Book Review

A Girl in a Million by Betty Neels

D

Title: A Girl in a Million
Author: Betty Neels
Publication Info: Dark Horse Comics 2005
ISBN: 1593074123
Genre: Contemporary Romance

I confess, I’ve been putting off writing this review for weeks. No, not weeks. Months.

The thing is, I can’t figure out the point of this book. Specifically, why it was published. It’s not completely unpleasant, but the story and characters have all the flavor and zip of day-old tapioca pudding. It’s one of those “Oh, lookit the adorable girl snagging herself a cynical, glamorous doctor, and he loves her because she’s so innocent and refreshing and gosh-darn good with children” stories that clog Romancelandia like a particularly persistent species of mite (yeah, still reading Parasite Rex, could you tell?). It’s nothing you haven’t seen, read and/or heard a million times before. So to make it more fun for me to write, and God knows, for you to read, I’m going to present this review in haiku format. I can only thank sweet baby Ganesh that “anesthesiologist” is seven syllables.

“Girl in a Million”—
Only if clueless, klutzy
British girls are rare—

Meets friend’s hot cousin:
Anesthesiologist
living in Holland.

Clumsy Caroline
trips. Pratfalls are so cute! (Barf.)
Hero carries her.

Cute kid smashed by fall.
Supah doctor to rescue!
Of course it’s hero.

Hero and kid’s mom
have a past. Caroline makes
stupid assumptions.

(What can you expect?
It’s a Harlequin, dude. Be
grateful it’s not worse.)

Kid nursed back to health.
Behold the healing power
of saccharine schmaltz.

Nurse saves kid from car.
Nurse’s life at risk! Oh noes!
Will she recover?

Bla bla bla bla bla
Doctor falls in love with nurse
Reviewer’s puzzled.

They didn’t spend much time
together. Brute dullness is
perhaps attractive?

Secondary tale
between kid’s parents riddled
with Big Mis. ARRGH. URGH.

Overall: not bad
But definitely not good.
Mostly, it’s boring.

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    E.D'Trix says:

    This reader thanks you
    Saved from the tragedy of
    Book induced coma

  2. 2
    Ann Aguirre says:

    Not that I’ve read Betty Neels, but in another thread I was reading that these stories are being gleaned from old Harlequins because it’s cheaper or something, which would explain the extremely dated plot.

  3. 3
    Nicole says:

    I’ve looked at a few of the newer ones and they look to be a few more current authors.

  4. 4
    Wendy says:

    I cannot figure out what HQ is doing with this line.  I mean, I’ll admit I’m extremely ignorant about manga – but is there really a market for “sweet” manga??  That seems to be where HQ is going with this – most of the authors I’ve seen so far for Ginger Blossom have definitely run on the sweeter side (Debbie Macomber anyone?)

  5. 5
    Dee says:

    Oh yes, there’s a market for Sweet Manga. :) Here in the US it’s young girls. They aren’t quite as jaded as we are, lol, and have no idea that Betty Neels stopped being relevant twenty years ago.

    (I know, there are romance fans out there who still think Betty Neels is an amazing writer. Sorry, she bored me from way back. But I will say in her defense, that when she wrote most of her stuff, it was actually ahead of it’s time. Shocking, no?)

    In Japan, where GB is actually initially targetted, it’s also the young and even some grown women. I mean, sure, they’ve got some hard hitting porn and good stuff stories out there, but there’s always a market for the very sweet and innocent there as well.

    Basically, GB is not aimed at your everyday bitch, if you know what I mean. Also, yup, most of the stories are older. I know this month’s release, Jinxed, actually came out sometime in the 80s or early 90s. (I have an original copy of the written one.)

    Does that help with the pain, Candy? LOL! I hope so!

    Smooches,
    Dee

  6. 6
    Helen says:

    Oh, Candy, the haiku review was brilliant! At least now when I think of the book I’ll smirk, rather than regret the money I spent on it. Us poor students need value for money!

