Excerpts, Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Excerpt – Her Secret Miracle by Dianne Drake

We have a treat for you today – an excerpt from Dianne Drake’s new release, ‘Her Secret Miracle’.  Take it away, Dianne!

9781474090018

Bound by their miracle baby

Dr Michi Sato will never forget her passionate night with surgeon Eric Hart—especially as it resulted in her longed-for son. Now his heart condition means Michi must fly to New York for treatment…and tell guarded bachelor Eric he’s a father!

 

 

Chapter One

MICHI SATO LOOKED UP at the massive building, wondering how many stories high it was. She guessed somewhere between twenty-five and thirty, all belonging to Eric and, maybe someday, Riku?

She really hadn’t given Eric’s status much of a thought up until now, and simply seeing his name in gold looming over the massive bank of revolving glass doors caused her stomach to churn. Even as outgoing as she was, she wasn’t up to this. Finding herself so close to Eric now, after all this time, caused too many unanswered questions to come to mind.

Her motivation for that night, his motivation as well. Certainly nothing long term had been meant. They’d both made that clear during pillow talk and foreplay. Then look what had happened. Especially after her doctor had told her only weeks before it was an impossibility. That her condition had gone from bad to abandon all hope.

“I’m so glad he was wrong,” she said, kissing Riku on the cheek. “Mommy hasn’t done everything the best way she could have, but that’s all going to change now.” After Eric knew he had a son. After Riku’s surgery. There were so many things weighing her down now, so much guilt she had to come to terms with, she didn’t know where to begin. But she was here to start a new course. At least, that was what she kept telling herself. New course, new direction, new leaf turned over. It sounded good, but in practice…well, that was the part she wasn’t sure about. But the first step was behind her now, and that was good.

Of course, she’d told herself other things, too, that she’d backed away from, hadn’t she? Namely, not telling Eric he was daddy to her two-year-old. She’d tried, had made futile attempts at calling, texting and using any other means of electronic communication available. Then she’d given up. But that didn’t make things better. In fact, in the long run it would make things worse than she could probably even imagine.

“Mommy’s going to make it all better,” she said. How? She didn’t know. But she’d figure it out.

And now, on the second step of her journey—trying to figure out how to tell him—here she was, looking in Eric’s window, holding his son, and so confused her head was spinning. In just a few days Riku’s long-awaited surgery would take place—a surgery Eric should know about as it had been his specialty when he’d been a practicing surgeon.

Of course, that would have meant telling Eric somewhere along the way that he had a son, then also telling him his son had a heart defect. Neither of which she’d done. Yet. Except the yet part was looming like a black raincloud over her. All the good intentions in the world wouldn’t stop it from bursting and pouring down on her. It was up to her to make the plan that would avoid it—step into a doorway or, in this case, Eric’s office.

But, no. Instead, here she was, like a little girl with her nose to the toy-store window, hoping for the prettiest doll inside. Expecting to get it but fearing she wouldn’t. Expecting Eric to overlook that she’d kept his son from him all this time but fearing he would not forgive her. And in some fragmented way, hoping the three of them could become a family on some level. All while the black cloud was getting closer and closer to bursting.

“Be glad you’re too young to know about responsibilities,” she said to Riku, turning so her body would shield his from the slight gust of warm wind whipping up the streets and down the alleys. “Or how to make something right you’ve already made such a mess of.”

Realistically, she wasn’t counting on things turning out well as far as Eric was concerned. Sure, he could walk away from the entire situation, which didn’t seem at all like the man she’d known for little more than a night. Or he might recognize Riku as his son, then want more of Riku in his life than she was prepared to give him. And that seemed the greater possibility. But would he go so far as try for full custody since she’d hidden his sick child from him for two years? Or argue that she was negligent given how he was an expert in the procedure his son needed to have done?

This was what scared her. And why Eric scared her. He might want more of Riku than she could bear to give up. Now, she feared, she was about to find out just how much, and she wasn’t sure what she’d do once she knew. Wasn’t ready for that, wasn’t ready to face the consequences she’d set into motion, whatever they might be.

Still, she had always to remember this was about Riku, not her. Not even Eric. Right now, her son was the only one who counted, and when she did tell Eric about him, she hoped he would be able to see that was the case. At least until after Riku’s surgery.

“Your daddy’s inside that building, Riku,” she said, turning again so the boy bundled in her arms could look through the window. “He’s a very nice man. And kind. A perfect man to be your father. I know you don’t understand what I’m telling you, but you will someday.”

And she prayed he didn’t hate her when he did understand, even when she’d finally gathered the courage to correct her mistakes long before Riku would be old enough to hate her for what she’d done.

That was another fear she had to live with: the possibility that Riku could turn away from her once he was old enough to know what his mother had done. If that day ever came, well…she wouldn’t think about it. The way she hadn’t thought about other consequences.

So, true to form, she wasn’t going to deal with that now, when she was so confused, so angry at herself, and so afraid for her son’s life. Especially not when every ounce of everything inside her was devoted to Riku and what was ahead for him.

“I wish you could tell me what to do,” she told Riku, snuggling him in even closer to her. “Your mommy didn’t make some wise choices and now she’s very discouraged that what she’s done might touch you in ways I never intended to happen.”

Riku’s response was to reach up and grab Michi’s hair, then giggle.

“Do you know how cute you are?” she asked, trying to extricate herself from his playful grip. This child was her world, nothing else mattered. And it still surprised her how much she’d changed in such a short time. “OK, so you’re not going to answer me. But take my word for it, you’re the cutest little boy ever.”

