Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Birthday Northern Lights in Iceland

You can’t beat a bit of winter sun in the midst of the bleakness.   So why we decided on a week in Iceland over the Canary Islands I don’t know, but suffice to say it was the best decision my friend and I ever made.  Last week in Reykjavik, I was blessed with something better than sun – a display of the northern lights on my birthday!

We followed a local’s advice and walked a trail along the harbour towards a lighthouse.  As the sky got darker and the city lights fell behind us, there they were.  Aurora  Borealis – our magical mystic green dancing friends.

northern lights

I had a boyfriend from Iceland once, and I was lucky enough to visit there with him twice while we were dating. I was welcomed into every single home by his VERY extensive family, and was made to feel like part of the tribe.  In winter I got to sit around a giant table in the family’s log cabin, playing games and drinking shots while the snow made a blizzard that blocked the mountains outside.

I got to try homemade moonshine and sing as they played piano (everyone is musical in Iceland).  In summer I foraged for wild mushrooms in meadows that would make the Twilight cast weep with envy.  I was even offered a taste of sheep head stew and whale sushi at local festivals, while children sawed gaily into a freshly caught shark with sharpened tools – it’s a tradition, you just have to keep quiet OK?

As you can imagine, I was enchanted.  Marginally disturbed at times yes, but enchanted.

This time it was just my friend and I, who’d never been to Iceland before.  I promised to try and recreate at least some of what I experienced on past visits.  We got lucky.  The same family members welcomed me back… even though my ex is my ex.  They’re just wonderful like that; once you’re family, you’re family.

We were given tickets to Bjork by perfect strangers, live at the Harpa concert hall.  We drank tomato beer in the hydroponic greenhouses of Fridheimar.  We crept inside a lava tunnel, snorkelled along the Silfra ridge between two tectonic plates, got to bask in three different face masks in the Blue Lagoon, and were cooked a meal of reindeer and Icelandic salmon, and sweet mashed potato and more, all in a friend’s beautiful kitchen.  This memorable meal was all overlooked by the moose he shot with his son several years ago, which was nailed to the wall.

tomato beer
Tomato Beer

reykjavik snow
Reykjavik Snow

lava tube
Lava Tube

gullfloss falls
Gullfloss Falls

coldest ever been
Coldest I’ve ever been

blue lagoon
Blue Lagoon

His son wasn’t there this time.  He’s up in the national park hunting a native goose-like bird for Christmas, but it’s a tradition, you just have to keep quiet OK?

Ah Iceland, you are literally my new favourite place in the world.  I plan to set a book here very soon, my heart is calling for it.  Maybe I’ll leave the hunting part out…

Where have you been that’s left a lasting impression on you, enough to write a book about?

Excerpts, Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Tis the season to be in a box set

I bet you’re all looking forward to Halloween? My office is throwing a party in a pub, promising games, food, drinks and “scary” cocktails. Whilst I doubt they mean the 100% proof rice liquor that once saw me waking up dazed in a rice paddy in Bali (true story) I’m still not sure I’ll go this year. I’d have to rummage into boxes deep at the back of my storage cupboard to find my cloak and witch’s corset… and even if I did, I doubt the corset would fit. Hey, I ate a lot of cheese in lockdown, what can I say?

Anyway, maybe I’ll decide on that later, but for now I’m more excited about CHRISTMAS!

Why?

Well because, for the first time in my life, I will be part of a box set! And I don’t mean the part that jumps out of a decorated gift parcel in another ill-fitting piece of seasonal apparel. I mean a Harlequin box set.

Check it out.

3 BOX SET

How cool is it that my words – all fifty-thousand of those wintery babies – get to dwell amongst the snow-covered greatness of Alison Roberts and Louisa Heaton? It’s like Christmas came early.

Here’s the premise of my first Christmas romance, WHITE CHRISTMAS WITH HER MILLIONAIRE DOC.

Can Christmas together mend their broken hearts? 

Montana Ski-resort owner and single dad, Dr Jax doubts the new locum from NYC can survive five minutes in his busy clinic, let alone two months! Until dedicated Dr Ophelia’s kindness towards his son thaws a heart that’s been frozen since his wife died.

