Origin Stories

Kate Hardy: Origins of a Dream-come-true

Hello!

Today I’m here to talk about my ‘origin story’ and my journey to publication.

First book launch, November 2002

Nobody in my family is a writer.

Actually, that’s not quite true: my mum used to make up stories for me when I was tiny, though she never wrote them down. Had she lived, I think we would’ve become a mum-and-daughter writing team, but sadly that wasn’t to be.

Mum and me (plus a loyal, lovable third!)

But I was always odd. I come from a very working-class background. Yet, there I was, obsessed with books from the moment I was old enough to pick one up. I could read from a precociously early age, and the quick way for my parents to keep me occupied was to give me a pencil, paper and a title (haha — not that dissimilar from how things work nowadays, because I never get my own titles!).

I talked my parents into giving me a portable typewriter for my sixth birthday because I wanted to be a writer. I typed away happily, creating pony stories and ghost stories. Everyone in the family (and at school) knew I was a bit strange. At eight or nine, we had to come up with three questions we really wanted to know the answer to. Others had questions such as, ‘How often should you feed your dog?’ Not me. No. The weird child in the class had other things on her mind. Exactly how far away is the moon? Who was the shortest-reigning queen in history? How long after you bury a body does it become a skeleton? (Fortunately my teacher knew I wanted to be an archaeologist and had already lent me books on Egypt. And my mum was amazing — she’d worked out that I was born to tell stories, and encouraged me to keep going.)

Mum

And then, when I was 13, I discovered M&B. (Sara Craven’s ‘The Devil at Archangel’ — years later, I was thrilled to meet her and tell her how she’d inspired me. And how amazing was it that she became my real-life friend, someone who met me at author events with a huge, huge hug?)

My romances didn’t get very far at that age, but I kept writing — very Tolkienesque stories (which I think might be lurking somewhere in the loft, along with reams of terrible poetry). I tried M&B again about ten years later, and was too young and naive to realise that a four-page rejection letter from M&B doesn’t actually mean ‘go away and never darken our doorway again’. So I wrote other stuff (including ghost stories — one of which was published by Virago), and lots of journalism. I wrote some raunchy novels. But, all the time, I wanted to write romance.  

And then, when I was pregnant with our daughter, my husband asked me why I didn’t try writing M&B Medicals, given that I loved romance and loved medical dramas on TV. Good point. So I read a few. They all seemed to be written by Aussie doctors, so I thought I probably wouldn’t fit.

But everything all changed the day I was writing an article about bronchiolitis (RSV or Respiratory Syncytial Virus). Chloe, aged 6 weeks, had this horrible cough. It was a couple of days before Christmas. Was I being paranoid, or was she showing the signs of everything I was writing about? I went for the cautious option (I’d much rather be called an overanxious parent than ignore something serious!) and called the doctor. Yes, indeedy, that was intercostal recession I was seeing. Textbook case. Half an hour after our appointment, Chloe was in hospital for a nasal swab, and she tested positive for RSV. She was on the ward for a week — on oxygen, fed by nasogastric tube.

The only way I got through that week at her bedside was to start writing my first Medical Romance. Once she was back home, I carried on. My agent loved it. M&B loved it. A Baby of Her Own was accepted on Chloe’s first birthday and published on her second birthday.

Chloe, a couple of months after bronchiolitis

Fast forward to today: she’s going to be twenty in a couple of weeks, and I’m currently working on my 94th M&B.

The point is: it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from. If you want to write, then WRITE, and don’t let anything hold you back. Read craft books, yes, but don’t let yourself be boxed in by them; not everyone works the same way, and not every method works for every writer. If you’d rather work ‘into the mist’ (aka ‘pantster’) that’s fine, and if you’d rather plan everything up front (aka ‘plotter’), that’s also fine. Ditto being in the middle and doing a bit of both. Try it, and use what works for you.

No time? Then put half an hour in your diary every day. That could break down into two blocks of 15 minutes or 3 blocks of 10 minutes: whatever works with your schedule. Make sure you ringfence that time and do it every day. In that time, you write and do nothing else but write. Don’t edit, and don’t overthink or worry about the future: write. It doesn’t matter if it’s on screen, or scrawled with a pencil on paper (as long as you can read it!). One page (500 words) per day for 100 days will get you a first draft of a Mills & Boon in a little over 3 months. That’s when you start editing. The main thing is: write, because you can always change a page that doesn’t work, whereas a blank page gives you nothing to work with.

As for me: lockdown and Covid have both reminded me that life is short, so I’m sneakily writing the book of my heart. It’s something very, VERY unmarketable, so I might end up writing it just for me: but the story’s there and it won’t go away. Maybe it’s time to listen to my own advice… 😉

Oh, and my family? They all still think I’m weird. But I hope they’re quietly proud of me.

Excerpts

Excerpt – ‘Forgotten Pain’ by Josie Metcalfe

Josie Metcalfe is joining us today with an excerpt – if you missed Josie’s blog last week you can find it here and ‘Forgotten Pain’ is available now from Amazon.  Welcome again Josie, and over to you…    

I know personally that not all injuries and disabilities are immediately visible and that sufferers will often find ways to hide their problems when they have no other options. If they’re lucky they’ll find someone like Sally with the intuition to recognise that hidden pain, no matter how fraught the circumstances.

CHAPTER ONE

41sMduzowkL‘DOCTOR?’

In spite of her best intentions, Sally had just been dropping off to sleep in the corner of her big squashy armchair when the phone rang, jerking her back to full wakefulness.

