Saturday, February 27, 2016

Hockey Star Nurse

By Diana Douglas (pseud. Richard Wilkes-Hunter), ©1972
Cover illustration by Allan Kass

Lovely, dark-haired Tina Grahame, private nurse to wealthy Mrs. Derwent, was enjoying having her patient’s two handsome, eligible sons in love with her. Rugged, headstrong Terry Derwent showed his open admiration for Tina despite his involvement with a society girl. A star hockey player, Terry reveled in the adulation and glamor that went with being a sports star. He was delighted to find that Tina understood the strong hold the game had on him, for her own brother was an internationally famous hockey player. But it was Shane, Terry’s younger brother, a dedicated doctor, to whom Tina found herself turning more and more. In Tina’s perplexed heart the score for the rivals in love was tied. Gentle, considerate Shane was obviously in love with her—and they shared the special world of medicine. But Terry was not a man whose kiss she could easily forget …


“My experience of nurses is that they’re always ravenous and cost a fortune to feed.”

“If I marry I’d want my woman to be a wife, not a nurse.”

“The human male has certain instinctive, but very definite, ideas about such things as ownership when it concerns a favorite girl.”

“It was not a way-out place, though some of the dancers wore hippie clothes.”

This is the tenth book by Diana Douglas, aka Richard Wilkes-Hunter, we’ve discussed in these virtual pages. I wish I could say that his productivity was in any way an indication of talent, but no. I read his books mostly so that I will be done with them sooner.

In this relatively benign little number, Tina Grahame is not, in fact, a hockey star. Which you are surely not shocked to learn, because, as we are told early on, “It’s not a game for girls.” She did play a bit when she was younger, to help the boys fill up the sides, but “grew out of it”—she wasn’t pushed, she jumped. Her brother, however, went on to become a famous goalie for a Canadian hockey team, so maybe the book’s title should be Hockey Star’s Nurse Sister.

Tina hires on at the home of Senator Derwent to care for his wife, who has no first name and multiple sclerosis. Living at the house, she spends a lot of time with the Derwent sons, Terry and Shane. Terry has decided to try out for a professional hockey team, and being the sister of a hockey star makes her knowledgeable enough to pass judgment on Terry’s playing, which is weak. Besides, he gets into fights on the ice, and is even sent to the penalty box for fighting! “It hasn’t happened all that often in league games I’ve seen,” Tina sneers at Terry. But soon Terry comes around, starts playing better and quits fighting, and scores a few game-winning goals. Still, Tina is not impressed, and finds Terry rude, supercilious, conceited, and horrid, among other poor qualities. “I hate you, Terry Derwent,” she thinks, which is all but a guarantee she’ll end up kissing him at some point in the book, if not out-and-out marrying him.

Meanwhile, the other Derwent son Shane went to Harvard Medical School and is doing his residency at Massachusetts General Hospital. “Poor Shane is a plodder,” moans his mother, who clearly has no favorites. Tina likes Shane, but early on they have a conversation in which each of them discusses how they would not want their spouse to be a doctor or a nurse. Which is all but a guarantee she’ll end up kissing him at some point in the book, if not out-and-out marrying him. Indeed, as she walks along Tremont Street in Boston on her day off (wandering into the movie “Love Story,” not realizing what it was about, “midway through the movie she began wishing she’d skipped the film,” and walking out before it was over), she decides that she is falling in love with Shane, “despite her hang-ups about marrying a doctor.”

Nonetheless, she accepts a date with Terry, and smooches him good in his car afterward. He tries to tell her that he’s falling in love with her, but she obtusely pretends she doesn’t understand what he’s saying, the tease. Then June’s disease relapses, and she becomes increasingly sick, demanding more and more of Tina’s time, so our nurse hasn’t any time for breaking hearts. Eventually June succumbs to her disease—another big surprise you will hate me for revealing—and Tina leaves the Derwent estate, heading home for a well-deserved vacation. And to watch the playoff game between Terry’s team and her brother’s. During the game, the camera pans to one brother’s surprise fiancée, a woman he had previously stated he would never marry, so all there is left to do is wait for the other brother to pop in and declare his troth, and this book is all wrapped up. And not a moment too soon. While not as out-and-out horrifying as the majority of this author’s books, Hockey Star Nurse is perfunctory and dull, and the only reason to read it is to be horrified by the dated attitudes about women and the utter disregard for a patient’s rights; June dies not ever knowing what disease she had. Probably not the best reasons to read a book, but that’s all I have to offer you.

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