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

Seasonal Ramblings

This year has been a rollercoaster, filled with triumphs and tragedies; the sort of year one wishes to see the back of, although it wasn’t all bad. A year that, in some ways, seemed to be as long as two and yet, in others, flew past. There were so many things I said I wanted to do, but didn’t get done—for example write one more book, crochet presents for all the ladies on my list—but I refuse to beat myself up over my shortfalls. I’m at an age now where I fully accept I can’t do it all, no matter how hard I try. Sometimes, you have to be gentle with yourself, (she says, while eyeing that one gift that HAS to be done in the next couple of days!)

All the ups and downs have shown me, again, never to take anything for granted, and also to be oh, so thankful, for the things that make life special. Even the littlest of things.

As I started trimming our Christmas tree, memories bombarded me. I’m sentimental about my ornaments, and always worry that one or another of the very old ones may not have survived, especially since this year they were shipped from Canada, where I used to live, to my new home in Florida.

Finding them all intact made me so happy.

Just a little thing, but so meaningful at this time, when I look at various old ornaments and think of all the people I love, some of whom I’ll see next week, others now gone, but never forgotten.

And there are newer ones, some I made, others given to me as gifts, that remind me of the love of family and friends. The wooden Garfield and Odie my brother gave me years ago. A little sailboat and a train my mother bought for my son, and the Patrick ornament I made to tease him, since he shares the name with that kooky starfish from Spouge Bob Square Pants. A polar bear I made after my friend Amy Ruttan asked me to make her some as swag for one of her books. Looking at them made me smile, and filled my heart with gratitude for love given, received, and shared.

I wish for you all joy and peace, and everything great and wonderful for the year ahead. I’m so grateful to be a part of such a fantastic community, where promoting love is seen as glorious, and necessary. Because love, in all its shapes and forms, is worth celebrating, now and always.

Patrick ornament on the tree, making me smile, and miss having his namesake here, every time I see it!
Sleepy Polar Bear on a bell snoozes another year away…

And for a heartwarming Christmas story, with a daring Scottish doctor, and a nurse who craves stability, all set on an island called The North Pole of Scotland, may I humbly suggest The Nurse’s Christmas Temptation?

Lots of love, fruitcake (grin), and season’s greetings,

From me, Ann Mc

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

A Tribute to Dianne Drake

We’re taking some time today to remember a wonderful author and friend, Dianne Drake.  Dianne passed away in November and we’re paying tribute to her with memories from the Medical Romance Authors and Editors.

No tribute to Dianne is complete without her own words, full of humour, wisdom and inspiration.  Dianne wrote regularly for this blog, and if you’d like to enjoy some of her posts again, please click here.

 

Susan Carlisle

I met Dianne at an RWA conference over ten years ago before I even became a medical author. She was warm and encouraging to a want-to-be. I was so excited to respond to her welcome when I announced I had sold my book.

She mentioned one time how many books she had written for medicals. I was so impressed that I called her the Nora Roberts of Medicals. I think she liked that idea.

Dianne was a multitalented person. I read her bio once and thought she might be Wonder Woman from all she had accomplished. She had written hundreds of articles for magazines, big time magazines. She also had a deep insight into the world. If you would like to read some of those check out her past posts here. You won’t be disappointed.

I will miss Dianne. Her smile, her graciousness and her insights. Thankfully she left part of herself with the world forever- her words. For those, I will always be grateful.

 

Julia Williams, Editor, and Sheila Hodgson, Senior Editor, Harlequin Mills and Boon

First published by Harlequin in 2001, Dianne Drake soon found herself in her natural milieu writing for the medical line. A former nurse, there was little Dianne didn’t know about life on the frontline of medical care. She expertly coupled that with gorgeous romances between sometimes unlikely heroes and heroines, that were loved by readers the world over. She was a consummate professional and thoroughly dedicated to her books and readers. Whatever life threw at her – and it threw a lot – Dianne had the enviable capacity to shrug her shoulders, pick herself up and soldier on. She somehow managed to meet deadlines while being ill in hospital, or recovering from surgery, and her capacity for humour despite difficult circumstances was second to none. Typically, she produced her final book, Falling for her Army Doc, despite being severely ill – a fact she didn’t reveal until after the book was done. Right until the end she continued to work on her next manuscript, one which sadly didn’t see the light of day – which was also typical of her spirit and dedication. She will be a huge loss to the Harlequin family, and, it has been our great privilege and pleasure to have been able to work with her so long. We will all miss her very much.  Julia Williams and Sheila Hodgson

 

Kate Hardy

I was so sorry to hear of Dianne’s passing. She’d been a colleague and friend for years, and we bonded over a shared love of spaniels and Joe Bonamassa. Every time one of us got tickets for a gig, we’d message the other excitedly, and then talk about the gig afterwards (especially if he’d played one of our favourites). I’ll miss her very much. Rest in peace, Dianne, and thank you for the friendship and the memories. When I see Joe in May, I’ll be thinking of you xxx

 

Caroline Anderson

I didn’t know Dianne but we shared a duo recently. Her book, Bachelor Doc, Unexpected Dad, was lovely. Beautifully crafted, with a very gentle touch, and she obviously had so much more to give, so many more stories to tell. Tragic loss of a great member of our team. I feel privileged to have shared a duo with her. Just wish I’d told her how much I enjoyed it. RIP

 

Amy Ruttan

I was very saddened to hear about the passing of Dianne Drake.

