Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Holiday Celebrations, Hot Docs!, New Releases

I wish you a Merry Christmas…

All I Want for Christmas, emilyforbes-72dpi-1500x2000

I love Christmas and I love summer and, in Australia, two of my favourite things combine but I would love to experience a white Christmas. We watch it in the movies and sing about it in our Christmas carols -which is hilarious as Christmas Day Down Under can often be 100°F/ 39°C – while we are drinking chilled Champagne and eating seafood, fresh berries and pavlova (basically a big meringue but better  🙂 )followed by a swim in the pool.

What I would love to know is if anyone in the northern hemisphere dreams of a hot Christmas or is it a southern hemisphere thing?

Wherever you are and however you are celebrating I wish you a very Merry Christmas with love, laughter, friends and family. And if you haven’t finished (or started!) your shopping here are some suggestions gathered from around the globe.

From left to right, top to bottom:

UK, USA, Canada ; Germany; USA & Canada; Sweden

Australia; Italy; France

Italy; Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland; France; South Africa.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and happy and healthy 2018,

Emily xx

 

 

 

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Guest Blogs, Holiday Celebrations, New Releases

Thanksgiving in US and the Holidays to Come!

Hello LIBM! It’s been a while since I’ve blogged, though I frequently stop by to read the wonderful posts by my favorite Medical Romance authors.  Though I’m writing for a different Harlequin line now, and a new small press, I still love to write doctors and nurses as main characters. My last Medical was out May 2017, Miracle for the Neurosurgeon, but I still feel part of this lovely group of authors.

Happy Thanksgiving beautiful turkey card

For USA readers, Happy Thanksgiving tomorrow! Gobble gobble. We all have much to be thankful for, and it is nice to take time to think about those blessings, even if hanging out with “certain” relatives tests our patience. 😉

Now, since LIBM is an International website, I’d like to talk about some of my upcoming books for 2018 with Harlequin.

The Delaneys of Sandpiper beach

ForeverAFatherUK51Ttym-AGEL
I’m excited to say that in 2018 I will have a trilogy out (Harlequin Special Edition in US and True Love line in UK, as well as Cherish line in Australia). FOREVER A FATHER, is book #1, where the hero is a Physical Medicine doctor. Here are the US and UK book covers. And yes, it is also (finally!) my twenty-fifth book with Harlequin.

 

 

 

 

However, I come with an ulterior motive today, to talk about my current release.

THEIR CHRISTMAS MIRACLE from Tule Publishing

take two for christmas

Tracy Blevin is an RN, so there is that. 😉
I set out to write a Christmas book with a G rating for TULE Publishing, for those who want to enjoy a story that isn’t loaded down with angst during the holidays. Also for those who have friends and family who may not want to read hot romances, so they can share the book with them, too. The first draft was a little too breezy, and my Tule editor pointed out the ways I needed to dig deeper. I took her advice!

Here’s an ad lib snapshot of the story, though the final paragraph is right from the book blurb:

Hunter Wood is a good guy, just trying to make a living while venturing out with his own café. But life has a curve ball heading his way.

Tracy Blevin is still carrying around a grudge from her childhood, and really needs to let it go and move on, so she can finally see the great guy standing in front of her.

When a Montana winter car crash leaves a baby an orphan, Godfather Hunter, lives up to his promise, taking in the ten-month old. With the season of miracles upon them, Hunter can no longer deny his strong attraction towards Tracy. Is her life-long wish for her own family finally being answered this Christmas?

Available in Digital format only at these vendors:
Amazon Kindle
B&N Nook
iBooks
Kobo
Google Play
Amazon Kindle UK

You can read the full blurb at any of the digital venues above or at my website. If you read the book, I hope it adds a little extra something to your holidays this year. Hopefully it will put a smile on your face. Above all, that was my goal this Christmas.

NEWS FLASH:
I have a BookBub ad scheduled for tomorrow, November 23rd, USA Thanksgiving Day, for the first book in the Charity, Montana series: Her Baby, His Love. Get it free and tell your friends!

Thanks for having me back!
Love,
Lynne Marshall

 

 

 

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Holiday Celebrations, New Releases, The Writing Life

Rainy Days and Mondays

Well, today isn’t Monday, but as I was writing this blog post, it was. And it was definitely raining. Most of the day, in fact. But, unlike the song, those kinds of days don’t “get me down.” I tend to like the rain. And sleeping to the sound of thunder is just bliss.