It was a mild November day, the sun was bright, the slight gusts of wind warm enough that people had taken off their jackets to enjoy the unexpected rise in temperature. But Michi tucked Riku’s little fist into the blanket in which he was wrapped. So maybe she was overprotective. What of it? She’d had so much difficulty bringing him into this world.

She’d lost count of how many times she’d almost lost him before his birth; didn’t know how long she’d been hospitalized to prevent a miscarriage early on and a stillbirth later. It had been such a struggle, then afterwards a beautiful baby boy…with a heart defect. All of it had been so much to deal with, the hysterectomy after Riku’s birth being the least of her concerns. That mess with the social worker calling her unfit had been traumatic. So, if she wanted to be overprotective, she had good cause.

In her defense, she’d tried contacting Eric early on, but the information on him from the seminar had been old, and she’d refused to ask her aunt to forward information on to him as that would have revealed her pregnancy long before she’d wanted to. So, she’d put it off. Had promised herself she’d do it later. But later had brought her pregnancy difficulties, then a sick baby, outside complications…too many “laters” had added up until she’d known she’d passed the point of reasonability. All that, plus she simply hadn’t been coping. One step at a time. That was all she had been able to manage. One difficult, often heartbreaking step at a time.

Still, she had always intended to find Eric at some point, maybe when Riku was through the worst of it. Or maybe when she wasn’t so consumed by guilt and confusion and strange emotions she couldn’t even identify.

Even with all the mistakes she’d made, though, look what she had. The world. Riku was the whole world to her. And now, as she hugged him and stood looking into the Hart building, the urgency to make this right was pounding at her. “He’s in there somewhere,” she said, hoping yet not hoping to catch a glimpse of Eric. “Anyway, it’s silly standing out here, not sure what I’d do if I did see him,” she said to her son. “Besides, look who’s here.”

She twisted so Riku could see his great-aunt walking with outstretched arms to greet them. Riku stretched his arms out to her as well.

“Just what we need,” Agnes Blaine said. “A whole afternoon to spoil my nephew.”

Michi laughed. “Not too much spoiling, I hope.”

Takumi, Agnes’s partner of twenty-five years and Michi’s uncle, stepped to Agnes’s side. “That would be between Riku and us.” He bent over and kissed his nephew. “And maybe the clerk in the toy store.”

Michi loved these people. They’d been there for her at the end of her pregnancy, then through some of Riku’s early tests. And they were part of the small circle of family she’d trusted enough to let them care for Riku for a few hours, or even a full day.

“The amount of spoiling we bestow upon our nephew is a personal matter,” Agnes teased, looking up at the gold embossing over the building: Eric Hart Property Management. “You haven’t…?”

Michi shook her head, then stepped back. Agnes and Takumi knew to leave it alone. Her whole family did. Yes, everybody knew Eric Hart was Riku’s father, but it was not a topic anyone ever discussed. At least, not in front of Michi. “He’s just up from his nap, so he should be good for a while. And I shouldn’t be gone long.” Just long enough to spend some time alone, to think.

“We’ll be back home when you get there,” Takumi said, pulling Michi into his arms. “Be patient with yourself,” he said. “Everything will be as it’s meant to be.”

And, in the blink of an eye, she was alone on the sidewalk in front of Eric’s building. It was the first step. And her second step would take her inside.

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Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

First and Last – A celebration of Harlequin’s 70 years in publishing!

This year marks the 70th year in publishing for Harlequin – if you haven’t seen the celebration posts on the Harlequin blog yet, here’s the link.  For cover lovers everywhere, check out their Cover Art Retrospective.

And what better way to help celebrate than with our own covers.  We’ve all seen them change over the years and we’ve gathered a few firsts together from our Medical Romance authors, along with some later releases to compare them with.

Emily Forbes:  A first cover from 2004 (time flies!), and Emily’s latest release.  Aren’t they beautiful!

 

Susan Carlisle:  Susan’s first and most recent covers are very different but both tug at the heartstrings.

 

Two firsts from Lynne Marshall and Annie O’Neil.  Who can resist Lynne’s gorgeous Dad and Baby, and Annie’s wonderful snow kiss?

 

Annie Claydon:  The couple featured in Annie’s first cover made a welcome reappearance in her 9th, but the covers are very different!

 

Amy Ruttan:  Two more similar images, but very different covers!  Which do you like best?

 

Traci Douglass:  Traci’s first and most recent covers show subtle changes in design, but it’s difficult to stop looking at either of them.

Excerpts, Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Celebrating Caroline Anderson’s 100th book – ‘A Single Dad to Heal her Heart’

Well, it’s finally here, the publication of my 100thbook!!!! And for anyone who knows my books and has been loyal enough to read them for the last 28 years, there’s a little surprise in store, because my heroine, Livvy, is the daughter of my first hero and heroine in Relative Ethics, Oliver and Bron Henderson, and she’s amazingly old enough to be a doctor in her own right! 

I’ve been a bit mean, in the way of these things, and played God by giving both Livvy and Matt a lot to deal with, but Matt’s two little children bring a little sweetness and light into the story, and Amber, his daughter, is quite the matchmaker and a real little heartbreaker in the making.  Will I still be writing when she has her own story?  Who knows!

Here’s a little taster for you.  If you enjoy it, I’d love to know!  

CHAPTER ONE

‘Wow, look at that glorious view!’

         Stifling her impatience, Livvy glanced back across the scree slope to the valley floor stretched out below them, the late spring grass a splash of vivid green.  In the distance Buttermere lay like a gleaming mirror, the bleak slate hills behind it rich purple in the sun.

