Betty Neels. Oh, beloved and lovely Betty Neels. She is the epitome of sweet-romance authorhood, the apex of writers of the pristine love story. I adore her work.
Sadly, I will never get to meet Mrs. Neels, as she passed in 2001, but she lives on in more than 134 novels and novellas. 134. That's right. Oh, sure, Nora Roberts has her beat. And Nora Roberts is still alive and writing. But Nora Roberts is an alien life form and no rational comparisons can be made between her and any other writer. On the planet. Ever.
But still!! 134 stories in print! Not bad for a woman who started writing after she retired from nursing. Her first book was published when she was sixty years old, and man oh man, does that give me hope.
How sweet is she????
She was in her local library, evidently, when another patron was bemoaning the lack of good romance novels. And Betty, God bless her, was obviously a fixer. She started writing and continued for the next thirty years.
Nursing cap off...
Writer's hat on!
Her heroes are almost all Dutch doctors, an amalgam of the doctors with whom she worked during WWII. She married a Dutchman, too, so she knew of their hotness. [Hey, she wrote the stories!] Occasionally, the hero would be an English doctor. Once, he was an architect, but it was uncomfortable for everyone.
Anyway. Her heroines are nice English girls, some pretty, most very plain with one outstanding feature. Lovely eyes, killer smile, blah blah blah. But for the most part, not the hot tamales one might expect. I love that.
Every now and then, there's another woman. She is invariably lovely and beautifully dressed, but a hideous person. The reader may feel quite comfortable in hating her. I love that, too!!
Beety Neels' books are classic and formulaic mid-to-late century romance novels. They're sweet and adorable and brain cand---no, they're not even that. They're brain cotton candy. Fluffy. Easy. And best of all...
Filled with loving descriptions of glorious food.
No matter what, when I read a Betty Neels book, I must have snacks. Oh, darling, the eating in these books! Teas and breakfasts and cream buns with coffee! Divine dinners at restaurants the heroine could never afford! Late suppers thrown together by the hero's inevitably devoted and culinarily gifted housekeeper!
Sandwiches. Scones. Clotted cream and "lashings" of jams and jellies. Silver teapots and tissue-thin teacups and saucers.
Madeira cake and more tea, always more tea in the afternoon. Beautiful china plates filled with delicacies and nibbles, bites and just-one-more.
Bread and butter and toast with preserves and buttered, toasted teacakes. And butter. With butter. And then some butter. Excuse me, may I have some butter with that?
Weight Watchers????? What's that?