Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

New Beginnings

For us here in the Northern Hemisphere, Spring is upon us. Now, I say that with bit of sarcasm since where I’m at in the US Midwest, it’s April 18th and it’s snowing. Again.

Ugh.

This time of year, the weather can be so unpredictable here. Today, the high is in the 40s and snow. But by Saturday, the forecast temperatures are near 80 and sunny. Craziness.

Anyway, Spring is my favorite season because everything is so fresh and new and there’s a sense of possibilities in the air that I always find so inspiring, despite whatever else might be happening in my life or the world. It speaks of the power of rejuvenation and second chances. And boy, do I love a great second chance.

Speaking of which, I have a new book out next week on 4/26 that specifically speaks to second chances and new beginnings. Island Reunion with the Single Dad, features Dr. Morgan and Dr. Eli, both of whom have dealt with some stuff in life. They had one star-crossed night together a decade prior and now find themselves back together again to run a clinic on Whidbey Island, Washington. There’s lots of unresolved tension between them and enough chemistry to light up the entire West Coast US for years.

Here’s a little exclusive snippet from Island Reunion with the Single Dad to whet your whistle:

“What’s Boston like”? Seriously? Such a lame question.
He should have left after telling her about the case. That was what he’d intended to do. But no. Now he was sitting on her sofa asking her stupid questions instead of the things he really wanted to know about her, and…
Gah! This was all a mistake. A horrible miscalculation.
Except, the more time Ely spent around Morgan, the more he wanted. Seeing her in action today with the C-section had reminded him of her passion—in work, and in life in general. And while his life was neat and ordered and perfectly wonderful, it lacked passion. He wanted that passion back dearly.
Morgan watched him a moment, apparently as stunned by his silly question as he felt. But he couldn’t think of anything intelligent to ask her now that he was here. He, a physician, well respected in his field, had absolutely no game at all where this woman was concerned. Of course it didn’t help, either, when his gaze slid downward against his will to her breasts, their outline more pronounced since she’d crossed her arms beneath them, pushing them up and out into that soft fleece top she was wearing. His palms suddenly itched to touch them, cup them, see if they were as plump and full and just the right size like he remembered. He licked his dry lips and glanced away.
No. Stop looking there. Stop it.
And now his lower body was responding as well, dammit, as the tension inside him grew stronger. Heat climbed his neck from beneath the collar of his white button-down. Maybe she wasn’t going to answer. Maybe she sensed the things he was feeling. Maybe she’d kick him out on his butt as he deserved.
Instead, she just gave him an odd look and snuggled down farther in her chair. “Uh, Boston is a nice city. Brutal winters. Not that I saw much of them. I worked in the ER, and it was very busy, so I didn’t have much free time.”
“Right.” His pulse thumped harder against his temples. Now that he couldn’t look at her boobs, it seemed that was all he wanted to do. But he couldn’t. Nope. He wasn’t that type of man, ruled by his desire. Flustered, he asked the next question that popped into his head, which turned out to be the complete wrong one. “Is that where you met your husband?”
Hell.
Morgan’s gaze narrowed, and Ely rushed to cover his blunder.
“Sorry. No idea why I asked that.”
Stop talking, idiot.
He couldn’t. “I mean, I’d like to get to know you better, but…” He swiped a hand through his hair and looked away. “I didn’t mean anything by it.”
Morgan untucked her legs from beneath her, placing her pink sock–covered feet on the floor. And now he was looking at her toes, wondering what she’d do if he massaged them, kissed them…
What the hell is wrong with me? Leave. Now.
But he couldn’t stand up without knocking into her, because she was close now, too close. Close enough for him to catch the scent of her perfume, something floral and sweet and entirely too intoxicating for his liking. He clenched his jaw, a small muscle ticking in his cheek.
“I’m sorry,” he said again, because that seemed to be all he could say tonight. Why couldn’t he just let it drop? That would be the easy thing to do, but then, nothing was easy with Morgan, and damn if he didn’t like it that way. His blood pounded, and his chest burned. He felt more alive than he had in years. Everything seemed sharper, clearer, including that pinch of regret that had never quite gone away where she was concerned, even after a decade apart from her. The one that got away.

If you liked that (I hope you did!), consider checking out the rest of the book. Link here:

Home is…
…where the doctor is?

Widowed Dr. Morgan needs a fresh start! But the first man that Morgan meets on Whidbey Island in Washington State plunges her back ten years…to a passionate encounter she’s never forgotten. Dr Ely is now a single dad—and her new, if temporary, colleague! Yet as their connection bursts back into life, Morgan’s resolve to protect her broken heart is sorely challenged. Dare she let herself dream of forever again?

Until next time, Happy Reading! 🤓📚❤️

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Love is in the Air! ❤️ (along with a silly video & an exclusive excerpt 😉)

“What’s Galentine’s Day? Oh, it’s only the best day of the year!”
(gif courtesy of Giphy)

Happy Valentine’s Day (or Galentine’s Day for all my single friends out there)! 💕💕

The one holiday devoted exclusively to love in all its forms. People, places, pets, books… And speaking of books, I’ve got an exclusive excerpt to share with y’all today from my next Medicals book, Island Reunion with the Single Dad, hitting shelves and ereaders everywhere on April 26th!

But first, I wanted to share a TikTok video of me I made for Valentine’s Day talking about a recent read I loved, The Hate Project by Kris Ripper. It takes the whole cinnamon roll/sexy grump trope to new heights with our two aromantic heroes Oscar and Jack forced to work together to clean out a hoarder house Jack has inherited so he can sell it and put it back on the market. This is book two in zir’s Love Study trilogy, but can be read as a standalone (though all three books are so amazing, why wouldn’t you want to read them all?) Anyway, if you want to check out my goofy self gushing about it in this short little video, feel free:

And now, on to an exclusive excerpt from Island Reunion with the Single Dad. As the title implies, it’s a second-chance romance set on Whidbey Island, Washington. The hero is a single father raising his son on his own and the heroine is a GP filling in temporarily at his practice. The book is chock full of other trope-y goodness as well, including a secret billionaire twist and a Halloween Ball grand gesture complete with mermaid and pirate costumes. It’s a sweet, funny, tender story about two people getting another chance with the one who got away. I do hope you’ll check it out and enjoy reading it as much as I loved writing it. 🤓📚❤️

Now, here’s your Exclusive Excerpt:

Welcome to Whidbey Island…

Dr. Morgan Salas stared at the large wooden sign near the pebbled beach, with its carved twin eagles and painted seascape, an image of the car ferry she’d just departed across the bottom. She took a deep breath of fresh Pacific Northwest air drifting through the window of the sedan, the late-September air crisp with the scents of fallen leaves and recent rainfall. For the first time in recent memory, she felt…happy. Lighter. More hopeful. Maybe she could find some measure of the peace and contentment she’d lost when Ben died. She had a month here. Perhaps it would be enough.

She’d enjoyed the trip from Mukilteo, Washington, on the mainland to the tiny, quaint coastal town of Clinton on the island. She’d had twenty minutes on the ferry to just enjoy the scenery and leave her cares behind. Hopefully. Maybe. Okay, probably not, but she was working on it.

From what she’d researched online, Whidbey Island was known for its “reserved individuality” and “effortless ease.” She prayed some of that ease would rub off on her while she was here. First, though, now that she was on dry land again, she had to get to her appointment on the other side of the island near Freeland.

Morgan checked out the open window of her rented sedan for oncoming traffic on the two-lane asphalt ahead, then managed to get around a few slower-moving cars until she was on the open roadway again. Cool wind in her hair, she passed several signs as she headed out of Clinton for the Scenic Isle Way, part of the Cascade Loop and the only section entirely contained within an island. She’d read about that, too, being something of a fact geek. The views here were gorgeous, no doubt. The knot between her shoulder blades and a bit more of her old anger and grief drifted away. And sure, maybe the roads here were bit narrow and…whoa! Those hairpin turns seemed to come out of nowhere, but it was all good. She’d take it slow and steady. That always won the race, right?

Well, usually. Unless someone cheated. Like Ben did.

Her pulse kicked a notch higher as she glanced at the clock in the dashboard. Twenty minutes.

She could still make it on time, barring any more holdups. She hated being late.

Except just ahead, traffic had slowed again. Dammit. Morgan slowed, then leaned out the window, craning her neck to see the problem. It was the middle of nowhere, farm fields bordered by forest on either side. But a slight incline ahead kept her from seeing beyond it. Huh. In the distance, animals grazed, and she spotted a few tourists gawking and taking pictures.

What could possibly be out here to cause such a ruckus?