         And between her and the view – admittedly glorious – was Matt, dawdling his way up the winding, rocky path and driving her nuts because it was the last day of their team-building exercise in Cumbria and there was a trophy at stake.

         They’d been there since Friday, four teams all in some way connected to the Emergency Department of Yoxburgh Park Hospital; Sam and Vicky from the ED, Dan and Lucy from Orthopaedics, and Ed and Beth from Paediatrics, which had left her and Matt as the Trauma team.  

         She’d only started at the hospital a few weeks ago and she’d met him a few times fleetingly when he’d come down to the ED, but ever since they’d arrived at the lodge and sat down together to decide who would be in each team, she and Matt had seemed a natural fit.   

         ‘Are you OK with that?’ she’d asked at the time, and he’d nodded, his grin a little cheeky.

         ‘Yeah, suits me.  You’re small enough that I can pick you up if you dawdle.’

         ‘I don’t dawdle, and you’d better not!’

         ‘Don’t worry, Livvy, I think I can just about keep up with you,’ he’d said drily, and he had, seemingly effortlessly.  They’d tackled all manner of challenges, and he’d been witty, mischievous, not above cheating and game for anything Sam threw at them.

         Until now.  Now, with everything to play for, he was stopping to admire the view?  

         Yes, it was beautiful, and if they had time she’d stop and drink it in, but they didn’t because so far the four teams were neck and neck, so the first to the summit of Haystacks would take the crown.  And Matt was trailing.  

         Deliberately?

         ‘Are you dawdling on purpose or just studying my backside?’ she asked, hands on hips and her head cocked to one side, and he stopped just below her, a smile playing around that really rather gorgeous mouth that she was itching to kiss.  

         He took a step closer, curling his hands around her hips and sending shivers of something interesting through her.  They were standing eye to eye, and his mouth was so close now…

         His smile widened, crows’ feet bracketing those laughing eyes the colour of the slate that surrounded them, and he shook his head slowly from side to side.  

         ‘Cute though it is, and it has been worth watching, I’ll admit, I was actually studying the scenery then.’  The smile faded, replaced by awe.  ‘Stop and look around you, Livvy, just for a moment. It’s so beautiful and you’re missing it – and anyway, it’s only supposed to be fun!’

         She sighed, knowing he was right, but still impatient.  ‘I know, but we can’t let Sam catch us now, we’ll never hear the end of it.  We can look on the way back when we’ve won.’

         He shook his head again and laughed. ‘You’re so competitive.  Just be careful, that edge is unstable.  Why don’t you let me go first?’

         She laughed at him and took a step backwards out of reach.  ‘What, to slow me down?  No way. And besides, I’m always careful,’ she threw over her shoulder as she turned, and then she took another step and the ground vanished beneath her feet…

‘Livvy-!’

*

         He lunged for her, his fingers brushing her flailing arm, but she was gone before he could grab her, her scream slicing the air as she fell.  And then the scream stopped abruptly, leaving just a fading echo, and his blood ran cold. 

         She was below him, lying like a rag doll against a rock, crumpled and motionless, and for a moment he was frozen.   

         No. Please, God, no…

         ‘Livvy, I’m coming.  Hang on,’ he yelled, and scanned the slope, found a safe route that wouldn’t send more rocks showering down on her and scrambled down, half running, half sliding across the shale.  Fast, but not too fast.  Not so fast that he’d put himself in danger too, because that wouldn’t help either of them.

         As he got closer he could see her shoulders heaving, as if she was fighting for breath, and then as he got to her side she sucked in a small breath, rolled onto her back and started to pant jerkily, and his legs turned to jelly.  

         She was breathing.  Not well, but she wasn’t dead…

         He took her hand and gripped it gently.  ‘It’s OK, Livvy, I’m here, I’ve got you. You’re OK now.  Just keep breathing, nice and slow.  That’s it.  Well done.’

         Her eyes locked on his, and after a moment her breathing steadied, and he felt his shoulders drop with relief.

         ‘What – happened?  Can’t – breathe…’

         ‘Just take it steady, you’ll recover soon,’ he said, his voice calm, his heart still pounding and his mind running through all the things that might be damaged.  Starting with her head… ‘I think you’ve been winded.  Stay there a minute-‘

         ‘Can’t.  I need to sit up.’

         He gritted his teeth.  ‘OK, but don’t do it if you think you’ve got any other injuries.’

         ‘No.  Haven’t,’ she said, and she struggled up into a sitting position and propped herself against the rock that had stopped her fall.

         ‘Ah-!’ 

         ‘OK?’

         She nodded, shifting slightly, her breathing slowing, and she closed her eyes briefly.

         ‘Yeah.  That’s better.  The path just – went.’

         So she remembered that, at least.  ‘“I’m always careful”,’ he quoted drily, and she laughed weakly as relief kicked in.  

         ‘Well, nobody’s – perfect,’ she said after a moment, and then her eyes welled and he reached out a hand and brushed the soft blonde hair back from her face with fingers that weren’t quite steady, scanning her face for bruises.  

         ‘Are you OK now?  You scared me half to death.’

         She met his eyes with a wry smile, and for once the sparkle in her eyes wasn’t mischief.  ‘That depends on your – definition of OK.  I’m alive, I can breathe – just, I can feel everything, I can move, so yeah – I guess I’m OK.  Do I hurt?  Oh, yeah. These rocks are hard.’

         ‘I’m sure.  Don’t move.  Let me check you over.’