What wasn’t so blissful was the cold that went along with the rain, since we’re headed into winter, and the days are getting shorter. But what does make me happy is that I just got my story bible for the continuity I’ll be writing. And it’s a Christmas story. One of my favorite kinds of books to write! Did the editors plan it that way, hoping the festive lights and tinsel would light my muse’s fire? I don’t know, but I think it’s going to work. I’m very excited about the plot I’ve been given, and on Monday, I was busy setting up my chapters in Scrivener (the writing program I use). So, right now, it’s literally a series of twelve chapter headings and an expanse of empty pages. My imagination is running wild with how I can make this story my own.

Monday’s rain just added to my momentum, since I couldn’t get out and do anything. In fact, I drove to a nearby supermarket parking lot to get some peace and quiet, pushed back the seat as far as it would go and listened to the rain while I got my program set up. It was wonderful. Just me, the warmth of the car heater, and my still-to-be-written book.

rainy days and Mondays
The view from my car on a rainy Monday

And I can’t wait to start! I just came off a frenetic writing schedule and finally had time to stop and recharge my batteries. So just like the rain that was washing the thin layer of dust from my car, it cleared the cobwebs from my mind too. I’m ready to write.

I’m in love. With my characters. My story. My life. Even on a rainy, Monday morning!

To add to my joy, I just received the cover for my latest book. I love that too!

How about you? Do you like rainy days?

9781335663344

Excerpts, Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Holiday Celebrations, Hot Docs!, New Releases

Christmas with the Best Man

By Susan Carlisle

I hope this is a little early Christmas cheer.

This is an taste of my last book Christmas with the Best Man which is out on December 1. It is a part of the Manhattan Mercy continuity that joins my fellow medical authors: Amy Ruttan, Robin Gianna, Janice Lynn, Alison Roberts, Amalie Berlin. You don’t want to miss theirs either. 

Christmas with the Best man 300

Dr. Helena Tate knew what a mad house the ER could be like during and after a major nor’eastern but to experience it first hand was always a draining experience. Not only was snow piled everywhere, the wind was howling and the temperature teeth clatteringly cold.

Injured people filled the chairs and any extra space in Manhattan Mercy Hospital’s Emergency Department in New York City. Even though the department might be the most modern and efficient ER in the world, it had still been all-hands-on deck for the last couple of days. Inside was at least warm and cheerful. Being a week before Christmas and the nurses had banded together to decorate the department. Garland hung around the unit desk, wreaths adorned each trauma room door, and there was even a Christmas tree in the corner of the waiting room.

Despite the festive time of the year the sick and injured just kept coming. Thankfully the flow had started to ease. She must be out of here in an hour if she had any hope of making Grace and Charles’s wedding on time. A must, since she was the maid of honor.

Grace and she had been friends and roommates during medical school and had stayed in touch. When Grace had mentioned needing a change from her overseas work, Helena had told Grace about a position becoming available in the ER and had offered her the extra bedroom. Grace soon learned Charles Davenport would be her boss and talked of cancelling the interview. Helena had encouraged her to come on anyway having no idea there had been something between Grace and Charles during their medical school years.

Helena smiled then sighed. Now, they were getting married just a couple of weeks before Christmas. She was thrilled for them.

Finishing with her latest patient, Helena headed to the ER doctor’s on-call room to shower and change. It wasn’t the perfect place to dress for a formal event but unusual circumstances called for flexibility. If anything, she’d learned long ago as an unwed pregnant teen to adjust to what life threw her and move on.

The pain of finding out that her boyfriend wanted nothing more to do with her, and especially the baby, had been horrible. More devastating had been the loss of the child. Seventeen was too young to become a mother, but the guilt she carried over not wanting the baby was what had stayed with her all these years.

She had survived with the love and support of her family. That’s what mattered now. The part of her personality that made her think positive had made being a ER doctor a good fit professionally for her. Days like the last few only proved it. How she was holding her love close. She wanted a man who wanted her forever. Some might think she was too old to believe in happily ever after but she was still going to hold out for it. Grace and Charles were proving it could be had and Helena had to believe Prince Charming was somewhere out there for her as well.

She stepped out of the examination room and was sideswiped by a blur of white. “Ho.”

Dr. Elijah Davenport, Charles’ twin, glanced over his shoulder. “Hey Helena, can you give me a hand in Trauma Four? A kid just came in with a broken leg and the father’s having trouble breathing.”

She hurried to keep up with him. “Is Jim seeing them? I saw him coming in a few minutes ago. You’re off the clock. Shouldn’t you be thinking about getting ready for the wedding? After all you’re the best man.”

“Yeah, but there’re also patients to see. When Charles left me in charge I promised not to let the place fall apart.”

