Cover reveal, Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Musings on Spring, and a cover reveal

It’s officially spring here in the Western hemisphere, but I’m not feeling it. I hate to admit it, but at this time of year I actually miss living in Canada. Just to be clear, I often miss Canada but usually for very different reasons, which usually include the family and friends I’m away from. Especially now, after a year of separation and at what I hope is the tail end of the lockdown.

No, Canadian weather isn’t something I usually miss, now that I’m living in Florida. Any of my Canadian friends will tell you that I don’t like winter. Ice on the ground? Snow blowing sideways? Days and days of grey skies and then, when the sun comes out it means the temperature drops? Ah, no thank you.

Sometimes, even when it’s supposedly spring in Ontario, that includes the occasional snow flurry, along with very cold rain. Often spring seems like just winter’s younger, just as ugly brother. Here it’s 84 degrees, while in London, Ontario, where I used to live, it’s about 48 degrees, at the time of writing. Now, I prefer warm over cold, usually, but the reality is that spring in Central Florida actually often feels more like summer come early.

One of the things I enjoyed in Canada was the visual evidence of spring slowly but surely coming into its own. Red buds on the trees, showing the first tentative evidence of leaves bursting forth. Little green sprouts courageously pushing through winter’s grime, reaching for the sun.

Then, suddenly, front gardens showing hints of color, as the bulbs begin to bloom. Tiny little wild flowers, which some gardeners may consider weeds but I love, peeping through the grass. And then the glory of the cherry and crabapple trees in full glorious blossom outside the office I worked at.

Once cameras on phones became a thing (yes, my sweet summer children, once upon a time this wasn’t even conceivable LOL!) I loved taking pictures of these signs, and my heart was happy. It was a tangible way to know another snowstorm was unlikely, and I’d turn my face up to the sun (when it was around) sort of like a flower myself, yearning for new beginnings.

Please don’t think that where I live now doesn’t have its own particular beauty, and signs of spring. I still take pictures of tiny flowers and some not so tiny ones, but now it doesn’t quite have the same meaning. Before it was a transition from a season I disliked to one that held the promise of really warm weather on the way. Now it’s Florida ramping up to become ever-so-slightly unbearable, unless you’re in a boat, on the water, slathered in sunscreen.

Yeah, now I’m left asking myself, “What on earth are you complaining about? Boating season is around the corner…”

Now, for the promised cover reveal!

Here is my M&B UK cover for Island Fling with the Surgeon, which will it the shelves in August. I love it! This book takes readers back to my fictional island of St. Eustace (not the be confused with the very real island of Sint Eustatius, in the Dutch Leeward Islands), first introduced in Best Friend to Doctor Right. Here’s the blurb:

Make-believe?

Or more than she bargained for?

When Dr. Genevieve Broussard convinces nurse Zach Lewin to enter a fake relationship to help keep her meddling mom off her back, she’s confident there’s no danger of it turning into anything more. Her first priority has to be her surgical career, and both Gen and Zach are still reeling from recent betrayals. But as the summer heat in the Caribbean loosens inhibitions, their fake “affair” is at risk of becoming all too real…

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Soothing Sunday series

Ever get asked to do something that absolutely fills you with terror? You know, like give a speech to a huge crowd, or display something you made, or do an off-the-cuff presentation? Well, if you have, and are anything like me, it fills you with dread, give you that old butterflies-in-the belly sensation, maybe even robs you of sleep at night.

Yeah, that’s my life this week, since the lovely editors at Harlequin asked me to take part in the Soothing Sunday Series, where I get to do a live Facebook video, reading an excerpt of my upcoming release, Night Shifts with the Miami Doc.

LIVE.

My first thought when I saw the email was, ‘Soothing??? For whom?’

Obviously not for me! I haven’t been this keyed up since… I can’t even remember when.

Did I mention it’s live?

And that I have a face for radio, and a voice for a silent film?

Not to mention a Covid afro that refuses to be tamed?

Now that last one, I have to admit I’m rather enjoying. Since nothing is locked down here in Florida, and (of course) we have no snow, I know I could get a haircut if I really wanted to, but these wild curls of mine seem to suit these crazy times.

However, having taken part in a number of Zoom meetings and video calls over the last year, I know my hair, which is very fine and going gray, doesn’t really translate well in that medium. The gray bits sort of disappear, so I look as though a toddler got at me with a pair of pruning shears.