         ‘You just want to get your hands on me,’ she quipped, her breath still catching

         ‘Yeah, right,’ he said lightly, trying not to think about that right now because however true it might be, he could see she was in pain.  He simply wanted to be sure she didn’t have any life-threatening injuries and then maybe his heart could slow down a bit.  ‘Why don’t you let me do my job?’ he added gently, trying to stick to business.

         ‘Yes, doctor.’

         ‘Well, at least you can remember that.  How many fingers am I holding up?’

         ‘Twelve.’

         He tried to glare at her but it was too hard so he just laughed, told her to cooperate and carried on, checking her pupils, making her follow his finger, feeling her scalp for any sign of a head injury.

         Please don’t have a head injury…

         ‘My head’s fine.  It’s my ribs that hurt.’

         So he turned his attention to her body, checking for anything that could be a worry because she’d hit that rock hard and a punctured lung could kill her.  He squeezed her ribcage gently.  

         ‘Does that feel OK?’

         ‘Sort of.  It’s tender, but it’s not catching anymore when I breathe and I can’t feel any grating when you spring them, so I don’t think I broke any ribs,’ she said, taking it seriously at last.  ‘I thought I had an elephant on my chest.  I had no idea being winded was so damn scary.’

         ‘Oh, yeah.  I’ve only ever been winded once, when I fell out of a tree.  I must have been six or seven, but I remember it very clearly.  I thought I was dying.’

         She nodded, then looked away again, just as they heard a slither of shale and Sam appeared at their sides.

         ‘How is she?’ he asked tightly.

         ‘Lippy and opinionated but apparently OK, as far as I’ve checked.  She was winded.  At least it shut her up for a moment.’

         Sam chuckled, but Matt could see the relief in his eyes.  ‘Now there’s a miracle.’

         ‘Excuse me, I am here, you know,’ she said, shifting into a better position, and Sam looked down at her and grinned.

         ‘So you are.  Good job, too, we don’t need to lose a promising young registrar, we’re pushed enough,’ he said drily, and sat down.  ‘Why don’t you shut up and let him finish so we can get on?’ he added, and Matt laughed.  As if…

         ‘Any back pain?’ he asked, but she just gave him a wry look.  

         ‘No more than you’d expect after rolling down a scree slope and slamming into a rock, but at least it stopped me rolling all the way down,’ she said, trying to get to her feet, but he put a hand on her shoulder and held her down.

         ‘I’m not done-’

         She tipped her head back and fixed him with a determined look.  ‘Yeah, you are.  I’m fine, Matt.  I just need to get up because there are rocks sticking into me all over the place and I could do without that. You might need to give me a hand up.’

         He held his hand out but let her do the work. She’d stop instinctively as soon as anything felt wrong, but he was horribly conscious that he hadn’t ruled out all manner of injuries that might be lurking silently, but that was fine, he had no intention of taking his eyes off her for the rest of the day.

         She winced slightly, but she was on her feet.

         ‘How’s that feel?’ 

         ‘Better now I’m off the rocks.  Did you see what happened?  Did I step off the edge, or did it crumble?’

         He snorted.  ‘No, it crumbled.  I told you the edge was unstable, but did you listen?  Of course not.  You were in too much of a hurry.  When you weren’t walking backwards, that is.’

         ‘Only one step-’

         ‘I’ll give you one step,’ he growled.  ‘So, are you OK to go on?’

         ‘Of course I am.  You seriously think I’m going to give up now just because of this?’

         ‘You might as well.  I don’t get beaten,’ Sam said, getting to his feet, and she laughed in his face.  

         ‘We’ll see about that,’ she retorted, stabbing him in the chest with her finger, then she took a step and yelped.

         Matt frowned. ‘What?’

         ‘My ankle.’  She tried again, and winced.  ‘Rats.  I can’t weight-bear on it.  I must have turned it when the path gave way.’

         ‘Well, that’s just upped my chances,’ Sam said with a grin, and Matt rolled his eyes.

           ‘You two are a nightmare.  Right, let’s get you off here and have a better look at that.’

*  

Livvy flexed her ankle again and regretted it.  She was so mad with herself, and she was hideously aware that it could have been much, much worse.  If it had been her head against that rock instead of her chest…

         After all she’d been through, that she could have died from a moment’s lack of concentration was ridiculous.  She’d meant what she’d said about being careful. She was always careful, meticulous with her lifestyle, fastidious about what she ate, how much she exercised – she woke every morning ready to tackle whatever the day brought, because whateverit brought she had at least been granted the chance to deal with it, and she never stopped being aware of that glorious gift.

         And now, after the physical and emotional rollercoaster of the last five years, she’d nearly thrown it all away.

         Stupid.  Stupid, stupid, stupid.

         ‘OK?’

         She nodded, her teeth gritted, because her ankle was definitely not OK and the rest of her body wasn’t far behind.  She was going to have some stunning bruises to show for this.  What an idiot.

         They carried her carefully across the loose rock slope to where the others were waiting, clustering round her and looking concerned as they set her on her feet, and she felt silly and horribly embarrassed.

         And annoyed, because she’d been really looking forward to climbing up Haystacks and there was no way she was going up it now, and she couldn’t see how she could get down, either, so one way or another she was going to miss out on the climb and coincidentally cause the others a whole world of aggravation.

         Either that or just sit there and let them pick her up on the way back.

         Whatever, they’d be worried about her, Matt especially since he’d seen her fall, and she felt awful now for scaring him.  Scaring all of them, and putting a dampener on the whole trip.

