Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

The Great British Bank Holiday

Over the last year, I’ve been sometimes puzzled by the things I’ve missed during lockdown.  And August Bank Holiday Monday (on the 30th August) reminded me of one more thing.

Maybe it seems perverse to miss something that isn’t so very different from what we’ve all been experiencing of late.  One of the traditional options for a Bank Holiday is to spend the time at home doing some of those outstanding DIY jobs, which is a lot like what many of us have been doing during lockdown.  Taking the day off work?  Well, I work at home anyway and can dictate my own timetable, but that’s not such a novelty these days either.  True, the idea of jumping into the car and joining a traffic jam that leads most of the way to the nearest piece of busy coastline hasn’t been possible, but frankly it never was at the top of my list for Bank Holiday pleasures.  So of all the things I could have missed, why Bank Holidays?

Thinking about it, the thing I’ve missed the most is that Bank Holidays have always been different – even from other holidays.  Usually there are people back in the office when you take a holiday, so it’s tempting to wonder what’s happening while you’re away – but on a Bank Holiday most offices are closed so you can be pretty certain that nothing’s going on.  One day isn’t really enough to do anything that requires extensive planning, so it tends to be a day when we’re free of the normal routine, and can just decide on the spur of the moment what to do.  The thing about Bank Holidays is that they’re a change from the everyday – and that’s what I’ve really missed the most, because recently they’ve become just another day.

So today I’m writing in praise of the Bank Holiday, and in the hope that in future they’ll regain their ‘something special’ status.  When I turned to the internet to find out when the idea of a Bank Holiday started, I was surprised to find that they haven’t been a feature of the calendar since the year dot.  Sir John Lubbock drafted a Parliamentary bill to create Bank Holidays in 1871 – although the May Day Bank Holiday reflects May Day celebrations that go back to at least Roman Times in England, if not before.  Unlike many of our much loved institutions, the name does give you some clue as to the original intention – they were named Bank Holidays because the banks closed 🙂  As time went on, other industries gradually followed suit and took the day off.   

Since the Queen can add new Bank Holidays to the rota, I’m wondering what might be a good candidate.  A Midsummer Bank Holiday, maybe, so that we don’t get a rash of them around April and May, and then have to wait until August for the next one.  Maybe having too many Bank Holidays would destroy their charm – but I think that the current eight might be increased to ten, just for the sake of having a round number?  Perhaps we could have a poll every year, where different dates are suggested for the following year and everyone votes on it?  That way we can celebrate different Bank Holidays that are relevant to whatever’s going on in that particular year.  Do you have any suggestions?

And – since one of my favourite pursuits for a day off is reading, this leads me on to my latest release.  Which is sadly too late for the Bank Holiday 🙂  This book is one half of a duo with the lovely Louisa Heaton – both stories are set at St Barnabas’s Hospital in Richmond, Surrey.  So don’t forget to check out Louisa’s story Twins for the Neurosurgeon as well!

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The Doctor’s Reunion to Remember  by Annie Claydon

Second chance at forever!

In this Reunited at St Barnabas’s Hospital story, Dr Gil Alexander has adapted to a slower-paced life and his partial memory loss, following his traumatic brain injury. But when Dr Clemmie Francis arrives at his rehabilitation centre, he can’t shake the feeling he’s met this captivating yet cautious doctor before…

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Sugar and Spice and all things Nice…

I expect many of us remember having Barbie dolls – or their UK equivalent Sindy.  Or maybe you had a Tressy doll – the one with the adjustable length hair?  They were all the rage when I was little and I loved my Sindy doll, despite her increasingly unmanageable coiffure and her rather limited set of expectations about what I might be when I grew up.

As I did grow up, and left my dolls behind, Sindy lost her appeal.  In my teens the idea of having a different outfit for every given task seemed far too much of a palaver if you wanted to get things done.  And in my twenties these narrow and stylised versions of women didn’t reflect what I saw around me and represented everything I didn’t want to be.

But…  Times change.  And I have to admit that I’ve been loitering behind the times, because when a news report sent me off to Barbie’s website to take a look at what she’s up to these days, I got a big surprise. I found Barbies with a range of varying skin tones, body types and different disabilities.  There’s Paramedic Barbie, Vet Barbie, Space Barbie and Baseball Barbie – along with all the Princess Barbies and Fashion Barbies admittedly, but we can have aspirations to become Olympic Gold Medallists or Doctors and still enjoy a bit of dressing up.

