4 stars

Category Romance Review: Tabitha in Moonlight by Betty Neels

Tabitha in the Moonlight, Betty Neels, Harlequin, 1972, Bern Smith cover art

Harlequin Romance #1905

VERY MILD SPOILERS 😉

4 stars

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Heroine & the Hero

Reviewed by Introvert Reader

Tabitha in Moonlight is a Harlequin Romance about an efficient, capable nurse (aren’t they always in these books?) in an elderly men’s ward. She falls for the new temporary surgeon, the Dutch-born, Dr. Marius van Beek. Betty Neels wields the typical doctor-nurse romance into a Cinderella story, with Tabitha starring as the poor, down-trodden stepdaughter who gets no love from her wicked step-mother and step-sister.

Dr. van Beek plays the prince’s role, but fortunately, this Prince is far more astute than his fairy tale predecessor, not requiring a glass slipper to identify his true lady love.

When first we meet Tabitha, she is presiding over her ward, checking on patients in a pleasant, personal manner, going as far as taking care of one old gentleman’s cat. She’s no beauty, as Neels describes her, but with her lovely figure, wide smile, and fabulous hair that she keeps primly knotted up, the reader knows Tabitha is actually a swan in hiding.

The Plot

Tabitha lives in a little flat near work. She’s 25, practically on the shelf, and independent, but quite delf-deprecating. She doesn’t think much of her looks. It’s a shame a plain Jane like herself is the type the handsome new doctor would never be interested in. (sigh)

Years ago, Tabitha had lived with her father in their ancestral home, Chidlake. But upon his remarriage and her entrance into nursing school, she left home. Her father died, and by all rights, the family home should be hers. However, her father left it to his second wife, believing she would pass it on to his daughter. At a weekend visit to Chidlake, Tabitha is shocked to see Dr. van Beek in attendance, with her stepsister draped all over him.

Tabitha’s stepmother is a cruel woman, insulting Tabitha’s looks at every turn. Is it a wonder she feels so insecure when compared to her elegant step-sister?

But make no mistake, Marius is not a cad who chases woman after woman. If they’re drawn to him, it’s because he’s one of those confident, handsome men who excels at his profession. Women highly prize that type of man.

There are a few surprises in store for Tabby. Tabitha finds herself accompanying Marius and a patient on a trip on Marius’ boat and then to Holland. There are quite a few charming side characters in this vintage romance that add to the overall enjoyment.

Final Analysis of The Book

This is a sweet romance about a fairy tale coming to fruition in real life. Dr. van Beek was a great hero. Reserved, cool, but you knew what was going on in his mind, that he adored Tabitha. He’s actually a very nice hero, always praising Tabitha, and trying his best to instore confidence in her.

I could have done without Tabitha’s silly insecurities about her looks. She carried on as if she were a troll. I don’t know if it’s limited solely to books, but it seems so many young women are either woefully insecure about themselves or have too much-misplaced arrogance. Can’t there be a middle ground for self-adjusted women who value their true worth?

That’s a minor quibble, as seeing Tabitha grow into her own and flourish under Marius’ kindness made this romance a delightful treasure.

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