Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, New Releases

December New Releases

I can’t believe we’ve come to the end of another a year! And we have some great new releases to end off 2019. Enjoy and tell us what’s on your TBR pile! 🙂

DecemberMedical1

 

A Puppy and a Christmas Proposal by Louisa George

Her ex-fiancé…

…is giving her paws for thought!

Alex Norton devastated Beth Masters when he told her he could no longer marry her. The last thing she wants this Christmas is to come face-to-face with him, clutching an adorable puppy! Warm-hearted vet Beth can’t say no to a four-legged patient in need, but she’ll need to guard her damaged heart from delicious doc Alex. Which becomes impossible when he finally reveals the reason why he left…

 

DecemberMedical2

 

Making Christmas Special Again by Annie O’Neil

Can the magic of Christmas…

…teach them to love again?

In this Pups that Make Miracles story, vet Esme Ross-Wylde simply wants to offer A&E consultant Max Kirkpatrick the proceeds from her charity ball to keep his Plants and Paws therapy unit open. Until this lone-wolf doc reawakens all her senses! Dangerous ground for Esme, who’s vowed never to love again… Can a week together at her castle this Christmas heal their wounded hearts?

Pups that Make Miracles quartet

Book 1 – Highland Doc’s Christmas Rescue
Book 2 – Festive Fling with the Single Dad
Book 3 – Making Christmas Special Again
Book 4 – Their One-Night Christmas Gift

 

DecemberMedical3

 

Mistletoe Proposal on the Children’s Ward by Kate Hardy

From Santa…

…with love!

Children’s doctor Anna Maskell loves Christmas. But Muswell Hill Memorial’s new locum surgeon, Jamie Thurston, hates it! So Anna makes him a deal—if she teaches him to embrace Christmas again, he’ll play Santa to their little patients! But as Anna tempts him with the joys of the season, they also discover a connection neither expected. Can Jamie find the courage to give Anna what she truly needs this Christmas—his love?

 

DecemberMedical4

 

Single Dad in Her Stocking by Alison Roberts

The greatest gift he could give her?

A family…

After losing her baby, and sacrificing her pediatric career, Emma spends every Christmas as an emergency locum—and this year she’ll be covering A&E consultant Max Cunningham. Their one kiss years ago was unforgettable, and now that this ex-playboy is daddy to three orphaned children, he’s dangerously tempting! But as Max welcomes Emma into his home, she soon wishes her family for Christmas could be forever…

 

DecemberMedical5

 

Taming Her Hollywood Playboy by Emily Forbes

Redeemed…

…by his fake fiancée!

Hired as the on-set paramedic on Hollywood actor Oliver Harding’s latest film, Kat Angelis finds herself equally as charmed by his off-screen persona. And when his playboy reputation threatens his hard-earned career, she’s the first person Oliver turns to—to pose as his fiancée! Kat’s warm personality and commitment to her family open Oliver up to something he’s never had. Is this girl from the outback the key to unlocking his heart?

 

DecemberMedical6

 

Their One-Night Christmas Gift by Karin Baine

An unexpected Christmas arrival…

…on his doorstep!

In this Pups that Make Miracles story, twelve years ago neurologist Charles ended his engagement to orthopedic surgeon Harriet to fulfill his duty to his family—he couldn’t let Harriet sacrifice her surgical dreams for him. But a recent chance reunion at a medical conference led to one more unforgettable night… And what should’ve been the perfect goodbye is now just the beginning… Harriet’s arrived at Heatherglen Castle Clinic—pregnant!

Pups that Make Miracles quartet

Book 1 – Highland Doc’s Christmas Rescue
Book 2 – Festive Fling with the Single Dad
Book 3 – Making Christmas Special Again
Book 4 – Their One-Night Christmas Gift

 

Happy Reading! ❤

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

Taming Her Hollywood Playboy, Emily Forbes, December 2019

Taming Her Hollywood Playboy, Emily Forbes, Dec 2019

My new book in time for Christmas 🙂 A taste of the Australian outback in Coober Pedy, South Australia where my hero, Hollywood actor, Oliver Harding has been sent in order to keep him out of trouble. Needless to say – it doesn’t work!

I have some photos of Coober Pedy taken on my recent visit/ research trip on my facebook page if you would like to see more.

Book available here  and Mills&BoonAus plus Mills&BoonUK and Harlequin USA have Black Friday sales (use code BLACKFRIDAY19 at checkout).

 

CHAPTER ONE

Oliver massaged the lump on the side of his head. He’d taken a couple of paracetamol for the dull headache but fortunately he’d escaped serious injury yesterday. The bump on his head and some slight bruising on his shoulder were minor complaints and he had no intention of mentioning those aches and pains. The ATV had taken a battering but could be fixed. The repairs meant a change in the filming schedule but nothing that couldn’t be accommodated. A serious injury to him would have been far more disruptive.

Despite his luck, however, the incident had made George, the director, wary and Oliver had agreed to hand over some of the stunts to the professionals. The movie couldn’t afford for anything to happen to its star and he didn’t want to get a reputation as a difficult actor. George had been good to Oliver; he’d worked with him before and he’d been happy to give him another role when other directors had been reluctant, but Oliver knew that being argumentative, disruptive or inflexible wasn’t a great way to advance a career. He wasn’t stupid, he knew actors were a dime a dozen. He wasn’t irreplaceable. No one was. A reputation as a ladies’ man was one thing; a reputation as being problematic on set was another thing entirely.

He stretched his neck from side to side as he tried to rid himself of the headache that plagued him. The schedule change caused by his accident meant he wasn’t required for filming this morning, but now he was bored. He wandered around the site, knowing that the heat was probably compounding his headache but too restless to stay indoors.

