Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Isolation Escape Tactics


My boyfriend goes all out for this COVID-19 protection thing, as you can see from the above.

Just kidding, there was no one in that knight’s armour but my imaginary Heath Ledger circa 2001, but honestly, if we don’t laugh at our current dystopian situation, people….

That little iron man was in a cute restaurant on one of our day trips lately.

Aside from working like a demon on my new medical romance, which is based in Amsterdam and due even sooner than I care to admit, considering the word count still pending, I have been making more of an effort to do things away from my desk in the day time.

Any medical M&B writer will tell you, we can lose not only hours, but entire DAYS with our heads down, lost in our scribbles, or entering deep, dark rabbit holes on YouTube, filled with scary life-threatening situations and sombre doctors performing emergency procedures.

Tea breaks, and general time to breathe elsewhere, are essential.

Having a dog will get you out there, especially mine, who likes to get her cute little nose up in everything. Oh my, how Ziggy has grown since the last time we spoke, folks! Here she is doing her very best ‘bear’ impression in some lovely woodland my knight and I like to visit, north of Amsterdam. We had a gorgeous walk there the other day, not another human in sight, masked or otherwise:


I’ve also been furnishing my home, which is an ongoing project as I’m the kind of person who likes many different things and can’t seem to settle on a theme. Among the trinkets in my living room, (much to boyfriend’s despair) I have photos of golden kings performing acts of karma sutra, bronze camels that double as candle-holders from Dubai, giant hand-woven dream catchers from Bali, and now…. Brace yourself….


A silver, reflective pouffe! It matches absolutely nothing, except everything my heart desires from a footstool. Some idiot was throwing it away, I mean, that’s the work of a fool right there. Luckily I came along on one of my tea breaks and rescued it, and it now has a second lease of life by the sofa.

Sometimes, when I write with my laptop on my knees and my feet on this pouffe, I feel nothing of the woes in this broken world. I feel truly blessed.

I also somehow managed to get out for more than a cup of tea and a footstool, and took my writing projects to Sicily with a friend.


It was a week of eating, digesting what we’d eaten, eating some more, and repeat. Honestly, I’ve never been anywhere with food that good, ever. Just take a moment to examine that deli platter. Have you ever seen anything like it? Actually, I think I’m still digesting it.

Sicily was beautiful, have you ever been? I was expecting to meet more of the mafia but I made do with a nice Godfather magnet, which also matches nothing else in my house.

I stuffed the rest of my suitcase with Sicilian garlic granules, a rock from Mount Etna, salted capers and sundried tomatoes, so my boyfriend, who is an AMAZING cook, can keep feeding me Sicilian specialties while I get back to work on my book. (Don’t tell him I’m expecting this, or he won’t do it).

Oh, the sunsets there were magical! Might have to set another romance there soon. Which reminds me, tea break blogging now over… I must add more words to that word count.

See you on the other side, and don’t forget to breathe, guys.


Excerpts, Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Origin Stories

How the truth in foreign places inspires fiction in a lockdown

Lockdown might be over in some places, but hasn’t it been a long stretch stuck in our living rooms, unable to go anywhere further than the supermarket?

Thankfully we have books and stories (and puppy dogs – that’s my little Cockapoo fur-baby Ziggy in the photo below. She’s a prized new addition to our household!)


As well as picking up poop and yelling “please don’t eat that” across the kitchen, I’ve been scribbling away at a new story set in the veterinary world. I’ve been so lost in it that I almost forgot I have another book coming out next month! I’m posting a sneaky excerpt from ENTICED BY HER ISLAND BILLIONAIRE below, to tease you into Mila and Dr Sebastian Becker’s world.

She’s an ex Army doc, working out on a remote Indonesian island, assisting Sebastian in his pioneering scar tissue surgery at his exclusive clinic. The thing is, he’s met her before, hasn’t he? Mila is quite sure he hasn’t. Could he really be remembering her dead twin sister?!

I set this book on an Indonesian island because it’s very close to my heart. I was lucky enough to live and work out in Bali for a couple of years in my mid-30s, writing a travel book called Balilicious, so I got to know and love the land, and the people.