Ugh. Morgan did not have time for this. Not today, anyway. So, after checking again for oncoming traffic, she nosed out of line into the opposite lane then hurried up the incline, thinking she’d bypass the crowd. Except when she got to the top of the hill, all she saw was sheep. Sheep everywhere. Including a big one square in her lane.

Alarmed, Morgan slammed on the brakes, only to have her back tires fishtail off the still-wet asphalt. Crap. Silence thudded loud in her ears as the sheep in front of her watched impassively, chewing its cud. Cursing, Morgan tapped her accelerator, hoping to nudge all four tires back onto the roadway. Except that, coupled with the slick and muddy berm, only made her slide farther into the ditch. Hands shaking, she closed her eyes as she careened backward, heart pounding, praying she wouldn’t end up as a warning story on the news. Woman illegally passes traffic, ends up trapped and dead beneath a ton of flipped steel. Kids, don’t try this at home.

In the end, though, the sedan’s back end came to rest gently against the trunk of a huge pine tree while the front half of the car climbed crookedly up toward the road like a drunken college coed after a bender.

Lord, help her. She hadn’t even been here an hour and things were already going downhill. Literally.

After a quick full-body shake to disperse some excess adrenaline and make sure she wasn’t injured, Morgan set about figuring out how to get unstuck from her current situation. Her train of thought was quickly derailed, however, by the passenger door flying open. Stunned, she stared wide-eyed at the last person she’d ever expected to see again.

Ely.

No last name. They’d never exchanged them. The one-night stand she’d never forgotten.

Not even after ten years.

“Are you okay?” he asked, cutting through her befuddled thoughts.

“Uh…” Morgan frowned.

Am I okay? Maybe I hit my head after all, and this is all a hallucination.

She took a deep breath and gave a small prayer of thanks that at least he didn’t seem to recognize her. “Uh…yes. I think I’m—”

“Hang on a minute and let me check you over.” Before she could finish, he’d reached over from the passenger side to run his hands over her arms and legs, checking for injury, but that only made her scalp tingle more.

“Stop. Please!” Out of sorts and far too aware of his hands on her body, she pulled away, heat prickling her cheeks. “I’m fine. Just a little shaken. Thank you.”

Her voice trembled, to her eternal mortification. This was ridiculous. Ely was just a man. A man she’d had sex with, once upon a time. Also, a man who obviously didn’t even remember her anyway. She was making a huge deal out of nothing. He shouldn’t affect her like this. She obviously didn’t affect him at all. Ely didn’t seem to care in the least.

Well, other than the fact he was trying to get her out of her predicament. Okay. Fine. That part was helpful. She peered past his broad shoulder toward the crest of the ditch, where the same tourists who’d been photographing the sheep were now snapping pictures of her. Perfect. Exactly how she wanted to start her monthlong stint on the island. As a photo op. Morgan cleared her throat and fiddled with her horribly wrinkled shirt to avoid looking at him. “Did anyone else slide off the road?”

“Nope,” Ely said, his tone a bit curt now, his expression clearly irritated. He leaned back, muscled arms braced on the door frame, filling the space like he had a right to, sucking up all her oxygen. He shrugged, then narrowed his gaze on her. “Probably because no one else was driving like a maniac. These roads get very slick after a rain. You could’ve killed yourself or someone else pulling a stunt like that.”

Her hackles rose, her chest tight. “First of all, I’m not a maniac. I have an important meeting to get to. And second, doesn’t it rain all the time in the Pacific Northwest? That’s kind of what you’re known for it, isn’t it?”

She forced herself to inhale. Arguing with him wouldn’t get her out of this any sooner, and she couldn’t risk missing her appointment. Time to end this here and now. And if that meant swallowing her pride, fine. “Sorry. You’re right.” She bit her tongue and forced a smile. “I wasn’t thinking. Can you help me get out of here, please?”

“Of course.” His voice and expression softened, and her heart did a weird little flip.

Damn. He looked so much like she remembered. Dark and handsome and windswept, his smile revealing dimples in his cheeks. Lord, she’d forgotten the devastating effect those dimples had on her common sense. Ely hiked his chin toward the door behind her and said, “Hop out and I’ll see if I can’t get you steered back onto the road.”

Still dazed and shaky, Morgan undid her seat belt and opened the driver’s side door. Stepped out on wobbly knees, only to find her new shoes stuck in mud almost up to her ankles. Before she could despair too much, Ely was beside her, his tawny gaze twinkling as he tried, and failed, to keep his smile from growing into a full-blown grin.

“Go on and help her out, Ely!” someone shouted from up top.

“Put those capable hands of yours to good use, Doc!” another guy yelled.

Blood whooshed in her ears, and Morgan wondered if it was possible to die from embarrassment. Because it certainly felt like she could, especially when Ely grabbed her around the waist and lifted her into his arms. A sucking sound echoed as her feet popped free of the muck, but all she could focus on was the feel of his hard chest against her, the heat of him through her clothes, his clean scent of soap and sandalwood. She’d forgotten how tall he was, a good foot above her own five-four. Strong, too. An unwanted shock of desire curled her toes inside her ruined pumps, and Morgan pushed hard against him. “Put me down, please.”

He walked a few feet over to a grassy area and did as she asked. Their gazes locked and time slowed as the years drifted away. Suddenly they were back on a beach on this very island. Two young, stupid college kids living like there was no tomorrow.

Except life had taught her too well that there was always a day after.

“Sorry.” She looked away, not sure why she was apologizing. Her stomach clenched, even though she’d done nothing wrong. Neither had he. Ely blinked down at her a beat or two, then took her hand to silently lead her up the side of the ditch to the berm. People clapped as they emerged at the summit, and she tried to look less discombobulated than she felt.

Morgan hated unwanted attention. The glare of the spotlight. The constant searing scald of gossip. She’d gotten more than enough of that after Ben’s funeral. The whispers behind her back from the staff at the hospital. Conversations ending abruptly whenever she appeared.

Even though rationally she knew this was different, it felt all too similar. Moving stiffly, she sidled off to the side as Ely went back down into the ditch to gun the sedan’s engine, sending a spray of mud flying as he zoomed the car back up onto the roadway. The crowd finally dispersed.

He left the engine running and walked back to Morgan, stopping a foot or so away from her.

“You’ve got…” he said, frowning.

“What?” Scowling, Morgan self-consciously wiped her cheek.

“No. The other side. Here.” Ely tipped her chin up with a finger, then swiped his thumb across her jaw. Her lungs tightened and she thought she might pass out, completing her humiliation. Her skin still tingled even after he let her go. “There. Gone. Just a speck of mud.”

“Oh…” she mumbled, touching the spot, nearly drowning in his eyes before pulling herself to safety. Flustered, she smoothed her hands down the front of her pantsuit to make sure nothing else was stained or missing. Yep. She must’ve hit her head and knocked something loose. Like her common sense.

Doing her best to regain her composure, Morgan stepped away and gave him her most polite smile, the one that appeased even her most irascible patients. “Thank you so much for your help. Now I need to go. Please excuse me.”

Gah!

Unfortunately, Morgan had no idea how to greet an old one-night stand. Probably because she’d thought she’d never see him again. He’d never called afterward, even though she’d given him her number, so obviously he hadn’t been interested.

Things had changed so much. She had changed so much.

“No problem,” Ely called after her as she walked back to her sedan. “Take it easy on these roads. Next time you might not be so lucky, and I won’t be there to help.”

Feeling like a five-year-old who’d gotten caught eating paste, she climbed into the car and resisted thunking her forehead on the steering wheel. Good Lord. The last thing she needed right now was driving advice from the guy she’d banged on the beach a decade prior.

As calmly as possible, Morgan refastened her seat belt, checked her mirrors, then started down the road again with her hands at ten and two. She needed to focus on her meeting and not on the gorgeous man from her past, who was growing smaller by the second in her rearview mirror.

Home is…
…where the doctor is?
Widowed Dr. Morgan needs a fresh start! But the first man that Morgan meets on Whidbey Island in Washington State plunges her back ten years…to a passionate encounter she’s never forgotten. Dr Ely is now a single dad—and her new, if temporary, colleague! Yet as their connection bursts back into life, Morgan’s resolve to protect her broken heart is sorely challenged. Dare she let herself dream of forever again?

Until next time, Happy Reading!

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

2021. So that happened.

Me, still processing 2021. 2022 coming in three weeks.

Hi all!

It’s that time of year again where we all settle in for the holidays and all the ‘Best of” lists start to appear. Many people begin to think about the last twelve months. Some things that happened to us were good. Some things, not so much. But whatever happened, if you’re reading this, then we survived. So cheers to us!