‘Doctor Webster?’ the voice in her ear seemed to reach her from a long way away.

‘Yes. I’m sorry,’ she blinked rapidly and shook her head to clear away the cobwebs of sleep. ‘Dr Webster here. What is it?’

‘Accident at the gravel pits out at Abbey Meads,’ the woman said tersely.

‘How many involved and what’s the nearest access?’ Sally’s feet hit the floor and she bent forward to search around with her free hand to find the trainers she’d kicked off when she’d sat down to have a much delayed lunch. She forced her feet into them hurriedly as she stood up, belatedly reaching out for her bag.

‘Two mountain bikers racing downhill. Came off a ledge. Probable spinal injuries. You’ll have to go out past Priory Park towards open countryside. I’ll give you an accurate GPS as soon as I get it but there’s a turning on the left signposted Abbey Meads and a track almost immediately on the right taking you towards the gravel pits.’

‘Emergency services alerted?’ The surge of adrenaline meant she was firing on all cylinders now, her brain clear, her pulse rate elevated and her whole body ready to race into action.

‘Ambulance already on their way with a paramedic on board,’ the calm voice confirmed, ‘but they have to come across town. You’re closest.’

‘On my way,’ Sally dropped the phone into her pocket, swung her pack up on one shoulder and took off across a room cluttered with half-unpacked boxes, barely slowing her stride as she grabbed her jacket off the convenient hook beside the door the fluorescent word ‘doctor’ emblazoned across the back.

She reached back to grasp the handle to pull it shut but paused for the rapid scrabble of claws on the polished wooden floor as an eager canine nose followed her out onto the step.

‘Come on, then, girl,’ she invited, just missing the long-plumed tail as the catch clicked shut.

Within seconds she was turning the key in the ignition, her free hand reaching for her seat belt. ‘Down, Amber,’ she ordered, and her companion subsided obediently into the footwell on the passenger’s side.

She glanced at the map that had automatically displayed on her sat nav to confirm that she was going to be taking the most direct route and set the vehicle in motion, a flick of a newly-installed switch on the dashboard activating the flashing blue light on the roof. This was her first call-out since she’d joined the group practice at Abbey surgery and she needed to do well; she needed to prove that she’d made the right decision in coming here, if only to herself…

The GPS directions came through seconds later, before she’d even exited the driveway, and she was soon heading well away from the town through all-but deserted lanes before the automated voice sent her bumping along a rough track leading around the edge of the abandoned quarry, grateful for the superb suspension of the car provided by the practice.

‘Come on. Come on. Where are they, then?’ she muttered, the chilly wind tugging at loose strands of hair through the half-open window as she pushed her speed as hard as she dared over the unfamiliar terrain.

‘Shoot!’ She braked and swerved as a young man leapt out of no-where, his arms flailing like windmills.

Her tyres slithered to a stop on the loose gravel and she thrust her head out of the window, barely waiting for it to open fully.

‘What on earth do you think you’re…’

‘Down there!’ the youth broke in, pointing frantically at a faint track she’d almost missed. ‘They’re down there. Hurry!’ He whirled away from her and disappeared over the lip of the quarry as quickly as he’d appeared.

‘Right,’ Sally turned the wheel and moved forward gingerly until she could see the state of the track then increased her speed when she found it was an old access route to the floor of the quarry, wending its potholed way down the side.

By the time she reached the bottom she’d spotted the small knot of people grouped round the victims, the buckled remains of their brightly coloured bikes mute testimony to the event.

‘Stay!’ she ordered as she flung herself out of the vehicle, grabbed the smallest pack off the back seat, hooked it over one shoulder and took off at a run.

By the time she reached the injured boys, both of them were conscious but one was lying very pale and still, his shattered crash helmet evidence of the severity of the accident.

‘There’s an ambulance coming,’ she announced. ‘Can someone run to the top to direct them down here, please?’ then she knelt down on the gravel-strewn quarry floor shifting awkwardly as the cold dampness and small sharp stones cut through the sturdy denim covering her knees.

As she cast a rapid eye over the more seriously injured of the two she realised that she would need help with his care. The lower part of his face and neck had taken part of the force of his fall and she would need another pair of expert hands to stabilise his head while she put a cervical collar on him and maintained his breathing.

At least his pulse and respiration were within reasonable bounds, considering the state he was in.

The distant sound of a siren was drawing rapidly closer as she turned towards the second victim, hoping to have him ready to move by the time assistance arrived for his friend.

‘What’s your name?’ she looked up at the carroty-haired gangly youth hovering over her.

‘Andy,’ his voice wavered between tenor and soprano and his cheeks flamed with embarrassment.

‘Right, Andy,’ later she’d have time to smile at his adolescent trauma, but for now… ‘I’m going to need your help.’ Immediately, his shoulders straightened importantly. ‘Take one of your friends and bring out the two zipped bags behind the driver’s seat. Carry them carefully…’

He’d grabbed a husky dark haired lad by the elbow and they were sprinting towards her car almost before she’d finished speaking.

As they opened the door of the vehicle there was a low warning growl from Amber.

‘It’s all right, girl,’ Sally called, barely looking up from her task. She hardly had time to confirm her diagnosis of a broken leg before the two of them returned and she opened the bags to select the equipment she’d need.

A shadow fell over her as the surrounding group of lads pushed forward and she looked up at them. The concern they felt for their friends was so clear on their faces that it prevented her from snapping at them to stand further back.