When I was new to Harlequin Medicals and I was gearing up to write my 5th book I was asked by the editorial team to do my first ever duet. I was excited and the author I was assigned to was Dianne Drake.

I was familiar with Dianne’s work because we seemed to be paired up a lot in the UK 2in1’s, so I was pretty excited to get to work with her.

She was so nice and kind. We decided to write about brothers, both who had served, but had drifted apart. That Duet series became the Army Docs duet. That book was one of my favourites, “It Happened in Vegas” and her book was “Tortured by her Touch”.

DiannesBookMyDuetBook

We didn’t work on anything again, which I am saddened by. I always held out hope that we would, but scheduling and deadlines didn’t jive.

However, when my Mom got sick during her chemotherapy for CLL, she ended up paralyzed and hospitalized for about 6 months. The doctors were doing all these awful tests on my Mom and I was just, devastated. We didn’t know what was causing the paralysis, there was no tumor. It was then that Dianne reached out and shared her own story. She gave me some hope in the darkness of all that.

And when my Mom passed, again, she passed on her kindness.

I will always think about Dianne fondly and I cherish our two brothers from our Duet. Rest in peace, Dianne.  Amy Ruttan xo

Quirky Stories

Romances gone wrong

Photo by Lum3n.com on Pexels.com

I thought very hard over what to write for this blog post.

I considered creating a post about most romantic gifts you could give your other half on the big day; the most romantic gestures I’d ever experienced, which then led me onto thinking about when romance went wrong for me!

Most of these stories happened when I was still in my middle to late teenage years, so I can now blame youth for my naïveté, but thought if I share mine, someone else might share theirs! So come on, now! Don’t leave me hanging!

Experience 1 – When I was seventeen, I worked in a kiosk at a petrol station (this was the late 1980s, btw). Most of my customers were men filling up their tanks on the way to work and I soon got to know my regulars. There was this young man, maybe in his early 20s, who I saw often and he asked if he could take me out for a drink. Giddy with excitement, I said yes and he picked me up in his Ford Cortina a couple of days later. He was driving me to a country pub and we were chatting away quite happily, when I happened to glance into the backseat and saw two baby seats. I asked, ‘Whose are those?’

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Mr Suave gave me a look and then said, really casually, ‘They’re for my kids.’

I asked, ‘Are you separated?’

His response? ‘Nah, I’m still married, but you know the score.’ And he winked at me!

I sat there, feeling awkward and embarrassed, with not much experience in dating and not knowing how to get myself out of the situation and worrying that technically, I was with someone I didn’t really know, in the countryside, with no way of getting home. So I said nothing, figuring when the date was over, I just wouldn’t see him again.

Did it end there?

No.

Mr Suave thought that my silence was acceptance of the fact that he was married and when we got to the pub, he couldn’t stop slobbering kisses over me and winking at me from the bar when he got drinks.

When he finally dropped me back home, I couldn’t get out of the car fast enough! And for weeks afterwards, he stalked me, until his wife came into the petrol station to have a go at me for trying to steal her man!

When I protested my innocence, she seemed to believe me, but I was under the stark impression that he didn’t get off so lightly at home!

Experience 2 – Still at the petrol station, I swapped an evening shift with a colleague as I was going out with family to a birthday dinner. As we drove home, we had to pass the petrol station and found it filled with police cars. There had been an armed raid! (Never have I been so pleased to have swapped a shift!) I went to the kiosk to check on my colleague and got talking with a couple of the police officers (I’m sure you see where this is going)

One of the officers, let’s call him Paul, called in a few days later to the petrol station, to check on us and report progress to the owners. Paul chatted to me for a bit and offered to take me out for the day to Alton Towers.

I (Naively) thought, he’s a copper. He’s bound to be honest.

Photo by Marianna on Pexels.com

He offered to meet me one morning in his car at the top of my street and off we went to Alton Towers. Having a great time, going on all the rides, really funny guy, brilliant sense of humour, everything was going great, until it was time to drop me off at my house. He stopped at one end of my street, down a blind lane and said, “I’ll drop you off here, if that’s okay?”

Now, my street was a pretty long one. And it was dark and I was pretty scared about walking all that way on my own. “Can’t you drop me off outside my house?”

“I can’t be seen doing that.”

‘Because you’re a police officer?” I asked. See? Stupid, I know.

“Because I’m married.”

Ah. Well, at least he told me, I guess.

I never saw Paul after that. And updates on the crime were delivered by other officers.

I think my Mum was more upset than me that he wasn’t genuine. She’d quite fancied having a police car parked outside of our house most evenings, keeping our rowdy neighbours quiet for once.

Sorry, Mum.

After those? I’d like to say my dating experiences got better, but sadly they didn’t. Two more married men tried it on (this time I knew they were married, so turned them down) but I did meet a guy there who I ended up living with for five years, who turned out to be abusive.