         ‘Sorry, guys,’ she said humbly.  ‘That was really stupid.’

         ‘It was an accident, they happen,’ Dan said calmly, but Matt just snorted and turned away.  Because he was angry with her?  Maybe, and she felt like the sun had gone in.  

         ‘Want me to look at it?’   

         ‘It’s fine, Dan, it’s only a sprain and anyway I’m not taking my boot off.’

         ‘OK.  Just keep your weight off it.’

         ‘I can’t do anything else,’ she said in disgust, and lowered herself gingerly onto a handy rock.

         ‘So what now?’ Matt asked, still not looking at her.

         She followed the direction of his gaze and traced the rough path that seemed to wind endlessly down until it met the track that led to the car park.  Funny, it didn’t look so beautiful now.  It just looked a long, long way away.

         ‘We’ll carry her down,’ Sam said.

         ‘No, you won’t, you’ve got to finish the challenge!’ she protested, but Sam shrugged.  

         ‘Well, we can’t leave you here, Livvy.’

         ‘Yes, you can.  I’ll be fine.  I’m not ruining anyone’s day just because I was an idiot.  Please, all of you, go on up and I’ll wait here.  I might even work my way down.  If I take my time I’ll be fine.  I can go down on my bottom.’ 

         ‘No,’ Matt chipped in, turning round at last, his expression implacable.  ‘I’ll take you back.  Our team’s out, anyway.’

         ‘Are you sure?’ Sam asked him, but she shook her head, really unhappy now.

         ‘Matt, I can’t let you do that.  You were looking forward it!’

         He just smiled, his eyes softening at last. ‘It’ll keep.  It’s millions of years old, Livvy.  It’s not like it’s going anywhere.  I can climb it another time.’

         ‘But-‘

         His tone firmed.  ‘But nothing.   We’re team mates, and we stick together, and it’s what we’re doing.  End of.’         

         She rolled her eyes.  ‘Are you always this bossy?’

         ‘Absolutely.  Ed, can I borrow the car?’

         Ed nodded and delved in his pocket and tossed him the keys.  ‘Mind you don’t crash it.  Annie’ll kill us both.’

         ‘I’ll do my best,’ he said mildly.  ‘Go on, you guys, go and have your climb and I’ll take Livvy back and come and get you when you’re done.  Call me when you hit the track.

         ‘Will do – and no more stunts, Henderson, we need you in one piece!’ Sam said as they headed off, leaving her alone with Matt. 

*

He laughed and shook his head in disbelief.    

         ‘I can’t believe I’m so stupid.’

         She looked up at him, her face puzzled.  ‘You are?’

         ‘Yes, me.  I’ve spent the last three days trying to work out who you remind me of, and it’s just clicked.  You’re Oliver Henderson’s daughter, aren’t you?  It’s so blindingly obvious I can’t believe I didn’t see it.  You’re the spitting image of him.’

         ‘Do you know him?’

         He perched on a rock in front of her so she didn’t have to tilt her head.  ‘Yes, I was his registrar, years ago.  He’s a great guy.  I’m very fond of him, and your mother.  How are they both?’

         ‘Fine.  Doing really well.  He’s about to be sixty, but he doesn’t look it and he’s got no plans to retire and nor has Mum.’

         ‘I’m not surprised.  They’re very dedicated.’

         ‘They are.  Dad just loves surgery, and Mum would be bored to bits without the cut and thrust of ED, so I can’t see them retiring until they’re forced, frankly! So, when were you at the Audley Memorial?  I must have been at uni or I’d remember you, unless you’re much older than you look.’

         He chuckled.  ‘I’m thirty six now and I was twenty seven, so that’s – wow, nine years ago.’

         ‘So I must have been twenty, then, which explains it, because I didn’t come home a lot in those days.  I had a busy social life at uni, and it was a long way from Bristol to Suffolk.’

         ‘Yes, it is.  Give them my love when you speak to them.’

         ‘I will.  I’ll call them later today.’

         ‘So, how are we going to do this?’ he asked quietly, getting back to the core business, and she shrugged.  

         ‘I have no idea.  I can’t hop all the way down, but I can’t walk on it either, so it looks like the bottom shuffle thing.’

         ‘Or I can carry you,’ he suggested, knowing she’d argue.

         ‘How?  Don’t be ridiculous, it’s not necessary.  And anyway, I weigh too much.’

         He laughed at that, because she hardly came up to his chin and sure, she was strong, but she definitely wasn’t heavy, he knew that because he and Sam had already carried her to the path.  He got to his feet.

         ‘Come on, then, sling your arm round my neck and let’s see how we get on with assisted hopping.’

         Slowly, was the answer.  He had to stoop, of course, because she was too short to reach his shoulder otherwise, and after a while they had to change sides, but she said it hurt her ribs, which left only one option.

         He stopped and went down on one knee.

         ‘Are you proposing to me?’ she joked, and it was so unexpected he laughed.  Ish.

         ‘Very funny.  Get on my back.’

         ‘I can’t!’

         ‘Why?’

         ‘Because I’m not five and I’ll feel like an idiot!’

         He straightened up, unable to stifle the laugh. ‘You just fell off the path!’ he said, and she swatted him, half cross, half laughing, and he couldn’t help himself. He gathered her into his arms, hugged her very gently and brushed the hair away from her eyes as he smiled ruefully down at her.

         ‘I’m sorry.  That was mean.’

         ‘Yes, it was.  I feel silly enough without you laughing at me.’