‘Has any of you done any first aid?’ Most of them shook their heads as she glanced round at them but two raised their hands as if answering a question in school.

‘Right,’ she continued, her voice decisive. ‘The ambulance is on its way and we need to get your friends ready to go to hospital. This young man,’ she put her hand on his arm…

‘That’s Jimmy,’ Andy volunteered quickly.

‘Thank you,’ she nodded, ‘Jimmy has broken his leg. He needs to have both his legs splinted together…’

‘I can do that,’ one of the lads who’d raised his hand broke in eagerly. ‘We had that in our test.’

‘Good,’ Sally praised. ‘Take it slowly. Move him as little as possible. Ask me if you need help.’ She turned towards the second still form beside her, steadying herself with a mental reminder to check A, B and C again. She could hear her long-ago instructor drumming it into them. ‘Airway, breathing and circulation…’

‘What’s wrong with Wayne?’ Andy demanded.

‘He’s hurt his face and I think he’s hurt his back,’ she said quietly as she leant over him and carefully took hold of one hand.

‘Wayne?’ her voice was soft but carried clearly in the still air. ‘Can you hear me?’

‘…ss…’ she heard and tightened her hand gently.

‘Good,’ she encouraged. ‘Keep very still but can you squeeze my fingers?’ She waited for a response while she noted down the figures for his respiration and pulse and was rewarded by a deliberate pressure. ‘Well done. What about the other one?’

She was just taping the IV line to the back of his hand when her concentration was broken by the hurried arrival of two large pairs of feet topped by dark navy trousers at the edge of her vision.

‘Where do you want us, Doc?’ one voice panted as he lowered the stretcher he was carrying to the ground. ‘We had to leave the vehicle up on top.’

She looked across at the blond owner of the cheerful voice, his eyes as blue as the shirt of his uniform showing between the edges of his brightly flashed jacket.

It took very few words to direct him towards loading Jimmy and carrying him back up the hill with the willing assistance of his friends but before Sally had time to turn her attention back to Waynethe second paramedic knelt down swiftly on the opposite side.

‘He needs a neck brace,’ the deep voice was accompanied by a searing gaze from tawny eyes and for just a moment Sally was unable to look away. His breathing seemed unaffected by his rapid descent to the quarry floor, the only sign of his exertion the rumpled state of his dark hair.

When he looked back down at the young man between them on the ground she was left with a strange feeling of breathlessness before his forceful words finally sank in.

‘Of course…’ she began speaking, then stopped. There was no point telling him that she fully intended to protect young Wayne’s neck because he’d already taken a cervical collar out of his kit and was preparing to position it.

‘Hold his head without touching his jaw,’ he instructed, his deep voice curt as he concentrated on his task. ‘He’s bleeding from his nose so we can’t do a blind nasotracheal intubation and he’s partially conscious so we can’t do an œsophogeal…’

Sally subdued the momentary surge of resentment at his high-handedness with the silent reminder that it was the patient who mattered, not her pride.

A little imp of mischief had her watching his technique critically, but his procedure was faultless, as was his management of the boy’s transferral to the scoop.

‘When we’ve got him strapped down, we’ll load him into your vehicle,’ he said decisively, barely glancing in her direction as his hands moved competently about their business. ‘It’ll save time carrying him up the quarry track and your four-wheel-drive will smooth out some of the bumps.’

By now Sally was gritting her teeth but there was little she could do in front of their avid audience. But, she promised herself, once their patient was safely delivered…

The stretcher was locked securely in position behind the driver’s seat in the specially adapted vehicle and Sally was stowing her bags underneath it when there was a warning growl from Amber.

Glancing over the head restraint of the front passenger seat she was treated to the unusual sight of her one-woman dog sniffing at a lean male hand and she straightened up in time to see his head disappear into the vehicle.

‘What do you think you’re doing?’ she snapped as she wrenched her own door open, resenting this further evidence of his intrusion into her territory, both physical and professional. ‘Travelling with you to monitor the patient – unless you intend me to do it while I run along behind.’ Sarcasm filled his voice as he swung his long legs round and tucked his feet carefully beside Amber, his reassuring words to the dog spoken in a totally different tone to the one he’d used with her.

‘Of course,’ Sally muttered under her breath and bit the inside of her lip as colour surged up her face at her own stupidity. What on earth was it about this man that seemed to rub her up the wrong way?

Admittedly, her recent heartbreak meant that she was less than happy with the male half of the human race at the moment, but she’d managed to keep her antipathy under control in a work situation until she’d met him – or was there another reason for the sparks flying between them?

The journey up the winding track called for all her attention, the gravel loosened by a recent winter of rain and storms causing the wheels to spit stones in all directions as she guided the vehicle steadily upwards.

From the corner of her eye she was conscious of her passenger turning towards her and tensed, expecting him to make the same sort of chauvinistic comment most men made about women drivers. When he remained silent she glanced across quickly to find that instead of watching her driving, he’d reached one hand back to offer silent reassurance to their patient.

They lurched their way to the top of the quarry to find that the ambulance had already left for the hospital and it wasn’t long before Sally had reached the metalled road and was pointing the vehicle back towards the town.

Beside her, the silent paramedic was one-handedly noting his findings on the checklist clipped to his board, his pen moving swiftly to fill in the columns of sequential observations. Once they reached the hospital, the duplicate copy would be handed over with the patient to form the start of his case notes.

‘Stop!’

The sharp command broke into her concentration and she automatically put her foot hard on the brake.