Still. I learned from that, too.

Now? I’ve been married for 22 years, with four kids of my own.

And no married men have propositioned me since.

It could be because of the six-foot-two husband that walks by my side, that stops them.

So come on everyone! Want to share any of your dating disasters?

Louisa xxx

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Special Deal Alerts– Get ’em while they’re HOT!!! 🔥🔥🔥

Hi All!

Just popping in to let you know about two fabulous deals happening now on my books, just in time for the holidays. Stock up your e-reader and treat yourself to some fun reads! 🤓 📚 ❤️

First up:

A MISTLETOE KISS FOR THE SINGLE DAD is my first holiday book for the Medicals line and holds a special place in my heart because of the setting of the book. (To learn more about that, check out this post from me from earlier this year!)

Anyway, I’m so grateful and thrilled that my book was chosen by Harlequin to be part of this special Holiday Sale where lots of wonderful books from across all the series lines are available for just $1.99 each through December 10th!

Here’s all the details so you can get your copy before the price rises again!

BOOKOct1

Blurb:

Second Chance…

…under the mistletoe!

GP Nick Marlowe returned to his hometown to focus on raising his young son. The last person he expects to see in Bayside is high-flying Beverly Hills surgeon Belle! The childhood sweetheart he let go so she could pursue her dream of attending medical school. Only working side-by-side to reopen her late aunt’s free Christmas Eve clinic their magical connection returns… Could a mistletoe kiss spark another chance—just in time for Christmas?

“This is the third book I’ve now read by Ms. Douglass and I’ve got to say that she pens such heartfelt and wonderful stories….and I loved the path this couple took from start to finish. The way this story started drew me into the story immediately and had me reading quickly….”

Harlequin Junkie on Finding Her Forever Family

“…Ms. Douglass has delivered an absolutely engaging and unputdownable read in this book…the chemistry between this couple was powerful; the romance was nicely-detailed and had me loving the special connection these two have….”

Harlequin Junkie on One Night with the Army Doc

GET YOUR COPY HERE FOR $1.99 THROUGH DECEMBER 10TH!

Second:

My first book with Entangled Bliss, HOW TO SEDUCE A BAD BOY, is also on sale as part of a special holiday promotion featuring 25 awesome books from across their category imprints for just $0.99 each! There’s really something for everyone in this sale, including my sweet, small-town romance featuring a librarian named Melody who’s looking to pull a My Fair Lady-ish makeover on herself and recruits the local bad boy, Adam, to help. The fact he’s also her older brother’s best friend and the guy she’s been crushing on since high school makes for interesting (and romantic) times…

HowToSeduceABadBoy-bliss-final-v02

Blurb:

She’s ready to break all the rules…

Melody Bryant has heard it all before. Sure, she’s the epitome of the stereotype for a librarian. Loves order. Loves rules and deadlines. Loves books. But what she doesn’t love is still being a virgin at twenty-four. Unfortunately, the only guy she’s ever been interested in turned her down flat. And then left town. Eight. Years. Ago. Ugh.

Now her birthday is fast approaching, and she just can’t take it any longer. She’s finding a guy before her birthday in five weeks, or she’s adopting two more cats and fully embracing becoming “the crazy cat lady.”

But when her latest date ends in epic failure—everyone thinks of her as the “proper librarian”—she realizes what she needs is to ruin her reputation. And she knows the perfect guy to help her: the baddest bad boy in town. This Army vet won’t know what hit him…

Absolutely endearing! The story was great but the characters were five star! The author really does spin a sweet story that was enjoyable and fun.” -Loreal’s Books

“This is a sweet read that will melt your heart.” -Becky W., Goodreads

“This was a sweet romance that had me smiling.” -Erin L., Goodreads

“This book is sweet, savvy and seductive.  It was a great read!” -Louise B., Goodreads

“What a fun, romantic, witty read from a new author to me, this is my first Traci Douglass book and it won’t be my last I really enjoyed How to Seduce a Bad Boy!’ -=Jackie W., NetGalley

GET YOUR COPY FOR JUST $0.99 THROUGH JANUARY 3RD!

And that’s if for me this month (and year…LOL!). Wishing all our wonderful Medical authors, readers, and editors a fantastic holiday season and a happy, productive, and prosperous New Year!

See you in 2020! ❤️ 😊

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Traci 🙂

 

 

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, New Releases

December New Releases

I can’t believe we’ve come to the end of another a year! And we have some great new releases to end off 2019. Enjoy and tell us what’s on your TBR pile! 🙂

DecemberMedical1

 

A Puppy and a Christmas Proposal by Louisa George

Her ex-fiancé…

…is giving her paws for thought!

Alex Norton devastated Beth Masters when he told her he could no longer marry her. The last thing she wants this Christmas is to come face-to-face with him, clutching an adorable puppy! Warm-hearted vet Beth can’t say no to a four-legged patient in need, but she’ll need to guard her damaged heart from delicious doc Alex. Which becomes impossible when he finally reveals the reason why he left…

 

DecemberMedical2

 

Making Christmas Special Again by Annie O’Neil

Can the magic of Christmas…

…teach them to love again?