Like Elijah would ever do that. He might be the quintessential playboy doctor but Helena never doubted he was a dedicated physician. Truth be known, she thought him the best doctor in the department. But no way would she tell him that. His head was already big enough where women were concerned. It would only add to his already over-the-top ego.

Still he had earned it. Elijah was beyond good-looking. From his dark brown hair, charmingly out of place most of the time, to his tall, buff beach boy physique and his ‘Davenport blues’ that sparkled when he laughed, Helena easily understood why women were agog over him. She might be as well but she wasn’t interested in anyone who worked their way through the nurses. Nor in the heartache he would cause if she lost her heart to him. She wouldn’t accept anything but true love.

Helena’s attention went to Elijah who had paused at the door to the patient’s room. “I’ll take the kid and you see the father.”

“Okay.”

She covered it well but no matter how much time had passed since she’d lost her baby the young patients still got to her on occasion. Sometimes a look or a laugh from a child triggered something in her that sent her emotions spinning out of control. During those moments, the pain was so harsh her chest felt like it might explode. The what questions came flooding in. What would she have looked like? Would her child be acting the same as this one? The list and the pain went on. Thank goodness it didn’t happen often. But when it did…

“Done.” Elijah walked into the room.

A boy of about eight lay on the exam table with his face contorted in pain while a tight-lipped father holding his side paced beside him.

“Mr.,” Elijah looked at the clipboard he held, “Kakasides, I’m Dr. Davenport and this,” he nodded his head toward her, “is Dr. Tate. Why don’t you have a seat and tell us what happened.”

“I’d rather stand. It hurts worse when I sit. We were sledding in the park. Like an idiot, I tried to catch Louis when he came by me going too fast. I fell on him. I think I’ve broken his leg. I hit the edge of the sled and messed up my side.”

Elijah glanced at her with a ‘are you believing this look’ and then said to the father, “I’m going to check out your son while Dr. Tate does the same for you, okay?”

“Why don’t we step right over here?” Helena indicated an area off to the side.

The father glanced at his son, nodded. “Louis, I’m not going far. Hang in there, buddy.”

“Before I have a look at your side I need to listen to your heart and check a few more things.”

Again, the father dipped his head but his attention remained on his son.

With vitals completed she said, “I know this is going to hurt but I need for you to take a deep breath.”

The father winced but did as she asked.

“Now Mr. Kakasides, I have to look under your shirt. Can you raise your arm?”

He hissed as he brought his arm up. Moving the shirt away Helena could see a dark blue hematoma spreading out along his left side. The fall had defiantly been hard.

“I’m going to need to step out and have a look at your chest X-ray,” she announced. “At the least you’ve broken a few ribs but I need to make sure there isn’t more. Unfortunately, there isn’t much we can do for broken ribs. They’ll have to heal on their own. You can take an anti-inflammatory for the pain.”

They rejoined Elijah as he was saying, “Okay Louis, I need to have a look at your leg. I see the nurse has already done her worse with your pants.”

The material had been cut away so that it flapped back exposing the leg. There was a large bump with redness and bluing around it.

“Yep, that looks like a broken leg. You and your father sure know how to have a good time in the snow.”

The boy gave Elijah a weak smile. “He fell on me but I know he didn’t mean to.”

Elijah patted him on the shoulder and a wink. “I’m sure he didn’t. Maybe next time you can save him.”

The boys smile was brighter this time.

Good with kids, Elijah would make a great father. But he was also ‘good’ with women which would not make him a great husband. Fortunately, that wasn’t an issue. He’d never approached her and that suited her fine. Just watching him in action with the other female staff was enough for her to know he wasn’t what she was looking for in a man.

Elijah gave a reassuring smile to the boy’s father. “Radiology should have sent the pictures over by now. Let us review them. Dr. Tate and I’ll be back in soon.”

“Thanks.” The father looked at her and then at Elijah. “To both of you.”

On their way back to the ER desk Elijah was stopped by one of the nurses with a question. Helena didn’t wait on him. At the desk, she pulled up the X-ray for Mr. Kakasides. His eight, nine and tenth ribs were cracked. He would be in pain for a few weeks but would recover. She had the x-ray Elijah needed to review up on the screen by the time he arrived. He slid into the chair beside her.

“Thanks Helena.”

“No problem. As Maid of Honor, I think it’s part of my duty to remind the best man he needs to get out of here as soon as possible.”

He studied the computer screen. “Well, Joe has a break to his femur.”

“His father is going to take it hard. He feels bad enough as it is.” Helena stood and checked her watch. “I’m going to give him instructions about his ribs and get ready for a wedding. You need to do the same.”

