Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Playing it Safe, by Amy Andrews

For this Friday’s feature spot, we’re thrilled to bring you an excerpt from Amy Andrews’ first MM romance.  It’s book number seven in Amy’s Sydney Smoke Rugby series, and we won’t detain you any further, because we know you’ll be wanting to scroll down to admire the cover and read the excerpt!

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Donovan Bane loves playing rugby for the Sydney Smoke. And if that means he has to keep his sexuality a secret, that’s a sacrifice he’s prepared to make. At least until after he retires, anyway. He doesn’t want to be the first pro rugby player in Australia to officially come out while still playing. The team doesn’t need the media shit storm and he’d rather be known for his footy skills. Which means no dating, no relationships, no sex. Nothing but playing ball.

Until one man suddenly changes everything…

Beckett Stanton is out and proud—and not looking for a guy who isn’t. Been there, done that, complete disaster. Unfortunately, on the first day of his new job working for the Sydney Smoke, he locks eyes with Donovan Bane and he’s a goner. Big, gruff, and athletic isn’t usually Beck’s type, but for some reason this man is ticking all his boxes. And it’s clear the feeling is mutual. It’s also clear that Donovan is not out, and doesn’t plan to be anytime soon. Still, Beck can’t resist being the man to show Donovan everything he’s been missing.

For the first time, Donovan doesn’t play it safe and allows himself to indulge in things with Beck he knows he can’t have. But when their relationship gets serious, he knows he has to choose between the career he loves and the man he loves, because how can he possibly have both?

Playing it Safe is available now from Amazon, Amazon Australia, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, Barnes and Noble, Apple iBooks and Kobo.

Excerpt

“I’m sorry.” Beckett raked a hand through his hair. Maybe that’s why it looked so tousled. “I…don’t know why I’m here.”

Donovan’s heart rate slowed at the genuine note of confusion in his voice. His blood thickened to sludge, adding to the heat in his system. “Okay.”

“I told myself I’d stay away.” His brow furrowed, his eyes earnest in appeal as if needing Donovan to understand something he didn’t understand himself. “To give you space.”

“Okay.”

“I even went out last night with some friends so I wouldn’t come here. But tonight I just…found myself in my car and then I was…here.”

Donovan swallowed against the parchment dry tissues of his throat. “Okay.” The loud buzz in his ears was clearly rendering him incapable of wording right now.

Their eyes locked. “You should send me away.”

Probably. But seeing the usually calm and reasoned Beckett so…undone was sparking little fires in his belly and his thighs and his ass. His breath stuttered to a halt at the twin flares of desire he saw burning in the other man’s eyes. “Okay.”

But he made absolutely no move to do so.

Another beat passed. Two. Then, “Fuck it,” Beckett swore under his breath as he took two steps forward, slid a hand onto Donovan’s nape and kissed him hard.

It took a couple of seconds for Donovan to respond, for all the parts of him to come together, to register the firm mouth, the delicious minty breath, the hot spice of cologne. To realise he was being kissed.

By a man. By Beckett.

It was a busy couple of seconds. But in one pure beat of the heart, it all clicked and he ceded to the probing of Beckett’s tongue against his closed lips, opening to him, every cell straining to the feel of his mouth, to the taste of him, to the smell of him. It filled up Donovan’s senses until he was drowning in sensations.

So this was how it felt to be kissed by a man. Harder, deeper, earthier. Scratchier, bulkier, hairier. Double the testosterone. Triple the hit. Like being part of those YouTube videos, not just an onlooker.

This was what he’d been waiting for. This moment. Nothing had ever felt this right. This natural. This innate. Nothing. Not even rugby.

And it consumed him. Beckett consumed him.

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Reunited by her Twin Revelation by Shelley Rivers

Hello!

It’s been sometime since I last visited the blog. I hope life is being kind and treating you well.

I’m here today to talk about my new release, Reunited by her Twin Revelation. I have to admit that every time I write the title, I burst into the song Reunited by Peaches and Herb. I think I’ve just about driven everyone in the house crazy singing it for the last few months.

Anyway, as the title suggests my hero is about to have his world knocked sideways thanks to a revelation – times two.

Here’s a short extract–

Logan opened the car door. The ache in his chest refused to ease and continued to grow and intensify. Damn emotions. Why couldn’t they just stay stuffed down where he’d shoved them? He didn’t have the time or the inclination to deal with them.

He planned to cut his last remaining ties with England and fly out before the end of the week. Whether he’d return to Malta or head somewhere new he didn’t know.

His eyes shifted to the shop building, his gaze drawn towards the large window and the woman who stood inside. A strange, unfamiliar tingling surfaced from the deep recesses of his stomach, slowly prickling and twisting through his whole body.