In this Pups that Make Miracles story, vet Esme Ross-Wylde simply wants to offer A&E consultant Max Kirkpatrick the proceeds from her charity ball to keep his Plants and Paws therapy unit open. Until this lone-wolf doc reawakens all her senses! Dangerous ground for Esme, who’s vowed never to love again… Can a week together at her castle this Christmas heal their wounded hearts?

Pups that Make Miracles quartet

Book 1 – Highland Doc’s Christmas Rescue
Book 2 – Festive Fling with the Single Dad
Book 3 – Making Christmas Special Again
Book 4 – Their One-Night Christmas Gift

 

DecemberMedical3

 

Mistletoe Proposal on the Children’s Ward by Kate Hardy

From Santa…

…with love!

Children’s doctor Anna Maskell loves Christmas. But Muswell Hill Memorial’s new locum surgeon, Jamie Thurston, hates it! So Anna makes him a deal—if she teaches him to embrace Christmas again, he’ll play Santa to their little patients! But as Anna tempts him with the joys of the season, they also discover a connection neither expected. Can Jamie find the courage to give Anna what she truly needs this Christmas—his love?

 

DecemberMedical4

 

Single Dad in Her Stocking by Alison Roberts

The greatest gift he could give her?

A family…

After losing her baby, and sacrificing her pediatric career, Emma spends every Christmas as an emergency locum—and this year she’ll be covering A&E consultant Max Cunningham. Their one kiss years ago was unforgettable, and now that this ex-playboy is daddy to three orphaned children, he’s dangerously tempting! But as Max welcomes Emma into his home, she soon wishes her family for Christmas could be forever…

 

DecemberMedical5

 

Taming Her Hollywood Playboy by Emily Forbes

Redeemed…

…by his fake fiancée!

Hired as the on-set paramedic on Hollywood actor Oliver Harding’s latest film, Kat Angelis finds herself equally as charmed by his off-screen persona. And when his playboy reputation threatens his hard-earned career, she’s the first person Oliver turns to—to pose as his fiancée! Kat’s warm personality and commitment to her family open Oliver up to something he’s never had. Is this girl from the outback the key to unlocking his heart?

 

DecemberMedical6

 

Their One-Night Christmas Gift by Karin Baine

An unexpected Christmas arrival…

…on his doorstep!

In this Pups that Make Miracles story, twelve years ago neurologist Charles ended his engagement to orthopedic surgeon Harriet to fulfill his duty to his family—he couldn’t let Harriet sacrifice her surgical dreams for him. But a recent chance reunion at a medical conference led to one more unforgettable night… And what should’ve been the perfect goodbye is now just the beginning… Harriet’s arrived at Heatherglen Castle Clinic—pregnant!

Pups that Make Miracles quartet

Book 1 – Highland Doc’s Christmas Rescue
Book 2 – Festive Fling with the Single Dad
Book 3 – Making Christmas Special Again
Book 4 – Their One-Night Christmas Gift

 

Happy Reading! ❤

Excerpts, Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, New Releases

Taming Her Hollywood Playboy, Emily Forbes, December 2019

Taming Her Hollywood Playboy, Emily Forbes, Dec 2019

My new book in time for Christmas 🙂 A taste of the Australian outback in Coober Pedy, South Australia where my hero, Hollywood actor, Oliver Harding has been sent in order to keep him out of trouble. Needless to say – it doesn’t work!

I have some photos of Coober Pedy taken on my recent visit/ research trip on my facebook page if you would like to see more.

Book available here  and Mills&BoonAus plus Mills&BoonUK and Harlequin USA have Black Friday sales (use code BLACKFRIDAY19 at checkout).

 

CHAPTER ONE

Oliver massaged the lump on the side of his head. He’d taken a couple of paracetamol for the dull headache but fortunately he’d escaped serious injury yesterday. The bump on his head and some slight bruising on his shoulder were minor complaints and he had no intention of mentioning those aches and pains. The ATV had taken a battering but could be fixed. The repairs meant a change in the filming schedule but nothing that couldn’t be accommodated. A serious injury to him would have been far more disruptive.

Despite his luck, however, the incident had made George, the director, wary and Oliver had agreed to hand over some of the stunts to the professionals. The movie couldn’t afford for anything to happen to its star and he didn’t want to get a reputation as a difficult actor. George had been good to Oliver; he’d worked with him before and he’d been happy to give him another role when other directors had been reluctant, but Oliver knew that being argumentative, disruptive or inflexible wasn’t a great way to advance a career. He wasn’t stupid, he knew actors were a dime a dozen. He wasn’t irreplaceable. No one was. A reputation as a ladies’ man was one thing; a reputation as being problematic on set was another thing entirely.

He stretched his neck from side to side as he tried to rid himself of the headache that plagued him. The schedule change caused by his accident meant he wasn’t required for filming this morning, but now he was bored. He wandered around the site, knowing that the heat was probably compounding his headache but too restless to stay indoors.