         ‘Yeah, I know.  I’m sorry,’ he said again, and then because he’d been aching to do it for days and because she was just there, her face tipped up to his, her clear blue eyes rueful and apologetic and frustrated, he bent his head and touched his lips to hers.

         It was only meant to be fleeting, just a brush of his mouth against hers, but the tension that had been sizzling between them since they’d arrived on Friday morning suddenly escalated, and when her mouth softened under his he felt a surge of something he hadn’t felt for two years, something he thought he’d never feel again.

         Not lust.  It wasn’t lust.  That he would have understood.  Expected, even, after so long.  But this was tenderness, yearning, a deep ache for something more, something meaningful and fulfilling, something he’d lost, and it stopped him in his tracks.

 

‘A Single Dad to Heal her Heart’ is available now, from Mills and Boon UK, Mills and Boon Australia, Harlequin and Amazon. ‘Relative Ethics’ (Oliver and Bron Henderson’s story) is also available in e-book format from Mills and Boon UK and Amazon.

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

We’d like to ask…

We always want to know what you think! And because this blog belongs to all of us, readers and writers alike, we’re always keen to hear what you have to say about its content. Our stats tell us that lots of people visit the blog, but which features appeal to you the most? We’d love it if you could spare a few moments to complete our survey.

The first question asks about the features that we include on the blog from time to time – the posts we publish in addition to our regular blog rota and the New Releases post at the beginning of each month. (We’re hoping that you want to pick all of them! But please pick up to three favourites if you can.) And a note of clarification – we’re not thinking of discontinuing any of these features because they’re all popular, but it would be nice to know which ones you like the best, so that we know which to expand in the future.

The second question is a chance for you to tell us a bit more if you’d like to – are there any new features or changes that you’d like to see? We can’t promise to put all of your suggestions into practise, but we will promise to consider all of them carefully, and to give as many as we can a test run.

And this is a good time to include some thank yous. A big round of applause goes to all of our regular and guest contributors to the blog – there are many people working away to keep the blog running and to give us regular new content. But the biggest thank you of all goes to you – our reader. We appreciate every single one of you. Always. A huge and heartfelt thank you!

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

We’re taking a break, but we’ll be back!

We’re taking a break from blogging over Christmas, but we’ll be back in the New Year!  Amy Andrews will be starting 2019 off in style, by bringing us news of the New Releases for January on Friday 4th January.

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We’d like to take this opportunity to say a huge THANK YOU, to everyone who’s contributed to the blog this year – and in particular our wonderful commentators and readers, who always make blogging fun.  Our statistics tell us that we’ve reached many people, living in all corners of the world, and we’re enormously grateful to everyone who takes the time to visit us.

And last but by no means least, on behalf of all the Medical Romance Authors – Happy Holidays!  We wish you all the joys of Christmas, and a peaceful, healthy and happy New Year.

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Remembering Margaret Barker

We’re taking some time today to remember a wonderful author and friend.  Margaret Barker, author of over 60 titles for Harlequin/Mills and Boon Medical Romance, passed away earlier this year.  Writers Kate Hardy and Caroline Anderson, and Senior Editor Sheila Hodgson share their memories of Margaret, and Kate has also shared three photographs (Kate is the lady behind the lens in the first two).

Caroline Anderson

caroline and margaret
Margaret and Caroline

I first met Margaret in the early 1990s as my first book hit the shelves, after I’d been asked to do an interview on local radio with Mary Lyons, who had been writing romances for Mills & Boon for some time.  It was a hilarious interview, and afterwards Mary invited me to lunch in Colchester with another author, Margaret Barker, who also wrote Medicals.  It was a fabulous lunch, and Margaret then invited me to her house for an author ‘do’.  What a great introduction to life as a real author!  We had a marvellous lunch cooked for us by Margaret’s charming husband John, and it was a great day.  I saw Margaret frequently after that, at theirs, or at Mills & Boon functions, and it was always a joy to see her and John who often accompanied her.  On one occasion Margaret and I did a library talk somewhere near St Albans.  We dragged our husbands along, too, which of course involved lunch as well, which I began to realise seems to be a feature of author get-togethers!

Margaret came to London every year for our annual Author lunch, usually accompanied by John until his untimely death in 2006, and then she continued to come alone, still every bit as vibrant and elegant and funny as ever.  Then bit by bit she herself became more frail, until her osteoporosis was so bad she was unable to make the journey alone.

She had countless fractures but brushed them aside and carried on, and it never dimmed her spirit, she never lost her sense of humour, her charm, her wicked twinkle, her elegance or glamour.  She’ll be sorely missed, not least by her large and very close family of whom she was always so proud.

Rest in peace, my friend, and give my love to John.  I’m glad you’re together again at last.

Sheila Hodgson

margaret, sheila, caroline
Margaret, Sheila and Caroline

I was Margaret Barker’s editor for many years, and she was always a lady of style and glamour, the soul of any party, spirited, a little naughty (loved bubbles) but always so wonderfully genuine and charming with it.  But it was just part of the wonderful exuberance and joy of life that was essentially Margaret.  She approached every turn with positivity and grace.  She was never afraid of doing something different, she loved travel, lived in France, and did everything from nursing, teaching, writing and was also a mother of three, her family, including her many grandchildren were at the heart of everything for Margaret.

I remember she used to love to meet me for lunch at the Royal Overseas League, where she would relish chatting about her next storyline, she would jump on every idea we discussed and make it into something wonderful. And I’ll never forget the first time I met her after the death of her husband, she talked about him with such love, and such joy but she also was looking forward to what came next, her next book, her next venture, she particularly touched me that day.  And she never allowed any health issue of her own to stop her from doing anything.  Margaret always found a way.