Since I truly believe that what we focus on becomes our reality, I’ve been doing a lot of work on myself regarding gratitude and mindfulness and manifesting the things I wish to see more of in my life. To that end, today I thought I’d share with y’all three things that happened to me this year that I’m so very thankful for. Here goes:

1. My home office re-do is complete!

This project has been a long time in the making. Below at the “Before” pictures. It’s a 3rd bedroom in my home that no one uses. As you can see by the dusty treadmill there in the back, I’d had dreams of this being a workout room when I first move in, but eventually, it just turned into catch-all clutter space. Filled with boxes and mementos and anything else I didn’t have the time or spoons to deal with at that moment. There was also a desk in here, where that blank space is against the wall in the second pic. It’s where I started my writing career, but after my mom’s passing in 2013, I was just too sad to return to it. When I did start writing again in 2016, I did so slumped over my kitchen table because there was so much stuff in this room by then, you couldn’t even see the desk anymore. It was too overwhelming. Until April of 2021 when I couldn’t stand not having a dedicated space for my writing career anymore and…

Before…

After!

I seriously LOVE my office so much now. Lots of storage, everything has it’s place and all the furniture matches. I’ve got my stand-sit desk and under desk elliptical to make sure I get my exercise in and the whole vibe of the space is very light and uplifting. It’s my new favorite room in the house!

2. My new pup Karley!

After my beloved pup and writing partner Clara passed away at the end of September this year, I was devastated. She’d been with me for fifteen years and it was like losing a beloved family member. Grieving, I wasn’t going to get another dog right away. But fate intervened and Karley arrived in my life on October 16th. And after nearly two months with me, Karley’s settling in nicely, I think. Oh, and I had her DNA tested and she’s a Schnese. Gesundheit. LOL! A miniature schnauzer-havanese mix. And 100% the bestest girl! ❤️

3. Author Milestones!

When I published my first book with the Medicals line back in 2018, I had no idea that just three years later, my 10th book with the line would come out. Wow! I’m so proud of Costa Rican Fling with the Doc, my first seasoned romance with older protagonists, and I’m so grateful to all you readers who allow me to keep doing what I love to do by buying my books. Cheers to me writing ten more Medicals books with the line, eh? Oh, and here’s the link if you want to check out Gabe and Sara’s story for yourself!

Proud to publish my 10th book with the line, Costa Rican Fling with the Doc!

So, there are 3 good things that happened to me this year. With so much darkness and uncertainty in the world, let’s shine a light on joy! I’d love to hear what awesome things have happened for you this year too. Please tell me in the comments!

And until next year, I wish you and yours peace and love and every good thing you desire! Happy Reading! 🤓📚❤️

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Exclusive Excerpt – Costa Rican Fling with the Doc

Costa Rican Fling with the Doc by Traci Douglass
Dude sprawling in autumn leaves wearing a Witch Way to the Wine T-shirt.
In other words, all of us.

Hello again and Happy Autumn! 😊🍁🍂

Spring and Fall are my favorite times of the year. Not too hot, not to cold, beautiful colors everywhere. Though I will say for me, since about mid-September and through to Oct. 22nd has been and will be a blur. Lots of stuff has happened–good and bad.

On the good side, I turned in my 11th book for the Medicals line, Island Reunion for the Single Dad, on August 27th. I also hit an author milestone this month with the release of my 10th book with the Medicals line, Costa Rican Fling with the Doc, on Oct. 26th, and I’m getting new author photos taken on 10/22—like hair, makeup, the whole “top model” treatment—and I’m both excited and nervous. LOL. 😂 And I celebrated another birthday.

On the bad side, after turning in the Aug book, I received two-weeks worth of edits on it in mid-September. Around the same time, my beloved 15 y.o. dog, Clara, passed away, on 9/22. And I was also busy writing book #12 with the line, which is due 10/15. So yeah. A LOT. But I’ve learned over the years to keep persevering, to keep my head down and focus on just that moment, just that hour, just that day, and keep moving forward. Eventually things get done, plates get cleared. And the sun shines again and we write on. ❤️

But, needless to say, I haven’t gotten to do nearly the amount of cheerleading for my upcoming release later this month that I usually do, so I thought I’d share an exclusive snippet with y’all today to hopefully pique your interest.

In this scene below, my hero Gabe and heroine Sara have finished up a difficult birth for a patient in the village nearly, and are strolling back to the field hospital together that night, still too buzzed to sleep and too aware of each other to want to part ways just yet. Enjoy…🤓📚❤️

Exclusive Excerpt:

As they walked back to the clinic, Sara marveled at the lush foliage. Everything seemed bigger now, brighter now, since the birth. She still couldn’t quite believe she’d done that. Working in the PICU, she cared for tiny infants all the time. But bringing them into the world? Now that was something.

The late-afternoon sun filtered through the trees, its rays still prickling Sara’s sunburned skin as they passed a bar, a crowded convenience store and a school painted in primary colors in the village. Gabe pointed toward a tiny house to their left. He looked rumpled but perfect, a tiny, infant-size handprint staining the front of his scrub shirt. “That’s where to go for the best tortillas in Costa Rica.”

“Really?” Sara smiled. “I’ll have to remember that. Thanks for letting me help out today.”

“Thank you for being there,” he said, the solemnity in his green eyes making her think they were talking about more than the breech birth.

Before Sara could ask more, however, they reached to compound and walked back to the clinic tent to drop off their supplies. At the entrance, an older woman waited, her gray bun perched precariously atop her head and her blue cotton dress neat but faded a bit around the edges.

“Hola,” Gabe said, waving. “What can I do for you?”

The woman smiled, then spoke in rapid Spanish.

“Anything I can help with?” Sara asked him, setting her supply bag on the table inside the tent.

“Sí.” Gabe grinned, walking past her to his exam area to drop off his stuff. “She’s inviting our team to dinner tomorrow.”

“Oh.” Sara straightened. “That’s very nice.”

“It is.” He chuckled. “She’s an old friend and a patient here at the clinic. She feels it’s her duty to feed us while we’re here.”

The woman, still waiting at the entrance, nodded. She spoke to Gabe once more, too fast for Sara to keep up. Maybe something about a horse? Or hair? She could never keep those two words straight. Gabe moved in beside Sara then, and maybe it was the adrenaline from earlier still sizzling through her veins, or the joy of bringing new life into the world. Whatever it was, she suddenly couldn’t help being aware of how close he was standing behind her and how if she leaned back just slightly, his chest would rest against her back, all warm and solid and…

Oh, boy.

Gabe promised the woman they’d all be there for dinner the next evening, and the woman walked away, leaving the two of them alone again. Inside the tent, long shadows increased the intimate feel of the moment.

“Thanks again for your help with Angela,” he said, leaning in to rest his free hand on the desk behind her back. Her body buzzed, hyperaware of his every move even though there was still a good foot of space between them. He lowered his head and stared at the ground. “There were moments during the delivery when I thought…” His dark brows drew together.

Cicadas sang their nightly song outside the tent, but inside it was just the two of them. Sara hesitated, then asked the question that had been on her mind since she’d arrived and first met Gabe. “What happened to them? Your family?”

He swallowed hard and straightened, and for an awful second, she thought he might shut her out again, but then he took a deep breath and said quietly, “They died. When our apartment in Croatia was bombed during the war. I lost my family, everything I cared about within a matter of hours.”

“Oh, God.” Sara’s own heart broke at the eviscerating agony in his voice. “I’m so sorry, Gabe.”

She tried to put her hand on his arm, but he took a step back, reaching into the back pocket of his scrub pants for his wallet. “I have a picture of them. Would you like to see?”

Sara nodded, trusting herself not to cry.

The photo he pulled out was a bit crinkled and bent at the edges, as if handled a lot. He moved closer to Sara again, handing her the picture, then pointing at the pretty woman smiling in it. “Her name was Marija. We were married almost two years when this was taken. She’s holding our son, Karlo.”

Blinking back tears, Sara smiled. “She’s lovely. And Karlo is precious.”

“Thank you.” He took the photo from her, staring down at it reverently. “He was our everything. We couldn’t wait to move from Vukovar to Prague and start a new life there, but I had to finish medical school first. Marija and I used to fight about it, but she let me win.” He gave a sad little snort. “I was so young and stupid back then. I thought we’d have all the time in the world.”

“You couldn’t have known this would happen,” Sara said, touching him now to emphasize her point. “No one knows what the future holds.”

“I should have.” His expression darkened to a scowl, and he put the photo away, those damned walls of his crashing down hard again. “Anyway, I apologize if I seemed distracted during the delivery earlier.”

It took a moment for his words to penetrate the emotional fog in Sara’s brain. “You weren’t distracted. I thought you were brilliant today. You saved them both, Angela and her baby.”

