Some older romance novels don’t hold up well to the passage of time. The changes in fashion make the clothes seem dated; the changes in tech make the situations seem absurd; the changes in male-female relations make the romance seem stilted. It’s amazing what we thought was charming, romantic, or hot twenty or thirty years ago. The heroine of lots of those books seem insipid. The heroes of many of those books are hard to take in large doses without setting fire to the book.
A Betty Neels book is a different breed. The books are dated, but the characters are so strong it doesn’t matter in the least. Her heroes are usually doctors and whether they are a country doctor in a small village or a highly sought after specialist, they are all used to getting their own way. They are alpha, through and through, but underneath there is a gentleness. One of my favorite scenes is in Daughter of the Manor. The heroine Leonora is running herself into the ground caring for the great, old manor of the title and for her sick relatives. To help her out, the hero arranges for dinner to be brought to her. But, knowing her pride wouldn’t permit her to accept charity, he passes it off as a gift from a neighbor. The really amazing thing is the way the hero James talks about Leonora. He doesn’t fault her for her pride or think it silly or useless. It’s a part of her personality and he just accepts it and works around it to try and make her life easier without causing her any embarrassment.