Still not getting it cut, though.

Of course, too, there are the technical aspects of it, which I’m not familiar with, and am sure I’ll mess up, including setting up the scheduled video. Nothing like being technically challenged in this brave new world of ours to make one feel, well, incompetent.

In the end, I hope I can bring it off without embarrassing myself, and if your free at noon on February 21st, 2021, I hope you’ll join me, so I’m not speaking into the void, mournfully wondering, “Is anyone out there?”

And now you know why I can’t get any sleep.

My crazy, rather paranoid imagination just won’t let me!

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Origin Stories, The Writing Life

Onward, to a Brighter Future

If last year were a pinecone…

Happy New Year, All!

I’m honored to have this very first blog spot of 2021 to talk about a subject dear to my heart. After the year just gone, (It That Shall Not Be Named, Which Will Live On In Infamy) I’m hoping for a fresh start, and progress toward a better world for us all, including within publishing. I’m hoping readers and writers alike will find this blog interesting, and informative, and something to consider as we move into this bright, (hopefully) shiny New Year.

Over the last decade or so, there’s been a sea-change coming in the publishing sphere, and not everyone has been comfortable with it, or able to understand why it was even necessary. I personally think it started with the advent of small presses and self-publishing. During that time, a number of authors began to get noticed in a way they hadn’t been able to before. Many had abandoned the hope of getting traditionally published because they’d tried, repeatedly, and been rejected, repeatedly.

In some cases, those rebuffs came not because they were poor, sub-standard writers, but because their characters didn’t conform to what was then deemed acceptable, or marketable.

Those authors were writing about characters the gatekeepers in traditional publishing had little to no interest in. Worse, they were putting those characters in situations deemed the milieu of white, Cis-het people, yet often they were neither of these things. Those authors were writing characters who were LGBTQ+, black, Asian, and every other race, creed, color, and nationality. They were writing all types of stories imaginable. Those tales were often raw, and real, and questioning of a society that seemed inclined toward ignoring the realities of lives outside the “norm.”

“Norm,” of course, being relative and subjective; a truth that is oft glossed over, and minimized when it is convenient.

Since then, I’m happy to say, things have improved in the way of diversity and inclusion. Unfortunately, in my opinion, there’s still a struggle ahead. In a perfect world, there wouldn’t have to be a concerted effort to attract diverse stories and authors, but we would all be judged, equally, on the quality of our work. And all good stories, no matter where they’re set, or who the characters are, would have an equal chance of publication.

We’re not there yet, but it’s heartening to see the initiatives and training being offered in the hopes of getting us, as an industry, to that point. It takes effort, and courage, to affect change. Clarity about, and understanding of situations and people that perhaps are alien to us has to be sought, and taken on board. Recognition of the barriers people have faced, and often still face, is imperative, as is the determination to break them down.

At Harlequin/Mills & Boon’s new Write for Harlequin website, they’ve added an entire section geared toward Diverse Voices, and I’m hoping it attracts the attention of authors from around the world. Category romance may sometimes seem to be the unwanted stepchild of the publishing world, but it’s wildly popular, and always in need of fresh, new voices.

On the website can be found lists of initiatives and outreach programs, including mentorships and scholarships, geared toward diverse writers. By reaching out to underrepresented groups, Harlequin has shown they’ve seen, and understood, the impediments many authors have historically faced, and are making the necessary changes to address the imbalance.

With the success of those initiatives, I hope to have a much widened pool of amazing authors to read. New voices, showing us life as we’ve never seen it before.

I want to be swept away to places I’ve never experienced, see them from an insider’s perspective, and learn more about this wondrous, amazing world we inhabit.

Meet new characters, with a range of issues brought about by family traditions, misunderstandings, driving desires, and many other delicious problems, but with twists only that author, with their particular knowledge and world-view, could write.

I want my mind blown, and expanded, by those new stories.

That’s why I read: to be transported, educated, and entertained by stories outside of my own personal knowledge. To lose myself in new places, and characters, and cultures.

To learn tolerance and understanding through being exposed to life as others live it, not just be mired in my own small world.

To me, that’s the magic of books, and I want to be enchanted by all this world has to offer.

Please visit the Write For Harlequin website, and encourage others who want to be published to do so, no matter where they come from, what they look like, or the personal barriers they face.