‘What…? Why?’ but her words were spoken to his back as he flung himself out of the vehicle and wrenched the back door open.

By the time Sally reached him he was crouched over Wayne’s unconscious body probing the base of his throat, a fresh pair of gloves covering his long-fingered hands.

‘What…?’ Sally began.

‘Apnoea,’ his voice was distracted for a moment as he concentrated on what he was doing, giving Sally time to register that Wayne had stopped breathing. ‘Either his larynx has swollen or the rough track has shifted something to press on his trachea…’ he paused to reach into the opening of one of her bags and withdrew a familiar instrument.

The blade was exposed and the incision performed in less time than it took to blink and he was inserting the tracheostomy tube in the neat hole he’d made into Wayne’s trachea before the significance of what he’d done dawned on her.

‘Dammit, you’re a paramedic,’ she snapped. ‘You’re not allowed to do a cricothyrotomy.’

There was a frozen second before his eyes snapped up to meet hers, blazing.

‘He’s alive, isn’t he?’ he looked back down to tape the tube into position and dispose of the used scalpel blade.

‘That’s not the point,’ Sally argued. ‘Paramedics aren’t allowed to do that. What you did was illegal without certification.’

‘But essential,’ he broke in, his voice hard, ‘like getting him to hospital, preferably without brain damage due to oxygen starvation.’ Pointedly, he looked back down at Wayne, his hands moving surely over him as he checked his vital signs again.

Her teeth gritted angrily together, Sally backed out of the vehicle and climbed behind the wheel, reaching across to pull the passenger door shut before she put the engine into gear. In her rear-view mirror she could see him change position so that he could travel safely beside their patient for the rest of the journey.

Sally had activated the siren and flashing lights as soon as they’d encountered the start of the town traffic, the ululating sound only slightly muted when she closed her window up tight as she radioed their position through.

They had nearly reached the hospital when the thought that had been going round and round in her brain surfaced – the life-saving manoeuvre he’d done had been text-book perfect and he’d performed it as if it was second nature to him.

‘Where were you taught to do a cricothyrotomy?’ the words emerged unannounced into the intimate space of the vehicle, clearly audible in spite of the noise of the siren.

Her eyes flicked up to the mirror and caught the fleeting reflection of a bitter expression on his face before it was wiped smooth.

‘I watch a lot of television.’ His deep voice was as mocking as the twist to his mouth but there was no time for Sally to challenge him as she drew up outside the hospital emergency entrance.

Guest Blogs, Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Guest Blog – Josie Metcalfe

It’s a real thrill to welcome Josie Metcalfe to the blog today!  Josie is the author of 52 Medical Romances for Harlequin Mills and Boon, and is currently busy editing and re-issuing selected books from her backlist.  We took this opportunity to ask her a few must-know questions.

What made you become an author?

I can’t remember not being able to read because my mother, a junior teacher, had me reading before I started school. It was only when a medical ‘never event’ took away my speech and my ability to read and write that the fight to get all that back fired me up to have a go – that and a dare from my husband!

If you weren’t a writer, what else would you like to be?

I trained as a teacher – well, with a mother and an aunt teachers and a grandfather a headmaster why wouldn’t I? Then, after I married and the children started arriving, there were various occupations including doing alterations for a very spiffy gents outfitters, making wedding dresses, knitting Aran jumpers to order, medical secretary in a private clinic – a Jill of all trades.

Can you pick a favourite book from your backlist? And/Or a favourite character or location?

It’s just too hard to choose a favourite – a bit like asking which one is my favourite child. Doubly difficult because I tend to fall in love with each of my heroes while I’m writing them. Well, why wouldn’t I when each of them has a little bit of my husband in them, even though none of them resemble him.

Can you give us an idea of the process for editing your books for re-issue? Did you find that a lot of changes were needed to accommodate changes in technology and medicine?

Obviously I’m careful to check that any drugs I mention are still in use for the same purpose but I’ve been quite surprised how much the world has changed in such a short time, particularly with the advent of mobile phones that do everything except boil the kettle. It wasn’t so long ago that they had to be switched off inside a hospital; now they’re used to take a quick picture of a suspect growth, for example, which can immediately be sent to the relevant specialist.

What’s the thing you enjoyed the most about re-visiting your early books?

It was great fun reading them for the first time in ages – I’d almost forgotten what my characters had got up to – but then I had to take my ‘reader’ hat off and put my ‘editor’ hat on!

If you could go back and give your younger self one piece of advice, at the start of her writing career, what would it be?

The piece of advice I was given after I wrote the first book was to learn to touch type so that it becomes completely second nature and to learn to work straight onto the screen so I didn’t waste any more time and energy writing longhand then copy typing. I’ve passed that advice on many times already.

Do you have any hints or tips for aspiring writers?

Don’t end a day’s work at the end of a scene but in the middle of something. Then, when you come back to it the next time you’re never staring at a blank screen but can start right into the ‘paused’ scene. Then, by the time you get to the end of the scene, you’ll already have the following scene brewing in your head. I also employ ‘critical path analysis’ when I’m plotting. Sounds scary? Not a bit when you realise it just means that once you know who your characters are and their situation you go direct to the happy end of the story and plot it backwards, putting in all the important threads and weaving them together at the critical point so that everything hangs together. With that outline constructed the writing becomes so much easier.

Josie will be back with an excerpt from ‘Forgotten Pain’ next Wednesday.  You can find all Josie’s newly released editions on Amazon – look out for these distinctive covers!  And do click the links below, you’ll be in for a real treat!