Staring harder at the woman, he took in her appearance, slowly moving his gaze over the mustard-yellow top she was wearing to rest on her long blonde hair and strong Nordic features. She looked familiar. Like someone he’d once briefly known – in the physical sense, anyway. A woman who’d tempted him to do unfamiliar and sinful things he’d never tried before. Someone whose sweet, gorgeous body he’d explored intimately during one long night.

Someone whose sweet, kissable and frankly too enticing mouth he still dreamt about all these months later…

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Will the truth finally allow them to be a family?

When a mix-up led Nurse Thurza to falsely believe that Dr Logan had abandoned her and their unborn babies, she said goodbye to him – forever. But, when he returns and their past and the truth begins to unravel, will she let him back in?

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Origin Stories

Sera Taíno: Origin Story

Today we welcome Harlequin Special Edition author, Sera Taíno to our Origin Stories feature.

It’s all my mother’s fault.

When she was a teenager, my mother, together with my entire family, moved to Jersey City, NJ from Puerto Rico. Her first language was Spanish, so her English wasn’t very good. As a result, she struggled in school, which led her to drop out and eventually earn her GED. To improve her language skills, she set herself the task of reading books in English, but as a single mother with two children, money was often tight, so she either borrowed from the library, or went to the used bookstore to buy bags of Harlequin category romances for ten cents each. She could have read anything, but I think she simply loved romance novels so much, she wasn’t going to let a little thing like language get in the way of reading them. She kept only her favorites before trading the other ones in for more.

She always kept those favorites in the bottom drawer of her end table, away from prying eyes. But I was a rather naughty child and the fact that she kept something to herself made me all the more curious to know what she was hiding. So of course, I snuck into this drawer and stole her books.

The moment I started reading those novels, I fell in love with the stories and the characters I found inside. They were so much better than the stories I was assigned to read in school! I was a precocious reader and by the end of elementary school, I was reading at a college level. I might have been too young for some of the themes in those Harlequins but they challenged me as well as entertained me, unconsciously mapping in my brain what I would look for in future stories. I graduated from nicking the books in my mother’s drawer to browsing the ones in her bag to find favorites of my own.

These stories made me incredibly happy. No matter how hard things got for those beloved characters, there was always the promise of a happy ending. Real life rarely works out that way. My mother passed suddenly the summer before my freshman year of high school and I was sent to live with my grandparents. But the romances I’d read all those years before had done their work. They gave me a model for optimism, to hope when things were hopeless. This was my third act break-up, my black moment. But every character I read made it through their crisis to get to something better. I knew somehow that I, too, would survive.

I started to consider writing as a career later in life because it simply did not occur to me that this could be within the realm of possibility. As an adult, I dabbled in poetry and short story writing, but my stories didn’t find a lot of success in writing workshops. They were far too centered on the relationship between characters, and weren’t gritty or experimental enough for my fellow authors. At the time, I had already begun writing fanfiction. Those more positive reader reactions showed me that there was interest in the kind of stories I loved to write. The feedback gave me the motivation to believe that I might be able to write something of my own, something that people outside of fandom could read as well.

I wrote many short romances and novels that were not great, but those stories were a means to an end. I learned through failure. I took writing classes to learn the craft of romance writing and became mindful of the writing process as I taught others to write in my chosen profession as a high school teacher. For years, I wrote and submitted, getting rejection after rejection, until my stories began finding homes in anthologies and collections.

And then the Harlequin Mentorship came around and everything changed! I was given the opportunity to learn, from beginning to end, all the elements of how a romance novel is brought from proposal all the way to publication. I was assigned a wonderful, patient editor who helped me develop as a writer and a professional. I learned to edit down an unwieldy manuscript and make it fit the requirements for a category. I even drafted a second novel with the category in mind, putting into practice what I learned.

I can’t even describe what it means to have that kind of insight. So much of what happens in publishing is usually hidden from new writers so this mentorship has been a gift to someone like me who had absolutely no clue. It was like coming full circle. The girl who scrabbled through her mother’s Harlequin romances became the woman who wrote them. Who would’ve thought?

And now, my first book with Harlequin Special Edition, A Delicious Dilemma, will be in stores September, 2021. Like my dedication says, I think my mother would have liked this one.

Excerpt: A Delicious Dilemma

The truth was, he invited Val to the fundraiser because he wanted to spend time with her. Take her on another quasi date. Watch her glee as she tasted all the delightful things his mother had likely planned for the dinner. Have an excuse to dress up and dance badly with her and hear her make a joke or observation about something he wouldn’t have dreamed of seeing the way she did. No wonder he’d vomited his feelings all over her.

She’d been so stunned, she’d had nothing to say in return.

