This month we’re reading a romance classic, whether that be a classic book, author, trope, what have you. Betty Neels’ 1984 Heidelberg Wedding was my pick because Neels is certainly one of the classics. Her books from Harlequin stand out not only because she took certain plot points and made them her own, but also because she has an idiosyncratic voice. I find her writing hit or miss, but this particular story was a very fun read and I’d probably give it a solid B.
Anyone familiar with Neels will guess that this book is a medical romance with some kind of tie-in to the Netherlands – and you’d be half right. Eugenia Smith serves as Ward Sister in a London Hospital, which Gerard Grenfell is shown very obviously as a top surgeon there (that’s right – no Dutch hero this time!). Even though our hero is not a Dutchman for once, he is still described as having “lint-fair hair,” a description I’ve encountered in several Neels novels even if I’ve never seen it anywhere else. And it works. I wouldn’t normally think of looking like lint as a positive, but Neels makes it seem like a good thing. Continue reading
There are certain books with which I have a bit of a love-hate relationship. Perhaps love-unease might be a better way to describe it, because I’m not sure my feelings ever quite fall to the level of hate. My love-hate books tend to be those which are unabashedly retro in their outlook, so I suspect my unease comes more from who I am rather than from the books all by themselves. I don’t speak here of the rape and/or abuse romances of old that I’ve discussed, but of some of the books I like that really are throwbacks to a very old-fashioned view of relationships.
For example, I’ll willingly confess to my Harlequin Presents habit. However, as a rather independent professional woman, I have to admit to a certain amount of discomfort with the whole “alpha billionaire sweeps dainty heroine off her feet and into a life of luxury” fantasy. Though there are definitely exceptions, the heroes in this line tend to be quite domineering, the settings exotic, the heroines delicate and fluttery. The plotting features over the top drama (think secret babies, forced marriages, dramatic business takeovers, amnesiac pregnant mistresses – well, you get it), and the dynamic between hero and heroine has a definite retro feel. And that’s not even getting into the bizarre plot acrobatics sometimes required to ensure that most of these heroines hold on to their virginity so that the hero can be swept away by magic virgin sex and they’ll live happily ever after.
I’m in the outer reaches of the DC area, so I’ve spent the better part of the month snowed in. One would think that this would give me ample time to think of some deeply profound solution to some dilemma menacing online romancelandia. However, I haven’t been feeling terribly menaced lately. My reading life is happy. Once we got power back and removed the ginormous tree from the roof of the house, non-reading life starting being none too shabby either. My only major dilemma lately has been trying to convince my cat that the several feet of snow covering HER deck and preventing her from taking her morning walk was not put there by me as part of an evil plot. If looks could kill, a tiny 6 pound calico would have done me in weeks ago.