Excerpts, Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Reawakened by the Surgeon’s Touch – an excerpt.

Hello!

It’s  a long time since I last posted on our blog. I have been following what’s been happening though, and enjoying the posts and all your comments. Today it’s my turn to post an excerpt from my latest book, REAWAKENED BY THE SURGEON’S TOUCH, but first of all let me tell you a little about how I came to write this story.

I have an ongoing series based on an overseas aid agency called Worlds Together and every so often I set a book in some part of the world where my medics take on the task of helping people who are living in the most dire conditions. It takes a particular type of person to do this work and I greatly admire the folk who respond to each new emergency that occurs and fly off to help. While my heroine, Claire, is just the sort of person who can cope with the hardships, it doesn’t appear as though the hero, Jude, is cut out for the job. Let’s just say that they get off to a very frosty start, no mean feat in the middle of baking hot Africa!

Here’s how they meet.

 

CHAPTER ONE

What in heaven’s name was he doing here?

As the plane began the final stages of its descent, Jude Slater was struck by an unexpected rush of panic. Up to this point anger had buoyed him up. He had been so furious when his former mentor, a man he greatly admired, had accused him of choosing the easy option that he had set out to prove him wrong. Maybe it wouldn’t have stung quite so much if Jude hadn’t had the sneaking suspicion that the other man was right. He had been coasting for the past few years, although he had refused to justify himself by explaining why. He tried not to think about that period in his life; it was too painful. Suffice to say that he had paid his dues, even if it didn’t appear so to an outsider.

Nevertheless, the accusation had spurred him on so that almost before he knew it, he had signed up to work for Worlds Together, a leading medical aid agency. True, he had been a little disconcerted when he had been invited for an interview a couple of weeks later and offered a post. He hadn’t expected things to move quite so quickly but he had been determined not to back down. Nobody would be able to accuse him of losing sight of the real issues once he had done a stint overseas, he had assured himself. He would be accorded his true standing within the medical fraternity and that was all he wanted. It had all sounded so perfect in theory but now that he was about to land in the tiny central African country of Mwuranda reality had set in.

What did he know about the problems of working in the developing world? Jude thought a shade desperately. He was London born and London bred, and he thrived in the constant bustle of city life. When he travelled abroad, he visited other cities—New York, Paris, Rome—places where he felt at home. Wherever he went, he stayed in five-star luxury hotels too; however, recalling what he had been told at his interview—something about Mwuranda recovering from the effects of civil war—it appeared that five-star luxuries were going to be very thin on the ground here!

The plane rumbled to a halt and Jude unfastened his seat belt. Ten hours spent squeezed into a gap between piles of packing cases hadn’t made for the most comfortable journey but, hopefully, things would improve from here on. The one thing he mustn’t do was panic. Conditions couldn’t be that bad or nobody would volunteer to work here, so it was just a question of putting everything into perspective. Maybe luxuries would be few and far between, but so long as he had the basic necessities he would cope. He was only here for three months and he could put up with a bit of hardship for that length of time.

Jude felt much better once he had reasoned everything out. He had been told that he would be collected from the airfield so as soon as the ramp was lowered, he made his way out of the plane. His heart sank as he stepped onto the runway and looked around. All he could see in every direction was khaki-coloured landscape, the few scrubby trees which were dotted about providing the only relief from the monotony. It was mid-afternoon and the air was blisteringly hot. Apart from the plane he had arrived on, the airfield was deserted. He couldn’t see any sign of a car waiting to collect him and his spirits sank even further at the thought of having to hang around in the heat until his transport arrived.

‘Dr Slater?’

The voice was female but that was the only indication of the speaker’s gender, Jude discovered when he turned around. The figure standing before him was dressed in a bulky old boiler suit which completely disguised the wearer’s shape. Heavy boots on her feet and an old baseball cap pulled low over her eyes completed her ensemble.

Jude could just make out the lower part of her face—a softly rounded chin and a mouth which was bare of any trace of lipstick. He had no idea if she was young, old, or somewhere in between, and it was unsettling when it meant that he wasn’t sure how to pitch his response.