A whole community had been established temporarily in the middle of the desert just for the movie. Transportable huts were set up as the production centre, the canteen, the first-aid centre, lounge areas for the cast and crew, and Oliver, George and the lead actress all had their own motorhome to retreat to. Marquees surrounded the vehicles and more huts provided additional, and much needed, shade. The site was twenty miles out of the remote Australian outback town of Coober Pedy, which itself was over three thousand miles from the next major town or, as the Australians said, almost five hundred kilometres. No matter which way you said it, there was no denying that Coober Pedy was a mighty long way from anywhere else.

He’d been completely unprepared for the strangeness of this remote desert town. He’d imagined a flat, barren landscape but the town had sprung up in an area that was far hillier than he’d expected. The main street was tarred and lined with single-level shops and a few taller buildings, including his hotel, with the houses spreading out from the centre of town and into the hills. Along with regular houses there were also hundreds of dwellings dug into the hillsides. He’d heard that people lived underground to escape the merciless heat but he hadn’t thought about what that meant in terms of the town’s appearance; in effect, it made the town look far more sparsely populated than it actually was.

He knew he should hole up in his trailer and stay out of the heat but he wanted company.

Generators chugged away in the background, providing power for the film set, providing air-conditioning, refrigeration and technology. He was used to having a shower in his trailer but because of water restrictions apparently that was a no-go out here in the Australian desert.

If he moved far enough away from the generators he knew he would hear absolute silence. It should be peaceful, quiet, restful even, and he could understand how some people would find the solitude and the silence soul-restoring, relaxing, but it made him uneasy. He needed more stimulation. He wanted crowds, he wanted noise, he didn’t want a chance to be introspective. He was an extrovert, a performer, and as an extrovert he wanted company. He needed company to energise him and as a performer he needed an audience.

He wasn’t required on set but he decided he’d go and watch the filming anyway. It would kill some time and give him someone to talk to.

He slipped his sunglasses on as he stepped into the heat. Rounding the corner of his trailer, he heard an engine and noticed a dust cloud billowing into the air. He stood in the shade at the corner of his trailer and watched as a car pulled to a stop beside the mess hut. It was an old four-by-four, its brown paintwork covered in red dust, like everything else out here. A haze rose from the bonnet of the car, bringing to mind the story about it being hot enough in Australia to fry an egg in the sun. He believed it.

The car door opened and he waited, his natural curiosity getting the better of him, to see who climbed out.

A woman.

That was unexpected.

She stood and straightened. She was tall, slender, lithe. Her hair was thick and dark and fell just past her shoulders. He watched as she scraped it off her neck and tied it into a loose ponytail, in deference to the heat, he presumed. Her neck was long and swan-like, her limbs long and tanned.

She was stunning and the complete antithesis of what he’d expected, judging from the car she was driving. She reminded him of a butterfly emerging from a cocoon.

He blinked, making sure it wasn’t the after-effects of the bump to his head causing his imagination to play tricks on him.

She was still there.

She wore a navy and white summer dress, which must have been lined to mid-thigh, but from there down, with the morning sun behind her, the white sections were completely see-through. He wondered if she knew but he didn’t care—her legs were incredible. Magnificent.

Oliver was literally in the middle of nowhere with absolutely nothing of interest to look at. Until now. The middle of nowhere had just become a far more attractive proposition.

He watched as she walked towards him. Graceful. Ethereal. Sunglasses protected her eyes but her skin was flawless and her lips were full and painted with bright red lipstick. The shade was striking against her olive skin and raven hair.

He’d seen plenty of beautiful woman in his thirty-two years, he was surrounded by them on a daily basis, but he didn’t think he’d ever seen a woman as naturally beautiful. The ones he worked with had all had some help—a scalpel here, an injection there—and he’d swear on his father’s grave, something he hoped he would be able to do sooner rather than later, that she hadn’t had any assistance.

He watched, not moving a muscle, scared that any movement might startle her, might make her shimmer and disappear, mirage-like, into the desert.

Maybe his headache was affecting his thought processes; maybe he’d been out in the sun for too long, or simply in the outback for too long. Other than the cast and crew he’d barely seen another person for days. The hot, dusty streets of Coober Pedy were, for the most part, empty. The locals hunkered down in their underground dwellings to escape the heat, venturing out only briefly and if absolutely necessary, scampering from one building to the subterranean comfort of the next. But perhaps many of the locals looked like this. Perhaps that was the attraction in this desolate, baked and barren desert town.

She had stopped walking as her gaze scanned the buildings, looking for something or someone. Looking lost. His curiosity was piqued. His attention captured.

Her gaze landed on him and she took another step forward. Belatedly he stepped out of the shadows and walked towards her; he’d been so transfixed he’d forgotten to move, forgotten his manners, but he wanted to be the first to offer her assistance.

‘Hello, I’m Oliver; may I help you?’

She stopped and waited as he approached her.

‘Thank you,’ she said. ‘I’m looking for George Murray.’ Her voice was deep and slightly breathless, without the broad Australian accent that he’d heard so many of the crew speak with. She glanced down at her watch and his eyes followed. Her watch had a large face, with the numbers clearly marked and an obvious hand counting off the seconds. Her fingers were delicate by comparison, long and slender, with short nails lacquered with clear varnish. He was trained to be observant, to watch people’s mannerisms, to listen to their voices, but even so he was aware that he was soaking up everything about this woman. From the colour of her lips and the shine of her hair, to the smooth lustre of her skin and the inflection of her speech. He wanted to be able to picture her perfectly later. She lifted her head. ‘I have an interview with him at eleven.’