41sMduzowkL

No Alternative (St Augustine’s Hospital Book 1) – Ella James alienated her family when she chose to become a chiropractor rather than a medical doctor, but orthopaedic surgeon Adam Marshall has his own reasons for regardng her as little better than a charlatan. With both of them appointed to a research forum, clashes are inevitable but that can’t stop the attraction growing between them.

Secrets to Keep (St Augustine’s Hospital Book 2) – Jacob could easily expect to feel hostility towards Louise, after all, it was her husband’s reckless driving that had killed his wife, leaving their premature baby fighting for her life.  

But while he watches her tenderly caring for her own dying baby, animosity is the last thing he’s feeling, and when he comes up with the suggestion that she should take on the care of his child, permanently… 

Hell on Wheels (St Augustine’s Hospital Book 3)  A&E nursing sister, Sophie, starts a new job, and is shocked to find that Luke Hellier, the school-friend who broke her heart ten years ago, is now a doctor working at the same hospital.

A Voice in the Dark (St Augustine’s Hospital Book 4) – Jenny, an oncology nurse and single mother, is on her way to join her twins and their grandparents on holiday in Spain when the plane is forced to land unexpectedly. That’s when she discovers that Tomas, a fellow passenger, was once a leukaemia patient of hers. As a result of disastrous previous relationships in both their backgrounds, he doesn’t trust that she’s not after his considerable family wealth while she is worried that the only reason he wants a relationship with her is because she has children….. which he can now never have.

Bound by Honour (St Augustine’s Hospital Book 5) – Needing to ‘disappear’ from an impossible situation, A and E nurse Honour chooses the wrong person’s ID to misappropriate, but when Army Medic Matt extracts her agreement to accompany him to Peru to relieve a colleague at a remote clinic, it isn’t hard to agree, not when the attraction she feels towards him far outweighs his glowering disapproval of her.

Forgotten Pain (St Augustine’s Hospital Book 6) – There’s something about Luke and the shadows in his eyes that sets Sally’s antennae buzzing. He’s unfairly good-looking and he’s obviously excellent at his job but that can’t outweigh the fact that when she tries to get to know him better, he’s so evasive that she knows he’s hiding secrets.

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Routine? Who needs Routine? by Allie Kincheloe

Routine is a BIG thing in our house. My 11-year-old son has autism and thrives on routine. Saying it is important to us is a massive understatement. Well, like everything else in this world, routine has been thrown out on its ear like a rowdy customer in a bar. Virtual classes this spring were far from a success, so we opted to home school this year. It’s going better than virtual did, but it’s still a lot of change. He does not like change.

He’s not the only one. 

My routine has been swept to the side because his needs have to come first. My every weekday writing schedule was shredded back in the spring, never to be recreated. Writing has been squeezed in around home schooling, meltdowns, and lots and lots of walks. My office has morphed into a home school classroom. The hours of quiet where the noisiest thing I heard was the sound of my dog snoring at my feet are long gone. They have been replaced by a stimming boy running back and forth through the house, bare feet slapping rhythmically against the hardwood floors. 

A few weeks ago, my husband noticed that I was getting stressed from not writing. With a looming deadline for my next medical, my anxiety was skyrocketing. I only had half a book. What was I going to do with half a book? I couldn’t turn that in. I didn’t have time to write though. So, he worked it out so that I could have a couple days every other week where he’s here to do home school and I could write. (He’s pretty great, huh?)

Side note: Anyone ever tried to write a cohesive book while only working on it a couple days every other week? I do NOT recommend this.

I even managed to turn my newest manuscript in before the deadline! It’s a second chance romance, full of enemies-to-lovers vibes and forced proximity. It really took an emotional toll on me, so I’m hoping that readers will connect with it. It will be coming sometime late spring/early summer. It wasn’t written like anything that I’ve done in the past, but I’m proud of it all the same. Maybe even more so because of the struggles I endured to write it. Through all this, I learned that I don’t need quiet to write. I don’t need a dedicated office or a typical Monday through Friday work week.

And routine? Who needs routine? (We do… we still do.)

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Guest bloggers, Ellie Stone and Drew Trevelyan

We’d like to introduce you to the Vets of Dolphin Cove, Ellie Stone and Drew Trevelyan.  Their stories feature in a new duo, Ellie is the heroine of ‘The Vet’s Secret Son’, by Annie O’Neil and Drew is the hero of ‘Healing the Vet’s Heart’, by Annie Claydon.  But since Ellie and Drew have been friends since childhood, we thought we’d let them introduce each other to you.

Drew Trevelyan

Let me introduce you to Ellie Stone.  Also known as Ells to her friends, Mum to her son Mav, and…  on second thoughts I won’t mention the nickname I gave her when we were both kids.  Ellie’s got a very vivid imagination when it comes to pay-back.

Ellie’s an all-round great person, and I’m proud to call her my best friend.  We’ve known each other since before we could walk and some of my first memories are of playing on the beach at Dolphin Cove with Ellie.  Our first taste of beer was sneaked out of the pump at her Dad’s pub, The Hungry Pelican, and our first teenage attempt at changing the world was to persuade my Mum to drive us into town so we could attend a rally to protect Cornwall’s sea-life. We shared a love of animals and going to the same Veterinary School in London, was an obvious first step on the ladder of our careers.  