Yet Ophelia must return to her own reality and, no matter how tempted, a just-for-Christmas romance can’t lead to forever… can it?

And here is a sneaky snippet, the meet-cute, I guess you’d call it.

Enjoy lovely people, and whether you’re more pumped up for Halloween or Christmas, I hope you have yourself some seriously happy holidays.

****

The teenage girl at the coffee cart in the airport took seven minutes to make her latte. It was almost amusing, watching how she did it with such pride, at a pace that wouldn’t much rival a snail’s. She’d be fired for being that slow in Brooklyn.

‘Dr Lavelle?’

Ophelia spun around at the voice, and promptly had her words snatched away by her sudden intake of breath. He was much taller than she’d expected.

‘Jax Clayborn,’ she managed, adjusting her hat and matching scarf. His dark almond eyes studied her with the same depth and intensity that had stirred her up in their video call, but it reached inside her now on a whole different level. Jax was as striking as she remembered, but he was all about presence too, commanding the attention of everyone who passed, especially the women.

‘It’s so nice of you to come pick me up.’ She watched him remove one glove, then took his bare outstretched hand. Big, she noted, like my father’s hands.

Tufts of his dark hair flicked outwards from his beanie hat, and when he clamped his palm firmly to hers, something told her she should wake up now and pay attention. It was the strangest feeling. It totally caught her off guard as he studied her eyes up close.

‘Shall we?’ he said. He pushed a stuffed bear into her hands and then bent to pick up her suitcase.

‘What’s this?’ she asked, turning it over in amusement.

‘A welcome gift. Everyone gets one.’

The air was freezing outside. A dark cloud promised more snow. Craggy white-peaked mountains framed Jax like a moving painting as he carried her case towards a huge white truck in the parking lot. Damn, he looked good in those jeans, she thought. He was even seriously pulling off a flannel shirt under his ski jacket—not an easy task for any man.

He caught her eye as he flipped the trunk on the shiny four-wheel drive. ‘Again, my apologies for being late, Doctor, I was out on the slopes, then I got the call about the bear attack…’

‘A bear attack?’ she echoed.

Jax lifted her suitcase into the back as if it were nothing but a feather and flicked the red scarf she’d tied around the suitcase handles. ‘I wouldn’t go waving this colour around here. Unless you want to attract that bear right into your room.’

She swallowed. ‘I’ll remember that.’

The first step up into the truck was almost knee height. Ophelia placed the stuffed bear on the seat first and tried to climb in gracefully. Jax hovered behind her to make sure she wouldn’t fall—he was probably fighting the instinct to make a comment about her rather impractical high-heeled boots, she thought.

‘I like the heated seats, nice touch,’ she told him, self-awareness making her hot.

‘I liked them too, last time I broke down in a minus-thirty snowstorm,’ he remarked.

When he dropped to the leather seat behind the wheel and closed the door, she still hadn’t managed to fasten her seat belt.

‘Need help with that?’

She stopped breathing as the smooth sleeve of his padded winter coat slid a millimetre above her lap. His fingers made a split-second job of clinking the chunky seat belt into place, and there it was.

His wedding ring.

Disappointment surprised her but there was something in Jax’s expression as he spotted her clocking the ring that stunned her into looking away. She knew that kind of emotional pain very well indeed. A bad divorce?

No, he’d likely have taken the ring off if that was it. It was more than that, something worse.

Something had happened to his wife.

‘So, where did you say this bear attack took place?’ she asked when the silence during the drive got too heavy. He didn’t seem too chatty. She was aware of his every slight movement in the driver’s seat, the way his eyes scanned the mirrors and the roadsides intently, as if he was expecting a grizzly to pounce at any moment.

‘Guy got unlucky out on the Trout Camp Trail… Eagle Peaks Mountain Club community, slightly northwest of Sunset Range.’

