Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Do You Read Like I Read?


I think we are probably agreed that books are one of the very best things in the world. Now…It would be fairly safe to say that I am a total book whore. If, for some freak reason, I find myself out in the world with a spare, say, two minutes…I develop an urgent, pathological need to buy a book. Bookstores (old and new) draw me in like magnets. I’ve always loved them more than magazines, music, movies (well…I love movies too but the best ones are based on books, am I right????). This week I thought it’d be fun to see what your reading habits are like. Feel free to put in as much detail as you like in the ‘other’ options. Don’t worry! This is a safe place!!!

I’ll let you know what the results are soon. Until then, happy reading!!!! xx Annie O’

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Island Time is All the Time…

My dad was in the Navy so, for some of my childhood, we moved every couple of years and one of those moves was to a little island far off the west coast of the USA called…Oahu. We had been living in the Pacific Northwest (which I later discovered was the SAME TOWN Debbie Macomber lived in and used as inspiration for her wonderful Cedar Cove books) and arrived in this place called Waikiki. It was hot and the sand burnt our little shoe-loving tootsies and our pale Pacific Northwestern skin was quickly red as a crab and, overall, my siblings and I (all under the age of ten) were ungrateful little so and sos until we discovered the joys of jumping in the sea and not instantly going numb (I’m sure those of you who live in Scotland will also appreciate this).

Our poor attitude were quickly regrouped and soon we all loved it. This was Hawaii some time ago, but as I discovered on my belated honeymoon (ten years ago now!) there are elements of it that are exactly the same. The speed limit maxes out at 50mph. There is a downpour near enough eery morning, but nothing so horrid as to dim the delights of the beach. Hanama Bay, where I learned to snorkel seems to have even more wildlife than I remembered because it’s now a protected park with timed entries to make sure everyone, including the turtles who swim around the shore, all have ample room.

I just wrote a book called Hawaiian Medic to Rescue His Heart and writing it was sheer joy – one of those truly happy trips down memory lane. Not only did I revisit my honeymoon, I revisited my childhood and found myself happily slipping into island time…that relaxed pace where you simply have to believe everything will get done as and when it’s supposed to. A bit like believing you’ll find your one true love I suppose. And what better place to fall in love than a tropical island where time takes on another dimension?

Also – I’m going to be honest with you here – really honest. Even though it was invented in Canada…I am a HUGE fan of the Hawaiian pizza. Judge me if you will…but nothing beats that magical combination of salty ham and sweet juicy hot pineapple on a deeeee-licious pizza crust. In fact – it’s not even 6AM as I write this and already I know what I want for supper tonight.

So get yourself a snack, grab your next travel-inspired M&B/Harlequin and slip into island time as your book whisks you away to another world of love and romance. (What did you eat? I love snacking and reading!) ALOHA MY FRIENDS! xxx

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

If you could go anywhere in the world…

Where would you go?

I am preparing to write my next book and my editor and I think it should be set somewhere exotic. When I sat down to think about it, I realised exotic can mean a whole lot of different things to a whole lot of people, so I’ve decided to see what you are in the mood for with a poll!

I’ve just set a book in Hawaii and another in Nashville, so those are out as options (unless you convince me otherwise!). As many of you know, my characters love to eat, so bear that in mind.

Right! Time to put your thinking caps on. My hero (or heroine) will be going somewhere unfamiliar to them – but alluringly delightful. In short, a perfect setting for falling in love. I love travel, so am pretty sure I could fall in love just about anywhere, because even if the setting is wrong, but the object of my affections is right??? It’ll be a great story for later. So whether it’s Scotland or the North Pole or Bora Bora – there is NO WRONG ANSWER.

Okay…over to you…what places light your proverbial fires? If you have any input beyond the quiz, feel free to leave comments – or pictures!! xx Annie O’

Can’t wait to get writing!

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

1 + 2(3 x 7) = Love by Numbers?