She’d accepted the invitation anyway, because it would serve her purpose. She had always been clear about what her motivation was for engaging with him ever since she’d found out who he was. Unlike him, she’d never lied.

So when he drove up to her building and stepped out to ring her doorbell the night of the fundraiser, there was no reason for his stomach to be twisted in knots. He had no reason to worry about his appearance, which even he had to admit was pretty damned impeccable. And there was absolutely no reason for his heart to be pounding as if it were going to leap out of his chest and run off into the night. That was not what he was here for.

Except that when the metallic buzz of Val’s doorbell reverberated within, and the fluorescent bulb in the corridor flared to life like a clutch of fireflies, he felt like it was prom night all over again. He stepped back when the door opened, the light illuminating her from behind, and his capacity for flimsy rationalizations disappeared. Words gnarled in his throat and all that came out was, “Wow.”

Val turned away, hiding a small smile. The green fabric drew light from the earthy undertones of her skin, making her appear illuminated from within. Her curls, the ones he wished he could bury his fingers in, were neatly tucked up, two perfect ones dangling like strings of dark pearls around her face, exposing a long neck bedecked by her ever-present rosary. His eyes raked over her, unable to find a place to rest because every single part of her demanded his attention.

“Val,” he said, her name an ache in the middle of his chest. He lost all track of his heart—maybe it had already left his body.

She took a step toward him, stumbling on her golden heels, and was suddenly in his arms.

“I got you.” He hadn’t held her since they’d last danced together, and in his opinion, in his arms was right where she needed to be. Nothing had changed since that first time except how much he wanted her, a need that was growing to unbearable proportions.

“It’s like a movie,” she said, her words suffused with that hint of humor she wasn’t afraid to turn on herself. “Girl undergoes transformation, girl almost falls on her face. Boy catches her.”

“What happens afterward?”

She straightened, smoothing out the nonexistent wrinkles of her dress. “If the writers are fair, the boy would fall, as well.”

No problem there. This boy had already fallen.

Preorder your copy and receive a bonus! Just screenshot/forward preorder receipts via email to seraspromos@gmail.com, and I will send you Sabor de Casa, an exclusive recipe book, courtesy of the Navarro Family Restaurant. Includes 10 recipes for dishes mentioned in the novel, with detailed instructions on how to prepare them as well as a few snippets of Val’s opinion. Because she has opinions. So many opinions.⁠

https://books2read.com/u/mvqP7X

Debut romance author Sera Taíno was selected for Harlequin’s Romance Includes You Mentorship, an initiative launched in 2019 to reach out to diverse communities of writers and bring more own voices stories to romance readers. For more information on this initiative, click here.

She is also the author of several short contemporary romances, including her latest, “The Other Half,” in the Friends to Lovers: A Steamy Romance Anthology Vol 2 (Romancing The Tropes) and “Oil and Vinegar,” part of the A More Perfect Union: A Voting-Themed Romance Benefit Anthology. All proceeds benefit Fair Fight, a national voting rights organization based in Georgia.

Her debut, #ownvoices novel, A Delicious Dilemma, is scheduled for publication with Harlequin Romance Special Edition in September 2021.

When she is not writing, she can usually be found teaching, traveling, or wrangling her family.

Be sure to sign up for her Mailing List to stay up to date on future publications.

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Some Exciting News!

We’ve heard some exciting news, and we’d like to help spread it around!  The Lights on Knockbridge Lane by Roan Parrish is Harlequin’s first ever gay romance novel in a series line, and will be published in October 2021.  In the meantime, if you want to know more about Roan Parrish’s writing, her favourite romance tropes, and what’s on her must read/watch list, check out her author interview on the Write for Harlequin website.

The Lights on Knockbridge Lane is the third book in the Garnet Run miniseries.  Books one and two in the series, Better than People and Best Laid Plans are available now from Carina Press, and you can find them here.   Don’t you just love this gorgeous cover!

y404-1Can one man’s crowded, messy life fill another man’s empty heart?

Raising a family was always Adam Mills’ dream, although solo parenting and moving back to tiny Garnet Run certainly were not. After a messy breakup, Adam is doing his best to give his young daughter the life she deserves—including accepting help from their new, reclusive neighbor to fulfill her Christmas wish.

Though the little house may not have “the most lights ever,” the Mills home begins to brighten as handsome Wes Mobray spends more time there and slowly sheds his protective layers. But when the eye-catching house ends up in the news, Wes has to make a choice: hide from the darkness of his unusual past or embrace the light of a future—and a family—with Adam.

From Harlequin Special Edition: Believe in love. Overcome obstacles. Find happiness.

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Friends to Lovers!