After all, while I, and other like-minded readers, still actively long for diversity, ‘inclusion’ means everyone.

There is more than enough success to go around, when we clear the way for all authors.

Christmas Flowers from my Hubby, which lasted all through the season!
Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

The Year of ‘Hurry up and Wait,’ then Hurry!

A little slice of holiday cheer, to make my Zoom background more festive!

This blog post is terribly late going up for a reason that sounds frankly ludicrous in 2020: I got busy and didn’t get it written!

In a year where we’ve spent the majority of our time at home, twiddling our thumbs, that sounds nothing more than a lame excuse, but it’s true. I rarely write blog posts more than a few days ahead, for the simple reason that I like to post about something current, when I can. Last week found me rushing to finish a crochet project for a Zoom party on Sunday. Then my husband needed my help with a project on Monday and Tuesday, which took us away from home until late yesterday evening. It was only when I, exhausted, was falling into bed last night that I recalled the notice that had popped up on my phone in the afternoon.

“Okay, I’ll get it done FIRST THING IN THE MORNING,” I thought.

As they say in Canada (and apparently parts of the US Mid-West), “Yeah, no.”

This has really been a roller-coaster year, so why did I think it would end any differently?

We’re hunkered down, in a partially festive house (the tree is up, and there’s one little section of the buffet, visible behind me during Zoom calls, decorated), for the the duration of 2020, which seems appropriate and is necessary to protect the ones we love. Much as I’d like to travel south to spend the season with our families, it really isn’t the time to give in to impulses like that. Not when we can finally be hopeful that the end of the pandemic may be in sight, and can tentatively begin to dream of all the things we’ll once more be able to safely do. Travel to see those we’ve been so painfully separated from. Gather in person to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, life, death, and everything in-between.

Hug each other, as though never to let go…

So, my wish for you all is for a safe, peaceful, and healthy end to 2020, wherever you may be, and for the ability to hug, unrestrained, in 2021.

And, since this post is so late, here’s a peek at the cover of my next book, being released in March 2021, Night Shifts with the Miami Doc. Looking back, it feels as though I finished it two years ago, because time has had little or no meaning this year; stretching and warping in strange and mysterious ways. So, here’s another wish for us all: that in 2021 we find ourselves once more in the space/time continuum we’re used to, but still retaining all the lessons we’ve learned in 2020. Like how important it is for us to love one another, no matter how hard it sometimes becomes.

I love this cover, most of all because the model looks so much like a good friend that every time I see it, it makes me smile!
Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Origin Stories

All Travelers, Together

A small taste of Jamaica: Bamboo Avenue, St. Elizabeth

I’d like to tell you an immigrant story—not my own, which is pretty banal, but a far more interesting one.

My husband’s grand-uncle left Jamaica, bound for Britain, to sign up with the RAF in 1942. He served as a morse code operator, and also flew in reconnaissance missions during the war. Wanting to study medicine, he applied for and was accepted to Glasgow University, but the RAF refused to de-mob him, and by the time he was released from duty he’d lost his place.

Moving to Glasgow anyway, he met his eventual wife—a white Scotswoman—but faced the disapproval of both her parents and even the pastor of the church they started attending together.

After they married, and were looking at properties to purchase, he would see a listing for a house he thought might be suitable, and go to look at it. Over and over, when he went to look at the houses, he was told they suddenly were no longer for sale. His estate agent finally told him not to go, but to send his wife instead, and that was how they eventually managed to purchase a home.

While he still intended to study medicine, he had to work to support his family and save up to be able to go back to school. When a minister told him there was a dearth of Religious Education teachers, and there were grants available for that course of study, he decided to become a teacher instead.

Graduating as a mature student, he started his successful teaching career, eventually becoming the first black headteacher in Scotland.

I share Mr. Carl Vaughan’s story, not just because it is one of success against the odds, and in the face of intense opposition, but as a way to say, there are as many immigrant stories as there are immigrants.

Some leave their homeland in search of a better life, new horizons, or advancements unavailable in their home country. Others, like Mr. Vaughan and later the Windrush Generation, seek to serve. In 1796, Jamaican Maroons were deported to Nova Scotia, Canada, as part of a treaty with the British. They didn’t stay long, and were relocated to Sierra Leone thereafter. Men and women from Jamaica helped build the Panama Canal.

