Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Welcome Shelley Rivers

Hey everyone! I’d like to introduce you to our newest medical author Shelley Rivers. I’ve asked her to share a little bit about herself so we can get to know her better. Please give her a warm welcome.     

Shelley Rivers

I discovered medical romance when:
I’ve been reading Mills and Boon novels since I was eleven years old. I was sick and bored so my mum handed over the Mills and Boon she had just finished. This was before they were too sexually explicit. And so my obsession with romance began.

I wrote my first story when:
I’m a reader first. Being a writer didn’t enter my head for years. But sometime during my twenties, I attempted to write something loosely resembling a love story. It involved an Italian millionaire, a gorgeous blonde model and hundreds of clichés. It was brilliantly awful, had no plot line, far too short and still holds a fond place in my heart.

Where do you live?
In a house in Dorset, England.

My best trait is:
I asked my family this question and they insist I’m caring and funny.

My worst trait is: I’m sorry but I really don’t suffer any bad traits. 😊 I just have unique personality quirks that may occasionally annoy people.

Five things on your bucket list:
This was hard because I don’t really do the bucket list concept where you make a note of things you want to do at some point in the future. I think it’s important to do the dreams in your heart and not put them off for years. If this year has taught us one thing, I hope it’s that.

Anyway, here are my five things.
1) Travel to Ireland and wander around castles and medieval ruins while dreaming up wonderful historical stories that I will one day write.
2) Adopt more greyhounds. Though this may upset the princess hound I already spoil. My aim is to slip into old age with more animals around me than people.
3) Name an Irish race horse. My dad loved horse racing so it would be lovely to do this in his memory.
4) Tango badly on a deserted beach on a cloudy day.
5) Laugh with a loved one beneath the Northern Lights.

 

Shelley Rivers book

Alex Morsi:
Heartbreaker…or heart-healer?
The lush Dorset countryside is just what veterinary nurse Kiki Brown needs to regroup after her broken engagement. What she doesn’t need is grumpy-but-gorgeous new boss local vet Alex Morsi and the temptation of his sweet kisses! Yet the shadows in Alex’s eyes are all too compelling for soft-hearted Kiki. She’s been let down badly before, but can Alex prove that he’s the man who will always be by her side?
Release date July 2020

 

Excerpts, Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, New Releases

Friends on the Long Road to Publication

NA CoverIt is hard to believe that I am getting to write the blog post for my second Mills and Boon Medical! An author may dream up the characters and write the stories, but, if they are lucky, the bumpy road to seeing their name on the cover of a book isn’t done alone. And I am incredibly lucky to have had more than a few people hold my hand or give me a shoulder to cry on when that long road felt never ending.

This book fulfills a promise I made years ago to my very first beta reader, Sarah. I always said that my first book had to be dedicated to my supportive husband, but if I was ever lucky enough to write more than one, the dedication would be to Sarah.

Sarah read works that have never, and may never, see the light of day. Though she is a good friend; she also never held back on telling me when something didn’t work, or when a hero was coming off a might (or a lot) evil! She cheered me on as rejections piled up and never hesitated to say she’d love to read what I had.

There are not enough words to say thank you for all Sarah read and her continued encouragement. But I hope this dedication makes a small dent in the enormous debt I owe her.

For Sarah, who lovingly read my early works and cheered me on.

An excerpt from Falling Again for the Single Dad – available September 1st: 

Chapter One

DR. ELI COLLINSS breath caught as he stared at the gaggle of new employees. The first night was always a bit disorienting for the new hires, and they tended to arrive in packs for the first week or so. A petite woman, with long dark hair, lagged behind the rest.

The graceful way she moved sent a pulse of need through him. Amara? He hadn’t seen her in years.

And he wasn’t seeing her now.

Still, Eli’s heart pounded as he tried, and failed, to control his reaction to the miniscule possibility she was here. Hope, need, love, all wrapped around him before pain dismissed the fantasy.

Amara Patel was the best part of his past—and the worst. Any time he saw someone who bore a vague resemblance to her, Eli would stare for just a moment. It was never Amara, but after nearly a decade of trying, he still couldn’t break the habit.

“The new crop of nurses and doctors start tonight.” Dr. Griffin Stanfred slapped Eli’s shoulder as he slid in front of him.

“I know.” Eli shifted, trying to catch another glimpse of the woman. But she’d disappeared with the rest of the group. He wanted to run after them, force his mind and heart to realize that the mystery hire was just another look-alike. A beautiful, graceful, jet-haired woman, a talented nurse or doctor, sure, but it wasn’t his Amara.

His—that was a ridiculous thought. Amara hadn’t been his for nearly a decade. It was just a symptom of Eli’s loneliness.

He had let his desire to be the perfect son of the great Dr. Marshall Collins cost him his happiness. At least he’d come to his senses before taking on a surgical residency he didn’t want. That decision had been the right one, but Marshall had refused to speak to Eli during the entire duration of his residency and subspecialty training or the years that came after.

Only after Eli had given a keynote address at the second-largest emergency medicine conference in the country, eight months ago, had his father reached out to him. Their relationship was still more professional than personal, but Eli couldn’t stop the hope that one day Marshall might finally soften toward him. If Eli just achieved enough…

He let his eyes linger on the staff lounge door for a moment longer. Eli took a deep breath. Amara wasn’t at his hospital—she couldn’t be.

She’d landed a job at a prestigious university research hospital a week before graduating with her nursing degree. And two weeks after they’d broken up. Eli had watched from the corner of the room as she celebrated with their friends.

He’d wanted to reach out to her, to tell her how proud he was, celebrate with her. But he’d worried that if he said anything, he would beg her to take him back. Instead, Eli had made his excuses and left the party. It was one of the many moments in his past he wished he could change.

But life didn’t have a rewind button.

Eli hadn’t gone into surgery, but every activity he did was weighed against what it could do for his career. How it would improve Boston General. Make the institution great. Get it noticed.

Get him noticed.

Because no matter Eli’s achievements, he couldn’t stop the questions about his father. Even when he was surrounded by emergency professionals, someone always asked if he was related to Dr. Marshall Collins. Their eyes inevitably widened when Eli admitted he was his son. And part of him evaporated as they peppered him with questions about his father’s legacy.

You’re enough…

Eli’s soul lifted a bit. Even after all these years, Amara’s voice still floated through his memories just when he needed it. That constant kept him sane and yet sometimes drove him mad.

Eli had considered calling Amara so many times. Just to check in, say hello. See if she’d like to catch up; if she’d gotten the life she wanted; if she’d moved on. But he couldn’t, because if she had, then the tiny ball of hope Eli had never managed to extinguish would die. His heart didn’t want to accept that final loss.

It was easier to imagine Amara in the ER than at home with a husband and family who loved her. Safer… They’d both believed emergency medicine was their calling. Even if he’d doubted it for a brief period.

“Gina quit. Took a job in Baltimore.” Susan Gradeson, the ER’s head nurse, sighed as she laid her laptop on the charging pad at the nurses’ station. “Luckily, one of the new hires agreed to take her shift.” Before Eli could ask any questions, Susan hustled away.