And there are ‘Signature Barbies’ – representations of Maya Angelou, Helen Keller, Florence Nightingale, Rosa Parks, Billie Jean King and Ella Fitzgerald to name just a few.  There’s also a Wonder Woman Barbie, and for those whose aspirations are a little more on the dark side, a Darth Vader Barbie 🙂

So the news item I read, about Dame Sarah Gilbert, the co-creator of the Oxford/Astra Zeneca Vaccine, makes a bit more sense to me now 🙂  Professor Gilbert is one of six women who are working in Science, technology, engineering and maths fields around the world and who now have their own Barbie doll.  Also honoured were US healthcare workers Amy O’Sullivan and Dr Audrey Cruz, Canadian doctor and campaigner Dr Chika Stacy Oriuwa, Brazilian biomedical researcher Dr Jaqueline Goes de Jesus and Australian Dr Kirby White who co-created a reusable gown for frontline workers.

Dame Sarah said ‘I am passionate about inspiring the next generation of girls into STEM careers and hope that children who see my Barbie will realise how vital careers in science are to help the world around us’ and also commented ‘I hope it will be part of making it more normal for girls to think about careers in science’.

Of course there are many other types of dolls on the market now, which aim to reflect our diverse and beautiful world and show little girls just what their potential is.  And there’s an increase in the number of people making dolls which are tailored to reflect individual children’s disabilities or illnesses.  Children today can have a doll that looks like them, and which shows them what they can be when they grow up.

And…  perhaps the world’s not quite ready for Medical Romance Reader Barbie yet.  But what about Reading Barbie?  Complete with her own towering tbr pile and comfy chair 🙂 What do you think?  And did you have a Barbie, a Sindy or a Tressy doll when you were little?

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Seize the day!

Whatever the day is, it’s a National Day for something, somewhere in the world.  I love the idea that we set aside days, weeks or months to think about special things and issues because in the rush of everyday life I don’t always think to look beyond what’s next on my to-do list.  And I love that some of these days are celebrated around the world, Earth Day is a lot more than just turning the lights out at 8.30pm, but it’s amazing to feel that people all around the world are doing so in a kind of Mexican wave which spreads around the globe.

And alongside the days when we’re called upon to remember or to act, there are fun days.  I’ve picked out my top ten (if you want to see a longer list there’s a great one at Time and Date dot com which gives lots of ideas).

January 1st  Polar Bear Plunge Day  Well this isn’t one that we’ll be celebrating on the banks of the Thames anytime soon.  But we’re not completely discouraged by our lack of polar bears and in the UK New Year’s day is the time when traditionally groups of hardy people take a plunge in the sea to see the New Year in.  Not something I’ll be taking part in for the foreseeable future 🙂

January 15th  Strawberry Ice Cream Day  This is a day which originated in the US.  But what’s not to like about strawberry ice cream?  Of course it should have its own day!

February 10th  National Umbrella Day  Another day that originated in the U.S., but I can’t help feeling that this really should belong to the rainy UK at the moment.  I’ve lost count of the number of umbrellas I’ve left on the train or lost and then found again, and I have a good selection of them to celebrate with.

March 1st  World Compliment Day  This is an unofficial holiday, but what a good idea!  Spread a little happiness.

March 8th  Proofreading Day  That one speaks for itself!  And ‘The Wicked Bible’, published in 1631 by the royal printers of London shows just how important it is – their proofreaders failed to spot a mistake in Exodus chapter 20, where the ‘not’ was left out of ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery’.  The printers were fined £300 for letting this through and deprived of their printing license.

May 1st  Batman Day  I grew up learning how to dance around a maypole for May Day, which generally ended up with someone being tied up in the streamers after making a wrong move.  How much more fun would it have been in Batman capes?

May 14th-25th  Nettle Week  Which just goes to show that everything has its part to play, even the humble stinging nettle, which has a whole week!

August 1st  Sisters Day  Celebrate our sisters!  The ones we were born with, and the ones we’ve adopted along the way 🙂

August 13th  International Left Handers Day  I grew up as the only rightie in a whole family of lefties – so in truth most days were left handers day at our house 🙂  But it’s one of those things it’s easy not to think about if it doesn’t have its own day – how many things around us are arranged to be convenient for righties but awkward for lefties.

Second Tuesday in October  Ada Lovelace Day  This one has a more serious theme, to encourage girls to pursue their interest in science and technology.  Go Ada!