We Yaardies (Jamaicans) are pretty much everywhere! My ex-mother-in-law even tells the story of being on Malta and finding a Jamaican waiter in the Chinese restaurant where they stopped to have lunch.

My story is far more prosaic than any of the above.

I guess you could call me a double immigrant, really. Just over seventeen years ago, I left Jamaica and traveled to Canada and then, four years ago, I took a leap of faith and moved to Florida.

Neither move was easy. Both had to be carefully considered. But, in both cases, I think the right decision was made, considering the particular time of my life.

Thankfully, I was old enough, and had travelled enough, to know there was no ‘Land of Milk and Honey’ awaiting me in North America. I’d find no streets paved with gold. Instead, I expected that hard work and a willingness to fit in—without losing my innate Jamaican character—would carry me through.

Yet, even so braced and determined, there was no way to anticipate the myriad little ways that being an ‘outsider’ would hinder, annoy, and on occasion anger me.

But remember what I said in my last piece about if ‘yuh want good, yuh nose haffi run‘ (success often comes at a painful price, which has to be paid)? Well, here’s another Jamaicanism for you—When trouble tek yuh, pickney shut fit yuh (When trouble takes you, a child’s shirt will fit you; meaning, if things are hard, you make do with whatever you have to get through it.)

And that’s what I did.

But I did it with the conscious decision not to change the way I spoke, or to lose sight of my roots. Sometimes I think I’m even more in tune with my Jamaican origins since I left the island. There’s something about being far from home, living in places where hardly anyone understands the way I grew up, my idioms, or outlook, that has somehow solidified my very Jamaican-ness.

It’s a lonely feeling, leaving your country. Being apart from the places and people that helped shape and mold you, and supported you through your life. Physical distance from the familiar also sometimes leads to emotional distance from friends and family too.

Jamaicans might say, Yuh gone too far from yuh navel-string (You’ve gone too far away from your umbilical cord,) harking back to the tradition of burying a baby’s umbilical cord and planting a tree with it, signifying a connection to the land that can never be severed. No matter who you have around you, the separation from the place of your heart changes you—sometimes for good, sometimes for ill.

Because I didn’t know or understand some of the things happening around me, I became more cautious. When people laughed at me for my ignorance of things they took for granted because they grew up with them, I learned to hold my temper. Being unable to get a job in my field, and take whatever I could get, made me humble. Having people assume things about me once they heard my accent made me stronger—and I figured out how to get my own back with a smile.

Of everything I’ve been up until this point in life, I can’t help thinking that being an immigrant has had one of the biggest impacts on my life.

It permeates every facet of who I am now, and I see things through its filter.

When I write, it’s almost always about people searching for belonging; for home. It can be emotional home, or a sense of family, or just someone who wants to learn about them and, in understanding, love them unconditionally.

This is a direct result of feeling adrift, different, misunderstood, underestimated. Of sometimes feeling inadequate, often homesick, and imbued with a heart-and-soul deep yearning for times gone, or friends missed.

I’ve learned to use all these feelings and emotions when I write, seasoning my books not just with Jamaican spice, but also the salt left by tears of separation and longing.

And this journey hasn’t been all bad—not at all! I’ve made great friends along the way, who appreciate my alternate views, or ‘outsider’ insights. My family of the heart has grown, and enriched me with their acceptance and love.

There are days when I think I’d like to be able to live in even more places, just for the wonderful experience of broadening my understanding of the world even more.

The life of an immigrant isn’t for the faint of heart, but there are rewards—both tangible and intangible—both for those who move to new places, and those already there.

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Origin Stories

Looking Back to Craft the Future

Family of Ernest and Alice Delvaille. From left: Lawrence, Alice, Halford, Ruby, Gerald, Ernest, Leslie, and Edna.

This rather Victorian-looking pair are my paternal great-grandparents, and the serious and dapper young man seated at the left is my grandfather. I had a very special relationship with my Grandpa, who came to live with us the year I was born, after Granny—his wife—died. He was the first person I remember reading to me every day, and through those early interactions I developed both my insatiable reading habit, and the curiosity that’s a huge part of my character.

Judging by the ages of the children, I estimate this picture was taken circa 1907. My great-grandfather Ernest, an accountant, and Great-grandma Alice, Post Mistress for the district, married in 1888. Nothing unusual at all, right?