‘A job interview?’

She nodded. ‘Of sorts.’

‘Are you going to be working on the film? Are you an extra?’

‘No.’

‘Catering? Publicity?’

‘No and no.’ Her mouth turned up at one corner and he got a glimpse of perfect, even white teeth bordered by those red lips.

He grinned. ‘You’re not going to tell me?’

Her smile widened and he knew she was enjoying the repartee. ‘No, I don’t think I am.’

Two could play at that game. ‘All right, then,’ he shrugged, feigning disinterest, ‘George is out on set but he shouldn’t be long. Filming started early today to try to beat the heat, so they’ll be breaking for lunch soon. Let me show you to his trailer.’ He’d take her to where she needed to go but he wouldn’t leave her.

He bounced lightly up the two steps that led to George’s office and pushed open the heavy metal door. He flicked on the lights and held the door for her. She brushed past him and her breasts lightly grazed his arm but she showed no sign that she’d noticed the contact. She stopped just inside the door and removed her sunglasses, and he caught a trace of her scent—fresh, light and fruity.

He watched as she surveyed the interior. An enormous television screen dominated the wall opposite the desk, which was covered in papers. A laptop sat open amongst the mess. A large fridge with a glass door was tucked into a corner to the left, and a couch was pressed against the opposite wall with two armchairs at right angles to it and a small coffee table in between.

He wondered if this was what she’d expected to see.

‘Have a seat,’ he invited as he waved an arm towards the chairs. She sat but avoided the couch.

‘Can I get you something to drink?’

She nodded and the light bounced off her hair, making it look like silk. ‘A water would be lovely, thank you.’

He grabbed a glass and two bottles of mineral water from the fridge. He twisted the tops off and passed her the glass and a bottle.

‘I’ll be fine waiting here,’ she said as she took the drink from him. ‘You must have something you need to do?’

He shook his head as he sat on the couch. He leant back and rested one foot on his other knee, relaxed, comfortable, approachable, conveying candidness. ‘I’m not busy. The scene they’re filming doesn’t involve me.’

‘You’re an actor?’

He looked carefully at her to gauge if she was joking but her expression was serious. Her mouth looked serious, her red lips full but not moving. But was there a hint of humour in her dark eyes? He couldn’t read her yet. Perhaps she was an anomaly, someone who didn’t immediately recognise him, or maybe he just wasn’t famous out here in the middle of nowhere.

Should he tell her who he was?

No. That could wait. She still hadn’t told him what she was doing here. She’d said she wasn’t publicity but she could be a journalist. He didn’t need more reporters telling stories about him. But if that was the case, surely she would recognise him.

Unless she was a better actor than he was, he was certain she wasn’t a reporter.

He settled for vague. ‘I am,’ he said as the door opened again and George entered the trailer.

‘Kat! Welcome.’ He was beaming. Oliver was surprised; George never looked this pleased to see anyone. George was a little rotund, always in a hurry, and seemed to have a permanent scowl creasing his forehead. Seeing him so delighted to see another person was somewhat disconcerting.

He crossed the room as the woman stood. Kat or Kate, Oliver thought George had said, but he wasn’t quite sure. Oliver stood too; manners that had been instilled in him, growing up as the son of a strict military man, remained automatic.

George greeted her with a kiss and Oliver was more intrigued. There was obviously some history here that he wasn’t privy to. Who was she?

‘I see you’ve met our star, Oliver Harding.’

‘Not formally.’ She turned to him and extended her hand. ‘I’m Katarina Angelis, but call me Kat.’ Her handshake was firm but it was the softness of her skin and the laughter in her eyes that caught Oliver off guard. ‘It’s a pleasure to meet you.’

He realised she’d known exactly who he was. Which put him at a disadvantage. He still knew nothing about her. But he did know her name seemed to suit her perfectly. He was sure Katarina meant ‘pure’, and Angelis had to mean ‘heavenly’.

‘The pleasure is all mine,’ he said.

George cleared his throat and Oliver realised he hadn’t let go of Kat’s hand. He also realised he didn’t want to. Beautiful women were everywhere in his world, but there was something more to Kat. Something intriguing. Something different.

Her skin was soft and cool. Flawless. She looked like a desert rose, a surprising beauty in the harshness of the outback, and he found himself transfixed by her scarlet mouth. Her lips brought to mind ripe summer cherries, dark red and juicy. He wondered how they’d taste.

‘If I might give you some advice, my dear,’ George said to Kat as Oliver finally let her hand drop, ‘you should stay away from Oliver.’

‘Hey!’ he protested.

‘You don’t have to worry about me, George,’ Kat replied, ‘I can handle myself.’

George shook his head. ‘You’ve never met anyone like Oliver.’