A whole community had been established temporarily in the middle of the desert just for the movie. Transportable huts were set up as the production centre, the canteen, the first-aid centre, lounge areas for the cast and crew, and Oliver, George and the lead actress all had their own motorhome to retreat to. Marquees surrounded the vehicles and more huts provided additional, and much needed, shade. The site was twenty miles out of the remote Australian outback town of Coober Pedy, which itself was over three thousand miles from the next major town or, as the Australians said, almost five hundred kilometres. No matter which way you said it, there was no denying that Coober Pedy was a mighty long way from anywhere else.

He’d been completely unprepared for the strangeness of this remote desert town. He’d imagined a flat, barren landscape but the town had sprung up in an area that was far hillier than he’d expected. The main street was tarred and lined with single-level shops and a few taller buildings, including his hotel, with the houses spreading out from the centre of town and into the hills. Along with regular houses there were also hundreds of dwellings dug into the hillsides. He’d heard that people lived underground to escape the merciless heat but he hadn’t thought about what that meant in terms of the town’s appearance; in effect, it made the town look far more sparsely populated than it actually was.

He knew he should hole up in his trailer and stay out of the heat but he wanted company.

Generators chugged away in the background, providing power for the film set, providing air-conditioning, refrigeration and technology. He was used to having a shower in his trailer but because of water restrictions apparently that was a no-go out here in the Australian desert.

If he moved far enough away from the generators he knew he would hear absolute silence. It should be peaceful, quiet, restful even, and he could understand how some people would find the solitude and the silence soul-restoring, relaxing, but it made him uneasy. He needed more stimulation. He wanted crowds, he wanted noise, he didn’t want a chance to be introspective. He was an extrovert, a performer, and as an extrovert he wanted company. He needed company to energise him and as a performer he needed an audience.

He wasn’t required on set but he decided he’d go and watch the filming anyway. It would kill some time and give him someone to talk to.

He slipped his sunglasses on as he stepped into the heat. Rounding the corner of his trailer, he heard an engine and noticed a dust cloud billowing into the air. He stood in the shade at the corner of his trailer and watched as a car pulled to a stop beside the mess hut. It was an old four-by-four, its brown paintwork covered in red dust, like everything else out here. A haze rose from the bonnet of the car, bringing to mind the story about it being hot enough in Australia to fry an egg in the sun. He believed it.

The car door opened and he waited, his natural curiosity getting the better of him, to see who climbed out.

A woman.

That was unexpected.

She stood and straightened. She was tall, slender, lithe. Her hair was thick and dark and fell just past her shoulders. He watched as she scraped it off her neck and tied it into a loose ponytail, in deference to the heat, he presumed. Her neck was long and swan-like, her limbs long and tanned.

She was stunning and the complete antithesis of what he’d expected, judging from the car she was driving. She reminded him of a butterfly emerging from a cocoon.

He blinked, making sure it wasn’t the after-effects of the bump to his head causing his imagination to play tricks on him.

She was still there.

She wore a navy and white summer dress, which must have been lined to mid-thigh, but from there down, with the morning sun behind her, the white sections were completely see-through. He wondered if she knew but he didn’t care—her legs were incredible. Magnificent.

Oliver was literally in the middle of nowhere with absolutely nothing of interest to look at. Until now. The middle of nowhere had just become a far more attractive proposition.

He watched as she walked towards him. Graceful. Ethereal. Sunglasses protected her eyes but her skin was flawless and her lips were full and painted with bright red lipstick. The shade was striking against her olive skin and raven hair.

He’d seen plenty of beautiful woman in his thirty-two years, he was surrounded by them on a daily basis, but he didn’t think he’d ever seen a woman as naturally beautiful. The ones he worked with had all had some help—a scalpel here, an injection there—and he’d swear on his father’s grave, something he hoped he would be able to do sooner rather than later, that she hadn’t had any assistance.

He watched, not moving a muscle, scared that any movement might startle her, might make her shimmer and disappear, mirage-like, into the desert.

Maybe his headache was affecting his thought processes; maybe he’d been out in the sun for too long, or simply in the outback for too long. Other than the cast and crew he’d barely seen another person for days. The hot, dusty streets of Coober Pedy were, for the most part, empty. The locals hunkered down in their underground dwellings to escape the heat, venturing out only briefly and if absolutely necessary, scampering from one building to the subterranean comfort of the next. But perhaps many of the locals looked like this. Perhaps that was the attraction in this desolate, baked and barren desert town.

She had stopped walking as her gaze scanned the buildings, looking for something or someone. Looking lost. His curiosity was piqued. His attention captured.

Her gaze landed on him and she took another step forward. Belatedly he stepped out of the shadows and walked towards her; he’d been so transfixed he’d forgotten to move, forgotten his manners, but he wanted to be the first to offer her assistance.

‘Hello, I’m Oliver; may I help you?’

She stopped and waited as he approached her.

‘Thank you,’ she said. ‘I’m looking for George Murray.’ Her voice was deep and slightly breathless, without the broad Australian accent that he’d heard so many of the crew speak with. She glanced down at her watch and his eyes followed. Her watch had a large face, with the numbers clearly marked and an obvious hand counting off the seconds. Her fingers were delicate by comparison, long and slender, with short nails lacquered with clear varnish. He was trained to be observant, to watch people’s mannerisms, to listen to their voices, but even so he was aware that he was soaking up everything about this woman. From the colour of her lips and the shine of her hair, to the smooth lustre of her skin and the inflection of her speech. He wanted to be able to picture her perfectly later. She lifted her head. ‘I have an interview with him at eleven.’

‘A job interview?’