In fact, random places and adventurous strangers from my time as a travel writer/author have inspired a lot of my fiction. My first Mills & Boon medical TEMPTED BY HER HOT-SHOT DOC was set in the Amazon, where the Spanish-speaking locals were some of the most gentle, kind souls I’ve ever met… though I had to leave out the week I spent with a shaman drinking hallucinogenic tree sap (aka ayahuasca).

My second, FROM DOCTOR TO DADDY was inspired by the time I was lucky enough to board a cruise ship for 10 days in Australia. While the book is set in the Caribbean, I was able to draw on my experiences on the ship. The staff were very accommodating, especially the amorous chef who chased me round the ship asking for a kiss one night after too many drinks in the bar, (I managed to escape).

The world is a big, big place full of beauty and stories waiting to be told, even if we chop, twist and edit them sometimes. I experienced so many acts of kindness from strangers on my travels, in all corners of the world. There was also the time I got mugged in a back alley in Bogota and had to bribe getting my phone back by buying a bottle of vodka for the perpetrator, but that’s another story… most people are shining stars of humanity.

Maybe I’ll share a few more tales of how travelling, and people of different origins and cultures have inspired me over the years. (If you’d like?) But for now, please do enjoy this little excerpt set in Indonesia….



A rush of air-conditioning blasted Mila’s face as the door swung open to admit Dr Becker. ‘Agung, how’s she doing?’

He was pulling on a coat, arm by long, bulked-up arm, striding towards the bed in black sport’s sandals. He was every bit as striking in a white coat as he was in a wetsuit.

He made to pass her, stopped, placed a hand on her shoulder. ’Thank you for what you just did.’

‘You’re welcome.’ The words came out smoothly, calm like she’d intended, but she didn’t feel calm. The way he was looking at her now had suspicion all over it. He only looked away from her when the anaesthetist entered the room.

‘Put this on,’ he told her now, throwing her a white coat from a hook on the wall. ‘Nurse Viv is with another patient, so I hope you don’t mind staying a bit longer here. I just need you to cut the suit,’ he said, motioning to a pair of scissors on the tray.

Mila snipped carefully at the girl’s wetsuit, and discarded the flimsy material. She was following commands, where she’d usually be giving them but that was OK. She wasn’t a hundred miles from base in Ghazni. No one had been blasted by shrapnel from a rocket propelled grenade, there were no wounded soldiers crying out for attention. There was only this one girl, right here, right now.

She put a gentle hand to Gabby’s leg still and soothed her as the meds kicked in.

Agung’s radio made a sound. ‘Excuse me Doctor Becker, Doctor Mila.’ he said. He left the room and instantly the air grew thicker. Sebastian was appraising her again.

’Mila?’ he said in a surprised voice, as soon as it was only the two of them. He stepped towards her.

‘She looks much better,’ she told him, looking up to see his eyes narrow. ‘I think we got to this bite just in time. She just needs to sleep it off now.’

He folded his arms, towering over her. He must have been at least six foot two inches to her five foot three. ’Why Mila? I thought your name was Annabel?’

All the breath left her body.

’I couldn’t remember at first, back there, it was at least six or seven  years ago, right? Before this Clinic, or the MAC existed,’ he said. ‘You were late to our snorkelling party, you’d had too much to drink remember?’ He grinned, laughing at a memory that wasn’t hers.

Tears stung her eyes. She still could have wrestled him to the ground when he reached for her wrists, but his long, tanned fingers ran gently over her scars and she felt bolted to the floor.

He was turning her arms in the harsh overhead light, studying the faint, silvery lines like they were clues to a mystery game. ‘You didn’t have these before,’ he said, frowning. ‘What happened to you?’

She bit her cheeks as the tears threatened to spill over. He’d met Annabel. This must be the same guy her sister had come back talking about, all those years ago. Sebastian. It all made sense now. Doctor Sebastian Becker was Bas. All of this, and she had to work with him?

She had to set him straight, it was unbearable.

‘I’m not… who you think I am,’ she managed. The room felt suddenly way-too-small. She took a step back, pulling her arms away. ’Doctor Becker, I’m Doctor Mila Ricci. I’ve come to work at the MAC for a while and learn your techniques. I would have met you earlier but I missed my transfer, I apologise for the confusion.’

She watched him rake a hand through his hair as she struggled for composure. He paced the room, then stopped. ‘Am I going crazy here? I met you before, didn’t I? Did you change your name?’

