Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, The Writing Life


By Lynne Marshall

LONDON - APRIL 15: London Eye with Big Ben, on April 15, 2012 inI’ve had the good fortune to work on two Mills & Boon continuities now, the latest being 200 Harley Street. The first series was NYC Angels, and both experiences were great. I’d definitely sign on for another Medical continuity down the line. But not right away.

When authors work on continuities, they are given a bible from the editors where the characters have already been developed along with the story synopsis. The job of the authors is to make those characters and the stories come alive.

This, as you can guess, is a challenge—taking characters that you didn’t “birth” in your brain and making them yours. It’s sort of like skipping the dating part and jumping right into marriage with someone. Suddenly I was the proud owner of not one but two plastic surgeons. Way out of my comfort zone.Patient Care

As an RN for 26 years, I knew my strengths and believe me, Operating Room Nurse was not my forte. I couldn’t stand the sight of scalpel slicing through skin. And though I’ve started thousands of intravenous lines over my career, to this day, I cannot watch the lab technician draw blood from my arm. Weird, huh?

So here I was, suddenly faced with surgeons specializing in reconstructing surgery, which I knew nothing about, and I needed to describe at least one surgical scene.

You know how they say our Internet Surfing is spied on? Well can you imagine what (whoever is tracking my search enquiries) they must think of a person watching videos on really difficult to observe reconstructive surgeries one minute, and then fun videos riding the London Eye the next?

I did my best to make the surgical scene realistic without grossing out the reader, but fingers crossed no real plastic surgeons read my book. LOL – I think that’s a safe bet, don’t you?

So, dear readers (especially if you are an OR nurse) please forgive me if I didn’t get it right, grant me the grace of suspension of disbelief, because, we all do understand these stories are fiction. Right?

9781460332245paperback with Lynne







Question: When have you not been able to suspend disbelief in fiction? Any scene come to mind? Do share!

AMERICAN SURGEON IN LONDON – Book #4 200 Harley Street Series

Plastic surgeon Mitchell Cooper used to have it all.  but when his world collapsed, he and his little daughter Mia moved to London to rebuild their lives — and Mitchell sealed off his damaged heart.  Yet after one star-studded night with fellow surgeon Grace Turner, Mitchell finds himself daring to live again!  Only Grace is hiding painful secrets of her own.



  1. Hey Lynne! Wasn’t 200 Harley St fun? Just love the covers and I really love your title!
    I know what you mean about any Big Brother snooping into my Google history – they’d be puzzled for sure!
    I have to always suspend belief when I read paranormals which is why I guess I’m such a contemporary girl. I did once throw an historical against the wall when the pirate hero talked about visiting the colony of New South Wales (that’s where Sydney now is) in the sixteen hundreds!! Considering Australia wasn’t colonised by the English until 1788!!

  2. Hi Amy – Where was the copy editor on that story?
    It really was fun working on Harley Street – and the input from the other authors was incredibly helpful.
    I can go with a lot of paranormal stories, but shifters are not my thing. at all.

  3. Lynne, I have your Harley Street book here and am looking forward to reading it so much. As for you making mistakes, well, I’m sure you are worrying unnecessarily! Ditto everything you and Amy said about your browsing history, though. Mine would raise a lot of eyebrows too!
    I can’t name a specific title that has driven me mad but I hate it when I read a historical and the language doesn’t fit with the time period. It immediately drags me out of the story if it sounds too modern.

    1. Hi Jennifer – I totally agree. Historical fiction is undoubtedly the toughest genre with readers having high expectations – as they should. If the details aren’t right it throws the reader right out of the story – and possibly has the reader throwing the book out the window.
      Oh, and the editors came up with eight great stories for Harley Street – mine was juicy with angst. 🙂

  4. I’m sure you did just fine in depicting the plastic surgeon, Lynne. I love your medical stories and I’m looking forward to reading this one.
    I often wonder what the snoops think I’m up to. This week was especially um…er, interesting.
    That’s funny about Australia, Amy, and I would have tossed the book too. I don’t read paranormal or fantasy because it’s impossible for me to suspend disbelief. I wish I could. When I try to watch fantasy shows on TV I end up rolling my eyes and talking back to the television. Ha ha.

    1. HI Robena – good to know I’m not the only one who rolls eyes at and talks to the TV. ha ha
      Thanks for your confidence in my surgeon hero-writing skills. I really do try to keep the lens back a bit and fuzzy things up so folks may not notice the flubs. 🙂 I think Medical Romance readers read for the drama not the impeccable medical detail.
      Fingers crossed!

  5. Hi Lynne! I’m so looking forward to reading your book, and all the others in the 200 Harley St series- it was a great introduction for me to the world of continuities and I really want to see what happens to all those characters we had!

    Ditto on the plastic surgery front- I had a Burns Specialist gifted to me for my story so there was much googling of top notch burns therapies! The mistakes, as they say, are all mine!