Here at Love is the Best Medicine, we love tropes!  So we’ve been asking our Medical Romance authors to tell us their favourite tropes, and to choose one of their own books as an example.  We’re starting with Friends to Lovers, and Ann McIntosh and Annie Claydon have given us their thoughts…

Ann McIntosh

One of my favourite tropes has always been friends-to-lovers.  There’s just something so delicious about two people who, having known each other for a while – and knowing where a lot of the secrets lie – suddenly start seeing each other in a different light.  Whether it’s when one party has been in love with the other for years, or the pair have simply been buddies, that moment when things change does it for me every time.

Ann has chosen her book Best Friend to Royal Bride 

y404Sometimes the deepest desire…

…is the one you’ve hidden the longest.

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

 

Annie Claydon

Best Friends can say anything to each other, right?  Or maybe not quite anything…  I love the dynamic between friends who suddenly discover that there could be more to their relationship, and who don’t quite know what to do with that realisation.

Annie has chosen her book Best Friend to Royal Bride

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When two friends break the rules…

…the consequences are irresistible!

Best friends Marie and Alex have been inseparable since medical school. Until one impulsive kiss changes everything…and Alex reveals his long-kept secret: he’s king of an exiled royal family. Marie knows she doesn’t belong in Alex’s privileged world but now neither can deny their unexpected and intense connection. And Marie must decide if she can risk it all to stay in Alex’s arms…as his queen.

Excerpts, Guest Blogs, Origin Stories

Origin Story: Kathy Douglass

Today we welcome Harlequin Special Edition author, Kathy Douglass to our Origin Stories feature.

Books have always been an important part of my life. I remember as a kid my mother reading Hop on Pop and Go Dog, Go to me and my siblings. I loved those times. But as much as I enjoyed having a book read to me, I loved being able to read to myself. I loved the freedom of being able to escape into the pages of a book whenever I wanted. And let me tell you, that was quite often. 

Our house was filled with books. I’m talking floor to ceiling, two books high and two books deep bookshelves. We had boxes of books in the attic as well as the basement. When I was a kid, I “found” age-appropriate books on the dining room table or the piano bench. I was an adult before I realized that my parents were actually leaving the books out for me (and my brothers and sisters) to read. 

As I got older, I began to go through the boxes in the attic and basement. I found some of my older brother’s Hardy Boys and some of my older sister’s Bobbsey Twins and became an instant fan of both. But it never occurred to me that I could actually write books of my own. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I even considered writing. 

The first time I thought of writing, I was on vacation with my best friend. As the plane was landing at the airport, I remember wishing I had a pen and paper so I could describe what I was feeling. And then a story formed in my mind. I told my friend about it and she agreed that it sounded intriguing. And then we went on with our vacation.

Fast forward a few years and I’m a mother with two small children. I had an idea for a story and once more told my best friend about it. She reminded me that I had talked about writing a book all those years ago.  I had forgotten. Somehow in the busyness of life, I had forgotten my dream. Well, this time I was determined that I wasn’t going to let my dream vanish without even attempting to make it a reality.

In the beginning finding the time and energy to write was hard. My responsibilities hadn’t vanished just because I had renewed my interest in writing. I bought some spiral notebooks and when my kids were in preschool or napping, I wrote some really horrible romances. And then one day, my husband surprised me with a computer. He said if I was going to be an author, I needed the proper tools. 

His faith in me sustained me when the rejection letters piled up. “The next book will be the one,” he’d say.

Eventually his prediction came true. 

My first book with Harlequin Special Edition, How to Steal the Lawman’s Heart, was published in February, 2017. Since then, I have published many more books with them. My latest, Redemption on Rivers Ranch, will be in stores on May, 25.

Excerpt: Redemption on Rivers Ranch

Lights were blazing in the house. No one was supposed to be there.

Carson considered calling the sheriff but decided against it. Only the world’s worst criminal would turn on every light in the house. He’d assess the situation and go from there.

Pulling into the driveway, he noticed an SUV with out-of-state license plates. Mrs. Johnson had given him a key to the house, so he headed up onto the porch, opened the door and stepped inside.

Whoever was inside had made themselves at home. They’d dropped suitcases by the stairs leading to the upstairs bedrooms. Music was blaring from the back of the house. Someone was singing at the top of her lungs. The fact that she was nowhere in the vicinity of the right key didn’t stop her from singing with gusto. Her attempt to hit a high note pierced his ears and propelled him forward if only to save his hearing.

A child laughed.

What in the world was going on here?

Carson stepped into the kitchen. A woman and girl of about seven were dancing around the old Formica table, trying to convince a boy who looked about ten to join them. The boy was leaning against the sink, his arms folded over his chest, clearly uninterested in participating in the revelry. The woman laughed and the sound struck a chord inside Carson, stirring a distant memory inside him. He silenced the echo, focusing on the matter at hand.