Although the picture was taken in the hills of St. Elizabeth parish, in Jamaica, from the clothing it could have been taken almost anywhere in the world European folk lived.

Yet, here’s something to consider:

The family in this picture is, at most, one generation removed from being slaves.

Ernest’s grandmother, Mary Gittoes, was a slave. His mother, Maria Miles Tomlinson, was born prior to Emancipation, and prior to her parents’ 1836 marriage, so conceivably was born into slavery too.

This isn’t something spoken about much, in families like mine. Older generations were determined to attain “respectability” and distance themselves from those types of roots. They were more focused on the European side of their lineage, ignoring all traces of any other. For as long as I could remember, my father swore his surname was French, his ancestors Huguenots fleeing persecution, and refused to entertain the suggestion that it was actually Jewish.

Even in a country with the motto “Out of Many, One People,” where many, if not most people are of mixed heritage, the vestiges of prejudice still lingered.

This is a legacy I had to break free of, and that shapes much of my outlook on the world. I have a very difficult time with racism, and colorism, and caste/class/social prejudice, because I’m not only a genetic melting pot myself, but the descendant of both enslaved Africans and European slave owners. Descendant of Low Country Jews, and Eastern European Jews, with a sprinkling of other genes to boot.

For me, that diverse blood is a source of great pride.

I was also privileged to grow up at a time when my country was learning how to throw off the bonds of colonialism, even as many of its citizens were mourning the loss of the “motherland’s” rule. While others might disagree, I think of myself as lucky to have experienced those turbulent times, when Jamaica was trying to find herself; trying to figure out who and what she was. There was a concerted push toward equality for all, and I like to think I learned the lessons of the time.

Everyone is worthy—of life, education, opportunity, and advancement.

Worthy of love.

When I started writing romance, there was room for werewolves and vampires, aliens and shape-shifters, even ghosts, but seemingly little for people like me, or my family. Yet, through travelling, I learned that while my appearance, experiences, and background may differ from those of the people I met, there were definite similarities too. Cultures, settings, professions, and appearances may be diverse, but the problems, joys, loves, dislikes, the pain and losses we experience make us more alike than different.

We’re all individuals, with our discrete backgrounds, hang-up, and desires, but there is always something we can share, and understand.

The commonality of humanity.

But, in the beginning, I wrote what the market seemed able to accept because, above all else, I wanted to be published and was trying to be realistic. After a while, I found solace in writing paranormal and fantasy romances, because I could people them with anyone I liked. I also found that readers of M/M romances were more accepting of diversity in race and culture, and had some small success writing those too.

I didn’t think there would be a place for me in mainstream publishing if I wrote the characters I wanted to. That was a painful realization, but in Jamaica there’s a saying: ‘If yuh want good, yuh nose haffi run’ (basically, if you want to succeed, you have to deal with any attendant pain) and I yearned for success. The type of success where family members, on hearing I had a contract for publication from an e-publisher, wouldn’t say, “Oh, soon you’ll be a real author!”

Honestly, when I heard that Harlequin was looking for diversity in their Medical line, I wasn’t sure if they meant it or not, but decided to try my hand at it anyway. I wanted the chance to write a variety of characters, using my own background, experiences, and observations when crafting some of them. If I could also get a chance to put a little of my own roots into some of the stories, using culture and place to add interest, I wanted in!

I was ecstatic when they accepted my first story, The Nurse’s Pregnancy Miracle. It featured a Jamaican, immigrant heroine—successful and headstrong—living life on her own terms, despite the pressures her family put on her. She’s based on women I know, and love. Strong, determined women, who’ve succeeded beyond, or in spite of, their roots and the expectations of others.

I carry the memories of my early life, and the lessons learned, to this day. They guide me in various ways, reminding me to remain open-minded, curious, and attentive to others. But just as what seems important when we’re fifteen seems inconsequential when we’re thirty, about twenty years ago I underwent a life change that shifted my perceptions again.

But that is a tale for another day.

Another facet of my Origin Story.

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

The Difference in Style and the Lost Fingernail

Fairly early on in the advent of covid-19, my husband’s employer switched over to having their staff work remotely. Immediately Hubby and I, erroneously, thought that meant we’d have some time to get projects done around the house. In our defense, when we first got married he worked from home almost all the time, and there seemed to be quite a bit of time for us to do things together. Since then, however, he’s been given a new position and before the lockdown had been working in the office again.