She nodded. ‘Of sorts.’

‘Are you going to be working on the film? Are you an extra?’

‘No.’

‘Catering? Publicity?’

‘No and no.’ Her mouth turned up at one corner and he got a glimpse of perfect, even white teeth bordered by those red lips.

He grinned. ‘You’re not going to tell me?’

Her smile widened and he knew she was enjoying the repartee. ‘No, I don’t think I am.’

Two could play at that game. ‘All right, then,’ he shrugged, feigning disinterest, ‘George is out on set but he shouldn’t be long. Filming started early today to try to beat the heat, so they’ll be breaking for lunch soon. Let me show you to his trailer.’ He’d take her to where she needed to go but he wouldn’t leave her.

He bounced lightly up the two steps that led to George’s office and pushed open the heavy metal door. He flicked on the lights and held the door for her. She brushed past him and her breasts lightly grazed his arm but she showed no sign that she’d noticed the contact. She stopped just inside the door and removed her sunglasses, and he caught a trace of her scent—fresh, light and fruity.

He watched as she surveyed the interior. An enormous television screen dominated the wall opposite the desk, which was covered in papers. A laptop sat open amongst the mess. A large fridge with a glass door was tucked into a corner to the left, and a couch was pressed against the opposite wall with two armchairs at right angles to it and a small coffee table in between.

He wondered if this was what she’d expected to see.

‘Have a seat,’ he invited as he waved an arm towards the chairs. She sat but avoided the couch.

‘Can I get you something to drink?’

She nodded and the light bounced off her hair, making it look like silk. ‘A water would be lovely, thank you.’

He grabbed a glass and two bottles of mineral water from the fridge. He twisted the tops off and passed her the glass and a bottle.

‘I’ll be fine waiting here,’ she said as she took the drink from him. ‘You must have something you need to do?’

He shook his head as he sat on the couch. He leant back and rested one foot on his other knee, relaxed, comfortable, approachable, conveying candidness. ‘I’m not busy. The scene they’re filming doesn’t involve me.’

‘You’re an actor?’

He looked carefully at her to gauge if she was joking but her expression was serious. Her mouth looked serious, her red lips full but not moving. But was there a hint of humour in her dark eyes? He couldn’t read her yet. Perhaps she was an anomaly, someone who didn’t immediately recognise him, or maybe he just wasn’t famous out here in the middle of nowhere.

Should he tell her who he was?

No. That could wait. She still hadn’t told him what she was doing here. She’d said she wasn’t publicity but she could be a journalist. He didn’t need more reporters telling stories about him. But if that was the case, surely she would recognise him.

Unless she was a better actor than he was, he was certain she wasn’t a reporter.

He settled for vague. ‘I am,’ he said as the door opened again and George entered the trailer.

‘Kat! Welcome.’ He was beaming. Oliver was surprised; George never looked this pleased to see anyone. George was a little rotund, always in a hurry, and seemed to have a permanent scowl creasing his forehead. Seeing him so delighted to see another person was somewhat disconcerting.

He crossed the room as the woman stood. Kat or Kate, Oliver thought George had said, but he wasn’t quite sure. Oliver stood too; manners that had been instilled in him, growing up as the son of a strict military man, remained automatic.

George greeted her with a kiss and Oliver was more intrigued. There was obviously some history here that he wasn’t privy to. Who was she?

‘I see you’ve met our star, Oliver Harding.’

‘Not formally.’ She turned to him and extended her hand. ‘I’m Katarina Angelis, but call me Kat.’ Her handshake was firm but it was the softness of her skin and the laughter in her eyes that caught Oliver off guard. ‘It’s a pleasure to meet you.’

He realised she’d known exactly who he was. Which put him at a disadvantage. He still knew nothing about her. But he did know her name seemed to suit her perfectly. He was sure Katarina meant ‘pure’, and Angelis had to mean ‘heavenly’.

‘The pleasure is all mine,’ he said.

George cleared his throat and Oliver realised he hadn’t let go of Kat’s hand. He also realised he didn’t want to. Beautiful women were everywhere in his world, but there was something more to Kat. Something intriguing. Something different.

Her skin was soft and cool. Flawless. She looked like a desert rose, a surprising beauty in the harshness of the outback, and he found himself transfixed by her scarlet mouth. Her lips brought to mind ripe summer cherries, dark red and juicy. He wondered how they’d taste.

‘If I might give you some advice, my dear,’ George said to Kat as Oliver finally let her hand drop, ‘you should stay away from Oliver.’

‘Hey!’ he protested.

‘You don’t have to worry about me, George,’ Kat replied, ‘I can handle myself.’

George shook his head. ‘You’ve never met anyone like Oliver.’

Kat was looking at him now. Studying him, as if sizing him up and comparing him to George’s assessment. Oliver smiled and shrugged and spread his hands wide, proclaiming his innocence. He had to take it on the chin; he couldn’t remonstrate with George in front of Kat—it would be better to laugh it off. He couldn’t afford to show how she’d affected him. It was safer to return to his usual persona of charm and confidence, of not taking himself or anyone too seriously. She had floored him and he needed to gather his wits and work out what to do about it. About her. But, for now, he’d play along. ‘George is right, Kat, I’m the man your father warned you about.’

She laughed. ‘Don’t go thinking that makes you special. My father is always warning me about men.’

He cocked his head and quirked one eyebrow. This was even better. He had never been one to back away from a challenge.

‘Don’t make me regret hiring you.’ George eyeballed them both. ‘Either of you.’

Oliver laughed; he was used to being told off, but he was surprised to see that Kat was blushing. She looked even more delightful now.