The intruders were so wrapped up in each other that they hadn’t noticed him. He twisted the knob on Mrs. Johnson’s ancient radio, silencing the music.

The woman spun around, then pushed herself in front of the girl. “Who are you and what are you doing here?” 

By rights Carson should be the one asking questions. “I’m the owner’s neighbor. Who are you?”

The woman stepped closer, sizing him up. She studied his face for so long that she could have been searching for an answer to life’s mysteries. After a long moment, she smiled. “Carson?”

He nodded and looked at her more carefully. The coffee-colored eyes danced with mischief. It couldn’t be. Fifteen years had passed since his friend had visited. But looking closer at her beautiful face with clear light brown skin, high cheekbones and full lips, he knew it was her. “Gabriella?”

She launched herself at him, squeezing him in a tight hug. “It’s been years.” 

“Yes, it has.” He’d been invited to her wedding years ago, but hadn’t attended. Carson hugged her briefly, then stepped back and forced himself to ignore the way his body reacted to the contact.   

Holding Gabriella had felt like sticking his finger into a live electric socket. And when they ended the hug, his blood was still humming. He smothered the response. He might be the son of a killer, but he’d never hit on married women. He wouldn’t start with his childhood friend.

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Kathy is a born reader who as a child always had her nose in a book. That love of reading grew with her and she went from reading Bobbsey Twins to long romance novels. Then she started law school and her reading was limited to legal opinions. One day she discovered Harlequin romance novels. They were a perfect fit for her busy life. She could complete her required reading and enjoy a romance novel. 

When her first child was born, Kathy stopped practicing law to become a stay at home mom. Her second child followed nineteen months later. With two little ones in the house, reading suddenly became limited to children’s books. 

All too soon her children were attending pre-school two hours a day. She spent those few precious moments renewing her relationship with romance novels. After a while she felt the urge to write the stories she wanted to read – sweet, small-town contemporary romances featuring African American characters. 

Kathy’s first book was published with Harlequin Special Edition in 2017. Since then, she’s published nine additional books and one short online read with Harlequin. When she’s not writing, Kathy enjoys spending time with her family.

Guest Blogs, Origin Stories

How a Love of Reading Turned into a Career

Today we welcome a special guest, Harlequin Romance author, Therese Beharrie, to our Origin Stories feature.

The first time my mother took me to a library, I was shocked. I had already loved reading, so the shelves of books were a dream come true. There were so. many. books. As I worked my way through them, I discovered my favourite parts were always romantic. If there was no romance, or the romance, in my opinion, was inadequate, I would make it up. (That’s how Nancy Drew and Ned ended up married with three children, all of whom shared their mother’s inquisitive nature, in my head.) By the time my cousin slipped me my first Mills & Boon—when I was much too young to read them—she was introducing me to a genre I had already fallen in love with, albeit unknowingly.

I don’t know at what point that love turned into a desire to write romance. All I know was that for as long as I can remember, that’s what I wanted to do. In my final year at university, I realised that if I was serious about this dream, I needed to see if I could actually write. In the same year, I discovered the Harlequin So You Think You Can Write competition. It felt like fate, so for the first time in my life, I tried my hand at a writing a full-length romance novel.

And finished the worst thing I’ve ever written.

(At least, so I hope.)

The first chapter was in good enough shape to enter the competition though, and I made it through to the second round. I didn’t win, but I got the attention of an editor. She was the same editor who reached out after I entered the following year’s competition. We worked together to make my entry worthy of a publication contract with Mills & Boon, and here I am, five years and nineteen books later.

I’d tell any aspiring author to never give up on their dreams. It doesn’t matter how unlikely you think becoming published is—the chances are almost always higher than you think. You only need to take a chance on yourself.

Because if you don’t, who will?

Image of Therese Beharrie

Therese Beharrie is a South African romance author of several acclaimed novels, including her One Day to Forever series. She takes pride in writing diverse characters and settings, and her books are often recommended for their heart and banter. She lives in Cape Town with her husband, her inspiration for every hero, and two adorable baby boys.

You can find her on TwitterFacebookInstagram, and Bookbub, or catch up with her on her writing blog. You can also learn more about her in the following interviews: TygerburgerCapeTalk, and TimesLive.

She publishes with Harlequin Romance, Carina Press, and Kensington, and is represented by Courtney Miller-Callihan at Handspun Literary.

Guest Blogs, Origin Stories

Life is What You Make it

Today we welcome Harlequin Special Edition author Nina Crespo to our Origin Stories feature.

Visit Nina’s Harlequin page to see all her books!

Life is what you make it—write your own story.

I was recently asked in an interview, “What would be the first song on the soundtrack to your life?” My answer, “La Vida es un Carnival” (Life is a Carnival) by Celia Cruz.