During our university years, I fell in and out of love on a pretty regular basis, but Ellie found her one true love.  She and Lucas were made for each other, and when he left her the circumstances were enough to make anyone crumble.  Not Ellie, though, she’s made of sterner stuff.  She picked herself up and announced that she and I were going to make our childhood dream a reality.  Establishing a veterinary practice in Cornwall, in our home village of Dolphin Cove.

We worked hard and made a success of the practice, and now we have a brand new building, along with an Innovation Centre and a wildlife sanctuary.  We’ve had our ups and downs, raising a child on her own has been tough for Ellie, but she’s done a great job with Mav.  And she’s always been there for me, too.  I couldn’t have made it through the last two years without her.

And… the question that everyone always asks.  Ellie’s gorgeous, we get each other’s jokes, and her son calls me his cool Uncle Drew.  We’ve stuck together through thick and thin, and we love each other.  Hasn’t there ever been just a hint of romance?

I’m almost embarrassed to say it, but… No.

The truth, although Ellie would never admit it to you, is that she’s still in love with Lucas.  I’ve had my share of love and loss too, but I’ve never seen Ellie in that way.  She’s my best friend, and like a sister to me. 

Apart from that one time…  But a gentleman doesn’t tell.  If you want to know about that, you’ll have to ask Ellie.

Ellie Stone

Drew Treveleyn? *shakes head* Where do I begin? The day I was born? The day after? We’ve pretty much been friends since then. Or near enough. Our parents used to park our pushchairs next to one another on the quay out front of my parent’s pub at Dolphin Cove and I would say our mutual love of animals started then, too. That’s what happens when you’re battling seagulls and passing dogs and cats for your summer ice creams.

I could tell you more than a few stories about him, but we’d probably better focus on the ones that don’t embarrass him too much. Like the time he triaged a seagull’s leg with a pair of ice lolly sticks. Or the time he carried a dog who’d been hit by a car three miles to the next village (there wasn’t a veterinarian’s at Dolphin Cove then) even though it weighed practically as much as he did (he was a string bean for quite a while before he developed into the strong, sea-loving, muscular veterinarian you see before you today). And that was because my parents were working and his were fighting (pretty normal back in the day before they got a divorce which I would say was a good thing, but as their kid, it obviously wasn’t very nice which was why we hung out at ours more often than his, but really we were usually wandering all around the countryside trying to find animals to fix). 

Did we ever fancy each other? (falls about laughing)

No. 

Erm.  Maybe once we thought we did. For about three seconds. We were teenagers and thought we knew absolutely everything there was to know about everything, but obviously we were hormone-addled idiots who knew absolutely nothing about anything other than the fact that we were best friends. It was summer, the beach was perfectly lit by moonlight and we were buzzing from the excitement of both of us getting into the Royal Veterinary College in London and, possibly, a pint or two from my parent’s pub…and we never, ever discussed it again because then I met Lucas. 

And enough said about that. 

Drew’s romantic life hasn’t been that much better than my own, to be fair. He had a proper rough run when his fiancée…well…he’d better tell you about that because he went through the wringer bigtime and suffice it to say, it’s been an uphill battle for someone who seriously does not deserve it. 

Anyway, I’m risking getting waaaay too sentimental here and that is not how we roll. Long story short, a girl couldn’t ask for a better best friend than Drew. He plays boardgames, can swim like a dolphin, knows exactly what type of ice cream to bring over after we’ve had a tough day at the clinic and is the absolute best cool Uncle to my boy, Maverick, ever.

Ellie and Drew’s books will be published in September. Any questions for them?

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

We’re extending our Blog Schedule!

You may have noticed that our blog schedule has been full recently!  At the moment we’re in the happy position of having more blogs than we do dates, and so we’ve decided to extend our schedule and post on Saturdays, as well as Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  We’re going to start filling up our Saturday dates over the next couple of months.

Fiona McArthur will be getting us off to a great start, by taking the first of our new Saturday spots on the 8th August.  We’ll be continuing with our regular features and guests, and have some ideas for new features as well. We’d love you to join us!

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Thank you – and catching up with Fiona McArthur!

A few months ago we collected some ‘extra’ blogs from our authors, to make sure that we could keep our schedule full during lockdown.   It’s way past time to acknowledge all their work and say thank you to everyone who’s kept our blog flourishing over these last difficult months, both readers and writers.  Whatever happens next, we’ll still be here!  

We are also keen to acknowledge a more important debt. Some of our Medical Romance writers have been away working in various medical roles – risking so much to help keep their communities safe and well.  Thank you isn’t enough, but it’s all we have.  We love you.

Today we have a blog from Fiona McArthur – who wrote some months ago about ten jobs to do in lockdown.  But her suggestions are so good, that as some of us take our first tentative steps towards a new normal, they’re as much fun to do now as they were then.  Over to Fiona!

Waving again to lovers of Medical Romance.

Thank you so much to the hardworking organisers who keep this blog going. I may not post much but I really enjoy reading your blogs.

Blog wise – A little while ago I was asked to submit a short, fun, column for The Sunday Telegraph, an Australian newspaper, and I came up with this. ST did take some of the article but only about a third of it was published, apologies to those who have seen this, but I’m hoping most of you haven’t. I thought Love Is The Best Medicine might enjoy the whole article- even if it gives you just a tiny smile- I’m happy xx Fi

Ten jobs you never thought you’d achieve

As a recently retired midwife – pre Covid-19 – normally I would be away gallivanting in some far town, far city or far country for a week or two most months, because travel and travelling gives me inspiration for my writing. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. Now, like you, I’m home to stay. Here’s a quick play with ideas as I settle in for the duration. I hope to spark some of your own clever tasks, make you smile, and leave you with the satisfaction of success at a fun task. Happy achieving.