The geographical information meant nothing to her. She was still thrown from seeing that look in his eyes, the same one she’d seen all too often in the mirror… She’d know the face of grief on anyone. What had happened to his wife? Jax was older than her, maybe by a decade, but being widowed at his age would be grossly unfair, not to mention tough.

‘Seems like it was a pretty surprise encounter,’ Jax continued. ‘Pretty is probably the wrong word for it. Poor guy had to crawl up to the road after the bear left him for dead.’

She winced. ‘That’s…terrible.’

‘The ranger up there found him. He thought it was weird that some guy was taking a break, just sitting in the snow. Then he saw the blood everywhere. Guy couldn’t speak but he scratched out “BEAR” in the snow with a stick.’

Ophelia put a hand to her mouth. ‘God, I can’t even…’

‘The fire department brought him to us, but we sent him to Willow Crest Trauma. The lacerations were beyond our team’s capabilities to fix on-site. He had puncture wounds on his face, and all down his back. Slashes all up his arms and stomach, and you don’t want to know what those claws can do to a man’s—’

‘I’m pretty sure I can imagine.’ Ophelia hoped she didn’t look as horrified as she felt. She thought she’d seen it all in New York, but never a bear attack. ‘I can’t imagine it, actually,’ she admitted. ‘It’s just too horrendous.’ What sort of job had she walked into?

‘Don’t worry, this kind of thing is very rare. I didn’t mean to scare you. I’ll give you a tour if you like, show you where not to go. Are you going to open that, by the way?’

Ophelia held the stuffed bear up to face her. ‘This?’

‘Open it.’

Obediently she dug inside the bear’s belly to find a clasp. Pulling out the aerosol container inside, she held it up over the dash. ‘Bear spray. Are you serious?’

‘If you need it, start from the feet, right up to the head. And if that doesn’t work…’ He reached across her knees again, and she caught a whiff of his scent, no cologne, something primal and musky that was all his. It left her breathing in expectantly, wanting more. Pulling the glove compartment open, he revealed loose rags, a few sticks of gum…and a gun.

Ophelia froze. ‘Have you ever actually used that?’

He seemed to contemplate her question. ‘I wouldn’t carry it if I didn’t need it.’

‘So, you have, then.’

He snapped the compartment shut, and his almond eyes narrowed behind the wheel. ‘We’re not at the top of the food chain out here, Ophelia. No matter what happens, we all respect that. But we always shoot as a warning, never to kill. I can teach you how to use a gun for protection.’

‘I probably won’t take you up on that.’

‘As you wish.’

When she looked at him, he was smiling faintly, as if she amused him. He’d probably laugh out loud if she mentioned her own attempts at self-defence, the Taekwondo classes in an old gym hall in Brooklyn that she’d given up on after only three weeks. She shuffled in her seat. How was he affecting her like this?

For more… and you know you want more, readers, you can pre-order WHITE CHRISTMAS WITH HER MILLIONAIRE DOC here.

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Top 5 Procrastination Activities for Writers

We all know that writing a novel is hard. Sure, it’s fun, but it’s also a tough mental exercise, involving hours of mulling over delicate plot lines, playing with dialogue we’ve only ever heard in our heads, and way too much solo time staring into a screen. Oh and coffee.

This past week I finally submitted another manuscript, but believe me, getting to the part where I typed THE END took a lot of effort. And a lot more procrastination. If you’re anything like me, writing a Harlequin novel takes hours and hours of procrastination.

How many of these can you relate to?

1.  VEGAN BACON, YOU SAY?

So I’m halfway through a chapter. I take a break to Google a medical condition I’ve only ever vaguely heard of, yet somehow have to convey depth, wisdom and compassion about. Somehow along the way I click on a targeted ad for Vegan Bacon seasoning. Leaving my characters fully in the lurch with their mysterious medical condition, instead I learn everything there is to know about fake bacon seasoning. Free shipping too, you say? Well that’s me sold!

2.  JUST ONE MORE LAP AROUND THE BLOCK, MUM!

I only have 2,000 more words to write today but my dog keeps giving me those puppy eyes: “Mama what are you dooooo-ing? Let’s go walk, let’s go play!”