I can truly relate to the song, especially this part (translation from Spanish to English):

All those who believe life is unfair, needs to know that’s not the case. That life is beautiful, we have to live it! Anyone that thinks they are alone and that it’s unfulfilling, needs to know that’s not the case. That in life, no one is alone; there’s always someone!

https://lyricstranslate.com

Those lyrics are even more relevant to me now that I’m packing my life into boxes. Again. I’ve made over a dozen major moves in my adult life—from the southwest to the northeast to attend college, military PCS (permanent change of station) moves to installations in the States and overseas, a few cross-state transfers causing us to live in two homes to accommodate my and my husband’s careers, and cross-town relocations to new homes. Moving is as familiar to me as breathing. Sometimes, it’s been stressful, overwhelming, or even sad. But like the lyrics of the song, it’s also been beautiful. I’ve discovered new places and created spaces that felt like home and made new friends. Each experience is like starting the first chapter in a book.

My love of reading comes from my mother who was also a military spouse. She viewed every move as wonderful adventure (I’d post a picture of her, but all of my photo albums are packed away, and I don’t have any good ones of her on my phone). She was a teacher who chose to become a stay-at-home mom. Some of my earliest memories are of her engrossed in the local newspaper, Ebony magazine, a book, or an encyclopedia, reading about places around the world. She also read me bedtime stories, but as soon as I was able, she had me read my books aloud to her. Cinderella, The Tortoise and The Hare, Little Red Riding Hood, and Stone Soup—I not only learned to love words but also the escape a book could provide.

Eventually, I graduated to Nancy Drew Mysteries, but things completely changed for me while putting away my older sister’s laundry a.k.a snooping through her bedroom. She had a couple of Harlequin romance novels in her dresser drawer. I “borrowed” one and read it. From there, I was hooked. Enemies to lovers, marriages of convenience, love against the odds, as well as unforgettable adventures, loyal friends, and family saga dramas, all in places I’d yet to visit. Romance books were one of the things that inspired me to leave home and travel.

Very important box!

Back then, I certainly didn’t envision moving over a dozen times. I also never imagined I would pack a box of Harlequin romance novels with my name on them. But Mom and Celia Cruz are right—moving is an adventure, life is beautiful, and as my husband and I move into our new place, I’m looking forward to starting another chapter in our lives and writing my next book.

***

Nina Crespo lives in Florida where she indulges in her favorite passions — the beach, a good glass of wine, date night with her own real-life hero and dancing.

Her lifelong addiction to romance began in her teens while on a “borrowing spree” in her older sister’s bedroom where she discovered her first romance novel.

Nina’s sensual contemporary stories and steamy paranormal tales satisfy a reader’s craving for love, romance, and happily ever after. Her work has been published by Harlequin, Pocket Books, Kensington, and Entangled Publishing.

Stay connected with Nina on InstagramFacebookTwitter or through her newsletter.

Excerpts, Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Excerpt – Healing her Emergency Doc, by Caroline Anderson

Hi, all!

It’s that time again, and my new book, Healing Her Emergency Doc, is out now!  So excited to see it in print, and even though it’s my 103rd, that excitement never fades.

But before you launch into the little taster below, if you haven’t already read it there’s a fabulous opportunity to snap up my previous book, Tempted by the Single Mom, over on Amazon US for a knockdown price! There’s a link here to an excerpt, too.

Happy reading!

Caroline xxx

x500_deeed33a-08b2-4731-bb3a-ca5e8b26fa38_360x‘Laura?

The voice was deep, soft, and weirdly familiar. She hadn’t heard it for years, but it still made her heart tumble in her chest.

No. It can’t be

But her heart was doing a little jig behind her ribs as if it knew better, and she felt suddenly dizzy and light-headed.

Don’t be ridiculous. It’s just low blood sugar. Or interview nerves. And anyway, it won’t be him. Not here…

Slowly, reluctantly, she looked up and met those totally unforgettable slate grey eyes. Eyes that had teased, and laughed, and—just that once—burned for her.

But not now. Right now they looked a little stunned. She knew how that felt.

What’s he doing here?

The interview? No—but why else would he be wearing a suit? And if he was in the running, she was scuppered. He was too good—too convincing, and the interview panel would fall for it, just like they all did. Like she had.

Almost… But she hadn’t made it easy for him.

She’d turned him down over and over again, but he wasn’t a quitter, so it had turned into a game. He’d ask, she’d say no.

It had taken him five years, but at the Leavers’ Ball he’d had one last go, cranked up the charm to full volume, and he’d almost convinced her to go home with him. Almost.

She hadn’t seen him since that night, but just remembering it made her squirm. Awkward wasn’t in it.