I’ve already chosen ten, and it’s only October.  So sadly I can’t mention ‘Men make Dinner Day’ on the 4th November, or ‘Pretend to be a Time Traveller Day’ on the 8th December.  My own suggestion for a fun National Day?  Is there a ‘Have Breakfast in Bed’ day?  If not I think there really should be.  I’ll send a copy of my latest release, ‘Falling for the Brooding Doc’ in exchange for the best idea!

julymedical5

Going for gold is nothing…

…compared to winning his heart

For injured doctor and championship rower, Laurie Sullivan, pushing herself to the limit is all she’s ever known. But enigmatic Dr. Ross Summerby knows she’s not taking her injury seriously. His shock tactic threat of eviction from his exclusive rehabilitation clinic, unless she focuses on her treatment and helps with some of his patients, works wonders. But the unexpected connection between them, soon makes Laurie dream of a very different future!

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

The Long, Long wait for a Happy Ever After

A few months ago, I wrote a letter to my younger self, about the first time I tried my hand at writing romance.  If you happened to see that post, you’ll know that there was a great deal wrong with that book, as I suspect there probably is with most first tries at anything.  But, as I said then, because it was my first try, my hero and heroine have always occupied a special place in my heart.

Ross and Laurie did their best, they really did.  There was a lot of blushing, some misunderstandings and something that resembled an internal conflict.  But none of that was really enough to make their Happy Ever After special, something they’d worked hard for and really deserved.  It just suddenly started to happen somewhere around Page 199, because I knew that I’d be hitting my word-limit on Page 202.

So last year, I decided to put all of that right and give Ross and Laurie the HEA that I’d always wanted for them.  My new heroine Laurie isn’t a lot like her namesake – the original Laurie was a librarian, who had a real talent for blushing.  This Laurie is made of sterner stuff, she’s somehow managed to combine her career as a doctor with one as a championship rower, and she’s not going to let anyone tell her what to do with her life.  My hero Ross isn’t quite as irritatingly perfect as his original counterpart and even though he comes across as pretty laid back, he’s just as stubborn as Laurie is when it comes to doing the best he can for his patients.

This is one of the amazing privileges of being a writer.  I can include little nods to friends in my books, in the hope of making them smile.  I can also re-visit my previous heroes and heroines – in ‘Best Friend to Royal Bride’, when Marie and Alex needed an eye-catching mural for the reception area of their new clinic, who better to call on than Art Therapist and painter Cori Riley, the heroine of ‘Discovering Dr Riley.’  It was enormous fun to be able to check back on Cori and Tom Riley, and to find that Cori still gets to cover herself with paint at the weekends in support of a good cause, while Tom keeps an eye on their two children, Matthew and Chloe.

And now my secret’s out and it gives me a particular thrill to introduce you to Ross and Laurie.  They’ve waited a long, long time for their Happy Ever After, but next month their book will be hitting the shelves and what’s more the Harlequin Cover Artists have provided me with a great new image of Ross.  I think he’s become better looking over the years, too 🙂

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Going for gold is nothing…
…compared to winning his heart

For injured doctor and championship rower, Laurie Sullivan, pushing herself to the limit is all she’s ever known. But enigmatic Dr. Ross Summerby knows she’s not taking her injury seriously. His shock tactic threat of eviction from his exclusive rehabilitation clinic, unless she focuses on her treatment and helps with some of his patients, works wonders. But the unexpected connection between them, soon makes Laurie dream of a very different future!

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Excerpt: Greek Island Fling to Forever, by Annie Claydon

Which one of us isn’t looking for a little bit of an escape, right now?  Perhaps you can tell what was on my mind when I wrote this book – some sunshine, a blue sea and the feel of a warm breeze 🙂

x500_2876ef82-0fa0-4786-a7d1-6538ff5e022c_360xThe day that had changed her life had been bright and clear, bathed in sunshine, and every detail was still sharp in Arianna’s dreams. She was six years old and had insisted on wearing her new white broderie anglaise dress for the journey to the Petrakis family’s holiday home on the tiny Greek island of Ilaria.

Her father had frowned when he heard the news that their own launch was out of action, and her mother had smiled as if it was of no consequence and said they’d take the ferry. It had been a new experience for Arianna and her older brother Xander, waiting with the jostling crowd of other passengers to board, and then finding a place on deck where her mother could sit.