I can’t leave her thinking I’m abandoning her, so… oh go on, just one more treat. Oh, alright, just one more belly rub. Oh, OK fine you cutie pie, just one more little walk. Oh, you want to go round the block again? OK, why not? The park now, too? Fine, have it your way.

Forty-five minutes later…. Damn, now it’s too late to work. It’s your fault, dog, not mine.

3.  IS MY BREAD LOAF PILLOW STILL AVAILABLE?

I really should do a grammar check on that last chapter, but right now I just need to go into my Amazon shopping cart and check my list of emergency fun items is all in order. Thankfully they have not run out of Burrito Tortilla Wrap Blankets. Also still available is the hot pink LED night light which activates automatically when you approach the toilet bowl. I do need to keep an eye on the popular 3D-printed bread loaf pillow, though, because I’d hate for that to sell out before I really need it.

BREAD PILLOW

4. DID I MISS A SPOT OVER THERE?

I must go over that page of dialogue one more time. But first, I really must investigate what that smell could be, every time I open the fridge. Yes, OK yes it’s been a little iffy all week, but if I don’t check it out now – before I edit one page, not after – it could get much, much worse. Actually, while I’m here, chucking out two-week old bananas, I may as well strip the whole fridge bare and give all the shelves a good scrub. While I’m on a roll, why not vacuum the rug again, too?

5.  I COULD TOTALLY CULTIVATE AN INDOOR GARDEN

Just the final edit to go now. I could easily get it done in a day but I’ll stretch it over three by combining the task with cultivating an indoor herb garden. Just to break it up a bit you know; give my fresh ideas some time to marinate (in Vegan Bacon seasoning?) Three hours is just long enough to research exactly which herbs are likely to take if I plant them on my windowsill, and which one might kill my dog.

Before I even get to editing I’ll have nineteen plant pots, ten packs of seeds, a heating pad and fertiliser landing on my doorstep via Amazon. Not a bad day’s work. Not the work I planned to do… but work nonetheless.

So there you go, the top 5 ways I procrastinated this time, prior to hitting that ‘send’ button and firing my novel off to my lovely editor. How do you procrastinate, lovely readers?

What’s that, you don’t? OK… in that case, please teach me your ways. All suggestions welcome 😉

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Travels Around the World

The Write Way to Travel

How globe-trotting influenced my Harlequin Medical Romances

 

Ten years ago, before my Harlequin days, I planned to write a young adult novel set in Nashville, Tennessee. Being a British citizen whod never even been to Music City, it seemed the logical thing to do, to book an Airbnb, start chatting with cowboys on dating sites, get on a plane, and move there for three months. 

 

Somehow, amongst the boot-scooting, whisky-shooting and country music, I wrote the book. Not only were my descriptions of Nashville that much much more realistic and colourful, I wound up moving in with a guitar-playing Icelandic/American man whom I almost married.

 

I said almost. I quickly realised that sometimes you need to know when to end a chapter – so to speak – and move on. Were still great friends, the books still on Amazon, but more importantly, I had a real romantic adventure in the name of research. And it spurred me on to base more novels in the far-and-wide and wonderful places Ive already been. Well, they do say, write what you know.

 

Canal-side inspiration in Amsterdam

Writing on my Amsterdam balcony copy
Writing on my Amsterdam balcony

These days Im pretty settled with my man in The Netherlands, even though sadly he doesnt wear a Stetson to the supermarket like my ex. (You cant have everything you want in one man, unless youre a Harlequin heroine, I suppose). I moved to Amsterdam in 2016, which was also the year I became a Harlequin author. I always meant to base a Harlequin Medical Romance here, but I guess it took being stuck in a pandemic to make me do it… er, thanks, COVID? 

 

June 2021s new release, FLING WITH THE CHILDRENS HEART DOCTOR is a reflection of the city I now call home, plus a rich surgeon with a luxury houseboat and windmill. Get ready for passionate Dutch lovinoutside – and maybe a little inside – of the childrens hospital!