Kat was looking at him now. Studying him, as if sizing him up and comparing him to George’s assessment. Oliver smiled and shrugged and spread his hands wide, proclaiming his innocence. He had to take it on the chin; he couldn’t remonstrate with George in front of Kat—it would be better to laugh it off. He couldn’t afford to show how she’d affected him. It was safer to return to his usual persona of charm and confidence, of not taking himself or anyone too seriously. She had floored him and he needed to gather his wits and work out what to do about it. About her. But, for now, he’d play along. ‘George is right, Kat, I’m the man your father warned you about.’

She laughed. ‘Don’t go thinking that makes you special. My father is always warning me about men.’

He cocked his head and quirked one eyebrow. This was even better. He had never been one to back away from a challenge.

‘Don’t make me regret hiring you.’ George eyeballed them both. ‘Either of you.’

Oliver laughed; he was used to being told off, but he was surprised to see that Kat was blushing. She looked even more delightful now.

‘I mean it, Oliver— don’t mess with Kat.’ George looked him straight in the eye. ‘There aren’t too many places left for you to run to and if you hurt her you’ll want to start running, believe me.’

So now they were both going to put a challenge to him. Of course, that only served to entice him even more. George could warn him all he liked but Oliver had never been one to steer clear of a challenge. But he knew he had to tread carefully. He couldn’t afford any more scandals.

‘Go and find something to do,’ George told him. ‘I need to talk to Kat.’

Oliver left but he knew it wouldn’t be the last he saw of Kat Angelis. He was glad now that she hadn’t admitted that she recognised him, that she hadn’t said his reputation preceded him. Perhaps she’d have no preconceived ideas about him and he could try to impress her without any rumours or innuendo getting in the way.

He was still none the wiser as to her actual reason for being on set but, if George was hiring her, he’d make sure their paths crossed again. If he was going to be stuck in this town for the next few weeks he might as well have some fun. He knew it was his choice, almost, to be here—George had made him an offer that his publicist thought was too good to refuse—and timing was everything. But that didn’t mean he couldn’t enjoy himself. He wouldn’t misbehave, but even if he did he doubted anyone would ever hear about what went on out here. Coober Pedy and the Australian outback seemed to exist in its own little time capsule. It really was a whole other world.

 

 

 

Kat watched on as George shooed Oliver out of his office. Of course she’d recognised him—Oliver Harding was a star of multiple Hollywood blockbusters. He had been the lead actor in several recent box office hits and he played action heroes just as well as he carried romantic leads. He was in the news regularly, if not for his movies then for his off-screen exploits with his leading ladies or other Hollywood ‘It’ girls. Kat may be a small-town girl, living out in the desert in the middle of nowhere, but she had television, magazines, the internet and the local drive-in movie theatre, which showed new movies every Saturday night. Oliver Harding was famous and she would have to be living under a rock not to know who he was. The thought made her smile. She did actually live underground, like so many of the local residents, but that didn’t mean she didn’t know what went on in the rest of the world. Oliver Harding appeared in a new movie every six months, and with a new woman far more frequently. Having met him now, she could understand why. He was handsome on the silver screen but incredibly gorgeous in real life. He had charm, charisma and a twinkle in his bright blue eyes that had made her lose her train of thought on more than one occasion already.

‘I’m serious, Kat,’ George cautioned her again. Had he mistaken her smile to mean she wasn’t paying attention to his warning? ‘I’ve seen that look in his eye before. You really don’t want him to set his sights on you. Stronger women than you have fallen for his charms. He loves the thrill of the chase and he hates to let a pretty girl go unappreciated, but he has a tendency to leave a trail of broken hearts behind him.’

He had a cheeky appeal and amazing eyes and his smile made her stomach tumble, but Kat wasn’t about to succumb to his charm. She’d met charming men before and didn’t intend to be another notch on his bedpost. And she hadn’t been kidding when she’d said she knew how to handle herself. There was no denying Oliver Harding was gorgeous and charming but she was not the type to fall for charming and handsome. Well, that wasn’t technically true but she wasn’t the type to have flings with famous men who were just visiting. That was something irresponsible people did. Spontaneous people. And she’d learnt not to be either of those.

‘Don’t worry about me, George. I really can handle myself. Now, why don’t you explain more about what you need from me?’

She listened as George ran through his ideas. When he finished they made arrangements going forwards before Kat took her copy of the filming schedule and stepped out of the trailer and found Oliver waiting for her.

‘Now are you going to tell me what you’re doing here?’ he asked as he fell into step beside her. His voice was deep and pleasant, his accent neutral. She’d expected more of an American flavour. Had he been taught to tone it down?

‘I live here.’

‘Really? Here?’

She could hear the unspoken question, the one every visitor asked until they got to know Coober Pedy. Why?

She never knew where to start. How did one begin to explain the beauty, the peace, the wildness, the attraction? She loved it here. That didn’t mean she never entertained the idea of travelling the world and seeing other places, but this was home. This was where her family lived. And family was everything.

She had no idea how to explain all of that, so she simply said, ‘Yes, really.’

‘And why do you have a copy of the filming schedule?’

She stopped walking and turned to look at him. She had to look up. She wasn’t short—she was five feet nine inches tall—but still he was several inches taller. ‘Are you always this nosy?’