“No, you did.” Gabe smiled again, and it felt like a million stars shining to Sara, that dimple of his making her slightly dizzy with yearning. “Without your small hands, all would have been lost.”

Sara held her hands up as she shrugged. “Genetics, I guess.”

“Hmm.”

The low whirr of the generators kicking on outside reinforced the fact that she and Gabe were still alone out here in the tent, standing in the shadows, so close that the heat radiating from his skin penetrated the thin cotton of her scrubs, sending her pulse skyrocketing.

“We should probably go into the dorms,” she murmured past her taut vocal cords.

“We probably should,” he agreed.

Neither of them moved.

Finally, Gabe reached into one of the drawers of the nearest table and handed her something.

“What’s this?” she asked, staring down at the chunk of cellophane-wrapped white in her palm.

“Sweets for the sweet. Dulce de coco,” he said, his teeth even and white as he smiled in the darkness. “Coconut candy. I get tired of eating beans and rice.”

She sniffed the stuff. “Wow. Smells amazing.”

“It’s very good.” Gabe stood there a moment, staring down at her, then sighed and turned away. “Well…uh… I guess this is good night, then.” He started to leave, but Sara placed a hand on his forearm, her fingertips tingling from the touch. Gabe froze, looking back at her, his green eyes flicking from her eyes to her mouth, then back again. Her name emerged low and rough, and she felt it like a physical caress. “Sara?”

“Yes?”

Silence stretched for eons. Finally, he stepped closer once more, his fingers trailing down her arm, firm but tentative. Gentle but wanting. “I want to kiss you, but I know I shouldn’t.”

He was probably right—she knew that. With his past and her future waiting back in Chicago, getting involved, even temporarily, made no sense. And yet, at that moment, Sara wanted to kiss him more than she wanted her next breath. Taking the initiative, she closed the small distance between them and wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling him down until their lips met. She put all of her whirling emotions into it—the sweetness of the birth, the sadness of his picture, the need and want she’d felt for him since the first day she’d met him. Gabe seemed taken aback at first, holding back, but then her tongue traced his lips, and he gave in with a grunt, pulling her tight against him as he deepened the kiss. His mouth was perfect against hers, mirroring the soft eagerness of his touch. She couldn’t help giving a desperate whimper.

More. I need more.

The sound of footsteps outside the tent finally jarred them back to reality.

Sara inched away, breathless and light-headed.

Gabe’s warm breath fanned her face, stirring the tiny hairs near her temple. He gave a short sigh full of frustrated need, then kissed her forehead. “Tomorrow we talk, yes?”

“Yes,” she whispered, savoring the feel of him against her while she could.

“Good.” Then he brushed his lips across her forehead and started for the exit again. “Sleep well.”

She waited a moment, catching her breath and calming her racing heart, then headed for the dorms herself. Sara wasn’t sure about a lot of things but having a restful night after a kiss like that would be impossible—of that she was certain.

Until next time, Happy Reading! 😊

The road to happily-ever-after starts in Costa Rica in this passionate romance by USA TODAY bestselling author Traci Douglass.

Sometimes the future…
is just a fling away!

For single mom Sara, life has been all about raising her now adult son. But volunteering for a medical charity in Costa Rica is finally the nurse’s chance to focus on her passions. Only, her guarded new boss, Gabe, stirs something deep in her that she’d thought long forgotten… And as the devastatingly handsome doctor sends all her senses into overdrive, for once sensible Sara can’t help wondering—what if they didn’t resist temptation?

GET YOUR COPY HERE!

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Seasoned Romance – Costa Rican Fling with the Doc

Hi Everyone!

Hope your summer/winter is going well, depending on where you are in the world.

For those of you who know me, or follow me on social media, you know that I’m a huge believer in happily ever afters for everyone. As a reader, I also love to see myself (or people like me) on the pages of the books I read. This includes age. In my teens and twenties, I gravitated toward stories with characters similar to that age group. Same thing in my thirties. But as I graduated into my forties, and recently, into my fifties, I began to notice there just aren’t as many main romantic leads out there in my age category. Now, before I get a barrage of angry comments (LOL), I have absolutely no problem reading or writing characters younger than me, and up until this year, all of my releases featured main protagonists in the age range of mid-twenties to mid-forties.

Then…

It was time to sign a new Medicals contract and my editor asked me what I wanted to write about. That’s when the idea hit me. An older couple. Not like nursing home older (though there’s nothing wrong with that either), but a hero and heroine who’d lived. Who’d been there, done that. Who had the physical and emotional scars to prove it. And thus Sara and Gabe were born.

Dr. Gabriel Novak is 55. He’s been through a war in his homeland and lost his wife and children. He blames himself for their deaths and becomes nomadic, working for various charity medical organizations around the world helping others who’ve experienced trauma in their lives. After such great loss, he never wants to let anyone that close again, for fear he can’t protect them either.

Nurse Sara Parker is 42. She’s raised her son on her own and is now taking early retirement from her job in a Chicago NICU to finally start living a little for herself–including travel. Her son is off in California for college and she signs up to volunteer for a charity field hospital in the rainforests of Costa Rica, near the Nicaraguan border. After her husband walked out on them years prior, she’s learned to rely on and trust in herself alone and doesn’t think she needs anyone else to make her happy.

When these two disparate and damaged souls meet, sparks fly–and not always in a good way.

I had so much fun with this one and bringing an older, different perspective to their love story. Hopefully, I’m not the only one who wants to see more “seasoned” romance on the page. I don’t think I am, at least according to my writing sprint group (and this YouTube podcast I participated in with my fellow awesome Harlequin authors Lucy Monroe and Carrie Nichols). LOL!

Anyway, I hope you enjoy reading this book as much as I enjoyed writing. Costa Rican Fling with the Doc will be out November 1st, 2021 and I hope you’ll consider picking up a copy. It’s also available for pre-order now at the link below!

(And I’ll try to pop back into the blog before release day with an exclusive snippet for you too!)

Do you enjoy romances with older characters or would you want to try one if you haven’t before? Let me know in the comments below!

Until next time, Happy Reading!

Traci 🙂

The road to happily-ever-after starts in Costa Rica in this passionate tropical romance by USA TODAY bestselling author Traci Douglass.

Sometimes the future…

…is just a fling away! 

For single mom Sara, life has been all about raising her now adult son. But volunteering for a medical charity in Costa Rica is finally the nurse’s chance to focus on her passions. Only, her guarded new boss, Gabe, stirs something deep in her that she’d thought long forgotten… And as the devastatingly handsome doctor sends all her senses into overdrive, for once sensible Sara can’t help wondering—what if they didn’t resist temptation?

PRE-ORDER A COPY NOW!

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

5 Queer Romances to read this Pride Month

Happy Pride Month!

Hi everyone!

It’s me, back again with my yearly round-up of queer romance books that I’ve read and enjoyed recently to share with you.

As a Proud Ally to the LGBTQA+ community and a demi person, representation is important. For readers to see themselves in books and movies and TV shows and know that they matter, that they are important and that their stories deserve to be told. For my part, I’ve always tried to write a diverse cast of characters and if you’ve read my Medical Romances, you’ve probably noticed there is usually at least one LGBTQA+ couple as secondary supporting characters in my stories, because seriously. If you don’t know any queer people in your life, then you’re not paying attention. LOL. 😉

Anywho, until then, as promised, here is my very subjective list of 5 queer romance books that I’ve read and enjoyed since last Pride Month. They are in no particular order and I’ve included blurbs and buy links for each below.

And there are tons more books out there too. Queer romance isn’t just for Pride Month. This list is meant to be a starting point if you’ve not read any queer romance before. Or if you have, then consider these recommendations to add to your TBR pile. Also, if there are any favorites that you’ve read lately that didn’t make it on here, please let me know in the comments below. I’m always on the lookout for new authors to love! ❤️

Until next time, Happy Reading! 🤓

Traci 😊

  1. THE GENTLE ART OF FORTUNE HUNTING by K.J. CHARLES

Robin Loxleigh and his sister Marianne are the hit of the Season, so attractive and delightful that nobody looks behind their pretty faces.

Until Robin sets his sights on Sir John Hartlebury’s heiress niece. The notoriously graceless baronet isn’t impressed by good looks, or fooled by false charm. He’s sure Robin is a liar—a fortune hunter, a card sharp, and a heartless, greedy fraud—and he’ll protect his niece, whatever it takes.

Then, just when Hart thinks he has Robin at his mercy, things take a sharp left turn. And as the grumpy baronet and the glib fortune hunter start to understand each other, they also find themselves starting to care—more than either of them thought possible.

But Robin’s cheated and lied and let people down for money. Can a professional rogue earn an honest happy ever after?