Please don’t bring it up.

Surely he wouldn’t, not here. Maybe he wouldn’t. He was smiling at her now, the warm, effortlessly sexy smile that had always made her stomach turn over and her heart beat a little faster. So that hadn’t changed, then.

Why aren’t I over you?

Her breath locked in her throat, and she dredged up what was probably a very unconvincing smile and found her voice at last. ‘Tom. What are you doing here?’

Stupid, inane question.

His mouth quirked, his smile wry now.

‘Do I really need to answer that?’

She rolled her eyes. ‘Probably not.’

He gave a soft huff of laughter, and dropped casually into the seat next to hers, and she shifted slightly away from him, because the scent drifting from his body brought back memories she would rather have forgotten.

‘So, how are you?’ he asked, and she swallowed.

‘I’m OK. Busy.’ At least it wasn’t a lie, although she’d be more OK if she could land this job in the Emergency Department she’d been working in for months, and he’d just messed that up for her. ‘How about you?’

‘Oh, I’m good,’ he said. ‘Busy, of course, like you, but it goes with the territory, I guess. So what have you been up to since uni? Presumably not married with three kids if you’re going after a senior post.’

‘No, no kids, I’m still single. How about you? Did you finally settle down?’ she asked, to shift the conversation away from herself, and then regretted showing the slightest sign of curiosity. Not that she didn’t want to know…

But his mouth tightened into what could barely be called a smile and those incredibly expressive eyes went blank.

‘Oh, you know me, I’m a free spirit,’ he said, his voice light and breezy and oddly unconvincing as he glanced away.

There was a whole world left unsaid, but he clearly didn’t want to discuss it. Because he’d just come out of a messy relationship, too? She could understand that. She didn’t want to talk about hers, either. They were both allowed their privacy, but it must have been pretty bad, because the Tom she knew would never leave London without a very good reason.

‘So, where are you working now?’ he asked, lobbing the ball firmly back into her court, but she wasn’t about to tell him, so she stuck to the bare bones of the truth.

‘Nowhere permanent at the moment. I’ve been doing a bit of locuming for a while.’

He frowned. ‘That doesn’t sound like you. I thought you always wanted security?’

Trust him to get straight to the heart of it. She slapped on a smile and kept her voice deliberately light and airy as he’d done. ‘I do, but I never had a gap year, so why not? But it’s been nearly a year now, so it’s probably time to get back to focusing on my career.’

‘So is that what this is about, this interview? Getting back on track?’

‘Pretty much,’ she said, wondering when being economical with the truth morphed into a lie. ‘Plus I need to earn a living and having a regular income is quite handy like that.’

He chuckled, suddenly looking more like the Tom she remembered, his eyes crinkling at the corners. They’d always done that, and she hated the effect it was having on her. That it had always had on her.

The meeting room door opened and James, the ED clinical lead, ushered the first candidate out and looked round. ‘Thomas Stryker?’

‘Good luck,’ she said mechanically, and he got to his feet.

‘You know you don’t mean that,’ he murmured with a wry smile tugging at his ridiculously beautiful mouth, and turned towards James, the smile widening.

‘Hi. I’m Tom.’

‘James Slater. Come on in, Tom.’

The door to the meeting room closed behind them, and she stared at it, her shoulders slumping in despair.

He’ll get it. He’s bound to. Why didn’t I do more interview prep? For all the difference it’ll make, with him in the running.

That would teach her to take things for granted. She looked at the other two candidates. She might have stood a chance against them, but now…

Now, there was Tom, always smiling, always up for whatever challenge/opportunity/pretty girl/party presented itself. He’d aced his medical degree, presumably sailed through the early years of Foundation training and after another five years was now a prime candidate for the vacant senior SpR post in the ED at Yoxburgh Park Hospital. The role she’d hoped would be hers, the job she’d been told by James Slater to apply for, because it had her name written all over it.

Well, so it might have had, but James hadn’t met Tom then, of course, and Tom had that way of convincing people that they wanted all sorts of things that in their right minds they wouldn’t contemplate—although thankfully her common sense had rescued her from that particular catastrophe.

The door opened again, and her head snapped up. She could hear him laughing, hear the smile in his voice as he thanked them, almost smell the success on him as he walked confidently out of the room and took his seat again beside her.

‘You look happy,’ she said, forcing a smile, and he grinned.

‘Well, I got through to the second round, so I’m not unhappy,’ he said softly, and then studied her searchingly, his brows pleating together. ‘Are you OK?’

‘Of course.’ She looked away before he could read the lie in her eyes. ‘It’s just a little—awkward. It’s the last place I would have expected you to look for a job.’

She could feel him still studying her, his eyes boring through into her brain, trying to read her mind.

