Roses Have Thorns (Best of Betty Neels)

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Press: Harlequin; Reissue edition (August 7, 2012)
Publication Date:2012-8
Author Name:Neels, Betty


Book by Neels, Betty

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Sarah sat behind her desk and watched the first of the patients for Professor Nauta's clinic come in through the swing-doors. 
Led, as usual, by old Colonel Watkins, recovering for the third time from a stroke and eighty if he was a day.
The Professor's clinic started at half-past eight and it had become Sarah's responsibility, although she wasn't sure how it had happened, to come on duty early in order to check his patients; the other two receptionists, married ladies with homes, husbands and children to cope with, were adamant about leaving exactly on time and not a minute later, just as they arrived exactly when they should and not a moment sooner.
So that Professor Nauta's clinic, held weekly at eight-thirty, invariably fell to the lot of Sarah, who, being single, living alone and therefore from their point of view without cares, was the obvious one of the trio to come early or stay late.The Colonel was followed by Mrs Peach, who had been coming for years, and hard on her heels came a pair of teenagers, giving their names with a good deal of giggling, and after them a steady stream of people, most of whom Sarah knew by sight if not by name.She bade each one of them good morning, made sure that the new patients knew what was wanted of them, and ticked off her neat list.
There were five minutes to go before the half-hour when the last patient arrived, and exactly on the half-hour the Professor came through the swing-doors, letting in a great deal of chilly March air.
Sarah took a quick look at him and decided that he seemed no more impatient and ill-tempered than usual.
He was a very big man, tall and broad-shouldered and good-looking, with fair hair already grey at the temples, a high-bridged nose and a thin mouth.
His eyes were pale blue which turned to steel when he was annoyed—which was quite often, although it was conceded by those who worked for him at St Cyprian's that he was invariably kindness itself to his patients, however tiresome they were.He went past Sarah's desk with a snappy, 'Good morning, Miss Fletcher,' and a glance so brief that he couldn't have noticed if she had been wearing a blonde wig and spectacles.
She would have been very surprised to know that he had taken in her appearance down to the last button as he'd gone past her.
Small, a little too thin, pleasant-faced without being pretty, beautiful pansy eyes, a thin, delicate nose, a wide mouth and a crown of hair which took her some considerable time to put up each morning.
He had noted her sparkling white blouse, too, and the fact that she wore nothing which jangled, only a sensible wrist-watch.
A sensible young woman, he reflected briefly, as neat as a new pin and not given to chat.
Not all that young—late twenties, perhaps, although she had the freshness of a young girl.
He reached his consulting-room, greeting the nurse waiting for him, and sat down at his desk, dismissing Miss Fletcher from his mind without effort, listening to Colonel Watkins' tetchy old voice complaining about the treatment he was having at the physiotherapy with a patience and sympathy at variance with the cool manner he demonstrated towards the hospital staff.Sarah, left to herself for a time, got on with the morning's chores until Mrs Drew and Mrs Pearce arrived, and, hard on their heels, the first patients for the Surgical Outpatients; after that there was no time for anything but the work at hand until, one by one, they went along to the canteen for their coffee-break.
As Sarah made her way back to her desk she could see the vast back of Professor Nauta, trailed by his registrar and a houseman, disappearing down the long corridor leading to the main hospital.
He was walking fast and she felt a fleeting pity for his companions, who while trying to keep up with him were probably being treated to some of his impatient and caustic remarks.The day, wet and windy as only March could be, darkened early.
The clinics were finishing, Sarah and her companions had gone in turn to their cups of tea and, since there was nothing much to do, she had been left to deal with the telephone or any enquiries while they went to tidy themselves up so that, promptly at ive o'clock, they could leave to catch their buses.
Mrs Drew lived in Clapham and Mrs Pearce had a long journey each day to and from Leyton, and since Sarah had a room within ten minutes' walk of the hospital it had been taken for granted for some time now that she would be the last to leave.
She cleared up, put things ready for the morning and went back to her desk to scan the appointments book.
It was quiet now; the nurses had gone and so had the doctors, all but Professor Nauta, who had returned half an hour previously and gone to his consulting-room, pausing just long enough to tell her that on no account was he to be disturbed.