BUY HERE

2. THE INVISIBLE LIFE OF ADDIE LARUE by V.E. SCHWAB

France, 1714: in a moment of desperation, a young woman makes a Faustian bargain to live forever – and is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets.

Thus begins the extraordinary life of Addie LaRue, and a dazzling adventure that will play out across centuries and continents, across history and art, as a young woman learns how far she will go to leave her mark on the world.

But everything changes when, after nearly 300 years, Addie stumbles across a young man in a hidden bookstore, and he remembers her name.

BUY HERE

3. ROSELINE PALMER TAKES THE CAKE by ALEXIS HALL

Following the recipe is the key to a successful bake. Rosaline Palmer has always lived by those rules—well, except for when she dropped out of college to raise her daughter Amelie. Now, with a paycheck as useful as greaseproof paper and a house crumbling faster than biscuits in tea, she’s teetering on the edge of financial disaster. But where there’s a whisk there’s a way . . . and Rosaline has just landed a spot on the nation’s most beloved baking show.

Winning the prize money would give her daughter the life she deserves—and Rosaline is determined to stick to the instructions. However, more than collapsing trifles stand between Rosaline and sweet, sweet victory.  Suave, well-educated, and parent-approved Alain Pope knows all the right moves to sweep her off her feet, but it’s shy electrician Harry Dobson who makes Rosaline question her long-held beliefs—about herself, her family, and her desires.

Rosaline fears falling for Harry is a guaranteed recipe for disaster. Yet as the competition—and the ovens—heat up, Rosaline starts to realise the most delicious bakes come from the heart.

BUY HERE

4. THE HOUSE IN THE CERULEAN SEA by T.J. KLUNE

Linus Baker is a by-the-book case worker in the Department in Charge of Magical Youth. He’s tasked with determining whether six dangerous magical children are likely to bring about the end of the world.

Arthur Parnassus is the master of the orphanage. He would do anything to keep the children safe, even if it means the world will burn. And his secrets will come to light.

The House in the Cerulean Sea is an enchanting love story, masterfully told, about the profound experience of discovering an unlikely family in an unexpected place—and realizing that family is yours.

BUY HERE

5. THE QUEER PRINCIPLES OF KIT WEBB by CAT SEBASTIAN

Kit Webb has left his stand-and-deliver days behind him. But dreary days at his coffee shop have begun to make him pine for the heady rush of thievery. When a handsome yet arrogant aristocrat storms into his shop, Kit quickly realizes he may be unable to deny whatever this highborn man desires.

In order to save himself and a beloved friend, Percy, Lord Holland must go against every gentlemanly behavior he holds dear to gain what he needs most: a book that once belonged to his mother, a book his father never lets out of his sight and could be Percy’s savior. More comfortable in silk-filled ballrooms than coffee shops frequented by criminals, his attempts to hire the roughly hewn highwayman, formerly known as Gladhand Jack, proves equal parts frustrating and electrifying.

Kit refuses to participate in the robbery but agrees to teach Percy how to do the deed. Percy knows he has little choice but to submit and as the lessons in thievery begin, he discovers thievery isn’t the only crime he’s desperate to commit with Kit.  

But when their careful plan goes dangerously wrong and shocking revelations threaten to tear them apart, can these stolen hearts overcome the impediments in their path?

BUY HERE

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Excerpt – Her One-Night Secret

Hi All!

Hope your April is going well. For us in the Northern Hemisphere it’s Spring, my favorite time of the year. Everything’s fresh and new. The plants are blooming and growing. Flowers. New baby animals everywhere. Vaccines for COVID finally going in arms. So invigorating!

Plum blossoms from the Japanese Plum trees in my backyard!

Anyway, let’s talk Medicals. My next stories with the line release June 1, 2021 and are my first duet–First Response in Florida! Take two adopted brothers who both work in the medical field (Jackson is a top paramedic and Luis is an ER doc), a Key West setting, throw in tons of sexy, romantic conflict, and one nasty hurricane and you have the basis for the First Response in Florida duet!

The last time I was on the blog, I gave you a sneak peek into Book 1 in the duet, The Vet’s Unexpected Hero–Jackson and Lucy’s story. So, today, I thought I’d share and exclusive excerpt from Book 2 in the duet, Her One-Night Secret. This is Luis and Stacy’s story and it’s full of past regrets, second-chances, and one very special surprise.

I hope you enjoy this snippet from the story, where Stacy and Luis have their first conversation since their one night together four years before. And I also hope you’ll check out the First Response in Florida duet when it releases on June 1st! If you like action, suspense, heat, and happily ever afters, these are the books for you!

Until next time, stay safe and healthy and Happy Reading!

Traci 🙂

Excerpt:

HER FIRST IMPULSE was to feign ignorance, but from the way he’d been watching her this whole time, it was clear he’d recognized her, so what was the point? Besides, the last thing Stacy wanted to do was draw more attention to her past indiscretions, so she hiked her chin toward the other members of her fire crew to go on out into the hall, then waited until they were gone before turning back to face Luis.


“It is.” She forced a smile she didn’t feel and looked him over. Man, he was still gorgeous as ever. At first, when she’d looked back on that night, she’d figured she’d been imagining that thick, curly dark hair, those velvety caramel-colored eyes, the impossibly long eyelashes that most women would kill for. Of course, then, as luck would have it, her own son was born with those same features nine months later, so…


Stacy swallowed hard and did her best to cover her nervousness with chatter. “Didn’t think I’d see you again. How are you? You look well.”


Luis blinked at her a moment, a slight frown lining the smooth skin between his dark brows. “I wondered what happened to you after that night, if you were okay.”


That slight accent of his sent a sudden shiver of unwanted awareness through her, taking her right back to that night on the beach, the stars twinkling above, his strong arms around her, sweet endearments on his lips as he’d moved over her, in her, so careful, so tender, so…


“I’m fine. Great, actually.” She needed air, and space. The walls of the room seemed to be closing in on her with him that close, his warmth and scent surrounding her—soap and sandalwood. Stacy turned fast and pushed out into the hallway, grateful for the bright lights and noise of the other meeting members to distract her. She pointed at her badge and headed down the corridor toward the entrance to the ER. “Captain now.”


“I see that,” Luis said, keeping pace beside her, adjusting his long-legged stride to accommodate her shorter one. Funny how that worked. She was a good six inches shorter than him, but that night they’d fit perfectly together.


Stop thinking about that night. Stop it.


“Are you living in Key West now?” he asked as they passed her fire crew, who were giving her curious looks.


“I am,” she said, leaving it at that. She and Miguel had moved into a nice apartment at a local complex the previous year when she’d taken the captain’s job here after leaving her department in Miami. “And you? Are you still traveling the world on your mission trips?”


“No. Not anymore,” he said, tapping the square metal handicapped button on the wall with his elbow so the automatic doors swung open ahead of them. “I’ve taken the position as head of the emergency department here at Key West General, so I’m staying put now.”


“Good to know.” Actually, it wasn’t good. Not at all. Because if they were both staying here in Key West, that meant she needed to tell him about Miguel. Honestly, Stacy had never meant to keep it a secret from Luis for this long. It was just that once she’d found out she was pregnant, he was long gone, and she’d had no way to get a hold of him. Then she’d had the baby and had to fend for herself, and she’d been too busy working and surviving to consider another trip back down to Key West to search for Luis. Being accepted into the fire academy training program had been a godsend—good pay, good benefits, good exercise and a new, extended family she’d always wanted but never dreamed she’d have. The guys in the Miami-Dade County Fire and Rescue Department had embraced Stacy and Miguel as their own, giving her son all the attention and positive male role models he could ever want or need.


Still, having a father—his father—in his life was important for her son, at least to Stacy. So, no matter how awkward, she would tell Luis. Just maybe when the time and place were more appropriate.


“You work with Reed?” Luis asked as they stopped near the nurses’ station in the bustling ER. “The injured firefighter?”


“I do. He’s on a different crew than mine, but we’re all in the same battalion.” She swallowed hard against the lingering constriction in her throat. “It’s like a big family.”


“That’s nice,” Luis said, turning his attention to a chart the nurse behind the desk handed him. “Your colleague is in for a tough battle.”


“Is there any word on how the surgery went?” she asked, glad for a topic of discussion.


“I can’t discuss the specifics because of privacy laws, but suffice it to say that when I left the OR upstairs, he was holding his own. With luck they got the bleeding under control and we can move on to evaluating his leg injury.”


“Will he walk again?”


“I can’t give you a prognosis on that at the moment, I’m afraid.” Luis continued jotting notes in the chart he was working on. “It will be a long recovery either way. Given the extent of the initial injury, there will be nerve and tissue damage that will take time to heal. Physical therapy and bed rest are definitely in his future whether he keeps that leg or not. It will just depend on what the focus is—restoring strength and mobility or retraining him to use a prosthetic.”