Washing the collection of seashells in the bathroom that have sat on the window-sill for years – don’t forget to take the time to listen to the sound of the sea inside them.

Culling books you know you will never read. Someone else will love them. Reassure yourself that if you want to read the book you donated then you can probably get it in e-book or from the library. I know this WILL NOT find favour with stalwarts of ARRA who have book children they would never part with xx But I need to cull.

Sorting the old boxes (and boxes) of photographs of your children – what do you do with fifteen copies of solo year four pics of each son? Then give the new boxes to each son. Heh Heh.

Making a space for you. A meditation room to sit and chill and not think. Needs a comfy cushion and a curtain for privacy.

Or, could also be a medication room if you take a glass of wine, with a makeshift day bed to lie on in a tiny space. I’ve seen fab ones on the corner of a verandah inside a kids tent.

Best as separate from the house where you can listen to your meditation, music or read a book. Can be a tent with cushions or your car in the garage with a sheet over it if needed. Company is lovely but we all need our own space to chill.

Rewrite your address book. Write a letter, send a postcard – that would be fun –  to every person’s name you come across who makes you smile and you haven’t connected with in a while. Those who don’t make you feel good – wish them well out loud and remove from the list.

Grow something – Shallots are satisfying. Nothing more fun than buying a bunch of shallots from the supermarket to use – then planting the ends after you’ve garnished with the tops. They grow so quickly and look so green. They make me smile and taste amazing.

Experiment – with hair colour. Try a new one every week. 🙂 Use food colouring and mix it with white conditioner until you get the colour you want. Natural ones wash out.  Look it up on google for instructions. How funny. Nobody is going to see you. Though if you have black hair nobody will be able to tell.

Cook. Something old-fashioned you’ve never tried before. Like toad in the hole? Or Turkish delight? Or damper.

Marathon watch that box set you never opened. I can’t believe I have McCloud’s Daughters and Downtown Abbey to watch.

Write ten fabulous things about your significant other or best friend, despite it not being their birthday, Give it to them.

11/ Or you could read a fabulous medical romance.

Loving all the discussion on-line. Thanks so much for being there everyone and for your support of authors and readers. xx Fi

9781760894986Author of more than forty books, Fiona’s latest fiction novel is MIDWIFE IN THE JUNGLE mostly set in Papua New Guinea. Available now. Her audiobook out this month is MOTHERS DAY. The Bush Telegraph, set in far western Queensland, is out 1st September  2020. Pre-order here. Or order any of her signed print books from Fiona at www.FionaMcArthurAuthor.com/bookstore.

 

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Escape with a Romance (Part 2)

Two more recommendations from our Medical Romance authors, who have sorted through their backlists to recommend their favourite escape stories.  Enjoy!

Taming Her Hollywood Playboy, by Emily Forbes

Emily

Redeemed…

by his fake fiancee!  Hired as the on-set paramedic on Hollywood actor Oliver Harding’s latest film, Kat Angelis finds herself equally as charmed by his off-screen persona. And when his playboy reputation threatens his hard-earned career, she’s the first person Oliver turns to – to pose as his fiancée! Kat’s warm personality and commitment to her family opens Oliver up to something he’s never had. Is this girl from the outback the key to unlocking his heart?

Why recommend?  I think this book might be the perfect antidote to being stuck indoors – it will take you to the Australian outback where there are no nasty viruses lurking!

It is set in Coober Pedy, South Australia in the middle of the red desert where my hero, Hollywood actor, Oliver Harding has been sent in order to keep him out of trouble. Needless to say – it doesn’t work!

Book available here  and Mills&BoonAus plus Mills&BoonUK and Harlequin USA

You can also find an excerpt on this blog.

 

English Rose for the Sicilian Doc, by Annie Claydon

imageUncovering a sizzling attraction…

Burned in love, Dr Matteo Di Salvo knows he should stay away from single mother, Rose Palmer.  But as he gets to know the beautiful English archaeologist, he longs to chase the shadows from her eyes…

Rose is drawn to the handsome radiologist, though after her disastrous marriage, getting emotionally entangled is out of the question! But as the sun-drenched island of Sicily works its magic, she wonders if she’s finally found a man she can trust…with her heart and her son.

Why Recommend?  The book features a beach, a handsome doctor, a vineyard and a hot spring – along with an archaeological mystery, solved by modern medical knowledge.

The book is available from Mills and Boon UK, Mills and Boon Australia and Harlequin, and you can read an excerpt on this blog.

 

Excerpts, Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Excerpt – From Hawaii to Forever, by Julie Danvers

Jack Harper has been showing Kat Murphy that sometimes the best way to relax is to seek out a thrill.  But Kat’s already decided that the thrill she wants is him.

Medical2JuneThey approached the edge of the cliff at the golden hour—the hour before the sun set and cast everything with a luminous glow. It was one of Jack’s favorite spots in all Hawaii: a stretch of coastline on the island’s north shore. This part of the shoreline was made of high cliffs, with deep water below. It was an ideal spot for cliff jumping, if Kat decided she wanted to go through with it.

Being so close to the shoreline awed Jack, as it always did. And as he looked at Kat he could tell that she was just as taken by the island’s beauty as he was.

“It’s incredible,” she said. “I’ve never seen water this shade of blue before. It’s like looking at liquid lapis lazuli.”

Jack realized he’d never really taken in the islands through someone else’s eyes. Kat’s response to the wild beauty of Oahu made him feel as though he were seeing it all again for the first time.