Even her father had loosened up a bit, opening the collar of his shirt and gesturing to their bodyguard to take a family photograph. Then he’d acceded to Xander’s excited demands and agreed to take him on a tour of this large, exciting craft. Xander had turned, waving to her as they’d walked away.

Her mother had been wearing a wide-brimmed hat and a red and white fitted sundress, so different from the faded colours she wore now. She’d perched on a slatted wooden bench and started to talk to the other mothers, telling Arianna that she could go and play if she wanted, as long as she stayed close.

The ferry had slowly manoeuvred out of the busy dock, speeding up a little as it entered the blue waters of the Mediterranean. Arianna had wished they could take this route every time, and when Ilaria had begun to loom on the horizon she’d wanted the island to stay away for a while longer, so that they could spend a little more time on the ferry.

Then… Then a juddering, crashing sound. The world tipped suddenly and she fell, grazing her knees on the wooden deck. She heard her mother screaming her name, but she was sliding, falling. Somehow, the water seemed to rear up and grab her, pulling her down.

She couldn’t breathe… And then something…someone…was there. Grabbing her flailing arms and holding her tight. Their heads broke the surface, and muffled sounds turned into a chaos of shouting and screaming. She could breathe enough to choke and cry, and when she opened her eyes, blinking against the sting of the salt, she saw an older boy with a shock of blond hair, wet and plastered around his face.

He said something to her, but she didn’t understand the words. She understood safety, though, and when he wound her arms around his neck she hung on tight. They bobbed together in the water, and then the boy started to swim, labouring hard while Arianna clung onto his back.

She didn’t dare look behind her. Maybe if she had, she would have caught one last glimpse of Xander. But ahead there were small boats, leaving the tiny port of Ilaria and making their way towards them.

Arianna was sobbing now, and the boy stopped swimming. More words that she didn’t understand, but which made her feel safe again. The water was pulling them back, towards the sinking ferry, and he began to strike out again, towards the rescue boats. She closed her eyes, reciting the prayer that her mother always said with her before she lay down to sleep.

Then she felt strong hands around her and she was lifted out of the water. One of the boats had reached them, and the boy had pushed her up into the arms of its occupants. A man held her tight as she reached back for the boy, but a wave carried him away. She started to scream and cry as his blond head disappeared amongst the waves and the scattered mass of people in the sea.

And then… The memories lost their clarity. She remembered her mother crying and her father hugging her until she could hardly breathe, when they found her, wrapped in a blanket and sitting amongst a group of survivors in the taverna, which had opened its doors to provide shelter and warm drinks. And she remembered her father, kissing her mother and running back down to the boats that were ferrying people back to the shore.

He’d been gone a long time, but her mother had refused to move, holding Arianna tight as they both shivered in the warm breeze. When he finally had returned, he was alone. Her mother had taken one look at his face and screamed in anguish…

Arianna sat bolt upright in her bed, feeling the cold sweat beading her forehead. Returning to Ilaria, to establish a medical practice here, had left little time for anything other than work. Now that the pressure was off during the day her dreams at night had become more frequent and much more vivid. Breathing deeply to steady her racing heart, Arianna told herself it wasn’t necessarily a bad thing and that perhaps she needed to get the trauma of that day, twenty-five years ago, out of her system. And it was one more precious chance to see Xander again, along with the blond-haired boy who had carried her to safety and then disappeared amongst the waves.

The boy hadn’t drowned. Later, when she was older, she’d traced everyone who had died that day and there was no one matching his description on the list. He’d just disappeared in the melee of survivors. He was out there somewhere, grown up now, and Arianna wondered if he ever thought of her.

***

It was a bright, warm day. Ben Marsh stepped off the ferry, pulling the map of Ilaria’s harbour town from his pocket and looking around to get his bearings.

He’d wondered if he might remember this place when he saw it; he’d thought about it often enough over the years. But he didn’t. There was nothing familiar about the ferry terminus, but it was a new building, obviously constructed since he’d last been here, twenty-five years ago. Ben made a beeline for the tourist information booth and a smiling woman welcomed him to the island and marked the position of the health centre on his map for him.

He walked to the main harbour, stopping to scan the small boats moored there. None of them were familiar either, although in truth he’d been too intent on scanning the horizon to look for other survivors to remember much about the craft whose crew had finally pulled him out of the sea. And the people? The frightened little girl who had clung to his back as he’d swum away from the sinking ferry would be beyond recognition now. She could be any one of the young women who passed him in the street, and Ben told himself that searching their faces for any shred of recognition was a waste of time.