‘That’s right. I’m Jude Slater.’ He held out his hand and smiled charmingly at her. ‘And you are—?’

‘Your driver .’

The woman ignored his outstretched hand as she stared past him into the hold and Jude felt himself bridle. Quite frankly, he wasn’t used to women of any age ignoring him. The older ones wanted to mother him, the younger ones wanted to sleep with him, while those in between could go either way.

‘If you’ve brought any luggage with you then you’d better fetch it. There’s a truck on its way to pick up our supplies, but there’s no guarantee it will make it back to town tonight. It all depends how long it takes to unload the cargo.’ The woman treated him to a cursory glance and he could tell how unimpressed she was by his attempts to charm her by the sneering curve of her unadorned lips. ‘We don’t drive around after dark. It’s far too dangerous.’

Jude’s chagrin faded in the face of this fresh snippet of information. He managed to hide his dismay but the situation seemed to be going from bad to worse at a rate of knots.

‘I’ll get my bag,’ he said shortly.

‘You do that. I just need a word with the pilot and I’ll be right with you. The bike’s over there.’

Jude stopped dead, wondering if he had misheard her. It had been extremely noisy in the plane and his ears were still ringing from the throbbing of the engines, but he could have sworn she had said something about a… ‘Bike?’

‘Uh-huh.’ She pointed across the runway. ‘That’s it over there. There’s some rope under the seat so I suggest you tie your bag onto the back. It should be safe enough so long as we don’t hit too many potholes.’

Jude’s jaw dropped when he spotted the battered old motorbike propped against the perimeter fence. Its bodywork was pitted with rust and even from this distance he could tell that the tyres were completely bald of any tread. She didn’t really think that he was going to travel on the back of that thing, did she?

‘This is a joke, isn’t it? Some sort of a…stunt you pull on new recruits like me?’ His good humour returned in a rush as he realised what was going on and he laughed. ‘You wind us up by telling us that we’re expected to ride on the back of that heap of junk and I, in my innocence, very nearly fell for it!’

‘I hate to disillusion you, Dr Slater, but it isn’t a wind up. We’ll be travelling back to town on that bike so I suggest you get your belongings together.’ The woman pushed back her cuff. ‘It’s almost two o’clock and I haven’t got time to waste, hanging about here. If you don’t want to spend the night sleeping in the plane then you’d better get a move on.’

With that she walked away. Jude watched her make her way over to where the crew were standing then realised that he was holding his breath. He breathed out and then in, but not even a fresh shot of oxygen made him feel any better. His gaze went to the rusty old motorbike and his mouth thinned. Given the choice, he would have refused to get on the blasted thing but he didn’t have a choice, did he? He was a stranger in this country and one who knew very little about what it took to survive here too. He might be able to hold his own in any city in the world but he was as vulnerable as a newborn babe out here and it was galling to admit it.

He was used to running his life the way he chose these days. It had taken him a while to get back on track after he had quit working for the NHS and he had no intention of relinquishing his autonomy ever again. Maybe he was at a disadvantage here but he still intended to be charge of his own destiny.

Jude took another deep breath and used it this time for a specific purpose, i.e. shoring up his anger. He would start as he meant to go on. No way was he going to be ordered about by some overbearing, pushy woman!

***

Definitely not the best start to a relationship but it does get better, I promise you! Claire and Jude led me a merry dance but I loved telling their story and felt that they deserved their happy ending. I hope you will feel the same too. I had planned to put up a photo of the cover here but the cyber gremlins have been at it again and it has disappeared. Apologies! If you want to see it then pop over to any of the following sites:

http://www.millsandboon.co.uk

http://www.harlequin.com

http://www.millsandboon.com.au

As an added incentive, if you visit the Harlequin website they are having a sale, lots of wonderful books being sold at a reduced price. There’s quite a few of my backlist there along with books by many other of the Medical authors. So pop along and stock up!

love to you all,

Jennifer

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A perfect day . . .