Elijah rolled back his chair. “Yes, doctor. I’m right behind you. First, I need to call Lloyd up in ped ortho and have him come in on the case. The boy will need surgery to put a rod in.”

“Then I’ll let the father know you’ll be in to speak to him. I’ll see you in the Park.”

“Yeah, in the Park.” There was a dry note in Elijah voice.

“Don’t sound so excited.” Helena grinned back at him as she circled the desk and headed down the hall. “Remember weddings aren’t contagious.”

 

Elijah sure hope they weren’t. He wanted nothing to do with one.

Forty-five minutes later, he left the ER station desk and headed down the hall toward the doctor-on-call room. There a shower and his tux waited. He had plenty of time to get dressed and make it to the park. At least the hospital was just across the street, but Central Park was a huge space. Just to walk to the Shakespeare Garden would take time.

Charles would never let him forget it if he was late to the ceremony. Grace would be in tears and nothing Elijah said would make that okay in Charles’s eyes. The ER had been so busy Elijah had seen two more patients before he felt he could call his shift done. It then took another fifteen minutes to bring the doctor taking over for him up to speed on the patients being seen.

Elijah admitted to himself that he was dragging his feet about the whole wedding thing. It wasn’t he didn’t want to be there for Charles or that he didn’t like Grace. He did. He wished them both the best. Was truly happy for them. It was just that the ‘wedded bliss’ idea didn’t appeal to him much. He’d seen little of that in his parents’ marriage. Knew he wouldn’t be good at it.

He was halfway down the hall when one of the two swinging doors at the end opened. Helena came toward him. Elijah stopped dead in his tracks. She was a vision of loveliness like he’d never seen. Her curly, shoulder-length, auburn colored hair was now pinned up, the waves flowing randomly about her head. A red poinsettia bloom was fixed behind her right ear. She wore a long forest green dress that hugged womanly curves usually hidden by loose scrub shirts. The top of the dress dipped, giving him a hint of cleavage that only made him want to see more. Small short sleeves cupped her creamy shoulders. The skirt swirled about her legs as she came toward him drawing his attention to her hips.

His heart picked up a beat. Not to mention the stirring south of his beltline. Heaven help him, Helena was breathtaking. Why hadn’t he noticed before?

They had been working together for a couple of years. More than once she and a few other of the staff had gone out to eat as a group after a shift but he’d never thought of her in any way except as a colleague. She’d always been pleasant but seemed closed off somehow. She gave off the vibe that she wasn’t someone who played around. With her wholesome southern drawl and gentle smile, she wasn’t one of those women who gave him a come-hither look he had no trouble obeying. Everything about her said serious, down to earth, love me forever. That was the type he stayed clear of. Maybe that’s why it never registered Helena could be so completely stunning.

Whatever the cause it had been lifted from his eyes. He was noticing her now. Big time.

He needed to snap out of it. Had Helena said something to him? He blinked.

“Elijah, are you just now going to get dressed? You have less than an hour before we’re supposed to be walking down the aisle. Grace is going to have your hide.” She stepped closer.

Her wonderful aroma filled his nostrils. Nothing like the antiseptic smell of the hospital but something warm and earthy, intriguing. He was acting like a fool. Working to get a grip on himself, he grinned. He focused on a point just over her shoulder to get beyond how enchanting she looked. “It’s a good thing you’re a doctor. At least you’ll be able to patch me up.”

She lowered her chin and gave him a speculative look. “I don’t think I have enough medical training to save you from Grace’s wrath if you’re not there on time.”

He laughed. Helena did too. It had a sincere ring that sounded as if it came from her heart. He’d always liked that about her. She had a sense of humor. “Then I guess I need to get moving.” He started down the hall.

“That would be my suggestion.” She headed the other way.

Elijah stopped and looked back, his attention drawn to her hips. It was a shame her scrubs had been disguising those full curves for so long.

Minutes later he was under a hot shower. He was surprised he hadn’t needed a cold one after seeing Helena. How spectacular she looked still amazed him. At least he’d managed not to make a fool of himself. This sudden interest, no, infatuation, with Helena was crazy. He’d seen many woman in formal clothing yet had not reacted this way.

It was probably being overtired from covering for Charles when the ER was impossibly busy. Or maybe it was due to the wedding hoopla he normally stayed clear of. There was something out of cynic with the universe for him to have had such an intense reaction to Helena. Especially when she was clearly not his type.