But he knew her name. Arianna Petrakis. It had been six months since he’d stumbled on an old newspaper account that had answered the questions he’d wondered about for so long, and since then the name had seemed to resound in his head.

Icy fingers skittered from his neck, down his spine, and he shivered in the sunshine. What if she didn’t want to see him? The answer to that was easy; he’d take the next ferry off the island and go. What if she did want to see him? How could he explain that the day the ferry had sunk had shaped his life? Could he even begin to say that now he had the strangest feeling that he needed Arianna to rescue him?

Ben shook off the questions, knowing he had no answer to them. Jumping into the water to save Arianna had been the first defining moment of change in his life. The second had been crushingly different, he’d made a solemn vow to love and cherish, and then not been there when his wife had needed him. Emma was gone now, and Ben couldn’t turn back the clock and save her.

But he hadn’t thought twice when he’d seen the little girl in the white dress sliding across the deck of the ferry and falling into the water. He’d jumped. And now he needed to do that again, to just follow his instincts and jump.

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Visions of the future

Now that we’re shot of 2020, and 2021 is bringing us hope of a gradual return to normality, I’m thinking a lot about all the things I used to do and which I’m looking forward to doing again.  Little things, like taking a trip into the centre of London, which I can see on the horizon from my local park but which has seemed like a faraway friend during the last year.  Being part of a group of friends and family all in the same room.  People watching, instead of people-avoiding 🙂  Sitting in a coffee shop and letting the bustle of the city go on around me.

But maybe – just maybe – I’m setting my sights a little too low.  Maybe my yearning for normal isn’t enough and I can replace that with a yearning for better.  My parents, and the older members of my family taught me this – and like most children I didn’t really listen at the time.  They’d talk about the war, but they talked about ‘building the peace’ as a far more important venture.  Things didn’t always go as planned – even the best of intentions can’t guarantee that we get things right first time.  But looking back, perhaps part of the peace that they built was one where John Lennon could sing ‘Imagine’.

I’m starting with myself, because there’s always plenty to be done there 🙂  I could do with noticing the little things around me more – not taking them so much for granted.  Thinking about how lucky I am, because this last year has been less difficult for me than it has for many.  Oh – and taking more advantage of the back of my wardrobe/cupboards – shopping for non-essentials on the internet isn’t quite the same as going out and browsing the stores, and I’ve been re-discovering a few treasures I’d forgotten I even had!

One thing that the last year has highlighted is that we have to work together, and protect each other.  In London, there’s been a lot of talk about taking lockdown as an opportunity to make our environment better.  There have been a number of new schemes brought into effect, to regulate traffic flow and create healthier and safer residential neighbourhoods.  There’s a lot of controversy about the best way to do this, and how to balance the needs of pedestrians, residents, cyclists and drivers.  But the rewards of getting this right are great, in places London is a wonderful garden city and in others… there’s still some work left to be done.

Also close to home – l love the way that Harlequin/Mills and Boon have continued their work in welcoming diverse voices to our community.  The current #MedicalRomanceIncludesYou Facebook and Twitter event is taking place on the 26th March, and if you haven’t heard about this yet, there’s still time to enter.  Check out the details here.  We’ll be posting tomorrow with our own hints and tips for aspiring writers.

The NHS.  What can I say about the NHS that hasn’t already been said?  They’ve worked ceaselessly to protect us all in the last year, and at great personal cost.  There are lots of practical ways that we can support our NHS better in the future, and repay just a fraction of the debt that we owe them.

Covax.  The World Health Organisation is working for global access to Covid vaccines, reminding us that no-one is safe until everyone is safe.  My shot of the vaccine was free and when my turn came around I was able to access it locally.  I’m incredibly thankful for that, and as my horizons begin to open up, I’m wondering what I can do on a personal level to help bring that gift to others.

John Lennon invited us all to call him a dreamer 🙂  And there’s something about confinement within the walls of my home that’s made my dreams feel more important to me, as a way of sustaining myself and making me smile.  I know that dreams aren’t everything, and that they take a lot of hard work to make them real, but are you dreaming with me?  I’d love to hear about your visions for the future – the personal ones, those for your own community, or the global ones.

