SBD: old school Harlequins

For SBD this week:

Last summer I bought a handful of very old (relatively speaking) Harlequin romance novels at a used bookstore on the cape.  At last I’ve read a couple of them:  For Ever & Ever by Mary Burchell and The Young Doctor by Sheila Douglas.  There are two more medical roms to go, plus another generic rom, but I had to take a break after reading these two.

For Ever & Ever:  Leonie, a former trainee nurse, takes a companion job with a wealthy heiress who is being sent abroad to get away from an unsuitable young man.  They journey by cruise ship to Australia, stopping at former colonies all along the way.  Except it is really no escape since the unsuitable man, a poor fortune-hunting surgeon, follows the heiress aboard as medical staff on the ship.  Additionally, one of the surgeons Leonie knew from her training is aboard as the ship’s senior surgeon.  Hijinks ensue as the fortune hunter acts like a sleeze at sea and the heiress acts like a naive twit.  Our Heroine is noble and helpful, stepping in when the nursing staff aboard suffers an accident, and being totally dense about Senior Surgeon’s intentions.

I found the set up to be somewhat interesting in that it is a reverse of the usual:  the fortune hunter is a man rather than a woman, and a surgeon at that.  In the US, even at that time, a surgeon or other doctor was (and still is to some extent) more likely to be sought out by a fortune hunter than be one him/herself.  The book was originally published in 1959, and its content reflects that.  All problems are solved by marriage and by Big Strong Men who Know Best.  Surgeon, daddy, new love interest for the naive twit.  Eh.  It’s a product of its time but not one that I would recommend reading for pleasure.

The Young Doctor:  This book is a little different in that Our Heroine is a surgeon rather than a nurse.  But still in some stage of training and eventually in love with her boss.  (Of course, how is that any different than Grey’s Anatomy’s first season?)  The boss’s tendency to call the heroine “little one” was both creepy and professionally offensive to me — and this book is relatively modern, first published in 1973!  He knows best, though, and announces that once they are married, she’ll take a long break and then only work part time, which won’t interfere with her wifely duties.  Okay, I have no problem with anyone at that time or today being a stay-at-home-wife-and/or-mom; my problem is his declaration that it should be so rather than any discussion of the decision.

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One response to “SBD: old school Harlequins

  1. Pingback: April’s reading | Shuffling through a book-less desert

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