“You love this place,” he said.

“I think I do,” she replied. “Even though I haven’t spent much time here. From the moment I got off the plane I felt like I was home. Chicago is a great city, but it’s very…flat. I’ve never seen a place that radiates so much natural beauty as Hawaii.”

Speaking of radiating beauty, Jack thought, she should see how her face softens and her eyes shine when she looks out over the cliffs.

Somewhere along their hike to the cliffs she’d plucked a plumeria flower and placed it in her hair. The effect was breathtaking now, as Kat looked out over the coast, framed by the sea and sky, her tangled red hair waving in the wind. She turned toward him and somehow, before he knew what had taken hold of him, he’d reached out and she was in his arms, her face tilted up toward his.

He felt as though she’d always belonged there—as though he’d reached out for some lost piece of himself that he hadn’t known was missing. But to have her so close was confusing. He couldn’t think clearly with her pulled into his arms, pressed against his chest, her hair smelling of flowers.

He found himself saying, “There’s no reason to be scared,” and he couldn’t be sure if he was saying it to her, or to himself.

“Scared?” she said. She looked up at him, confused. “Why would I be scared?”

A fair enough question. She rested securely in his arms and he would damn well never let any harm come to her if he could help it. She was in the safest place she could possibly be, even if she didn’t know it. So why should either of them be scared?

He searched his mind for an explanation of what he’d said—something that would make sense. “I was talking about the cliff-jumping, if you decide you want to try it,” he said. “It’s always scary the first time, but there’s nothing to be afraid of here. The water’s deep, but we’re close enough to shore that we can swim back safely, and the current isn’t overpowering.”

She looked up at him, still folded in his arms, her eyes filled with emotion. “Jumping off a cliff doesn’t scare me,” she said. “I know that might sound strange. But you were right, Jack! I was never going to learn to relax from a book. I need to try new things, and I need a thrill. I’m the kind of person who relaxes by finding excitement—not by sitting in a quiet room meditating. But before coming to Hawaii I never realized that about myself because my whole life has been about studying. I never even had a chance to experience an adrenaline rush until I started working in the ER. I don’t think I ever realized that that’s what I love about medicine: the excitement, the unpredictability, having to think quickly. At least, I didn’t realize it until I met you.”

Jack wondered if Kat could feel his heart beating underneath his shirt. He’d pulled her to him and she hadn’t pulled away. She was still resting in his arms, her head against his chest, as though she belonged there. As though she wanted to be there. As though whatever was between the two of them wasn’t about being friends, or having a physical relationship with no emotions.

She held him as though she wanted him.

She held him the same way he was holding her.

“I’m not scared of jumping off a cliff, Jack,” she continued. “Why would I be? I trust you. But I’ll tell you what I really am scared of.” She locked her eyes with his. “I’m scared of the two of us hiding from how we really feel about each other.”

And then she was kissing him, her lips seeking his with ardent desire, and he found himself kissing her back just as passionately, his tongue desperate to explore every last corner of her mouth and his arms pressing her against his body, right where she belonged.

Some time later their kisses became shorter and softer, until they simply held each other close, their foreheads pressed together.

“What do you think?” he said. “Should we take the leap?”

She looked over the cliff. “The relationship leap or the actual leap?”

“Both,” he said.

“I want to, but I’m not sure I know how,” she said.

He held her close. “I think there’s only one way to do it,” he said. “Take a running start, hold hands, and jump together.”

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Escape with a Romance! (Part 1)

We all know that romance offers an escape from the everyday.  Because no matter how good the everyday is, a little escape is great too!  So we asked our Medical Authors to recommend one book from their backlists.  We’ll be publishing more recommendations in the future, and to start we have Susan Carlisle and Amy Andrews.  Enjoy!

Amy Andrews

XmasMiracle CoverHer knight in shining leathers!

Trinity Walker has learned the hard way to stand on her own two feet for her sick son Oscar. But, when ex–army surgeon Reid Hamilton walks into her life and offers her a job and a home, she can’t refuse!

He might ruffle her feathers, but Trinity can’t help falling for this knight in motorbike leathers. Reid never expected this little family to bring such sparkle into his cynical life, but now he’ll do whatever it takes to give Trinity the love she deserves this Christmas!

Buy link – Amazon

Why recommend?

I was super thrilled that A Christmas Miracle was a finalist in the prestigious RITA award in 2018 – my first time finalling after many years of entering. I didn’t win but just being up there in Denver with all those other amazing books was such a buzz. Both Trinity and Reid were very real characters to me. Both so deserving of a HEA and it was my pleasure to give it to them!

Susan Carlisle

SheikFrom shy Cinderella…

To convenient princess!

For sensible Dr. Laurel Martin, heading up a new lab for royal doc Sheikh Tariq Al Marktum is the chance to conduct the study of a lifetime. But to protect Laurel from the scandal her presence in his palace will cause, Tariq has his own condition—a paper marriage! Swept into his desert kingdom, passion overtakes the convenient couple, but can Laurel find her place in Tariq’s world—and his heart?

Buy link – Amazon

Why recommend?

I recommend my book The Sheikh Doc’s Marriage Bargain. It’s a complete escape from the realities of real life. Who wouldn’t want to go to a beautiful island in the middle of the Mediterranean with a super intelligent and handsome prince who lives in a palace? This is one of my favorite love stories and in it I also get to share information about living with hemophilia. There’s also horses and a night in a tent.