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

A letter to my younger self

A month or so ago I was chatting with a friend about the first manuscript I sent off to Mills and Boon.  I spent the summer after I returned from University bashing it out on a manual typewriter and then sent my pages off by snail mail.  In due course it was rejected but by that time I had a job and other things in life had begun to take over, so it was another lifetime before I tried again.  But that first try, and my first hero and heroine, still occupy a very special place in my heart.

The conversation inspired me to dig out the manuscript (yes, I still have the whole book, gathering dust at the back of a cupboard) and to re-read the first few chapters.  I could see exactly why the book was rejected, and if I’d known then what I know now…

But of course, I didn’t.  How could I?  Because when I think about it, writing is all about making your own mistakes, finding out what you can and can’t do, and no-one else can talk you through that.  I’m often asked ‘how do you write’ and never quite sure what to say.  But I don’t mind dropping the tact with my younger self and giving her a bit of a shake 🙂  Now I’m much older and slightly wiser, perhaps a letter to the Annie who wrote that first manuscript is the best answer I can give.

Dear Annie

When I read the first few chapters of your book, I liked it – I really did.  Your enthusiasm for your characters shines through, but… well I’m going to give it to you straight.  There’s an awful lot you need to learn before this is even remotely close to being good enough.

I could go into a bit of detail – that first chapter where you tell me what everyone else thinks of the heroine, and what brings her to the place where she first sets eyes on the hero is tolerably well written.  But I really don’t care about any of it, because as a reader the one thing I want to know is how the hero sees her!  Cross it all out, throw your hero and heroine in at the deep end, and let their past experiences filter out as and where they’re needed.  I understand how much you value order, but aim for a bit of chaos as well!

As to your dialogue…  Seriously, Annie, I know you don’t speak like this.  If you’d just read it aloud you’d have realised that all those ‘I will’ and ‘I have’ would sound a lot less stilted if you’d popped in a few ‘I’ll’ and ‘I’ve’ here and there.

Your hero is pretty darn perfect.  Actually a bit too perfect, he’s driving me nuts.  How about a few human flaws?  The things that I know you value in the people around you, just as much as their strengths.  The point of all of this is that although your hero and heroine will be asked to be super-human at times, that loses its impact if they’re not human the rest of the time.  Try writing what you see around you, rather than what you think you ought to see.

Since I like to think that I’m not so very different from you, all of this is annoying the life out of me.  But they’re things that can be rectified.  The one thing I want to get into your head in terms of your writing is that you’ve got to make lots of mistakes and learn from them. Cultivate the fine art of knowing when something isn’t working.  Grit your teeth, cross out whole passages or even chapters.  Try again, and make it work this time. 

In life, you’ll be making your share of mistakes and you’ll survive them (I can’t tell you how because… spoilers…).  And while I’d love to apply a quick nudge to the tiller in places, to steer you away from things I regret now, I wouldn’t want you to un-live a single one of the mistakes you make in your writing.  Because time’s never wasted on those, you have to learn and they’re all part of an ongoing process that hasn’t ended for me yet.

Finally – and you’re going to have to trust me on this one because the rules of time travel don’t permit me to tell you how it’s going to happen.  But hang on in there, because I know you’ll make it 🙂

Love Annie xx

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, New Releases

January New Releases

Six new stories to see the New Year in with!  

y404Falling Again in El Salvador by Julie Danvers

A second chance…

…could be their greatest adventure! A humanitarian mission in stunning rural El Salvador will give obstetrician Cassie Andover the chance to focus on the medicine that she loves. But the one piece of her past she never expected to find there was the handsome Dr. Bryce Hamlin! And while this bold motorcycle-riding version of Bryce is nothing like Cassie remembers, he’s certainly one she’s compelled to know…

y404-1His Blind Date Bride by Scarlet Wilson

A missed blind date…

…leads to a chance at forever! After exchanging messages for months via a dating app, surgeon Ivy Ross is finally ready to meet up with “Mr. Right.” But when work calls her away the chance is lost…until fate intervenes and Ivy’s blind date—Travis King—arrives as her new senior medical officer…aka her boss! Travis and Ivy know mixing business and pleasure is a bad idea, but sometimes bad ideas feel so good…

y404-2One Night with Her Italian Doc by Karin Baine

One hot summer night together…

…that just isn’t enough! A Mediterranean cruise is exactly what nurse Sophie Blythe needs. It’s the perfect opportunity to rediscover the free-spirited woman she once was, before she met her cheating ex. And ship doctor Luciano Montavano could be the perfect fling… Gorgeous yet guarded, the irresistible Italian isn’t interested in settling down any more than she is. Until one night of passionate abandon forces them to acknowledge that they both might want more…