‘I mean it, Oliver— don’t mess with Kat.’ George looked him straight in the eye. ‘There aren’t too many places left for you to run to and if you hurt her you’ll want to start running, believe me.’

So now they were both going to put a challenge to him. Of course, that only served to entice him even more. George could warn him all he liked but Oliver had never been one to steer clear of a challenge. But he knew he had to tread carefully. He couldn’t afford any more scandals.

‘Go and find something to do,’ George told him. ‘I need to talk to Kat.’

Oliver left but he knew it wouldn’t be the last he saw of Kat Angelis. He was glad now that she hadn’t admitted that she recognised him, that she hadn’t said his reputation preceded him. Perhaps she’d have no preconceived ideas about him and he could try to impress her without any rumours or innuendo getting in the way.

He was still none the wiser as to her actual reason for being on set but, if George was hiring her, he’d make sure their paths crossed again. If he was going to be stuck in this town for the next few weeks he might as well have some fun. He knew it was his choice, almost, to be here—George had made him an offer that his publicist thought was too good to refuse—and timing was everything. But that didn’t mean he couldn’t enjoy himself. He wouldn’t misbehave, but even if he did he doubted anyone would ever hear about what went on out here. Coober Pedy and the Australian outback seemed to exist in its own little time capsule. It really was a whole other world.

 

 

 

Kat watched on as George shooed Oliver out of his office. Of course she’d recognised him—Oliver Harding was a star of multiple Hollywood blockbusters. He had been the lead actor in several recent box office hits and he played action heroes just as well as he carried romantic leads. He was in the news regularly, if not for his movies then for his off-screen exploits with his leading ladies or other Hollywood ‘It’ girls. Kat may be a small-town girl, living out in the desert in the middle of nowhere, but she had television, magazines, the internet and the local drive-in movie theatre, which showed new movies every Saturday night. Oliver Harding was famous and she would have to be living under a rock not to know who he was. The thought made her smile. She did actually live underground, like so many of the local residents, but that didn’t mean she didn’t know what went on in the rest of the world. Oliver Harding appeared in a new movie every six months, and with a new woman far more frequently. Having met him now, she could understand why. He was handsome on the silver screen but incredibly gorgeous in real life. He had charm, charisma and a twinkle in his bright blue eyes that had made her lose her train of thought on more than one occasion already.

‘I’m serious, Kat,’ George cautioned her again. Had he mistaken her smile to mean she wasn’t paying attention to his warning? ‘I’ve seen that look in his eye before. You really don’t want him to set his sights on you. Stronger women than you have fallen for his charms. He loves the thrill of the chase and he hates to let a pretty girl go unappreciated, but he has a tendency to leave a trail of broken hearts behind him.’

He had a cheeky appeal and amazing eyes and his smile made her stomach tumble, but Kat wasn’t about to succumb to his charm. She’d met charming men before and didn’t intend to be another notch on his bedpost. And she hadn’t been kidding when she’d said she knew how to handle herself. There was no denying Oliver Harding was gorgeous and charming but she was not the type to fall for charming and handsome. Well, that wasn’t technically true but she wasn’t the type to have flings with famous men who were just visiting. That was something irresponsible people did. Spontaneous people. And she’d learnt not to be either of those.

‘Don’t worry about me, George. I really can handle myself. Now, why don’t you explain more about what you need from me?’

She listened as George ran through his ideas. When he finished they made arrangements going forwards before Kat took her copy of the filming schedule and stepped out of the trailer and found Oliver waiting for her.

‘Now are you going to tell me what you’re doing here?’ he asked as he fell into step beside her. His voice was deep and pleasant, his accent neutral. She’d expected more of an American flavour. Had he been taught to tone it down?

‘I live here.’

‘Really? Here?’

She could hear the unspoken question, the one every visitor asked until they got to know Coober Pedy. Why?

She never knew where to start. How did one begin to explain the beauty, the peace, the wildness, the attraction? She loved it here. That didn’t mean she never entertained the idea of travelling the world and seeing other places, but this was home. This was where her family lived. And family was everything.

She had no idea how to explain all of that, so she simply said, ‘Yes, really.’

‘And why do you have a copy of the filming schedule?’

She stopped walking and turned to look at him. She had to look up. She wasn’t short—she was five feet nine inches tall—but still he was several inches taller. ‘Are you always this nosy?’

‘Yes.’ He was smiling.

‘I’m going to be working on the film,’ she said, hoping to surprise him.

‘Doing what?’

‘Keeping you out of trouble,’ she said as she continued towards her car.

‘Trouble is my middle name,’ he laughed.

She didn’t doubt that. She’d only known him for a few minutes and regardless of George’s warning she already had the sense that he was trouble. But she couldn’t help smiling as she said, ‘So I hear.’

Kat reached her car and stretched her hand out to open the door, which she hadn’t bothered locking, but Oliver was faster than she was. He rested his hand on the door frame, preventing her from opening it.

‘And just how exactly do you plan to keep me out of trouble?’ His voice was deep and sexy, perfect for a leading man.

She turned to face him. He was standing close. Her eyes were level with his chest. He was solid—muscular without being beefy, gym-toned. He didn’t look as if he’d done a hard day’s work in his life, and he probably hadn’t, but that didn’t stop him from being handsome. With his chiselled good looks, he could have come straight from the pages of a men’s fashion magazine.

He smelt good. He looked even better.

His blue eyes were piercing, his square jaw clean-shaven. His thick brown hair was cut in a short back and sides, slightly longer on top, like a military-style haircut that had been on holiday for a couple of weeks. She wondered if it was to fit the movie script or if it was how he chose to cut his hair. It suited him. It emphasised his bone structure.