Boston General’s emergency room had one of the highest trauma rates in the nation. It was used by physicians and nurses as a launching pad to one of the nationally ranked academic hospitals that dotted the city. If only they were recognized on that list, then maybe the other hospitals wouldn’t have such an easy time siphoning away Boston Gen.’s talent.

Eli had been offered a position at several of those academic hospitals too. But he loved the chaotic nature of Boston Gen. He thrived on the constant challenges, and even took pleasure in turning down the jobs. He’d bring in the offer letter and let the staff help him draft a blistering no-thank-you note. Eli never sent those, but it was an excellent way to let his friends and colleagues blow off steam.

His cell dinged with an image of his niece, Lizzy. She was waving at the camera; her cheeks covered in chocolate pudding. Eli darted around the corner and video called his mother. She’d taken to the role of grandma the minute Lizzy was born. And she’d refused to allow him to hire a nanny when Lizzy came to live with Eli eight months ago. He didn’t know how he would have survived without his mom’s calming presence.

He’d never expected to be a father. Marshall hadn’t set a great example, but Eli was doing his best. Which mostly meant Googling everything and hoping the mistakes he made were minor. His insides relaxed a bit as Lizzy waved again. Lizzy looked a lot like her father—a man she’d never remember.

Eli pushed his grief away. The months since his brother’s passing had dulled the pain, but there were still moments where Eli had to remind himself that he couldn’t call Sam after a hard day. Or text him a celebratory note after an unexpected success.

At least he had Lizzy.

“Hi, cutie!” Eli cooed as his niece played with the chocolate pudding on her high chair tray. Lizzy needed a happy parent, not a concerned, uncomfortable uncle who was still terrified that he was going to screw everything up.

He smiled and laughed at her silly antics as worries niggled at the back of his brain. Eli never wanted Lizzy to see how terrified he was to be a father. He may not have planned to be a dad, but he couldn’t fail Lizzy now that he was.

“Did she eat any of that?” Eli shook his head as he stared at the messy, almost two-year-old.

“A bit.” His mother laughed. “I was just getting ready to put her in the bathtub. Figured she might as well have some fun. Every kid loves to play with pudding at this age. I’ve got pictures of you and—” she paused for just a moment “—and Sam covered in the sweet stuff.”

A nurse with dark hair passed by in Eli’s peripheral vision. Amara? She’d already slipped into a patient’s room by the time he turned to get a better look.

Why was his mind playing tricks on him tonight?

“Look!” Lizzy giggled as the pudding dripped off her fingers.

Focus, he reminded himself. Smiling at Lizzy, Eli shook his head. “You really are a mess—a cute mess.”

“Daddy!” Lizzy stuck her tongue out at the camera.

Eli’s stomach clenched. That title still felt off. Like he was robbing Sam somehow. “It’s Uncle Eli, sweetheart.”

“Daddy,” Lizzy repeated.

“Well, I’m going to get her cleaned up.” His mom offered a soft smile, though he could see her blink away a few tears. “It’s okay to be daddy, Eli. Maybe it’s what she needs. Sam would understand—even give you a hard time about it.”

“Probably.” Eli agreed, then waved one last time before his mother shut off the video connection. Eli wasn’t Lizzy’s father. Sam was…always would be.

But he was gone.

He’d been killed in a plane crash along with his wife, Yolanda, heading to a surgical conference, just as Lizzy was starting to say her first words.

Like Daddy.

Daddy… It held so much meaning. Eli still felt lost, but Lizzy was his responsibility. No, she was his daughter. When she was older, he would make sure that Lizzy knew as much about her parents as possible.

Sam was the good son, after all. The one who’d followed in his father’s footsteps, though he’d refused to take on any roles at his father’s research facility after Yolanda announced she was pregnant. It was unfair that Eli was now the one putting Sam’s daughter to bed, getting to watch silly pudding videos, planning her future.

And hearing the word Daddy.

When Sam and Yolanda had asked him to be Lizzy’s guardian less than a week after her birth, Eli had agreed without thinking about it. But he’d never expected to take custody of Lizzy. He loved Sam, though watching him with his wife and daughter had always sent a wave of jealousy through him. But Eli’s goals didn’t include a family.

Hadn’t included a family.

In the horrid days after the accident, Eli had held their sleeping child feeling devastated. But he’d sworn to raise her with all the love Sam had shown for her. Somehow, Eli was going to be both an amazing father and a top emergency room doctor. The patients and Lizzy came first. He could do this—he had to.

Turning, he stared at the room where the dark-haired nurse had disappeared a few minutes ago. Eli didn’t think she’d exited yet. If a patient was being difficult, she might need help. That was why he was moving toward the room. Not because he needed to prove to himself that it wasn’t Amara.

Just before he got to the door, Susan grabbed his arm. “I’ve got a kid in room 7 that needs stitches and an elderly man in 4 that probably needs to be admitted for pneumonia. Any chance you can clear either of them out of my ER?”

Your ER?” Eli echoed. “Last time I checked, I was the senior doctor on staff this evening.”

“That supposed to mean something?” Susan quipped as she marched toward another room.

That was Eli’s running joke with Susan. The head nurse had worked at Boston General longer than anyone, and she ran a tight ship. Everyone fell in line when Susan Gradeson ordered it.

Eli looked over his shoulder one last time. But the nurse, or more likely, the figment of his imagination, still hadn’t materialized.

He tried to convince himself that it wasn’t Amara. It wasn’t.

Eli had a few hours left on his shift. He’d see the dark-haired woman before he went home. Then his brain could stop hoping that a miracle had occurred. He had never stopped loving Amara, but that was a feeling he’d learned to live with.

***

Amara held her breath as Dr. Eli Collins finally walked away from the room where she was hiding. Her pulse rate was elevated, and she could feel the heat in her cheeks. Eli was here…here.

She’d already double-checked on the patient, a young woman waiting on her release papers following a minor fender bender. Amara had gone over the concussion protocol with her and made sure she knew the indicators for internal bleeding. Now Amara was hovering. Her stomach twisted as she tried to work out what to do.

She’d left Massachusetts Research after her relationship with Dr. Joe Miller had crashed and burned in full view of all her colleagues. No matter how high she’d held her head, there’d been whispers when Joe immediately started dating her ER colleague Kathleen Hale. Louder whispers when they’d eloped a few weeks later.

Amara had been considering a change for years. If Joe’s affair was the catalyst for it, so what? But now she was facing working with another ex—and she’d never fully recovered from their breakup…

Amara was independent. That was the word she used to describe herself. Independent…that word sounded so much better than afraid of commitment. Terrified of losing your dreams to someone else’s goals. Of disappearing in the one relationship where you were supposed to stand out.

That was the fear that had driven her to walk away from Eli. It had been the right choice. But it didn’t stop the regret that sometimes seeped deep into her bones as she lay awake at night. They wouldn’t have worked. It was the mantra she’d repeated for years. He wanted to chase glory, like her father. Eventually, that need destroyed everything it touched.

She’d watched her mother give all of herself to her father. All her dreams, her goals had been sacrificed to support him. And she’d gotten almost nothing in return.

