British readers of my generation may have come across the prolific Betty Neels, who retired from nursing in 1969 and then began to write warm-hearted, traditional romances in a medical setting for Mills & Boon. She died aged 91 in 2001, having written over 130 of them.
Her stories are traditional and quite chaste—nothing beyond the bedroom door, nothing below the waist and very little below the neck. She confined her protagonists to the occasional kiss. Her heroes often smoked a pipe and her heroines were frequently described as ‘splendid’ girls. Some were beautiful, some were plain, but they were generally dedicated, kind and quite self-effacing.
Her first book was called Sister Peters in Amsterdam and subsequent stories followed a similar pattern. The hero was usually a Dutch hospital consultant (Neels’ husband was Dutch), the heroine an English nursing colleague or a Cinderella poor girl figure. He usually drove a Bentley or a Rolls, while she was a nurse or did unskilled work and had family commitments. There were generally a large dog or two around and a cat or kitten also usually featured (often rescued by her).
Her stories were mostly set in the age before computers or mobile phones were generally available. The heroines were quite feisty at times, but nevertheless susceptible to the gallant, masterful, honourable, hard-working, RICH knight-in-shining-armour who came to take them away from all this. The heroine couldn’t believe he would fall in love with her, given the sophisticated, beautiful creatures in his social circle. The hero generally had several properties each staffed by loyal longstanding servants who’d known him since childhood and he usually fell in love with the heroine at first sight, before setting out to woo and win her. Nostalgic stuff!
So I thought what if…the result is I am currently writing what I call a traditional contemporary romance, incorporating my own version of some of the features that made Neels’ writing so popular, except mine is in a business rather than a medical context. More on this soon. Hoping to publish in August.