She had just stopped herself in time from enquiring what she should do in case of ire or emergency.
Leave him to burn to a crisp, neglect to inform him of some dire happening? He would never forgive her.
She had murmured politely at his cross face and gone back to her work.
And now, in ive minutes or so, she would be free to go home.The wide swing-doors, thrust open by a irm hand, caused her to look up in surprise.
She eyed the elderly lady who was advancing towards her with a purposeful air, and said politely, 'I expect you've missed your way? This isn't a ward—just the outpatients' clinics.If you will tell me which ward you want, I'll show you the way.'The visitor stood on the other side of the desk studying her.
She was a handsome woman, and dressed with an elegance which whispered money discreetly.
She put her handbag down on the desk and spoke.
She had a clear, rather high voice and an air of expecting others to do as she wished.
'I wish to see Professor Nauta; perhaps you would be kind enough to tell him.'Sarah eyed her thoughtfully.
'The Professor left instructions that on no account was he to be disturbed.
I'm sorry—perhaps I could make an appointment for you?''Just let him know that I wish to see him…' She smiled suddenly and her whole face lit up with a faintly mischievous look.Sarah lifted the receiver and buzzed the Professor's room.
'A lady is here,' she told him.
'She wishes to see you, sir.'He said something explosive in what she took to be Dutch; it sounded forceful and very rude.
'Good God, girl, didn't I tell you that I wasn't to be disturbed?''Indeed you did, sir.' She was suddenly annoyed—she was, after all, only doing what had been asked of her by this rather compelling lady, and if he wanted to use bad language he wasn't going to be allowed to use it to her.
'You should watch your language,' she told him tartly, and was instantly appalled.
She would get the sack…'Tell him that I am his mother,' suggested the lady.'Your mother wishes to see you, sir,' said Sarah, and thumped the receiver back without waiting for a reply.The Professor, for all his size and bulk, could move swiftly and silently; he was looming over Sarah's desk before she could regain her habitual serenity.Not that he had anything to say to her.
A very rude, arrogant man, considered Sarah, watching him greet his parent with every appearance of delight, then escort her to his consulting-room without saying a word to herself.
When Mrs Drew and Mrs Pearce returned within minutes, she got her things and left with them.
Normally, she would have told whoever was on duty in the Lodge that the Professor was still there, but just for once she wasn't going to do that.
Let him be locked in or want her for something; her hours were nine to ive, on paper at least, and it was already ten minutes past the hour.She walked back to her bedsitting-room, still put out.
His mother could have said at once who she was and saved a good deal of unpleasantness.
Now Sarah had been rude to a consultant and, if he chose to do so, he could get her fired.
She walked briskly down the respectable, dull street of terraced houses and let herself into the end one, went up the shabby stairs, bare of carpet, and unlocked the door of her bedsit.It was quite a large room, papered in a dreary green, its paintwork a useful dark brown, its low window opening on to a decrepit balcony with a corrugated roof.
It was because of the balcony that Sarah stayed there; Charles, the cat she had befriended as a kitten, regarded it as his own and she had gone to a good deal of trouble to make it a home for him: there was grass growing in a pot at one end, a basket lined with old blanket, water and food, even a ball for him to toy with when he got bored.
When she was home he joined her in the room, sat beside her while she ate her meals and slept on her feet.
He came to meet her now and, as usual, she told him of her day's doings as she took off her things, hung them behind the curtain in one corner, and started to get their supper.The room was furnished, after a fashion: there was a divan bed, a table, two chairs, a down-at-heel easy chair drawn up to a gas ire, some shelves along one wall and a small gas stove beside a sink.
Sarah had done what she could to improve it with a cheerful bedspread, cushions and a cheap rug on the floor, flowers, even when she had to go without something in order to buy them, and a pretty reading-lamp.
All the same, it was a far cry from her home in Kent.
It was several years since she had left it and she was still homesick for the nice old house and the quiet country round it.
But she had known long before she'd left home that she would have to go; her stepmother had never liked her, and when her father had died she had made it plain to Sarah that she had no longer been welcome in her home.
That had been ive years ago and Sarah, twenty-eight years old, thought it unlikely that she would ever go home again.Nor for that matter, did she think that anything exciting would happen to her.
She was in a rut, earning just enough to live on, knowing few people, too shy to join ...



