- Title: The Vicar’s Daughter
- Author: Betty Neels
- Published: June 1997
- Source: Purchased
- Format: Ebook
- Length: 218 pages
- Tropes: Plain Jane, Enigmatic Doctor, Marriage of Convenience, Big Misunderstanding
- Quick blurb: Plain-Jane vicar’s daughter and jet-set Dutch surgeon and that’s pretty much all you need to know.
- Quick review: It was nice. Victoria Holt without the gothic weirdness. Like Xanax in a book.
- Grade: B
“…I told George I didn’t want to marry him. He hadn’t exactly asked me, but I thought I’d tell him first and save him the trouble.”
He turned a laugh into a cough. “How very sensible of you. I must admit that I find it hard to imagine you as a farmer’s wife.”
“Well, I dare say you do. I expect you think of me as a vicar’s daughter.”
Margo is a plain-Jane small-town vicar’s daughter. Gijs is a Dutch pediatric surgeon/professor. They meet-cute over a roadside childbirth (not hers, obvs) and then she saves a toddler from drowning and then her parents die and he offers a marriage of convenience and she goes shopping and tries to do a Big Makeover and there’s a Big Misunderstanding and she cries and he cries and then everyone is happy.
This was my first Betty Neels, part of last year’s Black Friday Harlequin Binge. I read it in one sitting, and then I said, “Well. That was…nice.”
That sounds snarky, but it’s really not. I swear.
While I was reading, I kept waiting for something to happen. And then I realized that stuff was happening. But it was so understated that I didn’t see that all those seemingly throw-away plot bits were actually really good character- and relationship-building.
So that “that was…nice” reaction was completely sincere. As someone said on Twitter, Neels Nice is like oatmeal. Warm and comforting with just a tiny dash of cinnamon or something, but goes down easy in the best way.
ALSO: One other thing that struck me was the timelessness of the setting – it obviously wasn’t modern, but it could have been anywhere from 1920s to 1980s. Add a bit of suspense — the hero might be already married! he might be doing experimental surgeries on babies without permission! he might have syphilis! — and you’d have a Victoria Holt gothic.
ALSO ALSO: There was a big ol’ bloodhound name Punch (see cheesy cover) and he saved the heroine from falling into a canal during a blizzard. I like dogs.
I will probably read more Betty Neels. They will probably be nearly the same as this one. I probably won’t care.