That’s why I had really no idea just how incredibly busy he had become during the day!

Yet, that didn’t stop him from deciding at least one of the projects we’d talked about was definitely going to get done. Of course, he chose the most labor intensive one on the list. Which is why I now have a fingernail that looks as though I still bite my nails, and am gazing (with some dismay) at the insides of my (messy) kitchen cupboards.

My poor fingie!

In his infinite wisdom, Hubby decided we’re going to refinish those cupboards, and I somewhat reluctantly agreed.

Now, there are a couple of things you need to understand about us.

He’s decisive and a go-getter.

I think everything to death before taking it on and, while I’m not afraid of hard work, I guard my time and energy jealously.

He consistently underestimates the amount of time a project will take, while I subscribe to Murphy’s Law, knowing that if something can go wrong, and mess up the timeline, it will.

We’re both thrifty in our own ways, which should be a plus but, in this case, really isn’t.

We agreed that a kitchen remodel wasn’t necessary, but the horrible old stain job had to go.

I suggested we clean and sand the wood and paint the cupboards, knowing that will be quicker and easier. I also thought it would brighten the room.

He was horrified.

In Hubby’s world, solid wood cupboards should never, ever be painted. He likes dark wood, and that’s what he wanted again.

While I was still pondering all of this, and thinking it’s the kind of job best left for when it gets cooler, and he can take a week off, he suddenly just…started.

Without any kind of preamble, or warning.

He just went outside, came back with a screwdriver, and start taking cupboard doors off.

I. Was. Not. Ready!

At least the division of labor makes some sense—he does the initial stripping and sanding, while the detailed sanding is mine.

However, I didn’t factor in just how bad the previous job had really been, and the effect of the sandpaper on my nails, which are super-soft to begin with. I’m now in danger of having the quick of my index fingernail start to bleed.

And he didn’t factor in how often he’d be interrupted by work, or heat (we’re working in our garage, which doesn’t have AC, and summer in Florida is no joke!), or side projects he deems have to be done right away.

I, however, am left looking at the list of chores I had planned for the week, knowing they won’t get done.

Because now that we’ve started, I want this over with ASAP.

And there’s really no end in sight.

Update: This was written a week ago, in hopes getting one thing off my to-do list would make me feel better, and I’m sorry to report, things haven’t improved much. Cupboard doors are stripped, but the drawers aren’t even out in the garage yet, and the main inside job—the stripping of the actual bases—hasn’t even started!

Work is kicking his butt, and I’m immersed in final edits.

I’ve been waking up early to get outside while it’s not yet a hundred degrees, and anyone who knows me will tell you I’m NOT a morning person.

I’m going to use this blog post to remind myself that sometimes it really is better to pay the professionals to do these big jobs…although I doubt I’ll get Hubby to agree. Handyman sorts never like to hand over the reins to others!

Wish me luck!

If you’re still looking for a tropical summer read, Best Friend to Doctor Right is an island set, friends-to-lovers romance with a cast of characters that’ll make you smile, laugh and maybe even cry, but just a little…

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Excerpt from Best Friend to Doctor Right

I’m so excited about release day on July 1st, I can hardly contain myself. Best Friend to Doctor Right allowed me to write some of my favorite characters to date, and invent a Caribbean island reminiscent of my own home, Jamaica.

Friends-to-lovers is one of my favorite tropes, but somehow I’d never gotten around to writing a story centered around it. Mina and Kiah allowed me to tap in to some very personal experiences and memories, as well as writing about some other aspects of life that I love. Like family bonds, and the value of being accepted exactly as you are, without expectations or qualification. I experienced that, as an immigrant, in Canada, and will always be appreciative of it, because it didn’t necessarily need to happen that way. (Looking at you, Amy Ruttan, and my other Canadian friends!)

I hope you all enjoy the excerpt, and the book itself. It’s my favorite, and I’m so happy that it’s almost time for my book baby to fly into the world!

Excerpt:

There were footsteps in the hallway leading from the kitchen, and when Kiah came into the dining room, both Mina and Charm turned to look at him.

“What are you two up to in here?” he asked, giving them an exaggeratedly suspicious glance.