y404-3Risking Her Heart on the Trauma Doc by Louisa Heaton

Can two love-weary doctors…

…heal each other? Dr. Jess Young plans to use her time on the small Scottish island of Thorney to figure out how she can rebuild her shattered life after a recent blow that has stolen the future she dreamed of. Only Dr. Adam Campbell is a complication she didn’t expect! He’s handsome but hurting, too, and Jess sees a kindred spirit in Adam. Will he heal her already-fragile heart?

y404-4Second Chance in Barcelona by Fiona McArthur

He’s the stranger she’ll never forget…

…she’s the midwife he still wants! Midwife Cleo Wren is horrified to discover the gorgeous Spaniard she spent an impulsive night of passion with is Dr. Felipe Gonzales, an eminent oncologist with VIP connections! She’s tempted to turn down the job of accompanying his young cousin back to his home in Barcelona. But she accepts…on the understanding that they never revisit what happened. Now Cleo just has to stick to her own rules!

y404-5The GP’s Secret Baby Wish by Sue MacKay

Is the future she wants…

…just a dream? Four years ago, GP Lily Scott walked away from Dr. Max Bryant and their sizzling fling. Why? Well, if the past had taught Lily anything, it was to be cautious with her heart. But Lily’s rule book is about to go out the window, because Max is her new colleague! She can’t ignore their powerful connection—or the family she pictures—every time she’s with him. Can that family become a reality?

 

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Friday the Thirteenth

Today is that most uncomfortable of days, Friday 13th.  When every kind of calamity is supposed to happen, and after dark…  we just won’t talk about what happens after dark on Friday 13th…

But I’d like to take a different view.  Welcome to this Friday 13th!  I hope you have a great day!  Because Friday 13th is my lucky day.

It hasn’t always been. I adopted this rather unlikely tradition after a discussion with a friend at work – we saw eye to eye on most things but Friday 13th was the exception to the rule.  My friend was convinced that Friday 13th would bring her every bad thing that she could think of, along with a few that she couldn’t. To me, it was just another day.

So one Friday 13th, we decided on a little experiment. We’d start at 8.30 in the morning, when we arrived at work, and write lists. My list would contain all the good things that had happened that day, and my friend’s would contain all the bad things. We were each quietly confident that our own list would prove the longest and settle the question for good.

We stayed late after work, and compared notes (we couldn’t go to the pub or a coffee bar and do it in comfort, because my friend was sure that unnecessary travel would prompt all kinds of catastrophe). The lists were both long and detailed, and while I don’t remember exactly who had the most entries, it was more or less a tie. My friend continued in her dread of the date, and it became my lucky day.

x500_a49f5ff2-667d-40bf-998d-be86c1aa0c7a_360xSo, it’s without any trepidation at all, that I bring you the cover of my latest book, which is released this month. Cal and Andrea are hoping to make their friends’ wedding day perfect, but they meet with their share of bad luck, including a particularly distressing accident with the cake!  Somehow they manage to get through it all – and maybe that’s the whole point of my Friday the 13th story.  That having our friends and loved ones stand by us, through both good luck and bad, makes everything better.

Do you have a particular charm, or routine, to bring you luck?  I’d like to think that I’m not very superstitious, but then I do always cross my fingers when a new book makes its way out into the world…

EDIT – And I’ve just seen that Harlequin have a Friday 13th offer, to bring us some good fortune today!  If you buy 4 books or more then you save 40% on your order – the offer runs from 12.00am to 11.59pm ET on Friday 13th November.  Here’s the link!

Image by Elchinator from Pixaby
Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Origin Stories

Girls Can’t Do Physics

(Top image from Pixaby)

There are many different quotes that have shaped my life and my writing.  ‘Girls can’t do Physics’ is one of them.

Mr M. was the Head of the Physics department at my school.  At the end of the 1970’s it was considered quite all right to express such an opinion, and he used to say it so often that it became a wry joke amongst the girls he taught.

In truth, this worked to my advantage.  At age sixteen our sixth form syllabus offered a choice of either English Literature or Physics and although Physics was the obvious option in terms of the other subjects I was studying, I wanted very badly to study English Literature.  So ‘Girls can’t do Physics’ played straight into my hands 🙂  (I’ll add that my mother, who was fiercely determined that her girls would have the opportunity to do whatever we set our hearts on, was well aware that I was doing exactly as I wanted, so held her tongue.)

