This has to be the top on my list of Absolute Favourite Betty Neels Books. The hero was an absolute cad, as my friend Leona says, scowling and glaring at the heroine, always addressing her in icy terms and never, ever being nice to her.
DDD is grumpy and condescending to Abigail, but he's kind and loving to his patients. Watching him fall for Abigail and watching Abby hold on to her independence and self-respect while admitting how much she loves him is everything we read romances for. Neels introduces a wonderful cast of characters, from children to very old people, and she embeds the story in Amsterdam in such a way that you can walk the streets with Abigail, even getting to spend time in the wonderful Begijnhof. Neels portrays this is a matter-of-fact, unsentimental way that is highly unusual for any book, let alone a category romance.
Once again Betty Neels pens a wonderful story about a young english nurse who finds love with a Dutch doctor. It just goes to show that families are those people that we love, irregardless of blood ties. I particularly was disturbed by the ending, (view spoiler) when he releases her from the job, with only 24 hour warning, with no references, and no pay.....
Honestly, what a dick of a hero. (Sorry 'bout the rhyming.) My anxiety stemmed from the dork-hero NEVER PAYING THE HEROINE HER NURSE'S WAGES. (HOW SHE HAS TO ASK DICK-ROCHESTER FOR HER WAGES.) As are the best of Neels's heroines.
I loved this book at every moment I was reading it, which is how I usually feel about Betty Neels, but when I put it down and thought about it I was less sure. Good things (typical Betty): the settings, houses, clothes, foodI love her world, which isnt exotic but domestic, not-quite-real, a place to escape into.
When her mother had become deathly ill, Abigail left her nursing position to care for her. A week after her mother's death, Abigail finds herself at an agency looking for work and with luck there's a live in position available for a few weeks in Amsterdam. Abby did her careful calculations and she just had enough left of her savings to cover her fare, and if she's careful with her money she had enough to send back to London to the elderly gentleman, Bollinger, who had been their gardener and helper for many years. Abby is surprised to find that the Professor has brought Bollinger back to Amsterdam with him to work as his own gardener.
Mrs. Goldberg engages Abigail to care for said friend and of course, meets the consultant and our RDD, Professor Dominic van Wijkelen. And after that, for another old friend, Mrs. Macklin. You get the picture Dominic does not want Abigail to go back to England. The problem is that Dominic also forget to pay Abigail. Then Dominic calls Abigail to accompany him from Spain where his young niece has become ill after swallowing some pesetas. It's obvious that Dominic has fallen in love with Abigail and obviously she reciprocates. After Nina recovers and goes back home with her father, Abigail helps out at the hospital. She goes off to a tiny village in Friesland to a friend of Mrs. Macklin's and ends up working in the village shop.
In fact I thought Dominic was such an asshat even at the end. The story is a very clean romance relying on subtle nuances in language and the occasional brooding look. I think what made Dominic so unforgivable was that he neglects to pay her to the point where she is unable to buy a much needed pair of boots for the slush.
This comprised eight nursing sisters, including Betty, to 100 men! But Betty's war didn't end there, for she was posted to Scotland, and then on to Northern Ireland, where she met her Dutch husband. The small family lived in Holland for 13 years, and Betty resumed her nursing career there. She was always quite firm upon the point that the Dutch doctors who frequently appeared in her stories were *not* based upon her husband, but rather upon an amalgam of several of the doctors she met while nursing in Holland. To her millions of fans around the world, Betty Neels epitomized romance. Her myriad of fans found a warmth and a reassurance of a better world in her stories, along with characters who touched the heart, which is all and more than one could ask of a romance writer.