‘It’s not that that’s bugging you. It’s us.’

‘There is—was—no us.’

The soft huff of his laugh drifted across her skin, teasing her nerve endings.

‘No, there wasn’t, was there? And you’re still feeling guilty about that,’ he murmured slowly, and she could hear the laughter in his voice.

‘Why should I feel guilty?’ she muttered, and she felt her skin tingle as he laughed again. She could feel him studying her intently, and she had to force herself to sit still.

‘You tell me.’ His voice dropped another notch and the laughter disappeared. ‘Why did you run away?’

Really? Here and now? Because she was so not going into it here.

‘I didn’t—’

‘Laura Kemp?’

Saved. Bless James and his timing. She leapt to her feet.

‘Good luck.’

He really didn’t mean it, either. He was only being polite, just as she’d been, but she thanked him anyway and walked towards James, her legs oddly wobbly and James’s smile of encouragement not really working, because he was only part of a panel and they had to go for the best person for the job.

Had to. And it wouldn’t be her. Not in a million years, not with Tom in the line-up, but she wasn’t going down without a fight. No way. If he got this job over her, it was going to be because he’d earned it, not because she’d given it away.

She straightened her spine, pinned on her best game face and walked into the interview with her head held high.

Guest Blogs, Origin Stories, The Writing Life

My Hero Origin Story

(Today we welcome guest USA Today bestselling author Naima Simone, talking about where she gets the inspiration for her heroes)

Very recently, my mother-in-love (not mother-in-law, ‘cause I luvs me some her!) asked me a question: Do you read anything besides romance? And let me put this out there, she wasn’t asking it to be ugly. Because my mom-in-love has read every single one of my books, owns almost all the print copies and they occupy a special place on her bookshelf. She was genuinely curious. I answered her honestly. I do read some mystery thrillers—Lisa Gardner is the ish!—but for the most part, I’m a romance reader. There’s so much variety in romance that I can find it all there. Comedy. Suspense. Sci-fi. Historical. Horror. Contemporary. Paranormal. And of course. Love.

I freely admit it. I’m in love with love.

From the time my mother read me my first fairy tale, I’ve been completely enamored with love and everything it entails. The falling into it. The pitfalls of it. The dysfunction of it. The joys and pain of it. The edification and complications of it. The heroines and heroes.

Especially those heroes.

Because the heroes are my romance origin story.

Now, I have a confession. My first books and stories? Horrible. Like, hide in a chest, lock it, bury it and order three viciously horned dragons and a puzzle-wielding Sphinx to guard it, horrible. Yeah. That bad. LOL! But the heroes in them shaped the ones I write now. Who were these heroes? So glad you asked.

The first romance I wrote starred Ralph Tresvant, lead singer of the boy band New Edition. Soft voice, romantic and obviously sensitive. I mean, he serenaded women, sooo… And though I nearly killed him off in my book (hey, didn’t I warn you it was terrible?!), my kiss did bring him out of that coma, so it all worked out in the end!

Naima’s notebooks

The next short story featured Oliver from Oliver Twist. He was so cute with his tortured past. Kid has abandonment issues written all over him. And yes, yes, I know, he has a happy ending, but seriously. You know he has serious emotional baggage. And I live for the tortured hero he’s destined to become!

I followed him up with Duke from G.I. Joe. Alpha, strong, honorable, man in control Duke. Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely loved the action and excitement and the whole good vs. evil of the cartoon. But I also obsessively watched for Duke and Scarlett. To see when, and if, they would ever get together. And since they didn’t to my satisfaction, I wrote their story. Over and over again.

Then there was Donnie Wahlberg from New Kids on the Block. Oh Donnie. *sigh* Bad boy. Rebel. A little wild. And from the way he could dance, you know he could…move. Whether he was a member of a boy band or a famous producer, or later, a millionaire, he provided the hero for several of my books and short stories. Including the one the first book I sold.

Naima’s first published novel

Though my writing has evolved—thank goodness!—the leading men in my books are all an amalgamation of my first heroes, my origin heroes. The core of honor, strength and alpha maleness of Duke. The sensitivity of Ralph. The tortured pain and hurt of Oliver. The bad boy wildness of Donnie. Their backgrounds, appearances and stories may change, but the heart of them remain the same.

Author bio:

Published since 2009, USA Today Bestselling author Naima Simone loves writing sizzling romances with heart, a touch of humor and snark. Her books have been featured in The Washington Post and Entertainment Weekly, and described as balancing “crackling, electric love scenes with exquisitely rendered characters caught in emotional turmoil.”

She is wife to Superman, or his non-Kryptonian, less bullet proof equivalent, and mother to the most awesome kids ever. They all live in perfect, sometimes domestically-challenged bliss in the southern United States.