I did, however, study Chemistry.  The Head of the Chemistry Department was less vociferous on the subject of what girls could and couldn’t do but when we arrived in the Chemistry Lab on the first day of term, we found him no less opinionated.  He re-arranged us, putting all of the girls in the back row and the boys in the two front rows.  When someone put their hand up and asked why he told us that in these ‘modern times’ he was sadly unable to bar girls from his senior classes, but since he believed us unlikely to succeed, he intended to concentrate on educating the boys.

So we protested – with all the fervour of teenagers who can taste the sweet nectar of change.  The Headmaster made sympathetic noises, claiming to understand exactly how we felt.  But we had to understand that some of the older teachers needed time to catch up with the idea that girls could excel in the sciences.  We were sent back to the Chemistry Lab to resume our places in the back row.

Some of the girls in my class overcame the obstacles by working twice as hard, and when national exam time came around they smashed their way through the first of a succession of glass ceilings.  For my own part I had a very serious crush to contend with, and that didn’t leave me a great deal of spare time for extra Chemistry.  Will Shakespeare might have been more than 400 years my senior, but since when did the sixteen year old heart bother about little things like that?  I wondered whether true love had turned me into a traitor to my cause, but I couldn’t help the way I felt.  If the sciences didn’t want me, that was actually fine, because I didn’t want them.

Did I cave in under pressure and miss out on a glittering career in science?  I think not – Will still leaves me slightly weak at the knees, and I don’t regret the choices I made back then.  But it wasn’t until I was in my thirties and decided to do some Open University science courses in my spare time, that I realised what I’d missed out on at school.  The elegant synergy in great books, plays and poetry, didn’t seem to be so far removed from the cause and effect of Science and Mathematics.  We were shown how weirdly beguiling fractal patterns worked, taught the mathematics of a rainbow, and for the first time I realised that Science can also be incalculably beautiful.

Things are better now, of course, but many girls are still less encouraged to study Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths, and women are still under-represented in STEM professions worldwide, particularly at high levels.  In 2015, the General Assembly of the United Nations established The International Day of Women and Girls in Science, to be celebrated on 11th February.  If you’d like to see more facts and figures, and how UNESCO and UN-Women are working to encourage girls and women in science, here’s the link.

scan-27-copy-1I’ll finish with another quote, which is much closer to my heart.  My great-aunt was born in Queen Victoria’s reign, one of eight sisters, and was considered the beauty of the family.  By all accounts she’d been a little wayward in her youth, and in her old age she’d become a kindly and fragile lady, whose most fervent wish was to get through the day without the slightest hint of discord.  Even as a child I knew that she was both clever and perceptive.

When I got a place to study English Literature at University, I was despatched off to visit various elderly relatives, to impart the news in person.  I dutifully ignored those who appeared to believe that I’d be spending the next three years reproducing the complete works of Jane Austen in cross-stitch, or who told me that this would be a pleasant, if slightly unnecessary, interlude before finding a husband made my own career irrelevant.  I’d heard it all before and learned that loving my great aunts and uncles didn’t mean I had to accept their outlook on life.  But it was something of a relief when my great-aunt propelled me into the kitchen for tea-making and biscuit-choosing duties.

As soon as we were alone, she sat me down, and grabbed both of my hands, holding on so tight that I was concerned she might be unwell.  She told me that I wasn’t to listen to anyone who said my degree would be of less value because I was a girl.  And then the words that I’ll always remember, because they were spoken with a passion I’d never seen in her before.  ‘I would have loved to have had the chance to go to University.  You go.  Do it for me.’

In the face of those words, ‘Girls can’t…’ dissolves in a puff of ineffectual smoke.

And that’s shaped my writing.  My heroines can do Physics, Chemistry, or whatever else they choose, and my heroes are man enough to accept that without even having to think about it.  If that’s the way the world works today, it does so because of the determination of my fellow occupants of the back row, and the women who came before us and encouraged us to take up the opportunities they never had.

Of course, once you’ve learned to question bias, it’s a difficult habit to break.  So before I allow them to slip from my thoughts for good, I’d like to thank my old headmaster and my physics and chemistry teachers.  Somehow, despite all of your efforts, you did manage to teach me one thing of great value.