REVIEW: When Two Paths Meet by Betty Neels
He had saved her, but he didn’t love her
Katherine Marsh was practically a slave to her brother’s family in the small English country village where she lived. Then she met Dr. Jason Fitzroy—and fell instantly in love. Dr. Fitzroy found her a job at the hospital and gave her a new sense of self-respect. He also gave Katherine her first taste of the freedom missing from her earlier years. But Katherine knew she could never be truly free—not while her heart was a prisoner of love.
I’m going to use the original cover for this book as, to me, it’s so much better and more representative of the main characters (and the doctor’s dogs) than the bland and generic modern one. The title perhaps ought to be changed to “When Two Paths Meet Again and Again and Again …”
Katherine Marsh might live and be treated like a squashed cabbage (and by her own brother and sister-in-law, too) but she isn’t one. Not really. She knows she’s being taken advantage of by her too-awful-to-be-true relations but her older brother did give her a place to live and pays (little) for her (cheap) clothing. She detestes (truly a bitch) Joyce and (pompous tightwad) Henry but someone has to look after the (ghastly) children. However her life changes when someone comes banging on the door in the early hours of a cold morning.
Why, it’s a doctor who happened to notice the abandoned baby by the side of the road. And just like that, as she’s wrapped in her wretched robe, Katherine falls in love with tall, handsome, and imposing Dr. Jason Fitzroy. Ignoring the attempts by bitchy Joyce to cozy up to him, Fitzroy snags Katherine’s help taking the baby to the hospital and then makes sure she has a good, hot breakfast served to her before taking her home where he hears Joyce begin to berate Katherine until she sees the doctor is there. Jason’s got the measure of Joyce.
Deciding to liberate this plain looking young woman – whose only claim to beauty is her lovely gray eyes – he proposes a new job for her – one with fewer duties that actually pays! Turning a deaf ear to the whining of her brother and his wife (yay!), Katherine is off to a new life. Things are better for her looking after an elderly couple and with £40 a week, Katherine starts to fill out her paltry wardrobe with the best she can afford and plans to then start saving to buy the well cut and well made pieces she truly wants. No “fast fashion” for our heroine.
Only fate isn’t finished tossing Katherine about. The Evil Other Woman arrives on scene and makes no bones about her dislike, nay almost hatred, of Katherine. Okay so Katherine loves the man that Dodie (and honestly, I couldn’t help but think of “My Three Sons” whenever Dodie’s name was mentioned which didn’t exactly make me think of a slinky society beauty) has her claws out to snag but has Katherine challenged Dodie’s already established claim? Not our Katherine. No, Dodie is just (another) bitch in the book whose tantrums and rudeness appear to be excused by all and sundry. Katherine, bless her, maintains her calm for a while and even when she begins to answer back, she refrains from paying Dodie back in kind. It is noticed by those who count.
But after Dr. Fitzroy turns into a job placement service for Katherine, what about the romance? That my friends is a long and rocky road. Katherine is well aware of the social gulf between a highly valued (and paid) consultant and a ward aid. And despite the fact that he’s always just where he needs to be in order to save her, get her jobs, take her on a walk with the dogs, introduce her to his cousin, pop her back and forth where she needs to go, stand up for her, have his housekeeper feed them delicious meals and various and sundry other things, Katherine just Will Not believe that his (many, many) proposals are genuine. Oh, no. Instead she keeps Insisting that he’s destined for Dodie although Katherine also realizes that Dodie would make a horrible wife for him and make him miserable. Come on, Katherine! You’ll stand up to the pompous ass and the lazy bitch (aka Henry and Joyce), you’ll frostily put Devious Dodie in her place but you won’t ask Jason what he really means when he asks (for the fifth or is it the sixth time) you to marry him? Sigh …
I would have been much happier if these two had talked like they meant it. Though I was happy that Katherine turned out not to be a mushed cabbage leaf and that she gained some practical skills and could still get a good letter of recommendation (even from the severe Sister of the ward) if needed. Seriously, Katherine and Jason seemed as if they were desperately trying to win the Densest Britain of the Year Award. Tell each other that you love each other and get to being happy already! B-