She was such a wonderful lady, you couldn’t help but smile and laugh in her presence, and her belief that everything would turn out fine and that there was always more of life to be enjoyed was an inspiration, both to me, and of course it was the essence of her romance writing.  I will miss her hugely, and I know that her readers will too.

Kate Hardy

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Kate, Sheila Danton, Jennifer Taylor, Caroline, Roger Sanderson and Margaret.

I first met Margaret Barker in the late 1990s at an East Anglia RNA lunch. She was the first M&B author I’d ever met and she was INCREDIBLY glamorous! Very charming, very funny, and great company. She used to head the RNA chapter back then, and persuaded me to organise a couple of lunches. I do remember her trying to persuade me to take over the RNA chapter – but I had to decline as I’d discovered earlier that week I was expecting my youngest.

She was always a delight to be with at M&B and RNA lunches, full of wonderful tales of her travels in India, and she was always very kind. She always greeted me with a hug (a gentle one in later years when her osteoporosis took hold) – and to be honest the M&B author lunch this year is going to put a lump in my throat because it won’t feel the same without her and Sara Craven.

When I think of diamonds and champagne, I’ll always think of Margaret Barker, with a very big smile.

Excerpts, Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Excerpt – Their Own Little Miracle, by Caroline Anderson

9781474075251

A surrogate mum—
And then she fell in love…

When Dr Iona Murray agrees to be her sister’s surrogate she never imagines it will lead her into Dr Joe Baker’s arms. Joe has no intention of ever being a sperm donor again, or of becoming emotionally attached after his painful divorce. But when he meets Iona his boundaries become truly blurred. Will they be able to give up their baby…or each other?

 

 

 

He still had her stethoscope.

The graduation present from her sister, the one he’d been told in no uncertain terms not to lose or damage. He could see why, it was a really expensive one, although it had to be a few years old now. No wonder she’d been precious about it. His own was only slightly better, and he’d bought it last year because he’d mislaid the one identical to this.

That was getting to be a habit.

He changed out of his scrubs, pulled on his clothes, clipped his watch on his wrist and checked the time. Seven-thirty. She’d be long gone, unless she was on a late shift, but it was worth a try. He might even invite her out for dinner—assuming she’d speak to him. He’d been a bit tough on her, but he felt a grudging admiration for a junior registrar who’d had the guts to stand up to him in defence of her patient.

He headed down to the ED, found the nurse who’d been with them in Resus and asked her where Iona was.

She folded her arms and looked him straight in the eye, and he had the distinct feeling he was in trouble. ‘She’s gone.’

‘Do you know where I can find her? I borrowed her stethoscope and forgot to give it back.’

‘Yes, she mentioned that. She wasn’t happy about it.’

He laughed softly. ‘No, I’m sure she wasn’t.’

‘You can leave it with me.’

‘I can’t do that. She told me I’d be dead meat if anything happened to it and I don’t think it was an empty threat. I’ll hang onto it and give it to her tomorrow.’

‘She’s away this weekend. She’s not back in till Monday.’

‘And I’m on a course next week. Great.’ He hesitated. ‘I don’t suppose you know her address or mobile number?’

Jenny raised an eyebrow. ‘Now, you don’t seriously expect me to give it to you? I do know where you can find her, though. She’s at the Queens Hotel just round the corner. There’s a charity speed-dating event raising money for the new IR angio-surgical suite. I’m surprised you aren’t going anyway as it’s in aid of your department, but here’s your chance to support it. Out of the drive, turn left, five hundred yards on the right. You can’t miss it.’

Speed-dating? Seriously? She was gorgeous! Why would she need to go speed-dating, of all things? And then he realised she’d be helping with the organisation. Idiot.

‘OK. Thanks.’ He headed for his car, followed the directions and parked on the road opposite the hotel. The speed-dating event was signposted from Reception, and he headed towards the door. It shouldn’t be hard to find her—

‘Oh, excellent, we’re short of men, especially good-looking young doctors. That’ll be ten pounds, please. Can I take your name?’

He frowned. ‘How do you know I’m a doctor?’

‘The stethoscope?’

‘Ah. Yes. Actually—’ He was about to tell the woman why he was there, and then spotted Iona at one of the tables that were arranged in a circle, a man sitting opposite her. OK, she wasn’t just helping, she was actually doing it as well, and if he wanted to see her, he’d have to pay up and queue for his slot. That was fine. It meant she’d have to listen to him for three minutes or whatever it was, which meant he’d have time to apologise for pushing her so far out of her comfort zone in Resus. And having three minutes to look at her was no hardship. He might even persuade her to go out for dinner—

‘Name, please?’

‘Sorry. Joe Baker. I’ve only got a twenty-pound note,’ he said, but the woman just smiled, said, ‘That’ll do perfectly,’ plucked it out of his fingers, stuck a label with ‘JOE’ written on it on his chest and handed him a printed card and a pencil.

So he could score the ladies? Good grief. He wrote her name and ten out of ten, and waited.

There was a gap before Iona, maybe because of the lack of men, so he hovered and then pounced when the bell rang and the man at her table got up and moved on.

He sat down in front of her, and she looked up from her score card and did a mild double take, her eyes widening.

‘What are you doing here?’

He took the stethoscope from round his neck and handed it to her with a rueful smile. ‘I forgot to return this, and when I refused to give it to the nurse who was in Resus because you’d told me in no uncertain terms what you’d do to me, she told me where to find you.’