Even after her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, Amara’s father hadn’t put away his bid to secure funding for his newest start-up. Her mother had fought for her life without her husband by her side. And it had been Amara holding her hand at the end, not the man she’d stood beside for nearly forty years.

The patient coughed, and Amara’s cheeks heated again. The young woman hadn’t commented on her extended presence—yet, but she was watching Amara count the supplies in the cabinet. Amara made a note to restock the extra-small gloves, and wanted to shake herself.

Coward! her brain screamed. She should march out of the room and pretend that Eli was just any other doctor on the ER floor.

Boston General was supposed to be her fresh start. Her new place.

And Eli was here.

Did he still have to look so handsome?

Amara hated the selfish thought. Eli had been gorgeous in college, and the last decade had been very kind to the man. No beer belly or receding hairline for him. No, he was still the tall, broad-shouldered, dark-haired medical student that had been every woman’s dream date. Except now, he was an ER doctor. Not a surgeon.

Joy tapped across Amara’s skin. Eli had evidently followed his own path. That didn’t make it any easier to walk out the door and say hello, but she was surprised by how much it warmed her heart.

Amara once believed they’d grow old together. That they’d work in the same ER and go home to a small house with a couple of kids. It had been a good fantasy, and for a short period, she thought those dreams were enough for Eli too. But what was a happy home life compared to medical glory?

Amara’s heart clenched as she forced the past away.

What was Eli doing at Boston General?

She’d assumed he’d gone to Chicago. It was ridiculous, but every year she checked the online annual hospital report to see if he was listed with the other top surgeons. He’d wanted to be like his father so much, but working at Boston Gen. wasn’t likely to land Eli on that list.

In a city full of prestigious academic hospitals, Boston Gen.’s administration wasn’t interested in attracting investors that would make demands that took resources away from the hospital’s patients. Which meant it was chronically underfunded in its quest to provide quality care. Eventually, many of its talented physicians and nurses sought out the hospitals with research dollars, beautiful new buildings and better hours.

The low retention rate for employees at Boston Gen. was well-known. It was one of the reasons why, when Amara figured she needed a change to jump-start her life, she’d applied here.

If she’d known Eli was working at this hospital… She forced that thought away. It didn’t matter. Amara was not going to be another retention statistic on Boston Gen.’s ledger.

Squaring her shoulders, she marched from the room and ran directly into the head nurse, Susan.

“Sorry!” Amara grabbed her to keep them from tumbling to the floor. She instinctively looked over Susan’s shoulder. Eli was gone—at least he hadn’t witnessed her bout of clumsiness.

What would he say when they finally crossed paths?

Amara ignored that thought. She didn’t want to think about Eli, now. Or ever, though there was little hope of that.

“No harm done…?” Wrinkles ran along Susan’s forehead as she stared at her.

“Amara,” she said helpfully. She’d stepped in at the end of their orientation yesterday when Susan had announced that the ER was short-staffed for this evening’s shift. Amara doubted the head nurse had even bothered to write her name down before rushing back to her post.

She looked around Susan one more time and then mentally chastised herself. Amara needed to get Eli out of her head.

“Looking for someone?” Susan raised an eyebrow.

“A doctor… I…no,” she stuttered.

Amara suspected Susan knew she was lying, but at least she didn’t press her. “While we have a lull, I wanted to see if you’d help with the health fair in a few weeks. All the hospital’s departments have a few booths. Several of the ER doctors always run their own. There is a competition—the winner gets two extra vacation days.”

Eli would love that. He’d thrived in competitive environments in college—always pushing himself to come out on top. But Amara hadn’t been the right prize. She knew that wasn’t fair, but a decade later, she still woke up from dreams where he was holding her. Her subconscious refused to give up the whisper of hope Amara was too scared to voice while awake.

Pain rippled up her spine, but she ignored it. Amara was starting a new chapter, and it did not include Dr. Eli Collins. Straightening her shoulders, she gave Susan her full attention. “Put me down for whichever booth needs help.” Her voice didn’t sound as strong as she wanted, but at least it was a start.

A man walked behind Susan, and Amara made sure to keep her gaze focused on the head nurse. She was not going to look for Eli again—she wasn’t.

“You might want to get to know the doctors who are participating first. Like I said, this helps the community, but the competition…”

Amara waved away Susan’s concerns. “It’s fine. I don’t need extra vacation time.” Her father and his new wife lived in California now, and she had no desire to visit.

Not that she’d been invited.

Jovan Patel had barely waited until her mother was gone to set a wedding date. No long mourning period for him.

“We’ve got a four-car pileup coming in!” one of the nurses cried as she ran past Amara and Susan.

Susan turned and yelled, “Dr. Collins was talking to his daughter over by room 3, but he might be in room 7, putting in a few stitches now, and Dr. Stanford is in room 6.”

Amara’s insides chilled. Eli had a daughter. Perhaps even a wife. Her heart raced as she headed for the ambulance bay doors. It was her body prepping for the incoming wounded, not because of Eli.

How simple would life be if she could believe that?

UK Cover

Pre-order Here:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon AU

Amazon Canada

Kobo

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Pets

Of Cats and Other Things

Meet the love of my life.

20191013_215137

His formal name is Akira Purrosawa, after one of my favorite film directors. His informal names include Hobbes, Hobbsey-Wobbsie, Widdle Kitty Widdershins, His Nibs, and Wee Baby. Among others.

Mostly, we call him Kitty.

Kitty is probably the handsomest member of my family. He definitely has the most charisma. I’ve never seen him get self-conscious when he walks into a room, which is more than I can say for myself.

But he’s getting on in years, and so three days ago, I bought him an expensive water fountain to help him stay hydrated. If you have a cat of your own, then you already know that the amount of money one spends on an item for a cat is inversely related to how much the cat actually uses that item. I believe this is Newton’s Third Law of Cats. It’s not a total loss: he adores the box the fountain came in.

I’ve tried changing the water settings. I’ve tried putting treats near the fountain. I’ve tried getting down on all fours to show him how the fountain is supposed to work (I will not be sharing pictures of this). But no dice. Kitty is not interested. He doesn’t care that this fountain is better for his health. All he knows is that there is a Strange Thing in his Territory, and he didn’t ask for it to be put there, and he can’t make it go away.

As frustrated as I am with trying to get him to drink from this fountain, I also get it. I’m tired of change, too.

I began working from home in March, and I know that I’m incredibly lucky to be able to do my job online. But at the time, making the change from going to an office every day to working out of a corner of my bedroom was terrifying. I didn’t know that everything was going to be all right, or that some things might even be better now that I was online. All I knew was that a Strange Thing was happening, and I didn’t ask for it, and I couldn’t make it go away.

I think that’s the hardest part about change: you can’t control it. And a lot of the time, that’s ok. Sometimes it’s actually better not to have control, because things end up working out better than expected. But I know that I usually appreciate that most in hindsight, rather than while I’m going through a change.

When I have the advantage of hindsight, maybe I’ll be able to appreciate how I’ve spent significantly more time with my partner over the past few months. Or how I’ve had more time to write, now that I’m not commuting. Or how my values have become clearer to me during a time of much-needed social change.