Totally deadpan, Charm responded, “Plotting to take over the world.”

“Well,” he shot back as Mina sputtered into laughter. “I’m sorry to interrupt the planning session, but it’s time for you to start getting ready for bed. All your homework done?”

“Yes,” Charm said. “I didn’t have a lot. Just some math problems, and they were easy-peasy.”

“Lemon-squeezy?” Kiah tacked on, making it a question.

“You know it,” she replied, pushing back her chair and getting up. “Mrs. Hastings is talking about letting me do some advanced work for the rest of the year. I brought home a note about it but told her she’d have to wait for you to get back before she got an answer.”

“I’ll take a look at it tomorrow,” Kiah said, snagging Charm as she was going by and pulling her in for a hug.

Even though Charm said, “Uncle,” in a disgusted tone, Mina saw how she rested her head against Kiah’s chest and smiled when he planted a kiss on the top of her head.

“Have your shower, and then you can read for half an hour before it’s lights out, okay?”

“It’s still early,” Charm said, ducking out of the hug and heading for her room. “If I hurry up and bathe, can I read for an hour?”

“Bathe properly, and then forty-five minutes.”

“Deal,” came her answer from down the hall.

Kiah gazed after her for a moment, and then turned his smile on Mina. Something about the tender set of his lips melted her heart, and she smiled back.

“If I don’t keep an eye on her, she’d stay up all night reading,” he said, holding out his hand to Mina. “Let’s go sit outside for a while. There’s a nice breeze tonight.”

Instinctively she took that outstretched hand, and then everything froze, just for an instant.

Something shifted inside as an indescribable sensation crashed through her, causing a jolt of adrenaline, sharpening her consciousness so that she saw Kiah as though for the first time. Became aware of his beauty anew, just as she had so long ago when she’d watched him walk past her desk on the first day he’d come to school.

And as though to emphasize the strangeness of it all, she caught a hint of his scent, warm and woodsy, as familiar to her as her own, and yet suddenly different, too. Not that it had changed, but it was somehow interpreted in a new way, so that her pulse began to pound and warmth flooded her belly.

“Mina?” Kiah’s gaze sharpened, became probing. “You all right?”

The words shocked her out of whatever the heck she’d been going through, and she blinked, as though awaking from a dream.

“What? Yes, I’m fine,” she replied, getting to her feet, firmly shaking off the last vestiges of her strange mental hiatus, although they wanted to cling, like cobwebs. “Just woolgathering for a second. Lead the way.”

Kiah didn’t move immediately, just held her hand, his fingers firm and strong around hers. “You sure?”

“Of course I’m sure. Come on. I could use a little cool breeze just about now.”

And that was no word of a lie. In fact, she’d go so far as to say she could use a cold shower. The lingering effects of whatever she’d just gone through felt suspiciously like arousal.

But that was impossible.

Wasn’t it?

“You Canadians and your inability to enjoy whatever the weather is. You constantly complain about it being too hot, or too cold, or too wet, or whatever.”

His teasing words were exactly what she needed and led to a spirited argument about his expecting her to not feel the heat when coming out of the winter’s cold. But even while they were going back and forth with each other, she felt his gaze on her and knew something had irrevocably changed.

Now she needed to figure out what it was.

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Determination

I’ll be honest. There are days when I’d like to declare, “I’m staying in bed for two weeks.” Then, amply supplied with food and snacks, books and some feel-good movies (Dirty Dancing, or Bride and Prejudice anyone?) I’d hunker down, hoping when I emerge from my self-imposed exile, everything will be better.

Of course, I can’t do any such thing. Although over the years I’ve battle anxiety, and gone a few rounds with depression, what I end up doing is coping. It isn’t always pretty but, somehow, I keep putting one foot in front of the other, until I make it through to the other side.

And during those hard times, I learn a lot: about myself, and about others, and that helps me when I sit down to write. Because, in the end, we authors really are writing tales of how people cope with life, their pasts, and their hopes and dreams for the future. In the case of romance writers, we try to figure out how our characters cope with all those things so as to find their way to love.

And one of the things I constantly remind myself is that I can’t fix everything. I fact, there’s very little I can fix beyond my attitude toward, and the resolve with which I face obstacles and problems. Growing up, I had a great example of how to handle whatever life throws at you with grace, style, and determination: my Granduncle, Dr. William “Billy” Aird.