“Will he be able to return to active duty as a firefighter?” Stacy asked, her heart aching for his family and what they were going through. “He’ll have his pension, but I know Reed, and he’d hate sitting behind a desk all day.”


“We won’t know until after the surgery and the ortho consult.” He glanced over at her. “But if everything works out well, I don’t see why not. They’ve made huge strides in technology and many people with prosthetics can do just as well, and in some cases better, than their counterparts without disabilities. That would be up to your department, however, and what the physical therapists have to say once they work with and evaluate him. We’re getting way ahead of ourselves here, though.”


Now that Stacy had a chance to really study him as he worked, she could see tiny lines near the corners of his eyes that hadn’t been there before, and a hint of dark stubble just beneath the surface of his strong jaw. She wondered how long his shift had been, if he had someone waiting at home for him once he was done…

Not that it was any of her business. Nope. She was not looking for a relationship. She had plenty enough on her plate as it was with work and Miguel and now the hurricane heading in their general direction. It was just that if he was involved with someone else, that would add another dimension to him finding out he had a son from a previous liaison. She needed to tread carefully, since the last thing Miguel needed right now was more upset to his schedule. With his mild Asperger’s, routine was the glue that held their little world together. And most of all, she didn’t want her son hurt.


As someone who knew the struggle of being an only child, raised by a single mother, Stacy knew all too well the pain of letting someone in, only to have them walk away or disappoint you. She remembered when her own father had walked out on them. At first, she’d cried and cried, running to the window each time a car drove by their house, thinking it might be him. Then, after a while, she’d turned the pain and hurt inward, thinking it was her fault he was gone. That it must’ve been something she’d done, or if she’d only been better, somehow, her father wouldn’t have left them. Eventually she’d internalized that feeling of never being enough and translated it into constantly pushing herself to do more, be more, hoping someday it might be enough to keep those she loved from leaving.


Stacy refused to have her son experience that same trauma by exposing Miguel to a man who might just as likely disappear from their lives as quickly as he’d arrived. She’d never really explained to Miguel about where his father was, and luckily he hadn’t asked. It had always just been the two of them. Now, though, as he was getting older, she feared the questions would come and, with them, the knowledge that he’d been a surprise baby. But in the best possible way. Stacy couldn’t image her life without her son. He was her reason for being, her reason for getting up every day, her reason for everything.


There wasn’t anything she wouldn’t do for Miguel, including telling Luis the truth.


Soon. Just not yet.

They stood there a moment, neither knowing what to say, until finally Stacy spotted Reed’s wife and daughter in the hall and seized on her opportunity to escape. “Uh, I should get back to my crew and Reed’s family. Excuse me. It was nice seeing you again.”


“I’d like to have dinner,” Luis said as she was walking away, halting her in her tracks. “To discuss coordination of our protocols for the hurricane.”


Her heart thudded harder against her rib cage. The hurricane. Right. “Uh, I…”


“Stacy,” he said, handing the chart back to the nurse then stepping toward her, a hint of his tanned chest visible through the vee of his light green scrub shirt. She concentrated there and not on his eyes, those too-perceptive eyes that sent tingles of heat through her like fireworks and always saw way more than she wanted to reveal. Like how nervous she was around him. Like how he still affected her, even after all these years. Like how almost five years later and a lifetime of changes apart, her attraction to him burned bright as the sun. “Just dinner. That’s all. How about tonight? Say, 8:00 p.m., after my shift? Unless you have other plans already.”

There it was. Her out. She seized on it with both hands, even as she cursed herself a coward. “Actually, I do have other plans tonight. Sorry.” Namely, mac and cheese and homework with Miguel. “Maybe another time.”


She took off before he could ask any more questions, the weight of his stare prickling the back of her neck all the way down the corridor.

First Response in Florida Duet

BOOK 1:

In the midst of the hurricane…

…will she find safety in his arms?


Vet Lucy Miller is happy with her quiet, ordered life. But when a tropical storm bears down on her Florida Keys animal sanctuary, the arrival of devastatingly gorgeous, yet equally guarded, emergency medic Jackson Durand brings disorder—and desire! He’s there to rescue her, but Lucy suspects her red-hot reaction to Jackson will be much more dangerous than the storm raging overhead…

PRE-ORDER HERE!

BOOK 2:

A return, a reunion…


…A shocking revelation!


Firefighter Stacy Williams knows two things about her return to Key West. Her promotion gives her the security she needs to raise her son, and it will be almost impossible to suppress the memories of her passionate night with Dr. Luis Durand. Almost…until working on the hurricane response team brings an encounter with the tall, dark and nomadic doc! And the chance to make her life-changing confession…

PRE-ORDER HERE!

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

First Response in Florida Duet – Exclusive Excerpt

Hi All!

Hope your February is going well. Since it’s currently -3 degrees Fahrenheit with a wind chill of -19 in my little corner of the world, I thought I’d share an exclusive excerpt from my upcoming duet for the Medicals line, First Response in Florida.

These books take place, as you can guess from the title, in sunny, warm Key West and feature two adopted brothers–EMT Jackson Durand and ER doc Luis Durand–on their journeys to find happily ever afters, all while battling a fierce hurricane to save their community.

In this excerpt from book one of the duet, The Vet’s Unexpected Hero, we meet Jackson Durand as he’s finishing up a busy shift as a paramedic at Key West General Hospital and rushing to finish his paperwork before a big meeting of the emergency response team ahead of Hurricane Mathilda’s arrival. He’s not looking for love. In fact, he’s a bit of a playboy. At least until a certain neuro-divergent veterinarian asks him for directions…

🤓📚❤️

Excerpt:

Disasters usually had most people running away from danger. EMT Jackson Durand wasn’t most people. 

His rig stopped outside the ambulance bay doors at Key West General ER and Jackson hopped out the back, followed closely by his EMT partner, Ned. Jackson’s adopted brother, Dr. Luis Durand, met them at the entrance ready to take on the case. 

“Forty-one-year-old firefighter with Key West FD,” Jackson said as he and Ned lowered the gurney from the back of the rig down to the ground. “Riding his motorcycle and thrown from the bike, no loss of consciousness on scene. Obvious open left femur fracture.”

The patient on the gurney moaned loud and tried to get up, but Jackson held him in place with a hand on his chest as they wheeled him into the ER and down a brightly lit hall to an available trauma bay, picking up nurses and techs as they went.

“Sir,” Luis said, stepping in beside Jackson. “Can you tell me your name?”

The patient bucked as they transferred him from the gurney to the hospital bed and one of the nurses lifted the sheet covering his lower body to look at the wound. “Reed,” the man on the gurney said. “What’s wrong with my leg? It hurts so bad.”

“Your leg is broken, sir,” Luis placed his stethoscope on the man’s chest and listened before continuing. “Pretty badly, I’m afraid. But we’re going to take good care of you.” He nodded to Jackson then took over his brother’s position at the patient’s bedside. “Okay, we’ve got a good airway here. Good breath sounds bilaterally. Sir, can you open your eyes again for me? Looks like you’re getting drowsy. Reed, can you wiggle your left toes for me?”

The patient screamed then, writhing on the bed. “Arrgh! It hurts, it hurts. I can’t. I can’t. My leg hurts so bad.”

“Blood pressure?” Luis asked the nurse across the table.

“70/40, doc.”

Jackson hid his wince, barely. He felt for the guy. With an open compound fracture of the femur like that, it had to be sheer agony, but they couldn’t risk giving him any pain meds for fear of his blood pressure dropping even lower, which would cause even more problems, including death if he stopped breathing.

“Right,” Luis said. “Let’s give him six units of blood stat.”

Jackson and Ned cleared the area to allow the staff more room to work. While Ned took the gurney back to the rig, Jackson headed down the hall to stock up on supplies before his shift ended. Along the way, he greeted staff as the passed. He knew just about everyone here and had a well-earned reputation as the go-to guy when it came to EMT services in the Keys. He liked being the man with the plan and the popularity that went with it. Mainly though, he liked the control. Hopefully his rep would earn him a coveted promotion soon; he just needed a chance to prove himself.

He entered the supply room and began to fill his kit with fresh gauze packs, elastic bandages, syringes, gloves, and Steri-strips. The neatly ordered shelves were a perfect reflection on his brother Luis, who was the head of this department. Thoughtful, quiet, efficient. Everything in its place and a place for everything. All equal. Yep. That was Luis Durand to a T. The complete opposite of Jackson, who thrived on chaos, quick decisions, and excitement. Always better to keep moving, keep going, because those who fell behind got left behind.