We are well past Valentine’s Day, but a romance author (and probably a lot of other people, too) are rarely far away from thoughts about falling in love. I think about it all the time. I am a love addict. I don’t just love my husband, friends and family, I love my dogs, my cows, chocolate chip cookies and books. I love movies, and flowers and the way pussy willows are so incredibly soft. I love fresh linen, the scent of cloves in an orange and the new boots I bought that are the least sensible item of clothing I own and serve zero purpose to someone living on a farm during a pandemic. I could go on. But instead, I’ll get to the point of this post. Falling in love. Is it as simple as love at first sight? Or is it more complex than that?

Is love quantifiable? This is the question one Canadian psychologist has been asking himself and thousands of others. Can falling in love be as easy as answering a thirty-six question form with a stranger? He thinks there’s a pretty good chance it is.

I am trying to write a romance about a woman secretly trying to get someone to fall in love with her via this questionnaire. Some of the questions are easy: Would you like to be famous? When did you last sing to yourself? If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?

Others are much more complex. What is your most treasured memory? How do you feel about your relationship with your mother? What roles do love and affection play in your life? (NB: The Dalmatian below is a painting by Coco de Paris, an artist I ADORE!!!!)

Reading all of these questions made me think about my own relationships and how much my husband I delved into the deep end of getting to know one another. We talked endlessly in the beginning, but now, like many couples who’ve been together, conversations have developed a kind of Familiarity Shorthand. I know we have a lot of differences. But I also know our core values are solidly on the same page. That was important to both of us. And maybe that’s what loving someone is about. Figuring out what’s important to you. I’ll admit it. I would love it if my guy knew how to open the dishwasher and put things in it instead of just near it. But knowing he believes in the same things I do in regards to kindness, generosity, somehow trumps his inability to open the door and put something in. (Although if I got both – O! The daily elation! And, in fairness, he’d probably love a wife who cleaned the car, so…fair is fair.)

I have no answers, but I do know it’s fun giving my characters answers. When I finish the book, I’ll let you know how they did!

On a completely different note, I’ve been listening to loads of audio books during lockdown. When I walk the hounds. When I garden. When I drive. It means I get to double my ‘reading’!

These are the ones I’ve listened to lately. They were all great, but the first two were particularly wonderful. What have you read/listened to lately and when do you listen? Sending big love out to everyone. I know the pandemic has made life tough this past year, so THANK HEAVENS for books! xoxoxoox

PS – Speaking of books – the gorgeous Scarlet Wilson and I have a duet out mid-April set in Rome! Gorgeous surgeons. One shared, make or break surgery, and, of course falling in love Italian style!

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

How do you write a book???

I get asked a lot how great it is writing romance and the immediate answer is: REALLY GREAT. But as you know, a really cracking romance isn’t all first kisses, butterfly tummies and lavish proposals. Within each romance there are profound emotional hurdles each character must surmount before they get that glorious, well-earnt happily ever after. I’ve been enjoying exploring character’s personal journeys in greater depth these past couple of years in the guise of my new writer name: Daisy Tate. They’re more women’s fiction than romance, but never fear – love is pretty good at triumphing over adversity in them. So! I’ve written a new book.

Every book has its ping! moment and, in the spirit of Annie Claydon’s previous post, I had offered myself a bit of cushioning to explore where my latest idea would go. So! This lightbulb moment. It was actually a string of lightbulbs – the first one being the title.

I thought of the title and loved it. That’s often how I start: A Bicycle Built for Sue. And then … who is Sue and what’s she going to do. Ride a bicycle, obviously. But not just round the block…Sue’s going on a charity cycle ride. A hard one. One with hills. Something she never in a million years would have dreamed of doing. She’s not an athlete. She’s not even all that fond of getting sweaty, to be honest. She’s going to have to have gone through something big. Something that blindsided her. Something that turns her into someone who wriggles into a pair of padded lycra shorts and rides. And rides and rides and rides until she can tease away the darkness and begin to see some light.