    With respect to the old plot line thing – with Girl in a Million and that Penny Jordan one (Response, I think), not only were the original books published ages ago, but so were the manga themselves, in Japan. Looks like Harelquin really couldn’t be bothered to spend any more money on this new venture than they had to!

  7. 7

    HAHAHAHAHA!
    You made me laugh hard until
    I got a headache.

  8. 8
    SandyW says:

    I would really like this line to work, it’s a cute idea. According to the HQN web-site, they’ve revamped the series a bit, newer authors, etc.  That may help.

    My daughter is 17, she spends a ton on manga and reads some of the shojo (girly) stuff. Her opinion is that HQN manga will only take off if they include a little yaio (m/m romance), which brings us back to that ‘EWWWWW! That’s not romance!’ discussion.  ;-)

    I like manga, but I’m not really into the girly/romantic ones, so unless HQN starts putting out something along the lines of Death Note, Read or Die, Full Metal Alchemist, etc. I won’t be buying too many. I think these might be successfully marketed as ‘safe’ for nice conservative parents to buy for their younger teen daughters. Of course, ‘safe’ is the kiss of death if the teenagers in question are buying for themselves.

  9. 9
    Maggie Robinson says:

    Oh smart Candy,
    “sweet” has never stunk so bad
    as “Girl in Million.”

    Does author not know
    insidious inflation
    sadly lowers price?

  10. 10
    Sanachan says:

    What bugs me most about these is the crazy ass font colors. I think the first one you reviewed was “hot violet” and this one is “flirty pink ink!” Do they have any idea how hard that shit is to read? One semester I made the mistake of taking all my history notes in sparkly pink and purple ink. To this day I still have no idea what those notes say, and I wrote them!

  11. 11
    Monica says:

    Boring dismissal is a far worse review than a raving F or flawed C anytime

  12. 12
    Helen says:

    Sanachen, I read both Response and A Girl in a Million, and the colors really weren’t that difficult to read. The dialogue, etc was dark and bold enough that even though they it was pink or purple, reading the words was easy. But then, that’s coming from someone who still uses crazy colours to relieve the boredom of note taking. Sometimes I can’t read my notes, but that’s because of my crap handwriting, not the colors.

  13. 13

    I bow in the general direction of your wonderfulness.  This is a review for the ages.

  14. 14
    thera says:

    I find myself gobsmacked.  Save me from the evil that is Betty Neels and her Holland.  Isn’t Amsterdam in Holland, too?  Weed is legal, hookers are window dressing, and Anne Frank is becoming a footnote, pushed aside by live sex shows.  I tried her out thirty years ago when I first started reading romance and realized that all my teeth would fall out my head from the sugar she produced.

  15. 15
    Wendy says:

    Candy you just descibed the plot of every Betty Neals book.

  16. 16
    Saraswathi says:

    The funny thing is, I didn’t notice the author’s name at first, so when I read your review I laughed and said, “If I didn’t know better, I’d think Harlequin was reprinting old Betty Neels novels.”  Whoops. 

    Most prolific authors are accused of recycling plots at least once, but Ms. Neels put them all in the shade.

  17. 17
    Becca Furrow says:

    My kids have friends who read the Peach girl manga’s, but they are all around 12 years old. They might like the Hq manga.

    I was disappoainted they didn’t do something more adventourous, like suspense or paranormal.

    But then, I spent waaay to much time reading big brother’s horror comics when I was a kid. Iron maidens dripping blood etc.

  18. 18
    kate r says:

    Betty Neels is Tapioca. Why pick her? Don’t they get it? Don’t put curry in tapioca! Leave it alone and let the people who need boring familiar comfort food (say something to read during chemo) have those books.

    They do honest work, those books, but they don’t change styles easily and you can’t successfully dress them up as the hot new thang. It aint gonna work, no matter how much cilantro you put in them. 

    Jeepers. You’d think the editors would pay attention to WHICH READERS LIKE WHICH BOOKS.

    kate, grouchily mixing and diluting metaphors all goddamn day.

  19. 19
    Nanna says:

    Isn’t Amsterdam in Holland, too?  Weed is legal, hookers are window dressing, and Anne Frank is becoming a footnote, pushed aside by live sex shows.