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Rufford Old Hall, Rufford, Lancashire

Apologies for the fact that this post is late. I could claim that I have been busy writing, or doing jobs around the house, but it would be a lie. I have spent the day enjoying myself.

Today I visited one of my favourite places in the north west of England, Rufford Old Hall. I go there several times during the year, to enjoy the sheer beauty of the place. With 500 years of history to its credit, it is a very special place indeed. There is even speculation that its Tudor Great Hall hosted theatrical productions in Shakespeare’s time, and that Shakespeare himself played here. Here are a few more photos to tempt you.

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The Great Hall
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Imagine wearing a dress like this!
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The topiary is as spectacular as the house. This is one of a pair of squirrels leading into the grounds.
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Me, enjoying the gardens on a previous visit.

Rufford is a special place for me. I love visiting it and soaking up the atmosphere. Do you have a special place you love to visit? I would love to hear all about it.

A very happy Easter to you all.

love,

Jennifer.

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Say what you mean (and mean what you say!)

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I was watching a programme on television the other day called Come Dine With Me. In case you haven’t seen it, it involves a group of strangers being brought together and over the course of a week they each take it in turn to cook dinner. The guests award points at the end of the evening and the host with the highest score wins one thousand pounds.

Anyway, the episode I was watching was set in Yorkshire. When the first host opened his door to guest number one, he uttered the immortal words, “Hey up!” Roughly translated it means, Hello. Lovely to see you. Welcome. and it’s the perfect example of how we use English in a way that often confuses people from other parts of the world.

Have you ever commented that you’re spitting feathers when you’re really thirsty? Or replied to an enquiry after your health that you’re fair to middling? I know I have, and I’ve never given it a second thought either. But how confusing it must be to someone who doesn’t come from your particular area.

I love local sayings and think they are something we should cherish. In Liverpool, for instance, we might describe something good as being “boss”, while in another part of the country they might describe it as “wicked”. Then there’s all the local endearments: love, duck, hen, cock, my lover – the list is endless yet they are all terms of affection.

In Lancashire where I live, the standard reply to how are you is Oh, just keeping goin’ with me ‘ead down. Taken at face value, the words barely make sense but used in this fashion they perfectly describe someone who is well enough to be getting on with his life.

So, do you have any sayings particular to the part of the world where you live? When you open your door to your guests, how do you greet them? I’d love to hear them so I can add them to my collection!

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Training to be a hero . . .

This morning I went to do bloods. This is nothing unusual. I  have my blood tested on a weekly basis. No, what was different today was that the phlebotomist was a young man. When I mentioned that it was a surprise to have a man taking my blood, he explained that he was a medical student. He had just completed his first year at university and was hoping to become a surgeon eventually.

He had decided that it would help enormously if he gained some experience of all the routine procedures now rather than wait until he qualified to learn how to take bloods etc. He was good looking, charming, personable and obviously dedicated to his future career; in other words he was a hero in training. (He was also very good at taking blood as I hardly felt a thing!)

As I drove home from the clinic I found myself dreaming up a story for him in the future. Why was he so determined to do well? What obstacles would he have to overcome? Would he put his personal life on hold for the sake of achieving his dream? By the time I let myself into my house, I had his story more or less straight in my head. Now I just need to find a heroine, a woman who will be his equal . . .

So what fires your imagination? A book? A song? A chance meeting like this? I would be interested to know.

Love,

Jennifer.

A photo to brighten your day. It’s of my granddaughter, Isobel, and no, it hasn’t anything to do with my post, but I make no apologies for sharing it. It makes me smile!

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Writing in the buff . . .

No, not me. I am sitting here fully dressed and have a photo to prove it. However, I read an article in one of the daily papers the other day about an up and coming young writer who prefers to write while completely naked. He finds that the absence of clothes clears his mind so that he can focus wholly on his characters.