I’d done a run recently (and by run, I mean put one foot in front of the other, listening to “Defying Gravity” from Wicked on repeat for two and a half hours). (Another sidebar: Debbie Macomber was in town that day to see her beloved Seahawks play and I knew I would be running by her hotel so, as a fellow Seattlite, I wore my Hawks hat in the hopes she was leaning out her window and see me amongst the crowd. #NeedleInAHaystack) Nearly all of the fifteen thousand people participating were running for one charity or another. I spent the bulk of the event weeping as I read everyone’s t-shirts, imagining why and for whom they were putting themselves through the horrendous ordeal.

It was pouring with rain, cold, and very long. And yet…there were literally thousands of people running for every sorrow under the (not entirely visible) sun. Amongst the scores of organisations represented, there were a preponderance of mental health charities, loneliness charities, depression, addiction, bi-polar, and, of course, suicide prevention charities. And then it hit me. Sue lost her husband to suicide. I’ve known far too many people who took their lives and, a few months later, as I rode the route Sue would ride along Hadrian’s Wall, I met far too many people who also knew people who had taken theirs. It was a six degrees of Kevin Bacon I would’ve much rather ended with Kevin Bacon.

Writing about life in the vacuum of a loved one’s suicide is not easy. Finding a way to make it uplifting was even harder. I actually went out and did Sue’s cycle ride. Again, it was pouring with rain and utterly miserable, and also unbelievably helpful in terms of really being able to tap into what she experienced. It’s a lot of alone time. But I was reminded again and again that I wasn’t alone. There was the B&B woman who stuffed newspapers in my sodden shoes and made me the best bowl of porridge I’ve ever had. The cycling group that kept passing me, making sure I was okay every time I appeared from a hedgerow (read: outdoor loo). The woman who made me a cuppa at a tourist centre when I was ready to call it a day and encouraged me to keep on going, let my bum blisters heal (I know, TMI|) and sit down at the end of it all to write about Sue, Flo, Raven and Kath. Which I did.

I also wrote four Mills & Boon last year so prepare yourself for some of those! The first is a duet I wrote with the fabulous Scarlett Wilson and it’s set in ROME (OMG – ROME!!!!! Just thinking the word makes me hungry).

Okay – I’ll leave you be, but with a question. Is there something you’ve done that you never in a million years thought you’d do? That was me with the cycle rides and the runs. Let me assure you – I am no athlete – I’m like the Little Tortoise That Could. I’m slow, not very graceful, but persistent. I actively seek silver linings. I hope you do, too. xoxoxo Annie O’

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Origin Stories

‘You Better Learn How to Type’

How a touch typist temp became a romance novelist…

My typewriter at home…

These were the wise, wise words of my grandmother when I told her I was going to be an actress when I grew up. ‘You better learn how to type.’ I did. And she was right. More than she ever could have known.

The original plan, of course, was to be an immensely famous actress for half of the year. By the age of twenty-one I had planned to be swanning around the world like Meryl Streep and only doing roles with exotic and hard to tackle accents. Natch. The other half of the year I was going to teach literature at America’s Gaulladet University – a centre of learning for deaf and hard of hearing student as its youngest and most passionate professor of English Literature. (I had learned sign language in a play and was DETERMINED to use it to spread my love of books. That should’ve been the first clue that I was destined to become a writer.

The second should’ve been the ten years I spent working for Associated Press as a news producer, writer and cameraman. Where, it should be noted, I was originally hired because of my very speedy typing. I transcribed a gazillion soundbites from the raw footage our crews sent in before graduating to the more glamorous job of inserting them into scripts and, eventually, going out into the field and filming stories.

Then, one day it hit me. I didn’t want to film the story. I wanted to WRITE the story. Luckily for me, I had a friend who dared me to try and write a Mills & Boon in a weekend. (We both wrote very quickly, had just written a play that had done well at the Edinburgh Fringe Theatre Festival and thought we were so WONDROUSLY TALENTED, surely we could each write a book in a weekend.


You can imagine how that went. (cue: wannnh-wonnnnh!)