Half an hour later he shrugged into his black overcoat adjusting it over his tuxedo. Wrapping his groomsman’s gift, a scarlet red scarf securely around his neck, he popped a short black top hat on his head. It might be the silliest thing he’d ever worn if it wasn’t for the fact that it was so cold and not wearing a hat was even more ridiculous.

He received more than one interested look and a few grins as he made his way through the older part of the building to the lobby and out the front entrance of the hospital. His idea of dressing up was putting on a pair of slacks and a collared shirt. Causal was his style, less dog and pony show. He worked hard and liked to relax and have fun when he was off. Only when he couldn’t avoid it did he put on a suit for a medical meeting. To be wearing a tuxedo was taxing. The only reason he was doing so was because he loved his brother. Elijah wished him well. It had been hard on Charles when he lost his wife and was left with two small sons to raise. Elijah was glad his brother had found love again, happiness.

Elijah pulled on his black gloves as he went down the stone steps to the street to catch a cab. It would get him to the closest park entrance nearest Shakespeare Garden and then he would have to walk from there. Just as Helena told him more than once, he’d be cutting it close on time.

The taxi driver put him out at the curb and he hurried down the path. Thankfully having grown up in New York he knew Central Park well. He’d heard of people getting lost in the massive acreage. As a child, he and his brothers and sister had played there. More than once they had picnicked in the Shakespeare Garden area among the trees and large foliage. Those were sunnier days both literally and figuratively. Ones from a long time ago.

He hurried up a slope and made a left turn at a sign reading ‘Grace and Charles’ with a large red bow on it. Up another rise he followed another path into an open area surrounded by snow-tipped trees. Smaller trees in the area were decorated in white lights that were shining bright in the diming light.

An arch made of red poinsettias blooms and more white lights were at one end of the field. Facing it were rows of white chairs with red bows tied to the ones closest to the aisle. A few people were already taking their seats. Tall portable heaters were stationed around the ceremony area. At the other end of the field was a huge enclosed tent with four low round fires pits that glowed. His family was standing around them.

Elijah took a deep breath to fortify himself for what was coming.

As he approached Charles left the group and walked toward him. “I thought I’d have to send Zac after you.”

“I told you I’d be here.” Elijah grinned at his brother. As twins, they had always been close. It wasn’t until they were eighteen that they’d had secrets between them. Elijah carried that guilt and regret to this day.

“Yeah, but I know better than most that you’re always five minutes behind.”

Elijah gave him a wry smile. “Funny big brother. I’ve heard it all before. Just because you were born before me doesn’t mean I’m one step behind you.”

“About following in my footsteps, how’re things at the hospital?” Charles asked as they continued toward the tent.

“Under control. We managed to get the patients waiting down to a reasonable headcount before I left.” Elijah couldn’t fault Charles for his dedication to his job even on his wedding day. “What you need to be worrying about is that beautiful bride of yours. I’ve got the ER covered. Enjoy the day, your honeymoon and let me handle the rest.”

“I’m trying. I guess most of my worrying has to do with nerves.”

Elijah didn’t doubt that. The thought of a wedding made him edgy as well and he wasn’t the one getting married. He looked around. “So where are the Rugrats?”

“Max and Cameron are with Grace. They’ll be coming down the aisle ahead of her.”

Elijah gave him a brotherly pat on the back. “I hope you have them bundled up. It’s cold out here.”

Charles laughed. “I know. But this is what Grace wanted. I love her so that’s what we’re having.”

That kind of love Elijah didn’t comprehend. He’d never felt that for a woman. Didn’t think he ever would. He understood wanting, enjoying, appreciating a female but loving one the way his brother did Grace wasn’t something he’d experienced. More than that, Charles had been able to find it twice. Elijah didn’t plan to have it even once.

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Holiday Celebrations, The Writing Life

A Family’s Legacy

Mt NeboI’ve had a hard time this month deciding the topic of my blog. First, because it’s autumn where I live, I thought something about the season might be in order. You know, insert a pumpkin recipe or how to make cinnamon applesauce. Maybe something about a trip to the apple orchard. This is my favorite time of the year and blogging about it would be a natural for me. But, I’ve blogged IMAG0410autumn in the past, so I bypassed that topic. Then, I thought about word choices…why we use the often-odd configuration of words we do. For example, I saw a sign offering horseback riding lessons. At first, it seemed innocent enough. But then my mind started whirling with things like why call it horseback riding? Seriously, does anybody 20170812_151024_resizedever ride the chest of a horse? Next thing I knew, I was in the mental middle of a Michael McIntyre-ish comedy routine. Could almost picture myself pacing back and forth across the stage with him.

