The last of Robert Silverberg’s Loren Beauchamp books here, I have read and reviewed them all; all were for Midwood except one, The Wife Traders, which was for Boudoir Books and was a truncated version of David Challon’s Suburban Sin Club, discussed here.
Nurse Carolyn is a somewhat dark tale of a naive young nurse in white, Carolyn Wright, taken down the dark path of wealth and S/M. The first edition, above, has one of Paul Rader’s best art; Rader also did the cover for the second edition, which is less striking but still Rader.
We first meet Carolyn as a quasi-sexually liberated nurse at Netherlands Hospital, engaged to a young go-getter intern named Dick. (“I love Dick” obviously double-entendre when she says it.)
For two days she took care of a diabetic and multi-millionaire, Cornelias Baird. He has requested her to be his private nurse at his Long Island estate, at $125 week and free room and board. For the late 50s, which this is set, that was pretty good wages for an R.N. The hospital hates to see her go — they have a nurse shortage — but Baird is on the Board of Directors, his family has given gifts to the hospital since its inception, and Baird has suggested he would build a new wing for taking Carolyn away.
To Carolyn, this is only a five-month job where she can save the money to help with her eventual wedding to Dick. She does not suspect anything nefarious–Mr. Baird is in his late 50s, and although handsome and tall, he is also sickly and very thin (six-foot-five and 160 lbs). He seems very old-world and gentlemanly, but behind that mask is a perverted sadist at heart.
He has 12 house staff, several pretty young women in their late teens-20s as “maids.” One pulls her aside and tells Carolyn to run away fast before it’s too late, before she becomes a sexual slave of depravity like they all are. Carolyn doesn’t believe it…
The weird thing, Baird looks like an older version of her first love, four years ago when she started out as a nurse, a young rich boy who won her heart and virginity, only to find out he was using her for sex as he was engaged to a high society debutante, marrying her: Carolyn discovered this truth in the paper. For Baird, Carolyn is the spitting image of his long dead first wife from the roaring 20s — Carolyn herself is shocked to see how much she resembles the portraits on the wall of his old wife.
One day, Baird talks her into stripping into her undies to play hand ball; one night, he talks her into drinking champagne on the 30th anniversary of his wedding; she gets drunk and he pretends she is his long dead wife and she pretends he is the young man who broke her heart…in a dark and sad moment, they have drunken sex, caught in their own depraved sin fantasies…
There is something seductive about Baird…as much as she tries to tell him no, or quit, his soothing voice hypnotizes her, as it does to the other women on staff, so they all do his bidding to please his sexual needs, such as putting on S/M shows (“carnivals” he calls them) with the maids being whipped then fucked by the limo driver/aide (a big black guy) and the butler (a genteel man).
Soon, Carolyn forgets Dick and falls in love with Baird, despite his age and health. Is it his millions, the diamonds and pearls he lavishes on her, the promise of inheriting his vast fortune if she marries him? She can put up with his sex shows, a voyeur fetish he picked up from France in the 1920s; she can watch, but she does not want to participate. When he demands she put on a lesbian show for him, with one of the other staff women, she refuses, and he gets mad and threatens to fire her — forget his love, he has to have what he demands, and he is not used to being told no.
Is this an erotic play on the nurse genre? I haven’t read any nurse books. I remember my grandmother had a few Avalon hardback nurse novels on her shelf and looking at them when I was a teenager and finding them sappy and romantically silly, books for girls and women with nurse fantasies in the General Hospital sense. There was a time when nurse novels were a big thing (1940s-70s) — writers like Peggy Gaddis wrote scores of them, like Nurse Ellen, as well as more racier Beacon titles like Dr. Prescott’s Secret.
The nurse genre may have a recent infusion of life on TV, with the success of Nurse Jackie on Showtime and Mercy on NBC, about a group of nurses and their loves and woes (perhaps akin to The Young Nurses by Harry Whittington?).
The ending to Nurse Carolyn is probably far more darker than the typical nurse and doctor novels. This one ends in tragedy and blood and depraved emotions.
A fairly good read, on a scale of 1-10 of all Silverberg’s Beauchamps, I would give it an 8. The best of the Loren Beauchamp novels are, by far, Connie and Meg (both bestsellers for Midwood), then Love Nest (a dark tale of womanizing), Wayward Wife (reprint of Thirst for Love by Mark Ryan), Unwilling Sinner (reprint of Twisted Love by Ryan) — two books Slverberg said he was not paid for by Bedstand, so re-sold to Midwood with slight changes in character names, which was also the case with Campus Sex Club, reprint of Campus Love Club by David Challon (in a few days, I will talk about Lawrence Block/Andrew Shaw’s plagaraism of that book with College for Sinners). A Fire Within was okay; And When She was Bad somewhat typical…
While Sin on Wheels has another great cover by Rader, and is hard to find, I thought the story was disappointing, as reviewed here.
Nurse Carolyn was also reprinted, with minor changes, in 1967 by Cornith/Greenleaf’s Companion series, as Registered Nympho, under the Don Elliott pen name, with a cover that might be closer to the story than the two Midwoods, although Carolyn is not exactly a “nympho” per se.