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Comment List (Total:16)

  •     Well, the back cover had it right! Radolf Nauta is coldhearted and rude, and certainly not the stuff of romantic dreams...except for Sarah, who inexplicably falls for him. I did not like Radolf, and even at the end of the book, when he finally admits he loves her, he is still arrogant and controlling. I tried to picture him as a tortured soul longing for love, but that didn't work at all. The only reason given for his coldness is that he was jilted 10 years earlier, when he was in his late twenties, but this doesn't account for either his rudeness or arrogance. If you like cold, domineering heroes, you'll enjoy this book.Sarah, a poor, thin, mousy girl, is a receptionist at the hospital where Mr. Warmth works. At his mother's request, he asks Sarah to come to Holland and be a companion to his dying grandmother, who has about a week to live. I guess there are no qualified women in Holland. Anyway, she goes, using her holiday time, and spends much of it playing the piano during the night for the elderly lady. Radolf comes, too, and spells her at the keyboard. After the grandmother's death, Radolf commands her to stay an extra few days. Since he's the one making her travel arrangements, she has little choice. Once back at the grindstone, several days late and unable to explain why (she promised Radolf she would not to tell anyone where she had been), she finds that her boss, who does not like her for some reason, is not happy and Sarah gets the sack.Radolf, who drives a Rolls, immediately goes off on a lecture circuit and returns a few weeks later to find the clinic is short one receptionist. Feeling guilty, as he well should since it was his fault she was late returning, he sets out to find Sarah. Meanwhile, Sarah, a sensible girl, at least other than in her taste in men, finds a job as a domestic and leaves town. She has no family or friends for him to question, so he is reduced to chatting with the flighty girls who live in the boarding house, bribing them with bottles of sherry, but learning little. Imagine his (and her) surprise when they meet at his godmother's house, Sarah in her maid outfit, getting ready to set the table for dinner! Much of the book is situations where she is serving, and he is a guest in the house. Not much romance there.There's quite a lot going in the story, coincidences and problems to throw them together, including a Big Misunderstanding, of sorts. One twist (watch where you step, Sarah!!) caused me to put the book down and laugh in disbelief. Roses Have Thorns was Neels' 86th (or so) book, and I guess coming up with plot twists after that many is hard. After a few minutes, I picked it up and began again, glad there weren't too many pages left and a happy ending was coming none too soon.Not Neels' best, IMO, but there's plenty of action, good characters, and a happy ending- and that's why we love her books.
  •     Roses have thorns, Professor. Shakespeare said that. I love a literate lady; no matter how much money she has in her pocket, she's got class. I enjoy Betty Neels. She's a romance classic as far as I am concerned. Her books are clean and her ladies are true ladies indeed. The books have aged but the pleasure from reading them won't grow old or cold. The leading lady is Sarah, whose name means princess. This Sarah is a princess who behaves like one - a woman of dogged integrity, dignity even as a maid, and what used to be called spunk. I liked her sense of humor, too.
  •     Sometimes it takes time, circumstances and some luck and some planning to move from annoy to love.I loved the settings and the various circumstances that bring these to together. I absolutely love all Betty Neels books.
  •     I really like Betty Neels' stories. They are sweet and they make me feel good by the time I get done reading them.
  •     Another charming wholesome love story, no thinking, just very enjoyable
  •     Classic Betty Neels but a heroine with a bit more grit than usual. All the twists and turns, the challenges for the main character and the eventual rescue by the stoic man with a...
  •     Same as all her books, GOOD
  •     I thought I had read all of Betty Neels books and was very happy to find another. I wish there were more authors out there that were like her, that let you use your imagination...
  •     I enjoy all books by Betty Neels.
  •     Typical Betty Neels just how we want our romance to be gentle and loving.
  •     The usual Betty Neels... amd that's a good thing! Both H and h were believable. H wasn't mean, and h wasn't sappy. A "just right" book for a lazy Saturday afternoon read.
  •     Great book
  •     I love all the old fashioned sweet romances by Betty Neels. I read them all many years ago and am now reading them for the 2nd and even 3rd times on my Kindle. She wrote them all on a formula. Usually a romance between a Dutch doctor or professor and an English young lady. There is always some type of conflict that has to be settled before the happily ever after.
  •     Love her books
  •     I have been buying Betty Neels books for my mother (in her 70's) at her request, as an introduction to using a Kindle. I can say without hesitation that she loves all of these books. As she has said, "The plots may all be somewhat similar and the stories quaint, but I enjoy them immensely and find them endearing." What better recommendation could there be? She now has almost every Betty Neels book available for the Kindle. (And the Kindle Paperwhite? She loves the backlight and the ability to make the font larger.)
  •     I love these books. They are sweet romances and very nice to relax and read.

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