‘I’m not Annabel,’ she said through a tight throat. ‘Annabel was my twin sister. She’s dead, Sebastian. She died three years ago. It was her you met, not me.’

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

A Puppy is for life, not just for Quarantine

Ziggy-4-weeks-first-viewing2Meet Ziggy Pickle!  She’s a Cockapoo puppy and she’s about to be the love of my life.  Don’t tell my boyfriend.

Ziggy Pickle and her siblings entered the world on March 31st 2020.  She’s a real COVID-Cockapoo!  Cockapoos are the best.  They’re a sociable, friendly, cuddly curious breed, relatively easy to train (so we’re told) and best of all, they’re hypoallergenic.  They do not shed.  No nasty dog hair-covered cushions, or floors, or clothing here!

I know, I know, we’re getting a puppy in strange, unprecedented times.  Are we prepared?  Do we know a puppy is for life, not just for quarantine?

The truth is we’ve been planning this little addition to our household for a long time now.  Maybe almost half a year.  The timing is purely a coincidence and I’ve long been surrounded by puppy toys, and playing dog training videos on loop, and getting excited about things like likimats (a lickable silicone thing that’s meant to stop them biting) and scented dog shampoos.  Send help!

We go pick her up on June 6th, so I’m guessing by the time I next blog, things will have changed a lot around here.  Did I mention we are also moving house?

Nothing like shaking things up in a crisis!

I’m excited to have a little fur baby in my life, who will sit quietly at my side while I write my romance novels… sssssh, I know, I’m dreaming.  As anyone with a dog will tell you, they demand a lot of your attention and even more of your time.  Maybe I’ll get less writing done for a while, but oh, the stories she will inspire.  The long sunshiny walks we will take as I soak in mother nature’s glory with Ziggy at my side.  (Still dreaming, I’ve not been further than the shop in a while.)

Actually, the name Ziggy came from the last Harlequin novel I worked on.  I’ve moved in a different ‘medical’ direction and written about a vet this time.  He’s also a horse whisperer, but more on that soon, because more importantly my hero’s dog is a Border Collie called Ziggy.

We were trying to come up with a name for our own puppy, when I realised our perfect name had been staring me in the face for the last six weeks.

Any dog lovers out there?  Any training tips for me?  I’m a first time dog mama, so any guidance through this brave new world will be greatly appreciated!  Be warned, there are more puppy photos ahead!

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Love in the Time of Corona

Woweeee, what a time to be alive! And what a time to be a writer. I feel a little weird saying that quarantine doesn’t feel too unlike my regular existence at the moment. Maybe boredom hasn’t entirely sunk in yet. I admit, the daily gym routine in our household is helping us stay motivated and energised!

Most writers are used to solitude. The aliens could land outside and we’d be oblivious. We’d be hunched over our desks, deep in a romantic fantasy, humming along to Mozart, showering our keyboards with Hobnob crumbs.

But I consider hunkering down with my fantasy hunks, essential right now. Isn’t it our job to whisk you away from reality as best we can, by writing you some delicious escape routes?

OK so healthcare workers, delivery drivers, sanitation workers, truck drivers, warehouse workers, farmers and supermarket employees are maybe more important…. (definitely more important). But it all comes down to one thing. The world needs more love in the time of Corona.

Of course, it’s a battle to stay positive sometimes. I look up from my scribbles and a pair of star-crossed ex-lovers embroiled in veterinary emergencies  (trying something new!) only to realise yet again that the world is in the middle of the biggest emergency I’ve personally seen in my lifetime.

When our grandparents went off to war, they went on their ways without knowing if they’d even see each other again. Many of us are just concerned we won’t see toilet paper for a few weeks.

With climate change causing untold catastrophes, and Coronavirus clogging up lungs, left right and centre, we might be experiencing a few truth bombs from Mother Earth right now. But at the least the grenades aren’t raining down.

Talking of simple joys, I got huuuuuge LOLs, a lot of ‘awwwws’ and a whole lot of smiles this week from THIS! Beauty and the Beast, anyone?


Let’s stay positive, friends. Dance with your loved ones. Read more. Play more. This too shall pass. We have love all around us. Xox

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Reflections on Turning 40

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s to another 40 years!


Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

A whole new kind of procrastination

The-Batman-Casting-Process-Robert-PattinsonLast night, from my porch here in Amsterdam, I took a break from my writing/deleting/wishing Trump would stop Tweeting, and watched a bat flit and flap across the sky. I got lost in a dream about how maybe he was Batman.

Maybe he was pooping and swooping towards the Red Light District, on a mission unknown to mortal humans. Maybe he’d transform before a tourist about to get steamrolled by a tram, or stabbed over a stroopwafel.

But then I thought… hang on, shouldn’t there be more than one bat?

Where are the flock? (Or is it a colony? What’s an abundance of bats called, why don’t I know this?!)

Did the brotherhood all perish, because the insects are declining?

It’s a strange thing,  isn’t it, when you actually care that there aren’t as many flies, mosquitos and moths clogging up your atmosphere as there used to be?  With more than 40% of insect species declining and a third endangered, these are troubling times for bats. Well, around my flat at least.

Then I started reading the Action Plan for the Conservation of All Bat Species in the European Union 2018 – 2024. I know a lot about bats now. I think they’re going to be OK. I’m not sure about the insects, I have further research to do.

I’m not sure about myself either – none of my other work is getting done.

Is this pro-batstination?

What do you find yourself dreaming about or Googling in those moments of wifi-assisted wanderlust?


Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Falling in love for the first time (with a dog)…


I’ve always been a cat person. Growing up, we had two beautiful Burmese felines called Kelly and Misty and they were super smart. I know this because one time, when Kelly was sick, she jumped onto the counter and vommed in the sink. Instead of freaking out, I remember mum went over and petted her and said in a proud, pleased voice, good girl. Because I guess she could have vommed on the carpet?

Cats are smarter than dogs, surely? Cats are quiet, they keep themselves to themselves, they don’t pester you to do much. Dogs, I always thought, were far too needy: ‘Take me out, give me a treat, give me your food, pick up my poop.’ Who needs that from a dumb dog?, I thought. Not I.

Till now.

I have recently spent a lot of time with a white cockerpoo called Salty. Look at his face, I mean LOOK AT HIS FACE.


He belongs to my boyfriend and he is, like my boyfriend, practically impossible not to love. And as this is a blog about love, what else could I write about this time, because now all I think about is Salty!


When he’s not here, I miss him. Maybe more than my boyfriend (ssh). I miss the way he leaps on my ass in the biggest photo bomb ever, in the most scenic location ever, and still just makes it better (see above).

I miss those big brown eyes looking up at me from the floor when I’m eating a bacon sandwich. The old me would have been all like, ‘Eff off mate, nothing gets between me and my bacon,’ but now, I would willingly live a bacon-free morning, even on a British seafront, to give him the lot. Just to make him happy. Because his happiness is my happiness, you see? (And yes, we got him that special doggy ice-cream up there, because how could we not? He deserves it. He’s a magical being who brings joy and happiness, and beings like that are what ice-cream was made for).

Good god, this dog has changed me. Cats might be smart, but there’s a reason GOD is DOG spelled backwards.


People always say you don’t know unrequited love till you have a dog. I get it now. I don’t have kids, and in my late-30s I’m not sure I ever will, but can’t a woman choose a different paradigm in which to display her motherly capacities? Can my maternal instincts not be redirected into feeding bits of bacon and special pots of ice-cream to a fluffy white Cockerpoo?

If not, well stop the world, because I want to get off… and play with my new best friend.


Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Falling in Love… with Slovenia

Can you believe May is almost over? And I don’t just mean Theresa (poor thing, could anyone do that job though, really?) It was a month packed with travels, but the place I’ve been most excited to tell people about is Slovenia. I think I might base a book in Slovenia next. Here’s why.

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Slovenia has no less than 24 gastronomic areas, and three wine-growing areas. And Ljubljana (the colorful capital) has some of the best food I’ve ever eaten! If you’re headed over, check out the tour by Ljubljana Yum. We munched, chewed, sipped, slurped and giggled our way through 3.5 hours of unbelievably good cuisine and wine with our local guide. We got the lowdown on the city’s history too, so our PacMan style guzzling route doubled as an historic tour. Bonus!