IMG_1398

 

Getting ditched by a dive guy in Bali

It was a summer romance that went awry, the time I got involved with my scuba diving instructor on Gili Trawangan, just off the coast of Bali. In reality, it wasnt exactly a torrid above-water affair, but it was enough to get the imagination going – how could I set a romance novel on a small island renowned for big gossip, preferably one with a happier ending?

 

Look for the scuba diving hero who also happens to be a celebrity plastic surgeon, plus palm trees, coral reefs and HOT disasters based on island reality in my Harlequin Medical Romance, ENTICED BY HER ISLAND BILLIONAIRE

 

Canoes, caimans and kisses in South America

Mating tarantulas, harrowing thunderstorms and sandflies dont sound like the sexiest base for a romance novel, but back when I spent nine months travelling South America, I fell in love with the Amazon rainforest itself. I spent hours romanticising situations and mentally embellishing relations with a hot jungle guide. When it came to writing my very first Harlequin Romance – TEMPTED BY HER HOT-SHOT DOC, there were plenty of elements of truth scattered amongst the medical madness. Expect snakes (of all kinds?), hot and heavy adventures in tents, and a reality TV star wary of fame in the face of a journalist/ex-nurse who wont stop questioning him about his mysterious past.

 

Hopefully there will be more adventures to come, both in person and in the pages of my Harlequin Medical Romance stories! I really hope youll come with me. Meanwhile, dont forget to visit me in Amsterdam via Junes new release – FLING WITH THE CHILDRENS HEART DOCTOR! 

 

Thanks for travelling with me,

Becky Wicks x

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Thoughts on writing romance novels about real ‘live’ people…

It was about youAs a writer Id like to be able to subscribe to certain peoples WhatsApp conversations, you know?

I think theyd be great character studies. Imagine if you could spy on relationships, especially romantic ones, from the sensual/ suggestive sexting to the sad point at which youve sunk so low youre actually revelling in your own passive aggression, writing snarky one-liners, totally misusing grammar and emojis thanks to the pathetic tears clouding your eyes.

I wonder if I could start an app of my own for this. Imagine, if you break up with someone, you donateyour digital relationship to a romance writer looking for inspiration – someone who can dredge the life and love back out of it, wrap it all up in a happy ending and use it as a gift to set you both (and others) free.

Maybe it would be a paid service for those whove been scorned, and the buyerwould get a say in how their own story should play out in the romanticised version of their shoddy excuse for a relationship.

Together we could shame a thousand exes in a million different ways.

Did Mark send you an Im just not ready for a relationship right nowtext, and then bail? Well, sucks for you Mark, cos you know whats happening in my next Mills & Boon…

You know the surprise ranch that was left to you by your millionaire uncle, Mark? Well, his big blue shiny tractors gonna roll right over your smug, chiselled, fictionally-embellished face (that still sounds a lot like you, Mark), right before the prized bull you loved so much tramples on whats left of your commitment-phobic carcass.

And that delicious woman whose soul you drank from and dismissed like a teabag? Shes not even crying at your funeral, Mark, dont flatter yourself. Shes too busy having sex with your hot best friend in the wine cellar, writhing in a sticky pool of gratuitously-poured Chateau Margaux, which you would have been framed for stealing, had you still been alive.

How do you feel about dumping people by text message now, Mark?

EVERYONE knows that book is about you.

I think Id need investors for this. And lawyers. And money. And more of a business plan. And no morals. And quite possibly, therapy. But hey, it’s something to think about in lockdown none-the-less.

I should tell you, there is no Mark. He is simply every weak man there ever was who broke a heart. My own man is quite lovely, thankfully.

But if YOU have a Mark, and words you wish you’d said but didn’t, do let me know. I’m always looking for inspiration. Conflict is key after all.

Alternatively, (because love is lovely too) perhaps you have a story about an exceptional man-person you wish to see hunked up/praised in a spirit-lifting, not-so-literarynovel? Holla my way, ladies. I am at your service.

Excerpts, Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

The horse whispering hero who saved me in lockdown

Becky

My latest shiny book babies have arrived! And they’re not just any copies of Falling Again for the Animal Whisperer. They’re LARGER PRINT. So you can stand reeeeeeally far away and keep your book at a proper social distance from your face while you read it. Good, huh? You can never be too careful these days.

