Blog Archives

A Match for Sister Maggy (Betty Neels)

4 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
This is a very standard, middle of the road Betty Neels novel (which for me, is still a win, see below). There’s a nurse (this time she’s tall, pretty, and has an independent streak), and a doctor (Dutch, who offers her a job in Holland). There’s the requisite amount of new dresses, tea-drinking/fancy-dinner eating that is both foundational to, and trademark of, a Betty Neels romance. This one relies (sometimes too much) on misunderstandings, and small displays of temper (by both of them), but is still an enjoyable way to pass an hour… maybe two.

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When Two Paths Meet (Betty Neels)

5 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
Ok, you have to be in the mood for a Cinderella story where the evil stepmother has been recast as a managing, manipulative older brother, and where the prince has been replaced by a sometimes-arrogant doctor. Once you’ve done that, and assured yourself that you’re in the mood for an old-fashioned romance where they’ll drink lots of tea, be very awkward around each other while enjoying many, many well-described meals, kiss twice and live happily-ever-after… well, this is your book. Betty Neels… she had a certain type of book she wrote (see the “Comparisons” section below), but if you like that type, this is at the top of that small niche.

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The Little Dragon (Betty Neels)

4 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
Constantia is a more fiery female character than we normally get from Neels. She’s still a nurse, and our hero is still a doctor (as they almost always are in Neels books!), but she’s got firm opinions and is very, very capable. In particular, Constantia is prejudiced against rich people, and though she is attracted to Jeroen van der Giessen, she almost takes pride in the fact that he’s a lowly, hard-working GP. They marry fairly quickly, and of course, we spend the rest of the book wondering when she’s going to find out that Jeroen is a rich doctor (by picking up a Neels book, we, as the reader, already knew that the male protagonist would be both a doctor, and a rich one…)

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A Betty Neels Christmas: A Christmas Proposal and Winter Wedding (Betty Neels)

5 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
I love the first novella in this collection. Though I don’t normally even like novellas, A Christmas Proposal is probably the best modern-day Cinderella rewriting I’ve read. It’s not overly exciting or even particularly innovative, it’s just… nice, in a very lingering way. And Winter Wedding, though not my favorite, is still… good. These are two heroines that you really relate to and root for — they’re more mousy than pretty, and more gentle than spirited. They’re the true underdog wallflowers that you want to have a happy ending.

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An Innocent Bride (Betty Neels)

2.5 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase
Though it arguably has a lot of the components of a normal Betty Neels romance… this one just didn’t really click for me. You’ve got the strong male hero who just wants to take care of the prideful, trying-to-make-it-on-her-own damsel in distress. You’ve got the typical medical drama (this time a sick aunt) who draws them together, as well as the female antagonist who is suitably catty… still, something about this novel just irked me; the resolution felt uneven. Overall, not my favorite effort from Neels.

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A Suitable Match (Betty Neels)

2 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
Though I’m normally a fan of almost everything by Betty Neels, this one just didn’t really jive with me. You’ve got a man who’s marrying to secure a nice guardian/mother figure for his brother’s orphaned children, and a demure (almost passive) heroine who’s secretly in love with him. With Betty Neels books, you know that the love is always in the background and set to a very slow boil, but this one just kept getting overwhelmed with side details and characters until you don’t really remember that it’s a romance at all.

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Only by Chance (Betty Neels)

4.5 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
This is a great example of classic Betty Neels — a sweet, comforting romance where there’s almost as much drinking tea and rescuing stray cats as there is actual romance (also the characters never do more than share a semi-chaste kiss).  Here, we have an unassuming, ladylike young woman with no looks to speak of who is constantly rescued by a successful, handsome doctor.  She falls in love with him almost immediately, while he finds her to be borderline bothersome, but gradually he finds himself more and more drawn to her.

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Secrets of the Heart (Patti Shenberger)

4 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
The book starts with arguably its most controversial plot line — I don’t want to give it away for everyone (spoilers below), but let’s just say it’s a breakup that’s quite dramatic and also a bit heartbreaking.  Despite that (I’m not usually a fan of my escapist fiction starting with such heady drama), it was a thoroughly interesting and engrossing read.  Ten years pass between the initial breakup and the current action, and it’s quite obvious that old memories and emotions flavor everything that happens between our main characters.  Further, there are additional complications in that he’s a prince (yes, really) and she’s a cardiac surgeon used to having her own way.  Though I think there were some missed opportunities (in that this really should probably have been a slightly longer novel so that there was time to address everything brought up) and the dialogue is sometimes a little stilted (more on this below), overall, it was a very well done novel that kept me interested and invested in both of the main characters and their journey towards one another.
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Of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (Micah Persell, Operation: Middle of the Garden, #2)

4 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
A really interesting followup to her debut novel, Persell’s second novel (with its too-long title) has far more interesting characters — our female protagonist, Dahlia, was the secondary villain in the first novel, and our male lead, Jericho, is a tortured man who lost his true mate eight years ago.  We start at the heart of the action this time, with Dahlia going on the run, and Jericho being sent to chase her.  The fact that they’re both immortals, and have impulse-paired (think of it as a chemically or spiritually induced love-at-first-sight) is seen by both of our leads as more inconvenient than celebratory — because both characters struggle against the pairing, we get an interesting combination of they’re-meant-to-be-together with they’re-truly-falling-in-love.  I was torn between a 4 or 4.5 star review for this because though I found the characters and storyline stronger than the first, there are bits of the writing that feel a little less polished or more rushed than her debut.  Either way, it was an enjoyable, quick read, and I liked it enough to be looking forward to her future works.
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Of Eternal Life (Micah Persell, Operation: Middle of the Garden, #1)

4 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
This is totally not my style of romance — lots of action (quite a few people get killed), lots of fate and premonitions at work (both lead characters hear a mysterious “Voice” which seems to guide and even chat with them at times), and lots of intense sex (before they really know one another).  Yet, despite these caveats, many of which speak more to my taste than the author’s abilities, I enjoyed the book and found it to be a quick and fun read.  I truly waffled between a 3.5 and a 4 star rating here just because so many of the tropes are not my favorites, but gave it the higher rating because it’s creative and interesting enough that I liked it despite my preconceptions.  It’s obviously the first in a series of at least two, and I enjoyed this one enough to pick up the second, Of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
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