In a romance novel… a bold British wine-merchant gets a tip about the perfect Slovenian blend. But to swill, pour or sell it (and reap the rewards) he must first get past Katja Kovač, heiress to the country’s biggest wine estate. Too bad her daughter is as headstrong as her.

PHOTO 2.jpeg 


Fog clings to mountain peaks, and silver clouds cast reflections in the eye-poppingly pretty Lake Bled. Just an hour and a half from Ljubljana by car, Lake Bled is Slovenia’s most popular tourist haunts, but don’t let that put you off. It was definitely one of my favorite stops. We took a boat to the tiny church in the middle of the lake’s island, where the bell is said to grant wishes!

In a romance novel… Destined for an arranged marriage to a man she doesn’t love, tourist/successful lawyer Melissa (?) makes a wish in a tiny island church. But what happens when the bell brings three very different men, each with the potential to be perfect?

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Metelkova is the coolest part of town… if you enjoy the feeling of being judged by an army of skin-less bone gremlins, or an oversized spider. This autonomous social and cultural centre in the city centre of Ljubljana is basically a bunch of squats/art spaces covered in graffiti, and it makes for some seriously fun selfie-taking.

In a romance novel…an anonymous, impoverished artist works his talents to the max, creating heartfelt sculptures by night. Who is he? Why does he paint tears on all his women? One snooping reporter vows to locate and reveal him… but what happens when they fall in love?

I love when my travels get the creative juices flowing. Where have YOU been lately, that you’re set on writing more about?

Spread the love, everyone. And happy travels! x

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Ghost in the Red Light: a true story from Amsterdam

My friend T told me a spooky story last night. I love all things that go bump in the night, unless they’re mice, which in my case they have been this week – I live in Amsterdam after all. But this particular story gave me chills before I went to bed and I woke up wanting to share it.

Amsterdam, Red Light District (a.k.a. De Wallen), Oudezijds Voorburgwal, 1895. Source

With 800 years of history, Amsterdam is not short of ghost stories. Bloedstraat (Blood Street), which connects an old church to Amsterdam’s oldest canal is named after the blood of executed prisoners, which drained down the streets from a dungeon into the waters. Those ghosts still moan and groan. Probably as much as the people behind certain curtains.

Others here talk about tortured souls floating through tourists in Dam Square. Now the home of frozen smiles in Madame Tussauds, this was once the site of public executions, where suspected witches were burned along with anyone else being “weird” about the Spanish Inquisition.

The Red Light District – that’s something else. It’s the oldest part of the city. A friend of mine once pointed a camera at a prostitute in these parts. It was an accident (she swears) but no apology would appease the femme fatale, who stormed through the door, snatched it from her hands and flung it into the canal. In her knickers.

See? It’s a scary place.

Amsterdam, 1905. Two prostitutes sitting in front of a house, waiting for customers. Source.

So, back to the story.  T was walking through the Red Light District with a friend when they stopped to wait for a table in a rather modern-looking Brewery called Brouwerij de Prael. As they stood waiting, they couldn’t help notice a painting on the wall. A grubby looking woman with fair hair in two stringy braids, seemingly pissed off, or maybe a bit sad. Amused they started giggling over it:

“We were looking up close at her face. She was a bit cross-eyed. She had a weird expression. We were talking about her for five or ten minutes… and also wondering why the picture was framed in some old carpet.”

Nothing too weird, right? Apart from the carpet. Just two girls having a giggle over a painting in a busy brewery. They were ushered to a table, where they feasted on beer and satay brochettes and forgot about it.

When they went to leave a couple hours later, T stopped in front of the painting again.  Her blood ran cold. She turned to her friend:

“WAIT. Was that girl crying before?”

Look up close. Can you see the tear?

They stepped up close to the painting they had studied meticulously just a short time earlier. On the grubby cheek of the troubled looking girl was a tear stain. A small, unmistakable streak of smudged, watery black, just trickling from her left eye.

“It was NOT there before,” T told me. “We would have noticed it, we were literally looking at it for ages.”

The tear was dry, she said. There was no water anywhere, nothing that could have smudged the painting. Baffled, they took that photo up there and left. Quickly.

I did a quick Internet search and surprisingly, or maybe not surprisingly nothing comes up for ‘crying painting red light district Amsterdam’, but could this woebegone woman be…. Helena?

Amsterdam, Red Light District, Old Church Square, May 1894. Source.