Sadly, the real topic came to me at a family funeral. My father-in-law was buried just over a week ago, and the Despain family gathered from places near and far to pay tribute.  It was a nice service done with full military accolades, and I’ll admit I korean-war-memorial-1809436__340[1]got a little choked up at the rifle salute and the playing of Taps. The weather was perfect, the people in attendance all respectful. As funeral services go, this was a very nice one. But, it wasn’t the funeral that caught my interest. It was the family stories that came afterwards, in the wee hours, sitting at the kitchen table, and at breakfast, and other odd times when the family was gathered. The stories were funny and sad, and they captured the essence of a man no one there knew in his entirety. What struck me was that the stories were only circulated among the older members of the family. The younger ones didn’t care.  They weren’t there. They didn’t listen.  And, I think that’s typical. As generations pass, so do the things that maybe only a generation ago were important.

I think about my grandmothers. One was a suffragette. I’m proud of that fact. In a lot of ways, knowing what my grandmother did has defined me. But, I don’t know the stories of her marches. Don’t know what made her want to get involved, or why my grandfather would have allowed it. I don’t even know where she marched. And, that’s my loss. My other grandmother told me of the times she and her family would covered-wagon-1675111__340[1]go on vacation in a covered wagon. They would be flanked by Native Americans as they were wandering outside the established United States in the early part of the 20th century, into one of the territories. And, my grandmother would sneak off and play with the Native American children who would come along to, what was essentially, escort, my grandmother’s family to a place where most people of the time didn’t dare go. I certainly know that story, but I don’t know why my grandmother’s family vacationed where they did, I have no idea what their covered wagon looked like, or why she knew and played with the children of the Natives sent out to flank them. Again, my loss.

Certainly, the old always gives way to the new. I understand that. But when I look at the photograph of my suffragette grandmother and see how much MacKenzie (who would be her great-great granddaughter) resembles her, I realize that my loss goes far beyond me. I can’t tell MacKenzie the stories of who her great-great grandmother was because, in a large sense I don’t know. I never took the time to ask.

And when I listened to the stories of my father-in-law, many of which were new to the majority of his six children, I wondered if anything of his life other than a few photos would be passed down, or whether those odd moments, when only the oldest of the family gathered around, would be the end of a legacy.

As a writer, I’m all for capturing those moments, writing them down – or, at least, the highlight of them. But I haven’t done that. Why? Because I never asked, and now the people I would have asked are gone, as is most of their legacy. Is a family legacy important? To the outside world—no. To the family—in some instances, yes. Overall, I don’t really know, but I hope it is. Because, for me, in another generation or two, I’d like to think that my family might sit around the still-life-379858__340[1]kitchen table where someone would say, “Dianne…yes, I remember hearing about her. Wasn’t she the one who wrote some books?”

R.I.P. Richard Steele Despain. You are missed.

No books coming out this month, but look for me in January, when both REUNITED WITH HER ARMY DOC and HEALING HER BOSS’S HEART will be out!

As always, wishing you health & happiness. And maybe a little bit of family history. 

Dianne

 

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Holiday Celebrations, The Writing Life, Travels Around the World

Two milestones – by Kate Hardy

So August 1 saw two milestones for me – my 25th wedding anniversary and the official publication day of my 75th book for Mills and Boon.

We decided to celebrate our anniversary in the Italian Lakes – and where could be more romantic on the day itself than Verona?

August 1 1992 was a baking hot day.

August 1 2017 was even hotter, because Southern Europe was having a heatwave – 39 degrees (but felt like 44).

And I guess the day was very much like any marriage, because there were bumpy bits in the day, starting with the tour bus not picking us up, an hour trying to find out where they were and discovering that our booking hadn’t gone through even though they’d taken the money, and then making the best of it and catching the local bus to Verona and doing the ‘tour’ ourselves. We saw the Arena, Dante’s statue, amazing churches, pretty courtyards and majestic towers.

We visited Juliet’s balcony – after putting our names on the wall (on a band-aid, no less – well, a Medical Romance author would be prepared…)

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And over the rest of the week we saw some amazing sights. We caught a cable car to the top of the Dolomites.

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We saw the most romantic sunsets.

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We ate lots of pizza, pasta, fresh fish and ice cream (I think my dish of the week just had to be pasta with zucchini and scallops, in this lovely cream and saffron and tomato sauce). We tried local wines. We discovered just how nice Aperol spritz is – the local aperitif, basically 1 part bitter orange liqueur, 2 parts prosecco and 3 parts sparkling water, all served over ice.

And with our eldest about to start his second year at uni and our youngest about to start sixth form, it was probably our last family holiday – and definitely one to remember.