‘I’m your insurance policy,’ she said.

He frowned and raised one eyebrow. She wondered if that came naturally or if he’d cultivated that move. Was it possible to learn how to do that?

‘I’m a paramedic,’ she continued. ‘I’m going to be on set for the stunt work. Just in case.’

She’d expected him to object but he took it in his stride.

‘Good,’ he said simply before he grinned widely. ‘I’ll be seeing plenty of you, then.’

He was so confident, so comfortable. She wondered if he’d ever been told he couldn’t do something. She imagined that if he had he would have chosen to ignore the instruction.

His arm was still outstretched, passing beside her head as he leant against her car. ‘So, Kat, tell me your story.’

‘Why do you want to know?’

She was caught between his chest and the car. She could step out, away from the boundaries he’d imposed, but she didn’t want to. She didn’t feel threatened. He was smiling at her. He looked genuine, friendly, but she needed to remember he was an actor. He was probably trained to smile in a hundred different ways. She remembered George’s warning but she chose to ignore it. Just for a moment. She wanted to see what would happen next. She felt as if she was in a movie moment of her own.

His smile widened, showcasing teeth that were white, even and perfect. His blue eyes sparkled. ‘Because I want to make sure I’m not overstepping any lines when I ask you out.’

He looked like a man who was used to getting his own way and she didn’t doubt that; with women, at least, he probably did. But she did doubt that she was the type of woman he was used to meeting. ‘And what makes you think I’d go out with you?’

‘I didn’t say you would, I’m just letting you know I will ask you to. The choice is completely yours.’

‘What did you have in mind?’ She shouldn’t ask but she wanted to know. She should heed George’s warning and get in her car and drive away but it had been a long time since she’d been asked on a date and she was interested to hear his thoughts. She was interested full stop.

He smiled. ‘I don’t know yet but I’ll think of something.’

There weren’t a lot of options in Coober Pedy and Oliver, not being a local, would know even fewer.

Kat couldn’t remember the last time someone had flirted with her or the last time she’d met anyone she wanted to flirt with. She couldn’t deny she was flattered by the attention. She’d need to be careful. She’d been hurt before; a monumental break-up had left her questioning her own judgement and she’d avoided getting romantically involved ever since. She wanted her own happily-ever-after but she’d been scared to go out to find it. She’d focused instead on her career and her family and it had been a while since she’d even thought about going on a date. George’s warning repeated in her head again but she had no idea if she was going to be able to heed it.

The touch of Oliver’s hand had set her pulse racing and the look in his eye had made her wish, just momentarily, that she was the sort of girl who would take a risk, take a chance.

But that wasn’t her. She’d learnt that taking risks was asking for trouble, and Oliver Harding had trouble written all over him.

 

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Excerpt -Their One-Night Christmas Gift, by Karin Baine

It’s my turn to bring you an excerpt from our Pups That Make Miracles quartet. This one is from Their One-Night Christmas Gift, the final book in the series.

My surgeon, Charles Ross-Wylde, is the laird at Heatherglen Castle and also runs the clinic. It’s fair to say that unlike his sister, Esme, he’s not a dog lover. This scene is with one of his young patients and Harriet, his ex, who is helping out over the New Year Not to mention a certain, special pup…

Karin Baine xx

y404-2The triumphant smile Charles was wearing as Harriet was saying her goodbyes to the family died on his lips. A wagging, panting bundle of fur streaked past him as he opened the door to leave the room.

‘What the—?’

‘Isn’t this Esme’s puppy?’ Harriet scooped up the excitable animal, which had been causing havoc recently.

‘He’s so sweet. Is he for me?’ Bryony’s voice matched the excitement of the canine intruder and he cursed his sister’s generous heart. If Esme hadn’t insisted on keeping this nuisance around, he wouldn’t have to upset a young patient.

‘Sorry, Bryony. He must’ve escaped from the house.’

‘You can stroke him if you want.’ Harriet stepped in with a compromise and took the dog over to her before the tears had an opportunity to fully form.

‘He tickles.’ Bryony giggled as Dougal licked her face. Charles wasn’t pleased that Dougal had made an unscheduled, unsupervised visit but it was good to see her happy. Harriet too. Although the dogs were part of the ongoing therapy around here, he’d still have to have a word with Esme about keeping a closer eye on her four-legged friends. He didn’t want them getting in the way when staff were doing their rounds.

He lifted the hand sanitiser and passed it to her mother. ‘I’m so sorry about this..’

‘Don’t worry. He’s the best therapy we could have asked for.’ Bryony’s mother joined the group fawning over Dougal as though he were a newborn baby.

He understood their importance in terms of therapy here when he’d seen the results for himself. They calmed patients as well as provide a distraction from illness and treatment. However, on a personal level he didn’t know what the fuss was about.He’d never been a dog lover. Probably because his parents had stressed how much mess and destruction they could cause in a place like this where every stick of furniture had history and substantial monetary value. As proved by their canine companion. Sure, Dougal was cute, but he didn’t do anything for Charles except generally make his life more difficult around here.

‘We should get him back where he’s supposed to be.’ Charles stood back and let Harriet and her new friend leave before him.

‘’Bye, Dougal.’ There was a chorus as they left, indicating there was only one of them who’d be truly missed.

‘Just wait until I see Esme. I’d prefer he had a bath at least before he starts wandering around the place.’

‘Oh, poor baby, don’t listen to the nasty man. You smell like home to me.’ Harriet covered Dougal’s ears against the insult and peppered him with kisses, completely losing her own professional image to let her soft-hearted mothering instinct take over.

‘You lived in a kennel?’