Helena was a tanner’s daughter in the 18th century.  She lived on Spooksteeg, just one street over from the brewery, with her dad and sister, Dina. Young Helena fell in love with a sexy sailor, but alas, alack, the sailor was in love with Dina.

Overcome by jealousy, Helena shoved her love-struck sis into the cellar, and covered up her death as an accident. She married the grieving sailor but spent her life in a weepy, guilt-riddled puddle, no doubt, and eventually confessed on her deathbed in 1753.

Helena begged forgiveness, but the sailor said: “Never in a thousand years, you killed the love of my life, you wretched beast!”, or something like that in Dutch, and issued her an actual sailor’s curse. He cursed her soul to roam the dark alleyway in misery for all eternity. Some people have seen her sniffling away near the tannery.

Does she wander through the neighborhood into paintings, do you think? Does she beg for help from beer-addled tourists, and weep when they laugh and call her cross-eyed?

A window prostitute called “Parijse Leen”. Amsterdam, Red Light District, late 1960’s. Photo by C. Jaring. Source.

I also read that in the sixties, as prostitution grew and grew in the Red Light District, sex workers in windows would often have a painting of a crying gypsy boy in the room. They believed it would bring good luck, fortune and happiness. (Although, further research revealed to me that some of these paintings may have actually been cursed).

I couldn’t find anything about crying gypsy girls in my searching and yes, this might all be clutching at straws, and maybe there was a baby pigeon in the brewery who had a tiny pooh on the painting… I don’t know.

But I say, never let the truth get in the way of a good story. And it’s still all a little bit exciting, don’t you think?

Anyone planning any ghost stories now the nights are black and gloomy? My next Medical Romance From Doctor to Daddy is out in the new year. No ghosts in it, but bits of it might haunt you. 😉





Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Why festivals are the best medicine

Songs at sunset

There’s something so glorious about feeling your feet in the earth. Getting dirt under your nails and not caring. Leaving home without your phone.

I went to Burning Man a couple of years ago and I’m actually heading back to Black Rock City again in a couple of weeks – something I’m sure I’ll write about afterwards. But the Garbicz Festival last week, set in the magical surroundings of a Polish forest and lake, was my first foray into festival life away from the dusty Nevada playa.

Garbicz_Festival_2016_Eamon_Armstrong - 08
Photo by: Eamon Armstrong

The Garbicz Festival marked the first time (in my late thirties I might add!) that I’d been to a festival with friends, slept in a tent and danced in a forest till dawn. I’d do it all again. Maybe with a bigger tent.

Try putting leggings on when it’s 100 degrees and you can only lie horizontally

Festivals are medicine to me. They’re the perfect chance to switch off and re-connect with what matters most…. people.


Also, when you’re free to clear your mind in the open air, it’s amazing how many more creative thoughts bust through the doors and beg to be written down.

It’s not all about the dancing. (But a lot of it is)

My imagination was on fire out there; a thousand story-lines inspired by these enchanting settings. The breeze rippling the lake at sunset, singing with a Spanish musician and his guitar in a neon purple cape; the way the Music Ashram went from one muttering shaman to a full on orchestrated dance party in a clearing. We lounged, we bounced, we blew bubbles.

When it’s too hot to move, blow more bubbles

While some friends were entranced by trance at epic sound-stages, others sat by a fire and made up songs. No pressure, no rush, no worries.

A weekend of smiles like these

The Garbicz Festival really is a special affair; every part of it felt crafted with pure love! You can read about its history here, of how two brothers bought the land to build on and deemed it far too beautiful in the end. Who can blame them? There’s magic in the air here – you can feel it.

A glitter ball cement mixer. Because why not?

I had to let my new potential story ideas go for the most part, and trust that the best ones would come back. I might be waiting a while. Let’s not get carried away. Festivals also tend to hurt your head… a lot.

You can only party so hard before nature brings you back to earth

So maybe a book about a festival is in order, at some point. I’m not sure how the leads would fare, losing each other, finding each other, finding themselves. There’s also a thin line between a person who loves the odd weekend in nature, and a hippy who no longer feels the need to shower (I went three days, don’t judge).

Hmm. There are lot of details to iron out here. Maybe I’ll go find a tree to lie under, and think about it some more.

Namaste from the forest