Today's contender for worst 80's hero? A cold, hard-hearted radiologist with control issues and a penchant for mind games!
The "Plot": Our heroine, Meg Culver, is a particular doormat: taken advantage of by her two older sisters, mousy, domestic Meg has been caring for their dying mother for the past few years. Now that their mother has died, Meg decides to stay on and be housekeeper for the new owners, since she doesn't want to leave. Mrs. Culver, the new tenant, has an obnoxious doctor son who treats Meg horribly. Then he offers her a job as a receptionist and an apartment to go with it, even though he continues to treat her with complete contempt. Sometimes he makes her act as housekeeper for his mother or grandmother. All the while he squires glamorous women around, who occasionally show up and insult Meg. Then he fires her. But! Surprise! It's because he has a new job for her - as his wife! Yay!
The Qualifications: "It would behoove you to mind your words, would it not?" he reminds her after they meet. He's always very concerned that she remember her "place."
"He didn't know why he thought of her sometimes; she was really nothing to look at."
She said shyly, 'The flat is lovely, Professor Culver.' And when he grunted in reply, she added, 'I think I shall like working for you; I hope...I'll do my best.'
'You won't stay long if you don't!'
When he comes to her flat to find she's adopted a stray kitten, and borrowed a book from the office to learn more about his work:
"I wasn't aware that I'd made you free of the books in my consulting room," he said softly...he had the look of an angry man...He said in the same soft voice, "And what is that bedraggled creature doing here, filthy dirty and no doubt flea-ridden?" His black eyes narrowed and his mouth had a nasty curl to it. "Haven't you got a little above yourself, my girl? Helping yourself to my books, bringing verminous animals into this house..." He was getting really cross; it was time to stop him before he was in a real rage.
When his glamorous girlfriend drops in on Meg uninvited: "We thought we'd do a bit of slumming, my dear...My god, can you cook, too? Ralph said you were a pre-war paragon with no ambition. We'll just sit down while you slave over a hot stove."
When he takes her out for tea: "The waitress offered her a great tray of rich cream cakes which she eyed with a childish pleasure which her companion, did she but know it, found vaguely pathetic."
While she's working as a housekeeper:
"There you are. Where have you been?"
"Packing for your mother, Professor. I came to turn off the lights, but perhaps you would do that when you go to bed?'
"Prim," he said nastily, and "A poker down your back," and he kissed her hard.
How We Know He's Actually a Good Guy: He's "a wonderful son" and apparently a really competent doctor.
He kissed her quiet. "Later - I've other plans for the moment."
"Oh well," said Meg happily. "If you say so."
Advantages: Treats heroine like a servant the entire book, never lets her address him by his first name.
Handicaps: Lack of rapiness.