Now apart from the fact that he lives in California and I live in the north west of England where the climate definitely isn’t conducive to running around in the buff, it would have the opposite effect on me. I would be so worried in case someone called or the window cleaners turned up that I would never be able to write a word! But it got me thinking about our daily rituals, about what makes us feel ready to start the day or face some new obstacle. One very famous actor always claimed that he couldn’t face an opening night if he wasn’t wearing his lucky underpants. He just knew that it would be a disaster if he didn’t have them on.

Whilst I don’t have lucky pants, I do have a ritual that helps me start each day and gets me settled so I can enjoy my work. I have to shower, dress and put on my lipstick. And as for my earrings – well, I definitely can’t write without popping them into my ears. Only when all that is done and everywhere is clean and tidy can I sit down and begin. I am certainly not someone who can write wearing my pyjamas. And I couldn’t manage to write lying in bed, but that’s just me, my quirks, and I expect a lot of you have a very different routine.

So how do you begin your day? Fully dressed or stark naked? Maybe it’s somewhere in between. Do tell. I promise to keep your secrets!

Jennifer.

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Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Back to Christmas . . .

OK, so I can hear you all groaning. What is she on about, you’re thinking. Christmas has been and gone. We’ve taken down the tree, put the decorations away and waved a fond farewell to the turkey. Christmas was weeks ago. We’re in the new year and we’ve made our resolutions (probably broken them, too!) We need to move on so why keep on harking back?

Well, the reason is quite simple. My editor has asked me to write a Christmas themed book so I am re-visiting the – fairly recent – past. I have a list so that I won’t forget anything. I know, I know. How can I forget anything when it only happened a few weeks ago, but whether it’s age or what, but my memory isn’t what it used to be. So all the tinsel and lights are going to be put in this story. All the presents and the food. Everything will be taken into account including  one small but highly relevant fact: my heroine hates and detests Christmas.

She has her reasons, of course. Reasons I won’t go into right now (after all, I want you to read the book.) But Holly doesn’t “do” Christmas in any shape or form. She doesn’t plan to celebrate even for a second but then she hasn’t counted on the man she loved and gave up coming back into her life.

I am having great fun writing this book. I love getting two new characters and watching them interact and I have to confess that hero, Luc van der Meer is fast becoming a favourite of mine. I love strong, determined heroes, ones who don’t make a fuss but simply get on with caring for my heroines and Luc is shaping up nicely. As I never plan what’s going to happen, it will be interesting to see how he changes Holly’s mind about Christmas because one thing is certain: by the end of this book, she is going to love the celebrations as much as I do!

Right. I make no apologies for putting up this photo of my little grandson. He looks so cute that even though we’re in January, I’m sure you will love it. He was a King in his nursery’s nativity play and loved wearing his costume.

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Making changes . . .

Well, I finally did it! After years of wondering if I should, discussing the merits – or drawbacks – if I did, I finally plucked up the courage and moved house. And do you know what? It was the best thing I could have done. Phew!

You see I had lived in my old house for forty plus years. Bill and I started our married life there and we raised our children there too, so it was a huge decision and I have to confess that I was worried in case I was doing the wrong thing. However, happily, I love where I live now.

OK, so I had to get rid of a huge amount of furniture. I mean moving from a large 4-bedroomed house to a 2-bed apartment always meant there was going to be a space issue. My lovely Spanish-style dining-room suite had to go, so did the conservatory and garden furniture, the media centre . . . you get the picture?

I downsized in a big way but, amazingly, I haven’t missed any of the things I gave away. I love the openness of my new apartment with its huge living, dining kitchen area and the fact that I don’t have half as much cleaning to do. I have a lot more “me” time now and I’m making the most of it, believe me.

I take long walks along the canal towpaths with my dog each morning and don’t feel guilty about not getting down to the vacuuming or window cleaning. I go out with friends and don’t need to worry that the garden needs sorting out. The move has given me the freedom to do what I want, when I want.

Here’s a photo of where I am living. It’s a beautiful spot no matter the time of day and I’m very happy here. But have you made any major changes to your life? And have they turned out how you hoped they would? I would love to hear all about them.

Love,

Jennifer.

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