Miss Bates hated elements of Neels’ Tulips For Augusta, but she devoured it in a few loving hours. Though she ought to have been peevish and disgruntled, her interest and enjoyment never wavered. Therein lies La Neels Power: to madden us with her spinster-bashing, callow (thank you, CG) nurse-y heroines, overbearing, wealthy, medical doctor heroes, and a world that never departs from a mythic, middle-class English gentility … at least until the hero whisks the heroine away to luncheon in his Rolls Royce. In Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, the narrator, Nick Carraway, says of our crass, nouveau-riche hero Jay Gatsby: he “represented everything for which I have an unaffected scorn.” Miss Bates thinks that way of Betty Neels, but feels differently.
This post will unabashedly focus on what Miss Bates loves about Neels, or at least this Neels … about what she hates, she’ll, like Nick, for now, “reserve judgement.” For many, Neels is a romance reader’s “restorative niche,” (thank you, Dr. Little), the effortless place where we re-new our love of the genre, a place where we turn a blind eye and adopt an attitude of receptivity. Come on, Betty who is the nonpareil, “charm me,” we say. Continue reading