She tutted. ‘We always had a dog in the house when I was growing up with Mum. They’re great company and totally devoted to their owners. If I wasn’t so busy with work, I’d still have one, but it wouldn’t be fair to leave one at home alone all day.’

‘Exactly why he shouldn’t be in the castle, unsupervised,while Esme is at work.’

 ‘He’s only a baby. Esme is the expert and she only has his best interests at heart. How could you be mad at this little face?’ She held Dougal out towards him. The dog’s tail was wagging so hard his body nearly folded in two.

Charles stared into the pair of soulful eyes begging for his love. A little pink doggie tongue shot out and began slobbering over his face, making it impossible to remember why he was being a grouch.

Then a warm trickle of liquid soaked through his suit and reminded him.

‘Dougal!’

‘Whoops. I think he got too excited.’ Harriet could barely contain her laughter as the puppypromptly forgot all the house training Esme had no doubt instilled in him the moment his Alpha hero had paid him some attention.

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Making Christmas Special Again

One of the best things about writing for Mills and Boon readers, is their VORACIOUS appetite for Christmas books. Suits me to a T. I love them and I love Christmas. Two years ago a couple of weeks before the big Yulefest, I lost my beloved Bernese Mountain Dog. I was absolutely devastated. We weren’t lucky enough to have children so our pooches really were our children (No, they didn’t have their own bedrooms or anything, but they were family). The next Christmas we were down to one and it was tough. Then, a few months later, we lost our gorgeous chocolate lab. Time whipped forward at its usual frenzied pace and VOILA! Father Christmas came and visited us with this gorgeous little minx. I actually wrote the first few chapters of Making Christmas Special Again before we got this little one, but Skye has definitely made my Christmas special again. This year will be our first with her (she was only two days old last Christmas so was still with her mummy). I can’t wait.

Below is the opening chapter for Make Christmas Special Again. It is part of a quartet with the gorgeous Susan Carlisle, the wonderful Annie Claydon and the super divine Karin Baine. We love making up wonderful worlds we all want to move to. Immediately! And this time was no different. I hope you enjoy the teaser! Happy Holidays to one and all. xx Annie O’

Here are my gorgeous hero and heroine….I prayed to the cover gods but didn’t get a puppy, but rest assured – there are LOADS inside!!

HELL’S TEETH, IT was cold.
For once the all-consuming distraction of lungs vs arctic winds hurtling in

from the Highlands was welcome. Physical pain outweighed Max Kirkpatrick’s rage just long enough to remember that for every problem there was a solution. This time, though…

Trust the festive season to send him another blunt reminder that, no matter how hard he tried, the universe simply wasn’t going to let him put some good back into the world.

He’d genuinely thought he’d done it this time. He really had.

His eyes travelled the length of the scrubby inner-city hospital then scanned the former vacant plot. There’d been snow on and off for weeks and yet there were still patients wandering around with pets and still more in the greenhouse, fostering their plants as if they were their own flesh and blood.

He traced his finger along a frost-singed rose. The parents of a little boy who’d lost his struggle with cancer had planted it three years earlier when Max had only just started Plants to Paws. The lad had loved coming out here to play with the family mongrel. Golden moments, his parents had called them. Golden moments. They still came and tended it as if their son were still with them. In a way, he supposed, he was.

This week.

Max’s disbelief that someone was going to destroy the garden shunted through him afresh. Gone were the piles of rubbish, the burnt-out car, the thick layers of tagging on the side of the Clydebank Hospital walls. In their place were raised vegetable patches, benches with the names of loved ones on shining brass plaques dappled about the small wildflower meadow and, of course, the greenhouse and extra-large garden shed he’d built with a handful of other doctors. They’d recently installed a wood stove for added comfort. That would go, too. Along with the bow-laden wreath someone had hung on the door, despite his protestations that it was too early.

He crouched down to pop a couple of stones back onto the rock garden one of the Clyde’s long-term leukaemia patients had helped build. Her first ever garden, she’d crowed. She’d be gutted when she found out it was going to be demolished, all to help some fat-cat property developer.

As he nestled another rock back into place, a young Border collie ran up to

him with the tell-tale wriggle of a happy dog. She rolled onto her back for a tummy rub. He took a quick glance around and couldn’t place her with anyone within sight.

He gave her soft white belly a rub. ‘Hey, there, little one. You’re a pretty girl. Now, who do you belong to?’

‘Some would say they don’t belong to anyone.’

The female voice slipped down his spine like warm honey. Low and husky, it was the type of voice that could talk a man into anything if he didn’t watch himself. Good job he’d put the emotional armour on years back.

Max was about to say he was very familiar with the way canine-human relationships worked, thank you very much, when a pair of very expensive boots appeared on the woodchip path. Expensive boots attached to a public school accent. Still Scottish, but he would put money on the fact their schools had had a mixer dance. The military school his stepfather had deposited him in strongly encouraged shoulder rubbing with the ‘power makers’, as the school head had liked to call them.

‘Deal breakers’ would’ve been a better moniker if today’s news was anything to go by. He still couldn’t wrap his head round the hospital reneging on their word. Sure, they needed the money, but obliterating Plants to Paws to let a developer build a car park?

Bam! There went three years of hard work. Not to mention the slice of peace that came from knowing he’d finally made good on a years’ old vow to do what he hadn’t done for his mother: offer a refuge from a life that wasn’t as kind as it should have been. All for a bit of money they’d never see on the wards. Hello, cement trucks, sayonara Plants to Paws.

The puppy nuzzled against his hand.
‘What’s her name?’ He had yet to look up.
‘Skye,’ the voice said.
She sounded like a Christmas ornament. Angel? Whatever. Too damned nice was what she sounded.
Her leather boots moved in a bit closer. Italian? They looked handmade.
‘I think you’ll find her “love me tender” routine is an act. Skye’s always got an ulterior motive and, from the looks of things, you’re playing right into her paws.’

