REVIEW: Visiting Consultant by Betty Neels
She was certain of one thing…
Sophy’s relationship with the attractive Dutch surgeon Maximillan Oosterwelde was of the blow-hot-blow-cold variety. He might be unsure of his feelings for her, but one thing she knew for sure—in her heart, Sophy did not want any “blow cold” at all!
NOTE – Blow Hot, Blow Cold, Visiting Consultant, Visiting Surgeon, and Surgeon from Holland.
No it’s not four different books. It’s one book with four different titles. And since some of the reissued covers are – well, let’s just say digestive biscuit bland – I’m including another older one just for kicks.
Pleasant faced – redeemed from plainness by a pair of magnificent eyes with very dark lashes – Sister Sophy Greenslade runs the operating theatre block of her hospital with well oiled precision needing only the faintest of brow twitches and eyelash flicks to have her nursing staff all over whatever the surgeons (called Mr. in the UK fashion) need. It’s on her way home one evening that her HEA crashes into her life though of course it will take the whole book to get to it. Her younger brother has apparently run out into the street after the family dog and managed to bounce harmlessly off a great gleaming car. Well even if he hadn’t avoided broken bones, help would have been on hand in the person of the glowering car owner who allows himself to be mollified by apologies and introductions to the family pets.
I get the name “Blot” (on the landscape, they don’t have an escutcheon) but Titus for a cat who likes porridge? Please explain. Max caught on quickly once Sophy told him but I need some help.
Professor Jonkheer Maximillan van Oosterwelde – Good God what a name. It sends thrills down my spine. It dismays Sophy the next day when she realizes that this is the Dutch doctor filling in at the hospital for the next few weeks.
We can immediately tell that Max is smitten with our girl but Sophy is having none of his devious machinations. How dare he be kind to her. How dare he verbally maneuver her into taking a break and drinking some tea after a long afternoon on her feet counting sponges and swabs, threading needles and monitoring instruments. How dare he be waiting at the door to drive her home in his expensive car. How dare he charm her family, the Blot and Titus. The nerve of him. She’ll show him. She’ll spend all day in a tatty coffee shop avoiding him. So there!
Ah, Max has a Bentley – the Rolls is back in Holland. The number of times the Bentley is waiting by the kerb to pick Sophy up after a long day in the theatre makes me want to drive around in one. Hmmmm. How can I make that happen?
Max, of course is no idiot and like a good general when the battle isn’t going his way, he adjusts his plans and his tactics. If the hard press didn’t work, he’ll try cool control and, to Sophy, annoying politeness. It’s difficult to get a good “resentful” head of steam going when someone is so professional. He even deflects her attempts (aided with amusement by one of the other surgeons, Tom) to let the prettiest nurse in the hospital snag a date with him. And after all his initial efforts, it’s when he turns a haughty glance at her as they scrub up for a case that shows Sophy her own feelings with a thunderclap. Of course she’s in love with him. Dear me, what to do now?
After her initial cold shouldering, I think Max is entitled to a bit of his own back and he goes after it subtly, playing along with Sophy’s made up “boyfriend” the City banker John Austin from Harrogate. Or is it John Morris? Oh what did she make up and did Max catch that the name changed? At least she keeps John’s hometown straight.
It’s on a formerly quiet afternoon that all hell breaks loose. Not only is Sophy the theatre Sister along with only a newbie, but Max and Tom the Matchmaker are elbows deep in a complicated case when an explosion leads to a fire that literally rages around the operating room. Cas (UK casualty = US ER) is swamped and has nipped one of Sophy’s porters, there are firemen and police all around and Max, cool as the proverbial cucumber, ties off the last suture just before the place disintegrates. Betty laid it on thick this time! Then later back in Cas they quote Shakespeare at each other.
With the theatre out of commission for weeks for a rebuild and Sophy having laboriously ticked off all the replacement equipment that will be needed after endless time spent eyeing the goodies for sale – be still my heart, Syme’s aneurism needles! – in the catalogues, what will she do now? It’s Max’s chance and he seizes it with both hands sending a letter casually asking Sophy if maybe she’d be interested in being his theatre Sister while his usual one is in quarantine with the measles. Wonder how much that cost him to arrange? When asked her opinion, I’ll bet Granny Greenslade was ready to pop Sophy into a trebuchet and shoot her over the channel that minute.