This one was my favourite to write so far.  Not just because I love Dorset, where it’s set, but because my hero, sexy horse whisperer and talented vet Cole Crawford helped me through lockdown in the later part of last year. The world went on, masked up and moving in slow mo around me while I holed up with him, bringing him to life in my head, hearing his words and imagining his sexy ass in the saddle of a horse. Aaaah, the fantasy man, every woman has to have one right?

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

I’m glad you asked. After inheriting half of her late uncle’s veterinary practice in the Dorset countryside, single mom Jodie is horrified to learn her ex Cole Crawford has inherited the other half. What the heck was her uncle thinking? He knew their intense love affair exploded into flames 12 years ago and the pair haven’t spoken since! Cole wants to prove he’s changed, but Jodie must protect her heart, and her daughter Emmie. The thing is… you know when you know, right? Cole’s the one and he always has been. But he’s hiding something about their break up….

EXCERPT

‘Paracetamol… Asprin… I need something.’ Her nerves were shot. ‘Cole, where do you keep your medicine?’ She knew he couldn’t hear her, he was in the shower. 

She pulled open the middle drawer, the top drawer, the bottom drawer… Nothing but cutlery, pens, cables, dog treats. He hadn’t told her where it was. He’d insisted he was fine, but she knew he’d be in pain soon enough, if he wasn’t already. 

They’d ridden the horses back slowly, with Blaze beside them. Cole was bleeding under his jacket, she’d seen it when she’d peeled it off him as soon as they’d reached the cabin, but he’d brushed off his injury. ‘Go shower, get warm,’ he’d told her.

So she had, and now she was back. How could she leave him? 

You could have lost him. He could have drowned. 

The thought was a knife wound to her heaving chest as the tears threatened to consume her.

Her eyes caught on something under the bench covered in jackets, by the door.

Dropping to her knees in her track pants she pulled out the bright red medicine kit and flipped the latch under the huge white cross. Paracetamol. That would have to do. 

She slid the box back, but it was stuck now, jammed halfway out. Reaching behind it her hands landed on something smooth, made of glass. She pulled out a photo frame covered in dust and swept a hand across it.

Her and Cole, sitting on Mustang, bareback. 

She fell to her bottom, holding it. 

There was another box, she noticed now – the box his stetson had arrived in. She slid it out from under the bench and sifted through photos from their summers together. He’d kept all these? 

One fell out.

There was Cole, looking up at her from the floor, leaning with his arms crossed and his leg kicked back against a red tractor. She was behind him in the photo, grinning from the driver’s seat. It must have been taken the first summer they’d met. 

Another photo. Her and Cole at twelve or thirteen. She recognised Chesil Beach; this must have been the day they’d gone on a fossil hunt. She held it closer, studying his tanned hand wrapped tight around hers on their bucket of treasures. That was around the time that parts of her had started tingling in anticipation of his touch. Just his hand, hauling her up to a rock for a photo, had felt like another moment in heaven.

Another photo. Her and Cole at fourteen. Cole was even more tanned in this one, holding a pitchfork like a guitar out in the stables. He’d been skinny before but now he was filling out. He had muscles from labouring with hay bales and farming equipment, and a wild mop of curls. This was right before he’d taught her to ride bareback, solo, she remembered with a smile. 

This was the summer she’d thought Cole was finally going to kiss her… but he didn’t. The kiss came at fifteen. There was no photo from that year, but she could see it clear as day. They’d been wild-swimming in the river, looking for kingfishers. Cole had swum right up to her beneath the wrought-iron bridge. 

She thought he’d been about to dunk her; she’d been laughing and splashing him in his new blue board shorts. She’d been self-conscious of her new womanly body, and awed by his new broad chest and the thick, dark hair in places he hadn’t had hair before. But his hands had found her waist under the water. Without a word, he had pulled her into the shadows under the bridge and kissed her. Her first kiss. Cole had been her first everything.