Or perhaps, instead of waiting for hindsight, I can simply accept the changes and appreciate those things now.

After all, that’s essentially what I’m asking my cat to do. A fountain may seem like a small thing, but he’s such a habitual creature that it’s a huge alteration to his world. And yet I’ve caught him taking tentative laps a couple of times, before skittering off to hide from the Scary Thing that Gives Water. This is better for you, I want to tell him. This is just a change. It’s normal. It’s part of life.

I try to remember that, too, while working from home. It’s just change. It’s normal. It’s part of life.

So Kitty and I are both working on coping with change. I’m not sure which of us has it easier at the moment. Probably Kitty: at least he doesn’t have any writing deadlines. But if anyone has ideas about how to make a cat fountain more appealing, I know that Kitty would love some tips.

Update: SUCCESS! About an hour after I finished writing this post, I noticed Kitty staring at his fountain. I stood next to him and he just hunkered down against my leg for about 5 minutes. looking at the fountain and then back at me. Then he slooowly began to paw at the water, and ended up taking a long drink. And I realized something that I completely forgot as I was writing my post, which is that change is far easier to handle when you have a friend around.

 

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Together… Apart!

One of the things l love most about being a Harlequin/Mills & Boon author is the sense of family amongst all the authors and editors. Especially now, during the pandemic, when everything seems topsy-turvy and we’re missing the things we used to take for granted, like going to lunch with friends or having a night out on the town.

A highlight of being a professional author are the many conferences throughout the year, where you can meet and mingle with other authors and industry professionals and readers. As with other large gatherings, most (if not all) conferences are cancelled for 2020 and many for 2021 as well as we await a COVID vaccine and news that we can safely attend such things again.

But the team at Harlequin/Mills & Boon made sure that the members on their team, including editors and authors, still had opportunities to network and have a bit of fun–virtually! The first of these happened this past Wednesday with an online Summer Social for all the Medical and Romance authors in the US, UK, and Canada. A separate social will be held this upcoming week for the authors in Australia and New Zealand.

There were about twenty of us who Zoom’ed over an hour and a half this past week and it was lovely! We got to chat with each other from all over the world, have a drink or a cuppa or whatever (depending on the timezone 😉), and even play a quiz–which was WAY harder that should be allowed for a weekday morning. LOL!

Here’s a screen shot of us all during the quiz… (thus the stern, befuddled looks on all our faces) 🤔😂🤣

Screenshot 2020-08-05 11.53.06

Anyway, it was super fun, and so nice to see everyone and forget about the stress in the world right now. They’ve got more virtual events planned for later this year as well and I look forward to attending those too!

For now, I’m back to writing my next Medicals book, a duet about two adopted brothers set during hurricane season in the Florida Keys, and getting ready for my next release with the line, book 2 of the Royal Christmas at Seattle General. It’s my first continuity and I’m so excited to share a world with such talented Medicals authors as Alison Roberts, Louisa George, and Charlotte Hawkes. You can check out the blurb for my book and the amazing cover below. If you enjoy brooding, widowed heroes, smart, savvy heroines, and opposites attract tropes, then you’ll love Neurosurgeon’s Christmas to Remember! 

NCRGif

Christmastime with a stranger—

A lifetime together?

Neurosurgeon Maxwell is determined to atone for the one life he couldn’t save…his late wife’s. Set to perform delicate surgery on a king, Max finds himself shadowed by PR director Ayanna. They must work together to keep the king’s case a secret. But when Ayanna temporarily moves in to Max’s apartment, they face a very different type of tension—their undeniable attraction!

Royal Christmas at Seattle General

Book 1: Falling for the Secret Prince by Alison Roberts

Book 2: Neurosurgeon’s Christmas to Remember by Traci Douglass

Book 3: The Bodyguard’s Christmas Proposal by Charlotte Hawkes

Book 4: The Princess’s Christmas Baby by Louisa George

Until next time, stay safe and healthy and connected and…
HAPPY READING! 😊
What are you looking forward to doing once the lockdown is over? Tell me below! ❤️
Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Maeve’s Baby – An Outback Brides Book by Fiona McArthur

Waving from Australia, and hope this finds you all well and safe. Thank you for having me on Love Is The Best Medicine. Especially on the FIRST SATURDAY blog. I’m honoured.

Just for fun – I have a ten minute you-tube video talking about this book which you can click on if you’d like to hear it. Or you could skip and read on.

 

The book I’d like to introduce you to today, isn’t one of my Harlequin Medical Romance, but it is a Medical Romance Western and just as much fun. It’s from an American publisher called Tule Publishing.

I actually think Maeve and Jace are two of the most enjoyable characters I’ve written. They jumped off the page, never stopped talking, each amusingly original, dedicated, but hurt from the past in their own way. Of course, there are babies born, like all of my books.

I know my love of this book has a lot to do with my love of all the characters in Wirralong, our fictitious Australian town, and the smile I get when I think of the other Australian authors in now, our third series. How wonderful is that!

BTW My Holly’s Heart from Series 1 won the NZ Koru Romance Book of the Year 2019 and now Lacey from Series 2 is a finalist for 2020 in the Koru. Both are available in print and ebook. Please wish Lacey luck.

As I said, my joy comes from the fact our little bride’s town is a place I feel comforted to visit, with strong, wonderful people. To be able to return, and in my case meet old friends like Holly and Ben and how they’re going, catch up on Lacey and Cameron and cheer the progress of their children, it really is like visiting family on holidays. I think that’s the best part about series romances. Do you enjoy a series? I’m addicted to them.

Just saying, all the Wirralong Brides makes me smile. The town makes me feel warm.

I hope Wirralong makes you feel warm, comforted, safe and surrounded by friends. Wishing you quiet happiness and contentment in your life, and joy in your books. I thought I’d share  a fun part that I always think about when I think of my latest Wirralong Bride, Maeve’s Baby…

w

Excerpt from the book

By eight twenty his daughter was asleep. He agonised over the late hour and decided any time before nine was acceptable. And he’d said he’d ring.

He took himself into his bedroom and dragged the pillows into a tall pile and leaned back against them.

Okay. Crikey, he felt like a teenager asking a girl for a first date. He’d already kissed Maeve. And she wasn’t scary.

Except today, maybe. The thought of her standing on two steps glaring down at him made him smile.

He pressed the call button.

The phone rang six times before she answered. He knew. Because he counted the rings.

‘Lucky this isn’t a video call,’ she said.

Jace felt the relief bubble up as laughter. He leaned back more loosely into the pillows with a stupid grin on his face. He loved she just launched straight in without salutations. ‘Why’s that?’

‘Guess where I am.’

‘I hope not,’ he said.

‘No. Not the ladies. I don’t take the phone to the ladies.’

He hooted. ‘Good to know. Where are you?’

‘I have no clothes on.’

He stilled and somewhere a hot flame licked between his legs. Just like that. With five words. ‘Is this one of those phone-sex calls?’

He heard her snort down the line. ‘I’m in the bath. There’re bubbles. So, you can’t see anything. And it’s certainly not phone sex.’

‘Damn.’

‘You’re late.’

