REVIEW: Wedding Bells for Beatrice by Betty Neels
“You should marry again.”
Beatrice sympathized with Gijs van der Eekerk. A widower with a small child and a busy medical career needed someone to make sure his domestic life ran smoothly. What she hadn’t counted on was his decision to offer her the position. As his wife, she would have a comfortable lifestyle and everything that money could buy. But what was that, if Gijs couldn’t offer her what she truly wanted—love?
I’m hop, skipping and jumping my way through the Neelsverse and picked this book because the Dutch doctor hero Gijs van der Eekerk (what a splendid name) and his heroine Beatrice (of the splendid figure and teeth – yes, even her teeth are described thus) are briefly seen in “The Vicar’s Daughter”. Since I’d already learned how to pronounce Gijs, I couldn’t waste the opportunity to read another book with that name.
Beatrice is not one of Neels’s squashed cabbage heroines. Instead she’s a woman of stature and bearing who efficiently administers the path lab department of an East London hospital whilst fending off a doctor who is far too full of himself. Tom is a cad who has seen in Beatrice – the daughter of a country GP but one with the right connections as well as the great granddaughter of an Earl – the way to smooth his path to greatness. As I said, he’s a cad who – to paraphrase Ado Annie – “can’t hear no.”
From the moment they meet Gijs and Beatrice strike sparks, too, with Beatrice getting ruffled at Gijs’s calm, unflappable nature and tendency to maneuver her into doing what she wants. More than once Beatrice regrets her inability to flounce. The difference between Gijs and Tom is that Gijs tells Beatrice he missed her rather than demanding to know if she missed him. Gijs also views life from the point of view of how to make things easier for Beatrice. He also takes her to eat and actually feeds her rather than leaving her just one small sandwich while he scarfs the rest. And guess who did that caddish thing? I’m sure you can guess.
Really Gijs manages Beatrice with “gentle remorselessness” so well that before she knows it, she’s wearing his ring – to help Tom realize that she truly means “no,” or so Gijs says – then planning a wedding and then has been whisked away to his ancient (though marvelously appointed) country house outside Leiden (which comes complete with devoted staff, a dog, a donkey, two horses, and two cats) and is now Mevrouw van der Eekerk. My that was fast. But they’re just friends, right?
So the usual Neels elements are in place and play here. Gijs is the fabulous as well as fabulously rich Dutch doctor (though he’s not one to flaunt anything). Tall, handsome, thoughtful, always thinking of others – he’s perfect. But oh, thinks Beatrice who has of course fallen in love with him, he doesn’t love her and after his first disastrous marriage, she’s not going to plague him about “feelings.” Tsk, tsk, tsk. Instead she’ll love her darling young stepdaughter Alicia, study hard at her Dutch lessons, learn how to fit in with the Dutch church ladies, do some power shopping (she has a nice collection of jersey dresses), eat delicious meals and pine for Gijs.
There’s also another relationship forming that is eye opening but then that woman appears easily able to handle the man and knows full well what he’s like.
Neels tosses in a rather silly last minute tiff which in a way serves to finally break the ice between our two main characters who are doing a marvelous job of not understanding the other one’s feelings. But once they do, well perhaps Nanny will have one last charge to look after before she retires. B