Jodie pressed her bare feet to the cold tile floor, clutching the photos to her heart. They’d had their disagreements and spent the last twelve years apart but if anything happened to him she knew she would die herself, even after all this time.

By the time Cole stepped from the bathroom, running a towel over his hair in nothing but clean jeans, she was stoking the fire, trying to dry her eyes, as well as her wet hair and damp tank top.

‘How are you feeling?’,’ he asked her, dropping to the leather couch, then wincing at the pain to his shoulder. 

‘Better than you, I think,’ she said, still fighting to gain control of her shaky voice and limbs. He was here, he was OK, but he wasn’t hers anymore, and she had to pull herself together… 

Super excited for this story to be out on Kindle from February 18. It’s already up for pre-order on Amazon!

Till next time folks, thanks for reading, stay safe out there!

Becky x

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

The Ghosts of Christmases Past…

Dear Readers,

It’s less than a month till Christmas. Can you believe that? LESS. THAN. A. MONTH. It still feels like I fell asleep in March and woke up in November and somehow missed the summer. But I guess we all feel a bit like 2020 was snatched from under our noses by the Grinch. 

Christmas was always one of my favourite holidays growing up in the UK. I remember when mum and dad would come home with the tree, and the Radio Times, and my brother and I would fight over the latter, both desperate to circle all the shows we were planning to watch. A new French and Saunders Christmas Special? Sign me up! Mary Poppins for the millionth time? Yes please! Jim’ll Fix It, the Christmas Edition! Wahey… oh… wait. Hmm. Best forget that one. Noel Edmonds is still OK to recall though, right? All his funky sweaters? 

I remember the year me and my brother both got Care Bears, and that was it for me. My life was complete. Oh, those simple, bliss-lined days when I truly believed bears slid down rainbows in the sky.

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I remember, when I got a little older and started globe trotting, Christmas would always be spent in a different place. Once in Bali I dated a scuba diver who promised to dress up and watch Elf with me on Christmas Eve. He bailed. He abandoned me by the giant projector on the beach, leaving me to cry into a mince-pie flavour cocktail, hiding behind a fake beard. Not my finest hour. (I soon perked up though – someone else had a guitar, some vodka and a hotel room).

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With no Radio Times to circle I would Skype my family from these places afar, just to see what they were watching on telly. Just to feel involved. Sometimes it was lonely, being away, but I always told myself I should be grateful. ‘One day Becky, you might not be able to do all this travelling anymore!’ (Sheesh, how right I was).

An ‘Orphan’s Christmas’ was a big thing, in other places. In Dubai, where I lived as a copywriter for two sandy years, my expat friends and I would all cook and play a DVD of a crackling fire, before drinking merrily and roasting ourselves like a bunch of chestnuts around a rooftop swimming pool. Once we left the sauna on by mistake and almost burned the building down – also not my finest hour.

Untitled1

Another year in New York I was a poor intern with no money to fly home for the holidays. I was promptly adopted by an American friend who whisked me away to his family “upstate”, where I was treated to so much turkey, merriment and SNOW, that it could’ve been mistaken for a Hallmark movie set. In fact, there was so much snow that we couldn’t get back to Manhattan. I ended up missing work, and getting fired. Apparently ‘I’m snowed in and I literally can’t get to work’ is not a good enough excuse in New York. I think you actually have to die before you’re excused from work in New York.

Which brings me to today my friends. In Amsterdam, where my boyfriend and I just put up our tree. We plan to stare at it, and go nowhere, and do nothing. After all those Christmases away, that actually sounds pretty damn dreamy to me. 

Untitled

What are you all doing for the holidays this year? Send me your best recipes please! I’m always looking to cook up a storm over here… but no mince pie cocktails please. I’m done with those forever.

Stay safe, lovers. And remember, wherever you are can be brilliant, if you’re drunk enough.

Becky x

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Isolation Escape Tactics

knight

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:

ziggy

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….

pouffe

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.

platter

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.

sunset

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!)

Becky

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….

 

EXCERPT FROM ENTICED BY HER ISLAND BILLIONAIRE

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!