Uncle Billy was our family doctor, and delivered all three of my mother’s children. He had a storied career, including being the head of Kingston, Jamaica’s only psychiatric hospital for a while. But by the time I knew him, he was in private practice, and it never occurred to me at the time how unusual it was to have a doctor with only one arm.

You see, one night, Uncle Billy was driving home from work in his huge old boat of a car, and passed too close to a parked truck. His arm was sheared off just above the elbow. The way I heard the story, he pulled to the side of the road, took off his tie, and made it into a tourniquet. He then drove himself to the hospital. Once there, he was rushed into surgery but, before that, he was joking with the nurses, trying to cheer them up because they were all crying at seeing him in that condition.

It seemed to me that Uncle Billy’s continued success in life came from his refusal to lie down and give up, just because of his circumstances. Of course, not everyone has that ability, and I don’t know what agonies of spirit he went through privately, after his accident. All I know is that he only retired because of old age, many years later, not because of his amputation.

His story is, obliquely, the inspiration for my July release, Best Friend to Doctor Right. I found myself wondering (as we writers do) what it might have been like for Uncle Billy had he been practicing today rather than fifty years ago, and came to the conclusion that he would have found a way to keep on going. He’d have probably been right there on the frontlines, doing whatever was necessary to help.

And that’s the kind of determination we all need right now.

No matter our circumstances, our impediments or situations, we can all make a difference.

Sometimes the deepest desire…

…is the one you’ve hidden the longest.

Realizing her world is dramatically falling apart, surgeon Mina’s childhood friend Kiah offers her a fresh start on the beautiful Caribbean island he calls home. She’s beyond grateful for his help in regaining the spirit and purpose she feared she’d lost. But when a long-denied attraction spills into their friendship, they must decide whether to risk everything on the breathtaking passion that’s quickly unraveling between them!

And the wonderful Honey Magnolia PR is hosting a Blitz for my release on July 1st, 2020. There’s a giveaway too!

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Winter in the South

Most folks up north probably shake their heads in disgust when they hear Floridians talking about winter, but we here in Central Florida don’t care. There’s a reason we live here, and that’s because it’s warm. From November to February, Mother Nature usually tells us that it’s unwise and no fun to do the things we enjoy, like swimming and boating. We may not have snow, but the winds, rain, and lower temperatures often make going out on the water not that pleasant. So when a good friend asked if a group could come down for a visit from Canada, I was a little worried. I wanted them to enjoy all the Space Coast had to offer, but if the weather wasn’t going to cooperate, I thought they’d be disappointed.

Turns out, I shouldn’t have worried. Mother has been kind, and they’ve been able to see and do many of the things that make this part of Florida so special. You see, Central Florida is best known as Mickey’s home, but here on the coast, the Mouse isn’t the main attraction. Central Florida isn’t “sexy”, like the Keys or Miami, and not as wild as the Everglades, but we have our own brand of entertainment.

My friends arrived just in time to see the Spacex Flacon 9 go up.

Monday’s launch, at 10:10am, Cape Canaveral

And we were able to go boating down the Indian River Lagoon, which is part of the Florida Intracoastal. The weather was lovely, and the wildlife was out and about. Storks lined the grass alongside the pier, and while on the water they saw pelicans, ospreys, cormorants, and gulls.

Storks hoping a fisherman will come along and give them some handouts!

Best of all, as we went along, there were dolphins aplenty, and when we stopped at our favorite anchorage (known just as The Sandbar) a pair of manatees swam by. They’re difficult to photograph, since they stay under the water and only come up for air periodically, so kudos to my friend for her patience in getting the shot below! I teased her that she was like one of those wedding photographers who only take pictures of people with their mouths open…

Manatee coming up for breath in the waters of the Indian River Lagoon, with the Sebastian Inlet bridge visible in the background.

They’re having a beach day, and then later, if the weather permits, there may be an airboat ride, but I’m thinking we might be getting a little greedy. This year, three days without rain might be asking too much. Even as I type, I see the clouds massing to the west… At least I know the temperature will remain in the 80 degree range, and they just had a cold snap in Ontario.

I think they’ll be happy just sitting on the patio, watching the rain fall, knowing they don’t have to put on their winter coats for a few days more. Winter in Florida… You gotta love it!