So it’s off to Holland and Utrecht – which is the same distance from London as Harrogate – and as the wheels leave the runway, Sophy thinks she’ll be back soon.
HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. It is to laugh.
Betty fills us and Sophy in on the charms of Utrecht and its wonderful operating theatre. Perhaps when hers is rebuilt, it can be patterned on this one! And as Max assured her, most of the staff speak some English and with Sophy’s commanding eyebrows and restrained head tilts, she runs the theatre with cool aplomb. She also practices her growing skills in Dutch with the friendly nursing staff and doctors who all seem delighted to make her feel at home. Good thing that along with her sensible tweed she packed her brown Thai silk gown – not couture but good enough not to feel out of place at the party at Max’s restrained but tastefully gorgeous Amsterdam house. Of course it’s on a canal, where else would it be? Oh but Max is “taken” as demonstrated by his many intimate tete-a-tete’s with the lovely Tineke. Sigh.
It seems that Betty decided to use operations and medical stuff in place of the usual rundown of every meal all the characters eat. And these characters must have bladders the size of Olympic swimming pools as they never need to nip out to the loo between cases despite the gallons of tea and coffee they swig back every day.
Well now it seems that after Max’s skillful handling of the non-courtship court-ship, he bungles the ball a lot in Utrecht. Or perhaps his intensions were to irritate Sophy to the point of rage or maybe she was just driving him to the point of frustrated madness. Anyway, they’re at each other a lot – hammer and tongs or however that’s said in Dutch. My, my, my everyone is stepping lightly around them and casting worried looks. Strange that Sophy doesn’t catch on to the fact that Max is almost turning into a stalker as he pops up no matter where she is. Can Max and Sophy finally stop talking at cross purposes? Well maybe at the ball.
Nope, still not communicating and frankly Betty’s skill in getting them interrupted and tossing in easily misunderstood situations to keep the HEA just a few pages on makes me want to smack both Max and Sophy with an instrument trolley as they wound each other. Grrrr.
It takes a last second revelation for Sophy to find out the truth and confess that she does love Max (to someone else!) but “she’ll get over it” before tearfully confessing said love to him then rushing for her plane. Ye Gods – do something Max! Then Max does and Sophy does miss her plane. Happy sigh.
He was still smiling as he came back to her, and this time his arms really were around her; they felt like all the love and security and comfort that the world could hold. She stood in the magic circle he had created for her, and when he kissed her with a fierce tenderness that took her breath she knew that her dreams of happiness were no longer dreams but reality. When he let her go, she whispered, ‘Max—oh, Max,’ and smiled her beautiful smile so that he kissed her again, gently this time.
‘Sophia, I love you—have loved you since the moment I first saw you coming down the road towards me.’ His blue eyes were very bright, searching hers. ‘Marry me, my dearest girl. We’ll go to England—it’s quicker there, and we’ve wasted so much time already.’
Sophy stood on tip-toe and kissed him. ‘I’ll marry you as soon as you like, Max,’ she hesitated, ‘darling,’ she said shyly, and was kissed breathless for her pains.
I think one of the reasons I like this one so much above and beyond all of the above is that Sophy is pleasant faced but plain. Even her nearest and dearest tell her this and she doesn’t get mad because she’s honest to herself about her looks. But to Max she’s beautiful even when she’s tired. There’s no “oh look at her without her usual glasses” or “wow, put her in haute couture and she looks fantastic!” either. He just adores her and her mousy hair. Plus Sophy is more take charge and doesn’t hesitate to glare and snipe at Max before she magnificently lets rip a description of him to his face that sets him back on his heels. He gets so mad he (get this) denies her the tea so thoughtfully brought in by the faithful family retainer! But once they’re (finally!) on the same page –> ♥ ♥ ♥ A-