    As for suspending belief, my husband won’t watch a medical tv series at all; as a doctor he hates the way x-rays are often upside down or the wrong way round etc…and I’m not big on paranormals, either, because I struggle with that tangential shift into another world…maybe one day?!?

    1. Hi Louisa! I loved your hero – Declan, and I will be doing a blog about your book in June at my own website. I’ve been featuring each book there since April. Conveniently up to #4 now. Looking to post Kate’s The Soldier Prince – next Monday.
      I’m with your husband about details on Medical shows. It irks the heck out of me that no one leaves the bedside rails up. Nursing 101! I guess they expect us to suspend disbelief so they can get their best actor shots, eh?
      Thanks for stopping by

    1. Hey Fi! I have indeed referred to YouTube – I needed to have my hero in The Medic’s Homecoming fix a dislocated finger. You wouldn’t believe how many people have shared their dislocated fingers and filmed themselves fixing them over there!

  6. Lynne,
    Your book sounds great. Most of the time if the author gives me the building blocks well I’ll believe almost anything. The only time it is really tough is when they write about something I know well and don’t get it right. Sometimes I find myself looking for something wrong. But I, like you, remember it is fiction.

  7. Hi Lynne,

    We all have our little things. My big thing is Italy. I lived there as a Navy brat and my parents are big into Italian culture.

    I remember reading a romance where the heroine was staying at hero’s Italian villa and hero’s housekeeper gave her iced tea. Now I would have believed that if they had mentioned something about the hero knowing she was an American who liked iced tea and having it prepared specially for her, but Italians don’t generally drink drinks with ice (they’re convinced it’s unhealthy for you and will make you sick) and at least the last time I was there, cold tea was practically unheard of! No, you would not walk into an Italian villa and find iced tea chilling in the fridge. Not gonna happen.

    But I don’t know anything about surgery, so I will believe whatever you say! Looking forward to reading your book and rest of the continuity.

    1. Hi Jill – Great point about the iced tea. It is important to study foreign cultures when placing a book in another country. That’s why I was so grateful to the Brits in the continuity for answering all of my questions. For instance – I wanted to know if there were waffle houses in London. Waffles are very American. Turns out, though the country as a whole enjoys eggs and bacon for breakfast, there were American styled diners here and there that served waffles. 🙂
      Thanks for stopping by and for giving my books a chance!

  8. Hi Lynne, I reckon I’ve been keeping the internet ‘watchers’ wondering too 🙂 I’m usually quite happy to suspend disbelief with books and films, as long as the language and the atmosphere carry me along. It’s the inconsistencies on a human level which throw me out – while I’m perfectly happy to accept a being with super-powers from the planet Krypton, it’s always rather bugged me that Lois Lane doesn’t realise that Superman is really Clark Kent without the glasses!

    I’m half way through ‘American Surgeon in London’ right now and can’t put it down!

    1. Annie – Thank you for reading my book. 🙂 Now I will bite my nails since you are the London expert, and I haven’t set foot there since 2005. LOL on Lois Lane. Yeah, really, when I take off my glasses I turn into Scarlett Johansson. No, really!

      1. Lynne, your nails are safe! I thought you painted a gorgeous, evocative picture of London! (As far as we picky Londoners are concerned, anyone who gets the bridges right has a place in our hearts 🙂 )

  9. Just love the covers of the 200 Harley Street series – can’t wait to read one! Like Louisa, my doctor hubby can’t watch medical TV shows – he gets outraged and annoyed at the ‘poetic license’ taken! 🙂

    We writers hope readers suspend that disbelief while reading fiction, but I’m guilty of getting thrown out of a book by a small error that nonetheless bugs me. For example, we often vacation in San Diego because our uncle lives right on the beach and we freeload! 🙂 I read a book set in San Francisco, and the characters were surfers looking forward to going to the ‘warm’ waters of San Diego – uh, no, the water’s not warm at all! And that was a detail that would have been so easy to find out. Shouldn’t have taken me out of the story, but it did anyway!

    1. I hear you, Robin! Sometimes it’s the little things that ruin the story for us. I’ve had readers contact me privately to say this or that was wrong. I apologize and thank them for reading my books – but I’m afraid some of them may never read me again because of little errors.
      Med shows really bother me, too. House used to drive me up the walls because he and his little staff did all of the procedures – things that take specialists years and years to learn how to do – and they did them at the bedside with little protective gear. Ack!
      Also – that man would have been thrown out of the profession and chased out of town no matter how “brilliant” he was. LOL

  10. I don’t have a medical background at all, Lynne, so just about every scenario I write requires oodles of research. The one time I thought I might raise an eyebrow was when I was researching pneumonic plague (bubonic plague infection of the lungs) and the details about its transmission. Who knew it could be used as a weapon?

    Love those covers for your continuity book, by the way!

    1. Hi Tina!
      Well, call for help if the feds come barging in your house to arrest you for suspicious activity! Lord, may we never have the plague again. Can I get an amen?
      I will say thank goodness for the Internet for research, though I do have some awesome Medical books I still refer to.

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