‘The horse book I read took ages. Jemima is now asleep.’

‘So, what is this call about, anyway?’

‘I was thinking …’

‘So much better than just reacting,’ she agreed piously, and he wondered if she was talking about today. He would not get side-tracked.

‘At work, we are Dr Jace Bronson and midwife Maeve McGill.’

‘Observant, aren’t you.’

He refused to be derailed. He’d been working this out. ‘Then there’s me and you, Jace and Maeve.’

‘Hmm.’ She was listening. After a short pause she said, ‘And?’

‘I was thinking Jace and Maeve could talk at night before we go to sleep. Thought we could try tonight, and see how we go.’

There was the sound of bubbles and splashing.

‘Are you okay?’

‘I was just thinking underwater.’

He had to smile at that. Picturing that. Nice picture.

She splashed then said, ‘It’s lucky I bought one of those waterproof phone cases, then.’

‘Did you know …’ he paused, his face cracking into a smile as the idea expanded, ‘…there’s a bath here in this place for me, too?’

He heard a soft laugh. Sounded breathy to him. He shifted on the bed enjoying this way more than he’d thought he would. Finally, she said, ‘You’re saying we could both lie in the bath and chat? At night? In the dark?’

‘I hadn’t thought of the dark, but that’s a nice idea.’

‘Um. Then I’d have a full picture of you in my head, naked in your bath, with bubbles.’ A long silence, but he had the feeling she wasn’t finished. Eventually she said, ‘That’s pretty darn hot, regardless of the temperature of the water.’

‘Tell me about it.’

 

Maeve’s Baby came out 5th August. Grab your copy today from:

Amazon.com | Amazon.au | Amazon.uk

Kobo | Apple Books | Nook

Google Play | Tule Publishing Store

IMG_0984

Personally signed print copies can be purchased from Fiona’s bookstore here.

I do have a free ebook copy of Maeve’s Baby to send to someone – so do leave a comment and be in the draw. The draw question – Do you love Series romances? Why or what is your favourite part or series – Or even why not? I’d love to know.

Thank you as always, dear Love Is The Best Medicine community, and I will see you next month, for The Bush Telegraph, when my big book for Penguin Australia comes out.Xx Fi

If you’d like to learn more about Fiona and her books, please visit her website. You can also connect on FacebookInstagram and Twitter using @FiCatchesBabies.

 

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Heading North!

Happy Friday!

Today is a bit hectic as I pack up our trailer and we ready ourselves for a big camping trip 13 hours north of where I live up onto the Canadian Shield.

I think I did talk briefly about this last year when I posted pics of our trailer.

IMG_4918
Our trailer, last year at Inverhuron Provincial Park

I always wanted to go to Neys Provincial Park which is near Thunder Bay, Ontario.

neys

It’s not my first time to the lakehead of the great lakes, but it’s been about nine years.

I didn’t think we’d be able to make this work because of COVID-19, but Canada and in particularly Ontario, has worked hard. We did a trial run camp at a Provincial Park in July and the Ontario Parks system has done an amazing job of keep the parks clean and safe.

The number of operating campsites has been reduced, so less campers.

There are no showers open, so they can focus all cleaning on the bathrooms.

So once we did that trial run in July, we felt safe driving north to take part in our week long vacation on the shores of Lake Superior.

We have masks, hand sanitizer and except for bathrooms, we’re self contained.

The only thing I won’t have is cell service (it’s kind of sketchy up there). I’ll be disconnected and I’m really looking forward to it.

Things I want to see:

Moose: I have not seen a wild moose. I have spent many years up north and they continue to elude me. I’ve seen every other big game animal in the wild, but no moose. So fingers crossed.

River Otter: I’m hoping I spy these guys as they swim up the Pic River into Lake Superior.

Pereseid Meteor Shower: It’ll be picking the nights we’re up there and it’s pretty dark in northern Ontario and we’re in a dark night preserve. Fingers crossed for clear nights.

I’m never more at peace, than when I’m north. My Dad is from up here (you can’t actually see his home town because it’s still a bit further north), but this is where my roots are from. I’m very glad to be going back, even for a short time.

So that’s what I’ll be up to this week. I hope you all have a great week and I’ll “see” you when I get back. That’s if the bears or the black flies don’t carry me off! 😉

Screen Shot 2020-08-07 at 1.27.39 PM
Yes. It’s way faster to go through Michigan from my city, but the borders are still closed, so we take the northern routes around the lakes. It takes 2-3 days to get out of Ontario and head west.

I’ll leave you with a Canadian folk classic! xo

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, New Releases

August New Releases

Happy August! July just flew by. For me anyways. I was on deadline. I was head down and I looked up, here was August!

We have a milestone this month! Congrats to Tina Beckett for her 35th Harlequin Medical.

And big congratulations to Rachel Dove on her debut Fighting for the Trauma Doc’s Heart.

Have a great August everyone!

MedicalAug1

 

The Army Doc’s Secret Princess by Emily Forbes

Could her royal fling…
…last a lifetime?

Princess Viktoria made a promise: do her duty and marry a duke. But she wants one final adventure first! So she welcomes the freedom that working incognito at the Legion’s Games gives her. There’s only one tall, dark and brooding problem—surgeon and medical team leader Campbell Hamilton. Because the delicious-yet-damaged army doc leaves Viktoria wondering if the adventure she really wants is forever with the man she’s falling for…

 

 

MedicalAug2

 

 

Risking It All for the Children’s Doc by Tina Beckett

She has nothing to lose…
And only him to gain!

Pediatrician Lyric is looking for a fresh start. For her and her orphaned niece. And New Mercy Hospital is just the place. There’s just one problem: her colleague Dr. Ellis Rohal! It’s impossible to ignore their instant connection…or how nice it is to talk to someone who understands her past pain. Still, she must keep her distance. She can’t put her heart on the line again. Can she?

 

MedicalAug3

 

Reunited with Her Hot-Shot Surgeon by Amy Ruttan

Only one surgeon can save her patient—
The one she left behind.

Pearl Henderson and Calum Munro were best friends, too focused on becoming orthopedic surgeons for a relationship—until one night led to an unexpected pregnancy. But when they tragically lost their unborn baby, Pearl ran, the guilt too hard to bear. Returning to San Francisco for a high-profile case proves time’s a powerful healer. But it’s also intensified her attraction to the man she had never wanted to leave…

 

MedicalAugust4

 

Pregnant Midwife on His Doorstep by Marion Lennox

Rescued—
By the brooding neurosurgeon

Neurosurgeon Josh O’Connor’s isolated island hideaway is on lockdown, but nothing will stop him entering a raging cyclone to rescue mom-to-be midwife Hannah Byrne. Hannah hasn’t found happiness since leaving her beloved Irish village. Yet stepping into Josh’s warm house, she starts to feel she might finally have found a home—for her and her unborn baby. Might Josh’s rescuing Hannah from the storm change both their lives for the better?

 

MedicalAugust5

 

Pacific Paradise, Second Chance by Susan Carlisle

Is their surprise reunion…
…enough to heal them?