He didn’t even want to know what that meant.

‘Is she a working collie or one of those therapy dogs?’ They’d been trying to introduce the therapy dogs into the hospital but, as ever, stretched resources meant the lovable fur balls weren’t seen much on the wards.

‘Working. Though she’s still in training. Precocious. Just like her mother.’

Damn. This woman’s voice was like butter. Better. Butter and honey mixed together. If he was to add a shot of whisky and heat it up it’d be the perfect drink on a day like this.

‘What type of training?’ he asked, to stop his brain from going places it shouldn’t.

‘Search and rescue.’

That got his attention. He had been expecting agility. Maybe sheep herding. A voice like that usually came attached to some land. Land managed by someone else. As he tilted his head up, the sun got in his eyes and all he could make out was a halo of blonde hair atop a stretch of legs and a cashmere winter coat that definitely wasn’t from the kind of stores he shopped in.

Miss Boots squatted down to his level and the second their eyes met he stood straight back up.

Piercing blue eyes. A tousle of short curls the colour of summer wheat. A face so beautiful it looked as though it had been sculpted out of marble. For every bit of wrong she elicited in his gut, there was an equal measure of good.

‘Are you a patient?’ It was the only thing he could think to ask, though he knew the answer would be—

‘No.’ She put her leather-gloved hand out to shake his. ‘Esme Ross-Wylde.’

He kept his facial features on their usual setting: neutral. Though society papers weren’t his thing, even he’d heard of the Ross-Wyldes. Scottish landed gentry of the highest order. The Ross-Wylde estate came with about five thousand acres, if memory served. A couple of hours north of Glasgow. Before his mum had married The Dictator, as Max liked to think of his stepfather, she’d taken him there for one of their famous Christmas carnivals. Huge old house. A castle actually. Expansive grounds. Extensive stables. Skating rink. Toffee apples and gingerbread men. It’d been the last Christmas he hadn’t been made to ‘earn his keep’.

‘So.’ He clapped his hands together and looked around the sparsely populated garden. ‘Have you brought Skye along to meet someone?’

She unleashed a smile that could’ve easily lit him up from the inside out. Good thing she’d met him on a bad day. On a good one? He might have had to break some rules.

‘I was looking for you.’ She held up a familiar-looking scarf.

‘How’d you get that?’ He knew he sounded terse, but with his luck she was the developer. If she was trying to sprinkle some sugar in advance of telling him when the wrecking ball would swing, she may as well get on with it.

Esme was unfazed by his cranky response. She tipped her head towards the garden shed as she handed him his scarf. ‘A member of your fan club gave me this to give Skye a go at “search”.’
He glanced over at the shed and, sure enough, there were a couple of patients from the oncology ward waving at him. Cheeky so-and-sos. They’d been trying to blow some oxygen onto the all but dead embers of his social life ever since they’d found out the nurses not so discreetly called him The Monk. He rolled his eyes and returned his attention to Esme Ross-Wylde. ‘I presume that means you’re here for the “rescue” part?’

She shrugged nonchalantly. ‘If you’re interested.’
Skye’s tail started waving double time.
If he wasn’t mistaken, the corners of her rather inviting lips were twitching with the hint of a smile.
Something about this whole scenario felt like flirting. He didn’t do flirting. He did A and E medicine in Glasgow’s most financially deprived hospital. Then he slept, woke up and did it all over again. Sometimes he came out here and dug over a veg patch. There definitely wasn’t time for flirting.

When he said nothing she asked, ‘How do you fancy keeping Plants to Paws the way it is?’

His eyes snapped to hers, and something flashed hard and bright in his chest that had nothing to do with gratitude. It ricocheted straight past his belt buckle and all the way up again. By the look on her face, she was feeling exactly the same thing he was. An unwelcome animal attraction.

Oh, hell. If life had taught him anything, it was the old adage that if something seemed too good to be true, it usually was.

The Dictator had taught him that everything came with a price. Best to rip off the plaster and get it over with. ‘What’s the catch?’

STAY TUNED FOR MORE – OR RUSH OUT AND BY THE SERIES – BUT MOST OF ALL – TAKE CARE OF YOURSELVES AND LET THERE BE PEACE ON EARTH! xx Annie O’ (cue Jingle Bells…jing Jing Jing Jing!)

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Reflections on Turning 40

75116702_10162932493815160_3379963752408416256_nI’ve been in Bali for the last month. Some of the time I’ve spent alone, writing. Some I’ve spent with my boyfriend and one of my besties. Mostly I’ve been contemplating life, love and nasi goreng in a place I came to call home after living here from 2011 to 2013! I came back, because last week I turned 40. Why do it in the rain when the Balinese skies are blue, and the sun is always blazing?

So this is 40, folks. Only 40 though? To be honest, it feels like I’ve led 1000 lives.

At 15 I asked my English teacher if she had an email address and she asked me “what’s an email?” I still remember what it’s like to hear a phone ring and not know who’s calling. I used to record songs off the radio on my ghetto blaster; too skint to go out and buy the real cassette tapes. I used to think the world was black and white before I was born, because all my mum’s old photos were.

271413_10150703494010160_3797468_oAs a kid I read books whilst walking down the street – I was never quite content with being where I actually was. I’ve worked in six different countries, been hired and fired more times than I can count. Once I was fired for working too fast and showing up my boss. Another time I was fired from McDonalds because my friend called them up drunk and told them I died.