He’d learned that lesson the hard way.

“Hey,” a nurse said, coming around the corner of the aisle where he stood. She was dressed in pink scrubs with a jacket covered in cartoon babies. OB floor. Jackson’s gaze flicked to her face then back to the supplies he was sorting through. She was cute, maybe late-twenties, Asian. He didn’t remember her name, but from the expectant smile on her face, she obviously remembered his. Probably because they’d gone out, had a good time, maybe more. He had a reputation outside of the medical field too.

“Hey,” he said, not meeting her gaze. He wasn’t embarrassed about his flings. He only slept with women who knew the score. No strings, no complications. If they’d been together, then she’d gone into it with her eyes open too. He grabbed a handful of alcohol wipes and shoved them into the outer pocket of his pack, ignoring the hot prickle of her stare on the side of his face. 

When he didn’t say anything more, she stepped closer and smiled, shaking her head. “You don’t remember me, do you?”

“Of course, I do,” he said, concentrating on the zipper of his pack, and thinking maybe it was time to get out of the game. Not settle down, because he didn’t do relationships—get in too deep and all you ended up with was heartbreak and disappointment—but his thirtieth birthday was coming up soon and frankly he was getting too old for this crap. Maybe he’d get a dog or something to live on the houseboat with him. He hazarded a side glance at the nametag on her jacket. “How could I forget you, Susie?”

Her snort rang loud in the quiet supply room. “And that proves my point. I’m Amy. Borrowed this jacket earlier because I was cold.” Heat crept up his neck as he straightened, hiding his wince. “But don’t worry. I’m not offended,” she said, jovially. “We hooked up at the St. Patrick’s Day party at Durand’s earlier this year. The night’s pretty blurry for me too, since we’d both had way too much to drink. It’s all good.”

Right. 

His adopted parents owned one of the most popular bars in the touristy section of Key West, Durand’s Duck Bill Pub. He’d had a lot of good times at that bar, a lot of forgotten nights too. He flashed her a slow smile, hoping his charm might get him out of another sticky situation. “Ah. Yes, right. I do remember you now, Amy. You won the green beer contest and hung a T-shirt from the rafters.”

She shook he head and laughed. “I lost the whiskey duel and ended up having to kiss that gross leprechaun statue near the entrance. Nice try though.”

“Thanks.” He winked and sidled past her. “Gotta go.”

“Of course, you do,” she called as he walked out of the supply room fast. “Thanks for the memories.”

“Bye, Amy,” he called back, glad to be out of the firing line. By the time he returned to the bustle of the ER, his brother was at the nurses’ station barking orders into the phone to what Jackson assumed was the OR. 

“Yes. Fireman thrown from his motorcycle with a known bad femur fracture. Suspected pelvic fracture. I’m also worried he may have an as yet undiagnosed solid organ injury, perhaps liver or spleen that’s adding to the loss of blood. We’ll need ortho to assist for the leg, but my primary concern right now is saving his life. Okay. Yes. I’ll be up ASAP. Thank you.”

“Another busy day in the neighborhood, huh?” Jackson moved in beside him at the counter and placed his refilled equipment pack at his feet. “You think he’s going to make it?”

“I’m going to do everything I can to make sure he does,” Luis said, heading toward the stairwell up to the third floor only to be cut off by the man’s family and fire crew. Jackson concentrated on filling out the requisition forms for his supplies while his brother did his best to put the new arrivals at ease. “Yes. Reed has got a bad leg fracture from the accident and we’re taking him to surgery now to repair it and also to make sure there’s not more bleeding internally. If you have a seat in the waiting room, I’ll be down as soon as I can with an update. I…”

His brother’s voice trailed off and Jackson glanced up to see what had cause the rare occurrence. Luis was always well-spoken, always prepared, always on top of things. He had a mild case of Asperger’s, so that kept him constantly thinking, constantly working through problems in his head that usually spilled out of his mouth as well. So, him going speechless was quite an event. But all Jackson saw were the same people as before. A middle-aged woman sobbing on the shoulder of a teenaged boy and girl, who he assumed were the patient’s wife and kids. Behind them was Reed’s fire crew in their uniforms, their fire truck parked outside the doors beside the ambulance, lights still blazing. Jackson recognized the firefighters as they often went on the same runs as EMS, since many of them were trained as first responders as well. Bud Landry, John Cheeves, and Stacy Williams. Luis definitely wasn’t gay, so the guys were out as the source of Luis’ sudden silence. Which left Stacy. 

Blonde, twenty-seven or twenty-eight maybe. Pretty, in a natural, wholesome, beach bunny sort of way. Curvy and cute, and more than capable in the field and courageous as hell. Looks could definitely be deceiving in her case. Luis was staring at her like he’d seen a ghost. 

Huh. Interesting. Maybe he’d been bitten by the love bug at last. 

An overachiever in nearly every facet of his life except the personal, Luis pushed himself hard. Always working, always helping, always growing. He’d told Jackson once it was because his parents had died bring him to the US from Cuba, sacrificing everything to give their son a better life. Luis felt obligated to live up to the legacy they’d given him, one of bravery and selflessness, even if doing so was to his own detriment. It was the one area he and Jackson had in common, but for very different reasons.

Luis’s past was rooted in affirmation and acceptance. Jackson’s in abandonment.

His mother had left him behind at four years old with no explanation and no word since. 

He had no idea why she’d given him, just that she’d left him and deep down he knew he probably deserved it. 

The nearby elevators dinged and broke Jackson out of his thoughts. Seemed to break Luis out of whatever spell he’d fallen under too. He excused himself and shoved into the stairwell like his butt was on fire. Jackson went back to finishing up his blasted paperwork, pushing the painful past away.

Of all the aspects of his job, the bureaucracy was his least favorite. He much preferred being out on runs, saving lives, helping others, protecting those who needed it. In fact, protection was his calling, his reason for being. Plus, being an EMT meant he got in, got out, got on with the next patient, never getting too attached to any one person or case. Attachment—that’s where you really got in trouble. 

Because everyone left, sooner or later, once they saw the real, unworthy, you. 

“Dude, I’m going to take off,” Ned said, clapping him on the shoulder as he walked by, jarring Jackson out of his thoughts. “You need anything from the rig before I go?” 

“Nah, man. Thanks.” Jackson planned to use the staff locker room downstairs to shower and change after his shift before heading to the latest meeting of the local Emergency Response Team in the hospital conference room. He was Incident Commander for this one and if things went well it could lead to him landing the recently vacated regional director spot for the local ambulance authority.

“Oh, wait,” Jackson said, initialing and signing on the dotted lines. “You can take this full pack back with you if want.”

“Will do. I’m going to run down to the cafeteria and get a soda real quick first, then I’ll be back to get it. Sure you don’t want anything?” Ned asked as he walked over the elevators.

“No. Thanks, man. Have a good rest of your shift.” Jackson smiled over at his partner. If he got in and out of the showers fast enough, he’d grab a bite himself before the meeting. Coming off a twelve-hour rotation, he needed time to wind down though before thinking about a meal. “Take your time.”

Jackson flipped to yet another sheet on his clipboard and started on the next form, only half-listening to the drone of the TV in the waiting room behind him. 

“…Tropical Storm Mathilda is expected to strengthen into a major hurricane by the time it reaches the gulf early next week. As of right now, projections are still vague as to exactly where the eyewall will make landfall, but we do expect it to at least brush the Keys on its way toward mainland USA.”

Jackson sighed. Another early August day in southern Florida. They’d been having meetings off and on since the start of the hurricane season in May. Each week a few new faces appeared in the conference room, and the team was rounded out as conditions changed. The Incident Commander’s job was to coordinate all the different team members into a cohesive whole and direct their resources to the areas that needed them most during the crisis. Considering he’d worked as an EMT in Key West since leaving the Coast Guard six years ago, and had pretty much seen and heard it all, it was a task he was well prepared for. Plus, he loved what he did. But he also had more to contribute and being named regional director would give him that opportunity. 

Jackson dotted the last I and crossed the last T on his paperwork then handed it back to the nurse behind the desk, just as a female voice behind him asked, “Excuse me. Can you tell me where the conference room is please? I’m here for the ERT meeting.”

He turned to see a petite, dark-haired woman with a huge, panting golden retriever at her side. The dog was almost as big as she was, with a goofy doggo grin on its face, tongue lolling, and a red therapy vest on its back. Jackson couldn’t resist crouching to scratch the pup behind the ears. “Who’s a good boy, huh?”

“His name is Sam and he’s working,” the woman said, her tone edged with annoyance this time. “Directions, please? I don’t want to be late.”