Nurse Macie Beck never imagined she would see Dr. Landon Cochran again—especially in her small Pacific island hospital. But the shock of his arrival is overtaken by their obvious and unresolved chemistry… As they are forced to work with each other, memories of the past blur their professional boundaries. Keeping things strictly business becomes impossible…and they find themselves wondering if this might be their opportunity for a second chance together!

 

MedicalAugust6

 

 

Fighting for the Trauma Doc’s Heart by Rachel Dove

From professional rivals…
To a family of three?

Ex-army doc Jacob Peterson is still adjusting to life as a single dad when his job is threatened by returning trauma doc Michelle Forbes. The sparks of animosity with the smart, sassy doc soon turn to attraction. But there’s room in Jacob’s life for only one girl—his daughter—and he can’t risk her heart, or his, again. Resisting his growing bond with Michelle will be the fight of his life!

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, The Writing Life

The highs and lows of lockdown by Kate Hardy

Lockdown has been a strange, strange thing.

For me, it started when I had a ‘funny feeling’ the day before the UK went into lockdown, and insisted on the 5-hour drive (each way) to grab my daughter from uni and bring all her stuff home on the Monday. We managed to stop at McDonald’s for coffee and something to eat halfway home, literally half an hour before they closed for months – and a few minutes after we got home we had the notification that we were all on lockdown.

A week or so later: daughter and I both had a high temperature and no sense of smell… (No tests available, but we’re pretty sure we had a mild dose of Covid.)

The following six weeks, I struggled to write a single word, because writing a medical romance about a male midwife felt so insignificant and pointless when I looked at what was happening in the world. The only thing that got me through was early morning dog-walks to find the sunrise. (Spectacular, in my part of the world! No filters.)

Our pup Dexter (booked in February when it was confirmed that the pup’s mum was expecting) was born in lockdown, but thankfully restrictions eased so we actually got to meet him the week before he came home with us, and he’s been a total joy (see my personal blog for the Pipsqueak Posts – videos, pictures, and some things that might make you laugh). He’s become best friends with his older half-brother and he’s 18 weeks old now (seen here from his first day here through to last week).

My husband was working throughout (his job can’t be done at home and he’s classed as an essential worker). I managed to finish my medical romance. We also found a bluebell wood just up the road (ha, only took us 26 years of living here) and a field of poppies, and made a container vegetable garden (with varying success – it had to go behind chicken wire as our garden ‘helper’ kept harvesting things well before they were ready!).

I’ve had the joy of doing zoom calls with family and friends, and I’ve been grateful for facebook reading groups and meeting people who love books and dogs as much as I do. My weekly ballet class has moved online (with a ‘zoom coffee’ after) – which is as good as it gets in the ‘new normal’. But I’ve really missed theatre and live music seeing friends for coffee, and having a ‘plotwalk’ in the gorgeous medieval city where I live. So many wonderful things have been cancelled; I just have to believe that we *will* find a way to get it back. (The same as my son *will* get to take his driving test, which has been cancelled twice, and my daughter *will* get back to university. I think lockdown really has been hardest on the 16-24 age group.)

I also managed to write a True Love/HQ Romance, which was accepted last week. And I did my first ever Facebook Live, which was fun – though what I didn’t say was that I was suffering from a weird itchy rash and trying very hard not to scratch my shins throughout. Raised, bumpy, non-blanching and coalescing… Getting an appointment to see someone has been challenging. Phone triage (even with photographs) has been hopeless. The words ‘non blanching rash’ seemed to be met with ‘la la la, I can’t hear you’. Thankfully I got the good practice nurse, last time round, and he listened to what I was saying. It’s not contact dermatitis – I always wear long trousers for dog walks so I haven’t brushed against anything; no changes in toiletries/detergent/food. Not shingles, as it’s one-sided. Antihistamines, corticosteroids, antibiotics and anti fungals hadn’t touched it. It’s nothing to do with my underactive thyroid; and I’m not developing diabetes (recent annual blood tests are all in normal ranges). We’re going for a diagnosis of ‘idiopathic pruritic purpurae’ (cough – and you can bet this is going in my next booK!). Thankfully, now I’m heading towards the end of week 3, strong antihistamines and very strong corticosteroid cream seems to be helping – and cold compresses are my best friend. Could it be a Covid rash? Because I’m using the Zoe app, I was invited to have a test at our local drive-in centre. (Mask + closed window = very tricky for a deaf person… We improvised a lot with sign language!) The test was negative. So who knows?

775240B1-8F84-4F52-AB59-1DB056CA5D3E I’m just about to start my next medical romance, a duo about twin doctors which involves a kidney transplant. But this month my 90th M&B hits the shelves – and I had a lot of fun researching butterflies for it. So if you like the countryside, architecture, butterflies and a bit of a weepie with a happy ending, then hopefully you’ll enjoy this.

How has lockdown been for you?

Stay safe and keep washing your hands!

 

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

We’re extending our Blog Schedule!

You may have noticed that our blog schedule has been full recently!  At the moment we’re in the happy position of having more blogs than we do dates, and so we’ve decided to extend our schedule and post on Saturdays, as well as Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  We’re going to start filling up our Saturday dates over the next couple of months.

Fiona McArthur will be getting us off to a great start, by taking the first of our new Saturday spots on the 8th August.  We’ll be continuing with our regular features and guests, and have some ideas for new features as well. We’d love you to join us!

Excerpts, Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, New Releases

The Army Doc’s Secret Princess

 

The Army Doc's Secret Princess, UK Aug 2020 large Emily Forbes

Could her royal fling…

…last a lifetime?

Princess Viktoria made a promise: do her duty and marry a duke. But she wants one final adventure first! So she welcomes the freedom that working incognito at the Legion’s Games gives her. There’s only one tall, dark and brooding problem – surgeon and medical team leader Campbell Hamilton. Because the delicious-yet-damaged army doc leaves Viktoria wondering if the adventure she really wants is forever with the man she’s falling for…

 

 

 

PROLOGUE

Two years ago

Campbell’s headphones blocked out most of the engine noise, but he could still hear a faint rhythmic thump-thump as the chopper blades beat the air and he could feel the vibrations as they shuddered through his body. After almost six months he thought he’d be used to the overwhelming assault on his senses—the smell of fumes and dust, the incessant noise, the constant jarring and jolting—but he had yet to get used to the tension. He was always on edge when he was in flight, despite knowing that one of the Australian Army’s best pilots was in control of the aircraft, and he was looking forward to getting back on the ground.

Cam kept his eyes cast down, focusing on his patient. He kept up a one-sided conversation despite the fact that his patient was heavily sedated, and the engine noise would make conversation almost impossible even if he were conscious. He gave him a rundown of his situation—only the positives though. His IV line was running smoothly and his vital signs had stabilised, he told him. He avoided the specifics of his injuries. The soldier was badly wounded, but he didn’t need to be reminded of that. He’d live, at this stage that was the important information, but he’d be getting sent home for a while. Home to Australia. Where he’d have a chance to recover physically, if not mentally.

Cam knew the soldiers would always be haunted by their experiences fighting a war on the other side of the world. Some would cope better than others. He knew he’d have scars too. Mental, not physical. This war wasn’t what he’d anticipated or expected.