Plus there’s my 75th book milestone with M&B – which, coincidentally enough, is set on a fictional Italian island. The title – The Runaway Bride and the Billionaire – pretty much tells you what the book is about, and it’s part of the Summer at the Villa Rosa quartet which I wrote with Liz Fielding, Scarlet Wilson and Jessica Gilmore.

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So all in all it’s been a pretty overwhelming week. But milestones like these aren’t reached alone – and the support of my family and friends has been really appreciated over the last quarter of a century, plus my M&B readers and writing friends for the last 16 years. So I’d like to raise a glass (of Aperol, of course!) to you all to say thank you – and cheers!

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Foods We Love, Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Holiday Celebrations, Quirky Stories, The Writing Life

ISN’T IT ROMANTIC? Dianne Drake

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAValentine’s Day is one of those days where true love takes over, and all things chocolate, flowers, cards, romantic dinners and gifts are on our minds. Well, most of our minds. I could do without the chocolate and my cats eat my flowers. But I do love gifts and romantic dinners. Have you ever wondered, though, what Valentine’s Day is all about?

It’s said that this festival for lovers had its origin with Emperor Claudius II, who didn’t want Roman men to marry during wartime because marriage distracted them from their killing. Bishop Valentine, an Anglican and a right romantic gent, went against Claud’s wishes and performed secret weddings. For that, Valentine was jailed. While there, he wrote a note to the jailer’s daughter, signing it “from your Valentine.” He got caught, and was beheaded the next day–on February 14, sometime near the year 270.

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Cupids were a popular theme for a Victorian Valentine’s Day.

It wasn’t until the 14th century, though, that the date February 14 became linked to romantic intentions, largely thanks to the tradition of courtly love, which abounded in the circles of Geoffrey Chaucer. Still, it took another 4 centuries before the day became about gifts, and candy and all those other things we typically think about.

And just an aside here–about 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged each year. Whether or not it’s true, the first Valentine’s Day card may have been a love letter from Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife, while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London. Makes sense, considering Charles was a Frenchman and France is noted for its romantic traditions. Oh, and in case you’re interested, teachers receive the most Valentine’s cards, followed by children, mothers, wives, sweethearts and pets. But don’t feel sorry for poor Fido and Fluffy, who come in last in cards, because they get 3% of all the Valentine’s gifts given. Not bad for a loved one who has a wet nose.

Speaking of love letters, every Valentine’s Day, the city of Verona, where Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet lived, receives about 1,000 letters addressed to Juliet. But Verona isn’t the only place where letters or notes are popular. In the Middle Ages, young men and women drew names from a bowl to see who would be their Valentine, then write that name in a heart-shaped note and pin it on their sleeve for everyone to see–especially the one whose name was on the note. Hence, the phrase:  “to wear your heart on your sleeve.” It’s still a tradition in South Africa, today and, in some cases, it’s how South African men learn of their secret admirers.

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Forget-me-nots were one of the most popular Victorian expressions of love.

But South Africa isn’t the only country with a unique Valentine’s Day tradition. In South Korea, the gift-giving commences on February 14th, with the women in the wooing mood when they give their men chocolates, candies and flowers. The guys return the woo on March 14th with a little one-upping by adding lavish gifts to the giving of chocolate, candies and flowers. Not to be outdone, however, in Italian tradition, young, unmarried girls wake up before dawn to spot their future husbands, believing that the first man they OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAsee on Valentine’s Day will be the one they will marry within a year. Of course, if that doesn’t happen, they have a back-up plan to help them save face, where they simply say, “Well, at least he looks like the man I’ll marry.” That plan runs a distant second to actually marrying the guy, but it’s something to hang on to. Back-up plans like that one are good though, and sticking with Italy, their next back-up plan is to come Valentine-calling with Baci Perugina in hand. It’s a small, chocolate-covered hazelnut wrapped with a romantic quote.

Yes, chocolate… Everybody loves it, including the Brazilians who go a-courting with it, as well. But not on February 14, because it’s too close to Carnival. So they hold off their lovefest until June 12, when they celebrate Dia dos Namorados, or “Lovers’ Day,” And yep, chocolates, along with flowers and cards, music festivals and performances.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So, why chocolates? Why not licorice, or cinnamon red hearts? Honestly, nothing spells romance better than a gummy worm, don’t you think? But, we have chocolate, and it’s been hanging in as the lovers’ favorite since the early 1800s. Back then, though, it wasn’t a romantic thing. Doctors prescribed it to their female patients to help relieve those certain symptoms associated with that special time of the month. It calmed them down, so it was said. Of course, so did those vibrator treatments those wacky doctors were giving out, personally, in their offices, back then. A vibrator AND chocolate…must have calmed m’lady right down into a perfect bliss. Oh, and about chocolate–Richard Cadbury produced the first box of chocolates for Valentine’s Day in the late 1800s, and more than 35 million heart-shaped boxes of pure, silky ecstasy are sold for Valentine’s Day any given year.