Jackson glanced back up into her anxious dark eyes. He straightened and gave her a polite smile. “Sorry. I should’ve asked to pet him first. Come on. I’ll show you the way.” He stowed the pack for Ned with the nurse behind the desk then gestured for the woman to follow him. “You’re way too early though. Meeting doesn’t start until three. It’s only two now.”

“I know.” She moved around him and the dog trotted obediently at her side. “I’d rather be early. I always like to be prepared.”

They walked out of the ER and into a quiet corridor leading to the administrative wing. He gave her a side glance, their shoes squeaking on the shiny linoleum and the dog’s leash jangling in time to the clatter of its nails on the floor. Trying to ease the awkward with humor, he joked, “Isn’t that the boy scout motto? Always be prepared.”

“Could be. I really wouldn’t know.” She stared straight ahead, her steps evenly measured to avoid all the cracks between tiles. Hmm. Her cheeks were pink too, and he couldn’t tell if it was because it was hot outside—almost ninety today—or if she was still mad he’d pet her dog. Either way, it was clear she wanted nothing to do with him. 

At the end of the hall they reached a doorway marked with a gold plaque that read ‘Conference Room A’. She gave a curt nod and finally faced him, though she kept her gaze fixed on the dog. “Thank you.”

“Uh, sure.” He slowly backed away, more intrigued than he cared to admit. People liked him. Women liked him a lot. Except for this one. She posed a puzzling challenge, and he did love a challenge. The list of new team members ran through his head as he tried to pinpoint her identity. “I’ll see you later then.”

Confusion flickered across her pretty features and she frowned. “Why?”

“I’ll be in the ERT meeting too. Jackson Durand, by the way. That’s my name.”

He waited for her to tell him hers, but she didn’t. Just led her big old dog into the conference room then closed the door behind her.

Want to read more? My First Response in Florida Duet will be out June 2021. However, you can pre-order now, so they’ll show up as soon as they’re available! Links are below and until next time, Happy Reading! ❤️

~ Traci 😊

First Response in Florida Duet:

Book One

The Vet’s Unexpected Hero

In the midst of the hurricane…
…will she find safety in his arms?

Vet Lucy Miller is happy with her quiet, ordered life. But when a tropical storm bears down on her Florida Keys animal sanctuary, the arrival of devastatingly gorgeous, yet equally guarded, emergency medic Jackson Durand brings disorder—and desire! He’s there to rescue her, but Lucy suspects her red-hot reaction to Jackson will be much more dangerous than the storm raging overhead…

PRE-ORDER HERE!

Book Two:

Her One-Night Secret

A return, a reunion…
…A shocking revelation!


Firefighter Stacy Williams knows two things about her return to Key West. Her promotion gives her the security she needs to raise her son, and it will be almost impossible to suppress the memories of her passionate night with Dr. Luis Durand. Almost…until working on the hurricane response team brings an encounter with the tall, dark and nomadic doc! And the chance to make her life-changing confession…

PRE-ORDER HERE!

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Origin Stories

Creative Origins

As an author, I get asked a lot about when I first knew I wanted to be a writer. I wish I had a sweet story about knowing from childhood authorship was my destiny.

My journey, however, isn’t that tidy or straightforward. In fact, it’s a bit more like this:

I’ve had a lot of different jobs before becoming a published author: cashier, bank teller, certified medical assistant, college teacher and program head, risk management specialist, professional ballroom dancer, call center worker, and retail merchandiser.

In fact, up until I wrote my first book at the end of 2011 (after I had a dream that wouldn’t go away until I put it on paper), it never occurred to me to be an author. Now, that’s not to say I wasn’t a storyteller. I was an introverted only child, who always got along better with people twice my age than other kids, so making up tales to keep myself entertained was a daily occurrence. I just never thought to write any of them down.

Honestly, though, given my family history, I probably should have known I’d end up in some kind of creative field. After all, it is in my blood. Both my parents were artists. My mother was a graphic designer and my father was an interior decorator and visual merchandiser. My mom was also a dancer before she married my dad and she was a Rockette back in the 1950s and toured the country with the June Taylor Dancers.

My mom, front and center, in one of her 1950s costumed dance numbers.

Plus, my maternal grandparents were part of a trapeze/high wire act back in the 1920s and 1930s. The Flying Deislers worked for several major circus organizers in the US, including Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey. They also performed for the Roosevelts at the White House and my grandmother was friends with Ginger Rogers. How cool is that?!?

Part of the Flying Deislers trapeze troupe. My aunt, Juanita (‘Neets’) Deisler, left. My uncle, Royal (‘Roy’) Deisler, center. And my grandmother, Georgia (‘Irene’) Deisler, right. Circa 1920s. Uncle Roy later also worked in Hollywood as a stunt man for Olympic swimmer and actor Johnny Weissmuller on the Tarzan movies.
Newspaper article from the 1945 for the Flying Royals, featuring my uncle Roy, center. They changed the name of the troupe after my grandparents left to raise a family.

So yeah. I guess a little of my ancestors’ creative drive was passed down to me, even though I can’t draw at all and you won’t find me swinging high in the air without a net. Nope.

Like I said earlier, I had a dream in 2011 that was basically the plot of my first published book in 2013, Seal of Destiny, a paranormal romance. My mom lived long enough to see it in print and was one of my first beta readers. I dedicated it to her and that story will always hold a special place in my heart. ❤️

My mom and I, circa early 2000s, when I was ballroom dancing. (Thus the fake tan, LOL! 😉😂)

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Season of Light

2020. Wow. 

I gotta say, folks. I’m tired. Mentally, physically, emotionally exhausted. 

With so much happening in the world and everything on fire (literally and figuratively), I feel drained in a way that hasn’t occurred in a long time. Like constantly on edge, with a low-grade anxiety nipping around the edges of every day. Thankfully, I’ve also had a lot on my writing plate, project-wise, since around August, so that’s been distraction and a reason to keep pushing to the finish line. Finally, the last of those projects will be done this week (yay!) and then I’ll have a solid four weeks to myself to just… be.

Of course, as a card-carrying an overachiever, I can’t just sit that whole time. I’ll spend part of it working up a proposal for my next Medicals book to send to my editor, planning out my personal and professional tasks for the first quarter of 2021, doing a new first-quarter budget, and working on a secret writing project that I hope to launch in 2021 under a new pen name. (P.S. If you enjoy cozy mysteries, M/M Romance, and paranormals, stay tuned. 😉) 

But first, though, I’ll be welcoming the return of the light here in the Northern Hemisphere on December 21st. I know, calendar-wise, January 1st is the official start of the New Year, but the Winter Solstice still holds a special place in my heart and feels like the real new start. It’s when we get the first tangible signs that the darkness is leaving, that light will return, that the days will get longer and the nights shorter.  A tangible sign of hope, at least to me. 

And not to put too great a spin on it, but man. I’m ready for hope again! 

Recently, I’ve been spending some time studying ancient Jewish mythology to refill my creative well. If you’re interested in this sort of thing too, I highly recommend Tree of Souls: The Mythology of Judaism. Very interesting and important stuff. 

Anyway, there’s a beautiful legend about creation that says when God said, “Let there be Light” the first light went forth in the form of ten vessels out into the darkness. Those vessels were intended to reach their destination intact, but unfortunately, they were too fragile to survive the trip. The vessels broke apart, sending sparks of light everywhere. According to this legend, our purpose here on earth is to gather those sparks, wherever they are hidden. And when enough of these sparks are gathered, then the vessels will be restored, and the world will be healed. 

Isn’t that beautiful? ❤️

So, in my final post on Love is the Best Medicine for 2020, I wish you all peace and joy this holiday season. I wish you good health and happiness. I wish you love and time with your families and those you hold dear. But most of all, as we careen into 2021, I wish all of you hope. Hope that you find your spark of light wherever it may be, and gather it close to heal this world we live in. 

Until next year, Blessings and Happy Reading!

Traci 😊

 My latest release:

Christmastime with a stranger—

A lifetime together?

Neurosurgeon Maxwell is determined to atone for the one life he couldn’t save…his late wife’s. Set to perform delicate surgery on a king, Max finds himself shadowed by PR director Ayanna. They must work together to keep the king’s case a secret. But when Ayanna temporarily moves in to Max’s apartment, they face a very different type of tension—their undeniable attraction!

From Harlequin Medical: Life and love in the world of modern medicine.

Royal Christmas at Seattle General

Book 1: Falling for the Secret Prince by Alison Roberts

Book 2: Neurosurgeon’s Christmas to Remember by Traci Douglass

Book 3: The Bodyguard’s Christmas Proposal by Charlotte Hawkes

Book 4: The Princess’s Christmas Baby by Louisa George

GET YOUR COPY HERE!