Gemma had warned him, but how did you warn someone who had grown up in rural Australia? A land of dust and dirt but safe enough. Hot, and at times desolate, but it had been a different sort of barren. A different sort of danger.

Apart from the snakes and some angry rams or falling off a motorbike or a horse, Cam hadn’t really had anything to worry about. Now, every day was a battle. Here, there was always a chance of getting hit by a bullet, being on the wrong side of an IED, being wounded or killed by enemy fire or even by a civilian on a suicide mission. Life here was stressful.

His job as a medical specialist with the Australian Army meant he was responsible for lives in a country where lives were not highly regarded. Lives here were seen as disposable, which went against everything he believed in and made his job difficult and, at times, impossible. He still had access to First World medical facilities but, more often than not, he was trying to save lives in the middle of a dustbowl, trying to do his best while war raged around him. Gemma had tried to explain it to him but, until he’d seen it with his own eyes, until he’d lived through the experiences she had told him about, he knew he hadn’t understood.

He glanced towards the cockpit to where Gemma sat in the pilot’s seat. As if she had felt his gaze, his fiancée turned and looked back at him and smiled.

Cam was looking forward to getting back to base. He was looking forward to dinner with Gemma, even if it was just in the mess tent. He could pretend for a moment that they were a normal couple, looking forward to making a life together, planning a family. He needed that idea of his future—it was what kept him going on tough days. Gemma was the bright spot in his world. He loved his job but, if he was asked, he’d have to admit he preferred to do his job in the sterile environment of an Australian medical facility. He didn’t mind dust and dirt, he was country born and bred after all, but practising medicine in these conditions was challenging, often unpleasant and definitely not fun.

But no one was interested in his opinion and if he wanted to be with Gemma, this was where she was.

He wondered if he had any chance of convincing her to quit the army and return to Australia. She loved flying but it would be years before she would achieve flight instructor status with the army. Years before she wouldn’t have to fly combat missions. Perhaps she could work privately instead.

He wondered when it would be safe to have that discussion. Would it ever? Could he ask her to give up something she loved? How would he feel if she started to tell him how to live his life or run his career?

He knew he wouldn’t be happy.

He blew her a kiss just as a bright light burst in his peripheral vision.

The chopper lurched as Gemma’s head whipped around and even through the headphones Cam could hear the sound of tearing metal.

The chopper shuddered and he could see Gemma and her co-pilot fighting to keep control as the bird started to spin.

It took him a few seconds to work out what had happened. It felt like an eternity.

They’d been hit.

There was a second explosion, the burst of light so intense that Cam closed his eyes against the glare.

He could feel the chopper spinning wildly. He opened his eyes and saw the ground rushing towards them as the machine fell from the sky.

Black smoke filled the cabin, making Cam’s eyes water. He couldn’t see Gemma. He couldn’t see anything. He lost all sense of space and time.

He threw himself over his patient as the helicopter plummeted. He knew it was a ridiculous gesture. He wasn’t going to be able to protect him. He wasn’t going to be able to save him. The situation was completely out of his control.

There was nothing he could do.

 

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

Present day

Campbell’s leg ached and he fought hard against the urge to stand up. The meeting had been long and he was beginning to get restless. He’d never been good at sitting still and these days it was almost impossible. He needed to stand and stretch; prolonged periods of sitting disagreed with him. Irritated his mind and his body. If he sat still his leg complained and his mind wandered. He needed to be moving, he needed to be busy. He wanted to keep his mind occupied. He didn’t want time to dwell. Too much time to think had proven to be difficult.

He stretched his right leg out under the boardroom table as he tried to ease the cramp in his hip. He needed to get in the pool. Swim a few laps. He would prefer to swim a few laps in the ocean, but he knew from experience that he’d fare better in a warm pool. The heated water would ease his aching muscles. It had been two years since the chopper crash and he didn’t need ice baths any more.

It had been twenty-four months since the incident, but he was still adjusting to his new life.

A life as a solitary man.

He brought his attention back to the meeting as Douglas began to wrap it up.

Thank goodness it was almost over. Cam hoped no one had any additional items for discussion. He looked around the table at the ten other men and women, trying to gauge if any of them looked like they had something on their mind. He’d had enough experience with meetings, ward rounds as well as military discussion groups, to know that there was always one person who seemed to delight in dragging meetings on for far too long but today, for once, it appeared as though everyone was just as eager to escape as he was.

He stood up the minute Douglas officially closed the meeting. He stretched, knowing that if he didn’t take a moment to ease the stiffness in his back and leg his limp would be far more pronounced, and he preferred not to draw attention to himself.

He was used to being noticed but he didn’t want to be noticed for the wrong reasons. He knew that was ironic and he’d never say it out loud, not when he was surrounded by so many others with far more severe disabilities and injuries than he had, but he knew that perception was a very personal thing.

‘You okay?’ Doug was beside him.

Cam knew Doug would have noticed his attempt at surreptitious stretching. Doug was one of his closest friends in the service and had been a good support to him during his rehabilitation and recovery phase. His family and friends had helped get him through the past year. He felt he owed it to them to pull through, although there had been times when it had seemed like too much effort, but he was having better days now.

‘I didn’t think it was possible to have this many meetings.’ Cam had made no secret of the fact that he liked to be busy and when he’d agreed to be on this committee he’d imagined that he’d be doing something practical like overseeing the medical facilities and programme for the games, not sitting around talking.

‘We’re almost done,’ Doug said, making an effort to appease him. He knew full well Cam’s opinion about meetings. ‘The Games start next week.’

The countdown was on until the Legion’s Games began, when hundreds of injured veterans from twenty countries around the world would descend on Sydney to compete in a dozen different events across ten days. The Games were the brainchild of Prince Alfred, an army captain himself, and the Games Committee was responsible for the event but, as the host nation, the Australian defence force was heavily involved. It was a massive exercise and the logistics of the Games fell to the Australians, which was how Cam found himself involved.

‘Not much longer and your suffering will all be over,’ Doug added with a smile.

Cam doubted that. Sure, he’d have fewer meetings to attend but his current life was still so far removed from what he’d thought it was going to be; he wasn’t sure that his suffering was ever going to be over.

He’d hoped the Games would be a good distraction, a way to mark the passing of time. He’d expected to be consulted over the details of the medical facilities, but somehow, he’d found himself dragged along to every damn meeting in existence. He tried to be positive. He’d put his hand up for this project after all, but he’d put his hand up for any work that had been offered to him over the past year. Exhaustion was the only way he could get even a half-decent night’s sleep. A few hours when he could shut out the horrors of everything he’d experienced during his tour of duty in the Middle East.

‘Before you go, can I have a word with you about tomorrow’s schedule?’ Doug asked.

‘Don’t tell me there are more meetings—I’m consulting tomorrow and I know my list is pretty full.’

‘I know you’re out at the rehab centre tomorrow; that’s why I need to speak to you. I have a favour to ask. The Prince’s social media manager has arrived in Sydney ahead of the Prince and has asked for a tour of the facilities.’

‘Which facilities?’

‘All of them. But I thought we could start with the old barracks first.’