Time passed. More jobs came and went. I filmed animals AND children. I worked for MTV for a spell and felt very, very old even though I was only thirty-five. My going away present there was a gorgeous stack of books. Everyone protested. ‘What? Books!?!?’ They cried. ‘Yes,’ said my dear friend Steven. ‘Have you not met her?’

I couldn’t let the writing bug go. I don’t like to fail. I also love to write. And then I found my magic ingredient. I fell head over heels in love with romance. I was taking inspiration from everything everywhere. (See above). And then…I actually fell in love with a tall blonde Scotsman. I didn’t even like blondes and I fell in love with him, dear reader! And in two weeks, I wrote my very first Mills & Boon. Which they rejected. But they also wrote an incredibly detailed and very encouraging letter back. So I tried again. And one more time. And then, after I’d taken a couple of years off and learned how to raise pigs and cows and bees…I tried one more time. And Lo and behold! The Surgeon’s Christmas Wish was born.

Is my first book my best? Who knows? It’s definitely one of my favourites. It’s definitely one of my favourite covers. I LOVE IT! My favourite favourite is probably The Nightshift Before Christmas. No. My ABSOLUTE FAVOURITE is whichever one I’m writing. Right now I’m writing one set in Hawaii with the working title, Aloha to Amour. I love it the most, too. And before that I loved the one with dogs the most. (Are you sensing a trend?)

So that’s it my little munchkins. The very, very long and winding road that finally led me to become a published author. And what a joyous arrival it has been. Tell me, what’s inspired you to do something you love?

xx Annie O’

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Christmas is coming….!!!!

Okay – it may be a wee way off, sixty days in fact (ack!!!!) – but this year I am particularly excited for the holidays. I don’t know if it’s the yo-yo ride of lockdown, or the fact last year’s Christmas was a bit weird (we were ‘in between’ dogs and I HATED it), or the fact that I have not one, but TWO Christmas books coming out, both of which I wrote this year, so my head’s pretty much been in a snow globe all year long. Thoughts?

The first book I wrote was for Mills & Boon/Harlequin and has the gorgeously evocative title Christmas Under the Northern Lights. It’s a journey up to a North Sea Scottish Island and is, I hope, a celebration of all of the medical professionals who offer home care. It’s an incredible service and let me be the one to tell you, Scotland was amazing at providing the service.

You see, another reason last Christmas wasn’t entirely wonderful, was that my beloved father-in-law wasn’t in the best of health. He was dead set against going into hospital and we were pretty keen to keep him out of it because…Christmas in the hospital? Probably a lot more magical in a M&B Medical Romance. The Scottish district nurses came to our rescue IN SPADES. They were absolutely amazing. There, morning and afternoon, like clockwork. Even on Christmas Day. And I couldn’t have been more impressed. They were cheery, kind, thoughtful and, above all, helped us keep my father-in-law home for Christmas. This book, is without reservation, for them.

Has there ever been a better time for a…

The second book I wrote (pretty much exactly when lockdown began) was as close to swan-diving into a snow globe as possible. I had SO MUCH FUN writing this book. To my husband’s horror, I involved our new hounds in my merriment.

The premise of Miracle on Christmas Street comes from a real life event I heard about in Australia – a living advent calendar. One in which a street with twenty-four homes (or thereabouts) turned each of their homes into an advent calendar with either a little celebration or a display in the window. The idea has been replicated around the globe (well, from the top to the bottom anyway!) and it seems the perfect way to truly emulate the spirit of Christmas which, to me, is the ultimate celebration of love, peace and joy. In other words, the ingredients that can make being part of a community amazing. It’s had some wonderfully kind feedback from some great authors and I’m just over the moon to join the tinsel-laden squadron of authors who write an annual Christmas book.

Not having any children of my own, I love to borrow other people’s children to decorate cookies. What sorts of traditions do you have for the holidays and, like me, do you find yourself getting ready for this year’s holidays even easier?

Big kiss everyone! xoxo Annie O’ho ho ho!!!

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels


Oof! What a year we’ve all had. One in which I have been proactively seeking the silver linings, because if you can’t find the joy? It all gets a bit tough.