Cards, love notes, chocolates…isn’t it romantic? Actually, word romance wasn’t associated with the romance we know. It was originally a Latin adverb for Romanicus meaning “of the Roman style.” You know, when in Rome… The Romans considered themselves a chivalrous people, and their earliest tales of romance were actually stories of chivalric adventures. public-domain-images-vintage-postcards-valentine-victorian-1900s0075It wasn’t, until the late 17th century that the chivalric adventures turned more to the romantic escapades we know today. Probably had something to do with the hunk on the cover of a romance novel one of the ladies of the day was reading. She took one look at his bare chest, his long flowing hair, his well-muscled arms, his steely thighs…well, you know what I’m getting at.

Being the proper lady that she was, though, she surely hankered for the gift of a red rose from her true love, since chocolates weren’t around yet. Which is just another way to transition into why red roses have become the traditional Valentine’s flower. First, the red rose was the favorite flower of Venus, the Roman goddess of love. That’s as good a reason as any. But there’s more… red roses are also considered the love flower because red stands for strong romantic feelings, blood and fire, passion, desire, heat, longing, lust, sexuality…it’s a pretty long, self-explanatory list. Or, in other words, red just works.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So does the Welsh tradition of giving a love spoon for Valentine’s day. Only, it’s not exactly Valentine’s Day. It’s the celebration of Saint Dwynwen, the Welsh patron saint of lovers, on January 25th. The hand-carved spoons were given as token of affection for the women they loved, and different patterns were carved into these spoons, including horseshoes for good luck; wheels to symbolize support; and keys for the keys to a man’s heart. Often, spoons given to lovers had two handles intertwining to form one. Interestingly enough, this tradition of giving spoons known as “spooning” makes it especially fitting when two handles intertwine. We all know what comes of that!

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So, before I end this history lesson, let me leave you with a few more romantic traditions, like an old one in the Netherlands where prospective couples were put in separate sacks in the same bed to sleep together, but not allowed to engage in any premarital hanky-panky. Talk about tough love. Then there was that time during Italian Renaissance when the gentlemen would give their lady loves erotically-inscribed belts which would both remind them of their chastity while at the same time inciting them to horniness. Also, there’s that old, popular stand-by called the bridesworth, which went beyond the offering of the dowry, but could include acts of humiliation or entertainment such as chariot racing, singing, dancing and grueling interviews with the bride’s family. Often, a bridesworth could last for an entire year. And finally–the eating of the haggis every day, from Valentine’s Day to Valentine’s Day, for a year, to prove a man’s worth to his lady love. Actually, I just made that one up. But it sort of fits in doesn’t it?

There are so many kinds of wacky, wonderful, strange and romantic ways to celebrate your love, and that’s something I try to capture in my books. The different ways we go about it. To each his own, as they say. For some, Valentine’s Day is an expression for every day of the year. For a dear friend, it’s the biggest heart-shaped box of chocolates her husband can find. My grandfather always gave my grandmother red carnations for Valentine’s Day, and my grandmother always gave me a fresh, brand new five-dollar bill straight from the bank. For me, personally, Valentine’s Day is all about the thought, not the deed. Deeds are nice, but in end, I’ll take the thought any day. So what about you? Are you doing OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAsomething special for Valentine’s Day? Gifts? Chocolates? A romantic dinner? Staying home together in your jammies, eating popcorn and watching a romantic movie? Or a scary one that’ll make you cuddle up?

Whatever your Valentine’s Day will be about, I hope it’s everything you wish for. It’s only one day of the year, so enjoy (unless you take up that haggis thing, then it’s for a whole year!).

And now…promo time. My latest, The Nurse and the Single Dad came out on the 1st. It’s available in all the usual places. That’s it. No more promo, no more wacky Valentine’s traditions like the one where, in 19th century rural Austria, an eligible lass would keep an apple slice crammed in her armpits during an entire evening of dance. At the end of the evening, she would give her used fruit to the guy she fancied. If the feeling was mutual, he’d wolf it right down, which sounds like true love to me. I know the old saying is something about the apple of his eye, but the apple of her armpit? Okay. I’m really done now. Promise.

Until next time, wishing you health & happiness.

DD

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February 1, 2017

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