    Hey! Is this comment even relevant to the review? Because to me it looks like blatant prejudice towards, and ignorance about, the Netherlands.

    The review made me laugh out loud, which my colleagues always seem to find disturbing.

  20. 20
    thera says:

    Simply making a joke.  Perhaps it didn’t translate very well.  Let me try to rectify the situation.  Betty Neels sucked thirty years ago, I’m afraid she sucks now, and she is the one who does the Netherlands a disservice by making it seem a bland and unexciting place, despite all the peril she puts her characters in.  Personally, I’d have mental problems if I had to rescue that many people.  How many tramatic experiences does it take before someone forms a split personality?  I think it’s three.  And another point…isn’t she one of the dearly departed?  Like Barbara Cartland, only not so covered in pink.

  21. 21

    In my former job, I confess, I used to work on the sainted Betty’s books. She remains one of Harlequin’s most popular authors, despite shuffling off this mortal coil some years past. The books are fairly interchangeable and I think there-in lies their appeal, perhap. You know exactly what your getting: big, blonde Dutch doctor hero; heroine who is either pretty and condemned for it, or plain but with one redeeming feature (usually good hair or a pleasing bosom – I kid you not!), no sex but maybe a kiss in the middle and one at the end for good measure. That and the fact that contemporary society seems to have Betty by – all her books read as if it’s the 1950s!!!! I retain a certain fondness for them, i’m afraid…though I was very surprised they chose her for the manga line… I guess they thought they’d be suitable for the teen market given the lack of sex – though when I think about the books I read as a teenager….

    Love Bytes at Piatkus

  22. 22

    Ahh… Betty Neels. The whiff of a fresh cardigan and sensible shoes. Love between Dr. Van Der Graaf and Nurse Jenny Rater among the fresh wheels of Edam and Gouda. I’m pretty sure that every declaration of love on the part of the good doctor (p.181) started with him addressing her, “You little fool!” followed by the explanation that Revealed All, including the machinations of the Very Glamorous Other Woman. (She wore lipstick!)

    They’re like the packet chicken noodle soup of romance. Not very nutritious, not very tasty, but when you’re feeling rotten, sometimes they’re just what you need.

  23. 23

    Don’t forget the red nail polish – the universal sign of an evil other woman in any Harlequin romance!

    http://www.lovebytespiatkus.blogspot.com

  24. 24
    Wry Hag says:

    Believe it or not, dear Betty does indeed still have rabidly loyal, diehard fans.

    How Holland managed to produce such a nun is utterly beyond my reckoning.  A very good friend of mine is from the Netherlands, and, believe me, a B.N. book is the LAST thing he’d take to bed with him!

  25. 25
    Sanachan says:

    Helen ~ Glad to hear they were more readable than they sounded (font wise if not story wise). I’m still a fan of bright colors and sparkly pens, but I now takes notes on my laptop, so I can relieve the boredom with a wireless internet connection. Smart Bitches helped me get through a number of three and a half hour long classes this summer.

  26. 26
    Anna Lucia says:

    Here’s a conundrum for you:-

    I’m a woman in my thirties, married, no kids yet. 

    Brought up urban evangelical, living rural sceptical/spiritual.  Career-orientated, but within the charity sector. 

    I write hot (ish) RS (unpubbed), have many friends blazing a trail in the published world with books running from erotica through romantica to mainstream women’s fiction.  My reading tastes run towards the hot end of the scale in romance, and the dark and angsty end of the scale elsewhere.  In category I mostly buy Silhouettes, Historicals and H Presents/Modern.

    But the only book club I belong to, an actual please-send-me-four-books-a-month-or-I’ll-DIE book club, is the Betty Neels one.

    I really would die, too.  Honest.

  27. 27
    suzycat says:

    I’m relieved to see this is a reprint, because I couldn’t believe Betty was still alive writing stories about handsome but incredibly dull blond Dutch doctors/businessmen and nice sensible girls who marry them. How many times did she do this plotline?

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