This year, along with the gloriously talented Amy Ruttan and Susan Carlisle, I hit my twenty-fifth Mills & Boon milestone.

It was particularly thrilling to have it be the duet I’d written alongside Annie Claydon who was the very first Mills & Boon author I met in real life. She is EVERYTHING you could hope for in an author. Kind, generous, creative, insightful, tactful and with a wonderfully warm giggle. We wrote the duet about veterinarians and it was such fun taking the intensity of a human operating theatre and transferring it to a veterinary clinic. If you haven’t yet had a peek at it, please click on this and have a look. It was SUCH fun to write and never mentions The Infectious Disease That Shall Not Be Named. NOT EVEN ONCE!!

Whilst the past six years of writing have passed in a blur…getting here took a long time, several drafts of novels (that are still sitting in a drawer somewhere, crying themselves to sleep at night) and, of course, a lot of hard work.

But that hard work has also been my saviour these past six or seven months of such a nutty year. Every day I get to slip into a magical world and take the readers on a journey through some ups and downs, but knowing all along that the pay-off is going to be tremendously rewarding.

I’m going to keep this post super short because we’ve all got a whole lot of life-wrangling to do, but I would love to hear from you and discover what sort of silver linings What are things you’ve been proud of achieving? I grew tomatoes, beetroot and my first ever aubergine! I have also grown this exceedingly large courgette!!! I did not grow the toad or the gorgeous flowers my editors sent to celebrate my 25th book. What have you been up to to keep your spirits bright? xx Annie O’

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Excerpt! The Vet’s Secret Son

We tried to whet your palate for our veterinarians in Cornwall with this weekend’s blog by letting our characters introduce each other…now here’s a taste of the real thing along with some pictures of my pets (who have definitely met the vet)! I hope you enjoy this opening scene from The Vet’s Secret Son xxx Annie O’

ELLIE LIFTED THE small ball of fluff up in front of her face and gave it a nuzzle. Puppy time after a difficult surgery was always curative. ‘Who’s the best little-bitty puppy?’
The pitch-black Labrador put its paw on her nose then gave her a tiny pink-tongued lick on the cheek. Even though she’d had a million puppy moments like it, Ellie’s heart strained at the seams.
‘You’re definitely the cutest.’
As if in protest, the other puppies—a mad mix of golden, red, black and a solitary chocolate one—began tumbling up and over her legs, vying for cuddles.
Four weeks old and full of life. A perfect litter of ten, spanning every colour of the Labrador spectrum. It was the last litter Esmerelda, Ellie’s beloved Lab, would have, and even though she knew she wasn’t entirely objective, she was certain it was the best.

“She picked up another one and breathed in the sweet, scrummy puppy scent. Mmm… Perfect. She couldn’t wait for Mav to get back from surf school. Her son’s giggles of delight combined with puppy cuddles…sheer heaven.
‘Having a bit of puppy therapy, are we?’
Ellie looked up and saw her long-term mentor smiling down at her. ‘Ha! You caught me, Henry.’
‘Tough surgery?’
‘Very.’ She told him about the golden retriever who’d been injured when he’d tripped whilst carrying a big stick.
‘And the oropharynx?’
‘There was a truckload of splinters in his tongue and his mouth. A huge one was lodged in his throat, the poor lad. He’s in Recovery now. I don’t know who’s feeling worse. Him or his owner.’
Henry gave a sympathetic shrug. ‘It’s a tough call sometimes. I just had a woman sob the entire time I clipped her cat’s nails!’
Ellie made an empathetic noise. ‘Mrs Coutts?’
Henry grinned. ‘You clearly know your patients’ owners well.’
‘One of the keys to our success here in Dolphin Cove.’ She patted the newspaper-covered play area where she was stretched out, puppies using her like a climbing frame. ‘Join me?”