I’ve laughed till I’ve wet my knickers (it’s always been an issue). I’ve cowered in my darkest shadows at the mercy of mother ayahuasca. I’ve been chased down hills by monkeys; heard a man get shot in the knees from a bus in Peru, and been rescued by the fire brigade after a dog locked me out of my NYC apartment. (Yes, a dog). I’ve felt invincible, powerful, brave, jealous, hateful, spiteful, naive. I’ve let vulnerability inspire me. I’ve also a let fear steal everything away from time to time.

I’ve lost friends and family members too soon. I’ve recognised real love too late. I’ve puked on my shoe on a first date. I’ve adopted a cat, only to give it away after it pooped on my bed. I’ve done things I’m not proud of.

To thrive and feel alive I always had to be somewhere different. I packed bags and boxes and bags and boxes and bags and more boxes (some of which are still in someone’s loft in Australia) because in my 20s and 30s, life was not about accumulating stuff, it was about collecting experiences.

I broke hearts and had mine broken. But the ones you love and leave along the way are never “left” anywhere. Sometimes they ring your new doorbell and sleep on your new couch and drink all your wine and then “they” leave, and sometimes it’s sad, and sometimes you’re like, why did I tell her she could stay after we only met once, drunk, at a hostel?!

It’s been a wild ride so far.  Like many of the Gypsy hearts I’ve connected with along the way, I no longer really need to keep packing bags and boxes… or moving along as much. I write about the places I’ve been and seen in my romance novels, for Harlequin (my next is set right here in Bali!)

I’ve lived in Amsterdam for the last 3 years but it’s taken me longer to learn that Home has always been “here” – wherever my heart feels calm and content. Wherever I let the love in. I’m also just getting lazy and running out of visa options.

But the thrill of not knowing what’s next is still just as exciting. The wrinkles round my eyes are signs of a life spent wetting my knickers, squinting into the bottom of wine glasses, and always choosing to chase the sun.  If it all ended now, I’d have no regrets (apart from taking that bus in Peru, and maybe giving the poopy cat away. Poor kitty).

Here’s to another 40 years!

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Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

A Mills and Boon puppy isn’t just for Christmas…

…it’s for all year round! Because here at True Love Towers we’ve been working on our Christmas titles since the Summer. But it’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas in the heights of romantic real estate. And, though we may not quite have the decorations up, there’s no pink Christmas trees topped with our very own hot heroes (yet!), with the office secret Santa organised and the Christmas lunch all booked, we thought it would be a great time to delve into our 2019 festive offerings. And let’s just say, this year we’re obsessed with our furry, four-legged friends!

Across November and December, we’re treating you to some wonderfully festive Medical Romances with the added bonus of adorable dogs and puppies to steal your hearts and fill you with warm, fluffy feelings too! While, of course, it’s still all about our fabulous medical heroes and heroines finding love at Christmas, this year we also get to see the lovable companions who help bring them together (or cheekily get under their feet ;)). But which ones will be on your Christmas list this year…

 

In November and December:

Puppy Name: Dougal
Where you can find him:
Pups that Make Miracles, including books by Susan Carlisle, Annie Claydon, Annie O’Neil and Karin Baine
Pawrents: Too many to name!

Say hello to Dougal! You get to see this fabulously mischievous pup in not one but four stories this Christmas. As a recurring character of the Pups that Make Miracles series this young canine is in the business of causing chaos and igniting romance magic (repeatedly!) as he helps the medical professionals of Heatherglen Castle Clinic find their happy-ever-afters!

In December:

Puppy name: Pirate
Where you can find him:
Single Dad in Her Stocking by Alison Roberts
Adoptive pawrents:
Max Cunningham and Emma Moretti

Named for the jet-black spot covering his eye and ear, Pirate is wily by name and wily by nature. He’s taken an instant like to doctor Emma and is determined to keep hot-shot consultant Max on his toes. And he won’t rest until his pawrents have found an everlasting bond this holiday season…

Puppy name: Boy
Where you can find him:
A Puppy and a Christmas Proposal by Louisa George
Pawrents:
Alex Norton and Beth Masters

You can’t not instantly fall in love with adorable little lost puppy Boy. And he won’t be lost for long! He’s about to find his forever home with gorgeous doc Alex and fabulous vet Beth – first he just has to convince them that a future together is worth fighting to overcome their shared past for.

 

Add to this all the wonderful, therapeutic joy and healing the many doggy characters we meet in the other stories across November and December bring and this Christmas is set to be a truly Puptastic wonderland!

And we’d love to hear from you! Who are the four-legged friends that you’ll be snuggling up with by the fire this Christmas?

Merry Christmas!
The Mills & Boon Medical Romance Editors

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Bushfires are not supposed to happen in spring…

Down here in Australia, I live in the south and that means colder winters and wetter springs than the northern states.This week, as we’ve been enduring a cold snap as chilly as winter, our friends in the north are battling bushfires. I can’t post photos as they are copyright but to fully understand, click here.

Although bush fires are common in Australia, they are not common in spring. They tend to happen during, and at the end of, long hot summers. They also don’t happen much in Queensland due to the flora. But, years of drought and its devastating effects are changing our environment and the world’s climate is changing, making for a seimsmic shift in how we experience natural disasters. My heart goes out to the people who have lost loved ones and lost houses — their lives will never be the same. Sadly I know this from being a couple of handshakes away from bushfire victims, from being a nurse who cared for burn victims and from the extensive research I did for my novel, Home Fires.

So what can I do from my damp home in the south ? I can donate to the Red Cross or the Salvation Army I can reach out to friends who live in the areas and check they are doing okay and I can post pretty pictures of my spring garden to try and give people a lift when the mental load of helplessness gets too heavy.