Her mouth flickered in a smile. ‘Ah. Jenny.’

‘Yeah, that’s right. She wouldn’t give me your address.’

Her eyes widened. ‘I should hope not!’

He gave a little huff of laughter at the outrage in her voice. ‘I might have been insulted if I hadn’t been glad she was so protective of your privacy, but I also wanted to apologise for pushing you out of your comfort zone in Resus.’

‘You don’t need to apologise,’ she said, her clear and really rather lovely green eyes clouding, ‘even though you were rude and patronising—’

‘Rude and patronising?’ he asked, pretending to be outraged, but she held his eyes and a little smile tugged at her mouth, drawing his attention to it. Soft, full, and very expressive. Like her eyes. He wondered what it would be like to kiss her—

‘You were a teeny bit. I was way out of my comfort zone, because I thought you’d need more from me than I could give you. I’ve never led before on a case that critical and I should have appreciated you’d only do what you knew you could, but I was afraid Jim was going to die and I was freaking out a bit. I’m sorry you took it wrong, it really wasn’t meant like that.’

‘Don’t apologise,’ he said wryly. ‘Standing up to me took guts, and you were quite right about the risks. Without image guidance there were no guarantees I could get the guide wire in without causing more damage, but I’d had a good look at the X-rays and I was pretty sure I could do it, and anyway, as I think I pointed out fairly succinctly, Jim had run out of options. He’s OK, by the way. I sorted the bleeds, repaired the entry site and shipped him off to the orthos with a nice healthy reperfusion and well within the time limit. They’ve put an ex-fix on in Theatre and he’s doing OK.’

He saw her shoulders sag slightly with relief. ‘Oh, good. Thanks for the update. I’ve been worrying about him.’

‘No need to worry, he’s sore, he’s broken but he’ll make it. Good stethoscope, by the way. Very good. Your sister must think a lot of you.’

She smiled, her eyes softening. ‘She does. That’s why I was worried about you walking off with it, knowing you’d already lost yours. It didn’t bode well.’

He laughed at that little dig. ‘I hadn’t lost it, it was in my locker, I just failed to pick it up—but I did lose the last one, so you weren’t wide of the mark. You did well, by the way,’ he added, sliding his score sheet across the table to her. ‘It was a tricky case to manage and you’d done everything right. You should be proud of yourself.’

She glanced down at the paper and her eyes widened. ‘Ten out of ten? That’s very generous. You must be feeling guilty.’

‘No, I just give credit where it’s due, even if I amrude and patronising. And I did return your stethoscope, so hopefully that’ll earn me a few Brownie points.’

‘Maybe the odd one.’

Her lips twitched, and he sat back with a smile, folded his arms and held her eyes, trying not to think about kissing her. Or peeling off that clingy little top and—

‘So, anyway, that’s why I’m here. What about you?’

‘Me?’ She looked slightly flustered. ‘Because it’s a good cause?’

He raised an eyebrow at her, deeply unconvinced, and she smiled and shrugged and took him completely by surprise. ‘OK. You asked. I’m looking for a sperm donor.’

Joe felt his jaw drop, and he stifled the laugh in the nick of time. Of all the unlikely things for her to say, and to him, of all people…

‘You’re kidding.’

‘No. No, I’m not kidding. I’m looking for a tall Nordic type with white-blond hair, blue eyes and good bone structure, so you can relax, you don’t qualify.’

‘I might feel a bit insulted by that,’ he said, still trying to work out if she was joking.

She smiled, her eyes mocking. ‘Oh, don’t be, it’s not personal. I have very specific criteria and you don’t fit them.’

He frowned at her, but she was so deadpan he didn’t know whether she was completely off her trolley or winding him up. He turned and scanned the men in the room and this time he didn’t stifle the laugh.

‘OK,’ he murmured in a low undertone. ‘Nor does anyone else in this room. So far you’ve written zero out of ten against everyone, and the nearest candidate is white-blond because he’s twice your age. He’s also about three inches shorter than you and twice as heavy. And the lady on the next table looks utterly terrifying, so frankly I reckon we’re done here. I’m starving, I haven’t eaten since breakfast and I don’t suppose you have, either, so why don’t we get the hell out of here, go and find a nice pub and have something to eat? And that way I can apologise properly for being rude and patronising.

‘Won’t your wife mind?’ she asked, clearly fishing, and he raised an eyebrow and gave her the short answer.

‘I don’t have one. So—dinner?’

She hesitated for so long he thought she was going to say no, but then the bell rang, the lady at the next table was eyeing him hungrily, and she looked at the man heading to take his place, grabbed her bag and stethoscope and got to her feet.

‘Sorry. We have to go,’ she said, squeezing round from behind the table, and they headed for the door amid a chorus of protests. From both sexes. He stifled a smile.

‘Right, where to?’ he asked, and she shrugged.

‘What do you fancy? Thai, Chinese, Mexican, Indian, Asian fusion, pub grub, Italian, modern British—’

‘Good grief. All of those in Yoxburgh?’

She chuckled. ‘Oh, yes. They might be busy, though, it’s Friday night.’

He had a much better idea. ‘How about a nice, cosy gastro-pub? There’s one right round the corner from my house that comes highly recommended, and we’ll definitely get a table there.’

‘Is it far? Can I walk back? My car’s at home.’

‘No, it’s a bit out of town, but that’s fine, I’ll drive you home. Look on it as a hire charge for the use of your stethoscope.’

Again she hesitated, a wary look in her eyes, but then she nodded as if she’d finally decided she could trust him. ‘OK. That sounds good.’