One of the old inner-city army bases had been repurposed as a rehabilitation facility when the site had needed updating. The active units had been reassigned to a new purpose-built base in the outer suburbs of Sydney and the old base had been upgraded and was now home to the medical facilities, including doctors, physiotherapists, psychologists, exercise physiologists, a purpose-built gym and pool for the injured and returned soldiers, along with outdoor sporting facilities. The repurposed base was going to serve as the venue for the majority of the events in the Legion’s Games.

‘You’re out there tomorrow,’ Doug continued. ‘Can they go out there with you?’

‘You want me to babysit the Prince’s—what did you call them—social media manager?’

Doug nodded and sweetened the deal. ‘If you can do me this small favour, I promise I won’t drag you into any meetings for the rest of the week.’

Cam sighed and ran his hand through his thick, dark hair. A day out of the boardroom was preferable to another day of meetings. Even playing tour guide to a stranger would have to be better than that. ‘All right,’ he agreed.

‘Okay, I’ll send you the details,’ Doug said as he took out his phone and tapped away. ‘Can you collect her from her hotel at o-nine hundred hours?’

‘Her?’ he asked as his phone pinged with the incoming email. Prince Alfred had a military background and Cam had, incorrectly it seemed, assumed his social media manager would be a man.

Cam had met the Prince once while he’d been deployed in the Middle East. Once, in the days before the incident. In the days before his life went down the toilet.

‘Yes—’ Doug grinned ‘—see if you can dredge up some of your old charm. Be nice.’

Cam looked at the email on his screen and noted her name, along with the hotel address, with a raised eyebrow. Apparently, Viktoria von Grasburg was staying in one of Sydney’s five-star hotels on the Harbour. He wondered who was paying for that.

‘Sure,’ he said as he sighed and stuck his phone back in his pocket, before massaging his hip subconsciously.

 

*

Viktoria had woken up well before sunrise, unsure whether to blame her excitement or her body clock which still hadn’t adjusted to the Australian time zone. She was on the other side of the world and about to start her first day ‘on the job’. A job that had nothing to do with her being a royal, a princess. Nothing to do with cutting ribbons, shaking hands or making speeches.

She was working for her cousin, the Prince, but no one in Australia actually knew who she was. No one here knew she was a princess. As far as the organisers of the Legion’s Games were concerned she was just running the Prince’s social media campaign.

Freddie had told her no one would be bothered anyway but she hadn’t believed him. She was about to find out.

‘There’s a Dr Campbell Hamilton here to escort you,’ her assistant informed her as she handed over a small bag. ‘I’ve put your phone, a credit card, a make-up purse and your sunglasses in there. Your schedule is on your phone.’

Viktoria took a deep breath to calm her nerves, suddenly realising this was it. She was doing this. Going off to work like a regular person, out into the world.

She took the lift down to Reception. She stepped out, wondering how she would know who to look for, before realising the reception staff would advise her. She looked to the front desk and her attention was caught by a man in army uniform standing near the concierge.

‘Miss von Grasburg?’ he addressed her, and she was momentarily flummoxed. She wasn’t used to being addressed so casually. There was no Your Highness or even ma’am.

No, this was what she wanted, she reminded herself. He knew all he needed to know. She smiled to herself and swallowed her surprise.

She was Miss von Grasburg.

‘Please, call me Viktoria,’ she said as she nodded and held out her hand to shake his.

‘Campbell Hamilton.’

He was tall, over six feet, with thick dark hair which was a little longer than she thought would meet standard army regulations. He looked lean and muscular, fit without being too bulky. He had wide blue-grey eyes and a dimpled chin. He was clean-shaven with a full mouth and she could see a small scar running through his bottom lip. He was handsome. Very handsome.

She wasn’t sure who she had been expecting but she had never imagined this.

His handshake was firm, his skin cool, but she wasn’t prepared for the heat that spread from his fingertips into her hand and up her arm. She managed to maintain her composure even while her skin tingled and flared under his touch.

She waited for him to say it was a pleasure to meet her, but he didn’t. Was that something people only said to be polite?

‘I understand you want to see the Games facilities?’ he said as he released her hand.

She nodded. The power of speech had deserted her momentarily. Dr Campbell Hamilton was tall, dark and handsome and made her feel strangely nervous.

She had an odd sensation that this man was the reason she was here. That he was what she’d come for. She had an overpowering sense that he was going to play an important role in her days here. Or was she just getting caught up in the excitement of the day ahead?

*

‘My car is out the front,’ he said as he turned and began walking towards the exit. He was quite abrupt, and Viktoria was a little thrown. While she had the sense that he was important, that there was some sort of connection between them, he didn’t appear to share her thoughts. She got the impression she had annoyed him. He seemed to wish he was somewhere else. Doing something else. Her bubble of enthusiasm deflated slightly but, refusing to be completely crushed, she followed him outside.

He was standing beside a white SUV, holding the door open for her.

She hesitated.

‘Is there a problem?’ he asked when she made no move to climb in.

Viktoria looked down the driveway and saw Hendrik pulling to a stop.

‘I arranged for Hendrik to drive us,’ she said.

‘Who?’

She gestured towards the black luxury SUV that was now stationary behind Campbell’s car. ‘Hendrik. My driver.’

‘You have a driver?’

‘Oui.’

‘No one said anything about a driver. This is my car. I will be driving.’

Viktoria made a split decision. She didn’t want to irritate him further and she wanted to live like a normal person. She’d let him drive. That would be safe enough, surely? After all, he was a government employee. ‘Do you have some identification?’ she asked.

‘Identification?’ He was frowning.

‘Oui. If you can show Hendrik some identification to verify yourself, I will give him the day off and let you drive me.’ She knew Hendrik wouldn’t be happy, but she’d deal with him later.

‘You’ll let me drive you?’

His tone was frosty, but Viktoria nodded even as she wished they could begin this conversation again. They were not getting off to a great start.

 

*

Cam bit back a sigh and resisted the urge to run his hand through his hair in frustration. He should have taken the meetings. This was going to be a nightmare. They already seemed to be at cross purposes, working off different briefs. He couldn’t care less if she came with him or not, but he had gone out of his way to collect her this morning and he didn’t appreciate finding out that it hadn’t been necessary. He could have easily met her at the barracks and sorted out her credentials and visitor’s clearance then. But he knew he had to be polite. This woman worked for the Prince. It wouldn’t do to get her offside. He suspected she was going to be demanding. She probably had every right to be, but he wished he wasn’t going to be the one who had to meet her demands.

And then she smiled at him.

The photo provided for her clearance documents hadn’t done her justice. It had been a flattering photo—she’d looked attractive—but he’d been mistaken. She wasn’t just pretty; she was absolutely stunning.

Her smile was like the sun coming out and it burnt through the fog that had surrounded his psyche for the past two years. As the fog lifted, he felt as if he could see clearly for the first time in months…and what he saw made him catch his breath.

 

***

 

The Army Doc's Secret Princess, USA Aug 2020 Emily Forbes

The Army Doc’s Secret Princess is available here

and also

Mills&Boon Aus,

Mills&Boon UK

Harlequin USA