Henry, who’d valiantly stepped in to be her emergency locum vet over the last few months, grinned and sat down opposite her. ‘How could I resist?’
The puppies climbed and tumbled over him, vying for cuddles. For someone with a puppy tucked in the crook of each arm, her mentor didn’t look all that chirpy.
‘You’re looking serious. Got a new surgery you need to brainstorm?’
Henry shook his head, his white hair flopping across his forehead as he did so. He looked every bit the mad professor. Semi-retired and as smart as a whip, he was also her hero. Who else in the whole of the UK would’ve given up their summer holidays to come down to Cornwall and take over the roster of complicated surgeries her business partner had lined up?”

“She shoved aside the niggle of discomfort the question elicited and smiled at him. Just about no one, that’s who. No one she cared to lay eyes on, anyway.
‘It’s not that,’ he said, easing yet another puppy into his arms.
Ah. So there was something.
Ellie gently extracted her insanely curly ponytail from one of the puppy’s mouths. One day she’d get her hair under control. She snorted. And one day pigs would fly. ‘Not a pull toy, little one,’ she cooed, easing a final golden coil out of its gummy mouth.
She inspected Henry as the pup he was holding scampered away and he pulled one of her favourite pups, the only chocolate Lab in the litter, into his lap. He was looking awfully serious.
The chocolate pup put both of its paws on Henry’s beard then slid back down into the nook of his arm and instantly fell asleep.
Ellie laughed. ‘I guess that was enough playtime for him.”

“Guess so.’ Henry cupped the little pup’s head in one of his big old hands. His tone was much more reflective than a vet with over forty years of experience might be. He must have seen thousands of puppies curl up into sleepy little balls of fur and puppy snorts over the years.
‘C’mon, Henry. Out with it. There’s something playing on your mind. You rescued me in my hour of need. If I can do anything to help you in yours, just say the word.’
She wasn’t kidding. When Drew, her business partner and her bestie, was in a horrific car accident, Henry came right down. Drew’s long stint in hospital was coming to an end, but there was still ample rehab and healing to keep him away from the surgery for at least the next eight to ten weeks. More if there were any setbacks.
Uh-oh. Drew hadn’t had a setback had he?
Henry readjusted the puppy and something about the look in his eyes made her scoop one up into her own arms. She gave it a nuzzle as Henry began to speak. When he’d finished, she could hardly hear for the buzzing in her ears.”

It wasn’t Drew. It was a favour. And not just any old favour. He was asking her to do the one thing she’d promised she would never do. Let Lucas Williams work at Dolphin Cove.”

Excerpt From: Annie O’Neil. “The Vet’s Secret Son”.

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

The New Silver Linings Playbook

Hello dear friends! I write to you in my usual pre-dawn post at the computer. Sleep has never been my gift and today is no different, but after a properly rainy, miserable, hot chocolate and RomCom on the sofa kind of day (Hitch, if you’re asking)…the sun is out and I suspect my pumpkins will be growing a bit more. At risk of repeating myself, I will say the one thing I am most grateful to lockdown for is introducing me to audio books. They have lured me into the grossly neglected vegetable patch and for the first time in actual YEARS…we have produce! (I let at least one artichoke go to seed because I think they’re pretty and will definitely report back at Halloween with my pumpkin patch pile).

I won’t show you my actual To Read Pile because it is humiliating…but here’s a taster.

So those are, of course, actual books and I’ve read some great ones lately. In the audio book department I have listened to these fabulous delights:

Have you read or listened to any of these? They were all great, but the last two, The Cactus and My Sister, The Serial Killer were GREAT. It’s been interesting because I have discovered there are books I would actually rather read in an actual book and books I quite happily listen and work to. Have you listened to any amazing books?

I am just in the middle of writing a duet with the wonderful Scarlet Wilson. By the time I turn it in, the duet I wrote about veterinarians in love on England’s gorgeous SouthWest coast with the fabulous Annie Claydon will be out. Really looking forward to that one. I hope you’re all well and managing to find the silver linings in your lockdown world. Share them with me and we’ll see if we can grow some more joy in this very peculiar world where (and I know this is cheesy) love really does seem to be the best medicine. xx Annie O’

(These are my books that are out now plus a teaser for the duet with Annie Claydon).