‘Yes.’ He was smiling.

‘I’m going to be working on the film,’ she said, hoping to surprise him.

‘Doing what?’

‘Keeping you out of trouble,’ she said as she continued towards her car.

‘Trouble is my middle name,’ he laughed.

She didn’t doubt that. She’d only known him for a few minutes and regardless of George’s warning she already had the sense that he was trouble. But she couldn’t help smiling as she said, ‘So I hear.’

Kat reached her car and stretched her hand out to open the door, which she hadn’t bothered locking, but Oliver was faster than she was. He rested his hand on the door frame, preventing her from opening it.

‘And just how exactly do you plan to keep me out of trouble?’ His voice was deep and sexy, perfect for a leading man.

She turned to face him. He was standing close. Her eyes were level with his chest. He was solid—muscular without being beefy, gym-toned. He didn’t look as if he’d done a hard day’s work in his life, and he probably hadn’t, but that didn’t stop him from being handsome. With his chiselled good looks, he could have come straight from the pages of a men’s fashion magazine.

He smelt good. He looked even better.

His blue eyes were piercing, his square jaw clean-shaven. His thick brown hair was cut in a short back and sides, slightly longer on top, like a military-style haircut that had been on holiday for a couple of weeks. She wondered if it was to fit the movie script or if it was how he chose to cut his hair. It suited him. It emphasised his bone structure.

‘I’m your insurance policy,’ she said.

He frowned and raised one eyebrow. She wondered if that came naturally or if he’d cultivated that move. Was it possible to learn how to do that?

‘I’m a paramedic,’ she continued. ‘I’m going to be on set for the stunt work. Just in case.’

She’d expected him to object but he took it in his stride.

‘Good,’ he said simply before he grinned widely. ‘I’ll be seeing plenty of you, then.’

He was so confident, so comfortable. She wondered if he’d ever been told he couldn’t do something. She imagined that if he had he would have chosen to ignore the instruction.

His arm was still outstretched, passing beside her head as he leant against her car. ‘So, Kat, tell me your story.’

‘Why do you want to know?’

She was caught between his chest and the car. She could step out, away from the boundaries he’d imposed, but she didn’t want to. She didn’t feel threatened. He was smiling at her. He looked genuine, friendly, but she needed to remember he was an actor. He was probably trained to smile in a hundred different ways. She remembered George’s warning but she chose to ignore it. Just for a moment. She wanted to see what would happen next. She felt as if she was in a movie moment of her own.

His smile widened, showcasing teeth that were white, even and perfect. His blue eyes sparkled. ‘Because I want to make sure I’m not overstepping any lines when I ask you out.’

He looked like a man who was used to getting his own way and she didn’t doubt that; with women, at least, he probably did. But she did doubt that she was the type of woman he was used to meeting. ‘And what makes you think I’d go out with you?’

‘I didn’t say you would, I’m just letting you know I will ask you to. The choice is completely yours.’

‘What did you have in mind?’ She shouldn’t ask but she wanted to know. She should heed George’s warning and get in her car and drive away but it had been a long time since she’d been asked on a date and she was interested to hear his thoughts. She was interested full stop.

He smiled. ‘I don’t know yet but I’ll think of something.’

There weren’t a lot of options in Coober Pedy and Oliver, not being a local, would know even fewer.

Kat couldn’t remember the last time someone had flirted with her or the last time she’d met anyone she wanted to flirt with. She couldn’t deny she was flattered by the attention. She’d need to be careful. She’d been hurt before; a monumental break-up had left her questioning her own judgement and she’d avoided getting romantically involved ever since. She wanted her own happily-ever-after but she’d been scared to go out to find it. She’d focused instead on her career and her family and it had been a while since she’d even thought about going on a date. George’s warning repeated in her head again but she had no idea if she was going to be able to heed it.

The touch of Oliver’s hand had set her pulse racing and the look in his eye had made her wish, just momentarily, that she was the sort of girl who would take a risk, take a chance.

But that wasn’t her. She’d learnt that taking risks was asking for trouble, and Oliver Harding had trouble written all over him.

 

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Excerpt -Their One-Night Christmas Gift, by Karin Baine

It’s my turn to bring you an excerpt from our Pups That Make Miracles quartet. This one is from Their One-Night Christmas Gift, the final book in the series.

My surgeon, Charles Ross-Wylde, is the laird at Heatherglen Castle and also runs the clinic. It’s fair to say that unlike his sister, Esme, he’s not a dog lover. This scene is with one of his young patients and Harriet, his ex, who is helping out over the New Year Not to mention a certain, special pup…

Karin Baine xx

y404-2The triumphant smile Charles was wearing as Harriet was saying her goodbyes to the family died on his lips. A wagging, panting bundle of fur streaked past him as he opened the door to leave the room.

‘What the—?’

‘Isn’t this Esme’s puppy?’ Harriet scooped up the excitable animal, which had been causing havoc recently.

‘He’s so sweet. Is he for me?’ Bryony’s voice matched the excitement of the canine intruder and he cursed his sister’s generous heart. If Esme hadn’t insisted on keeping this nuisance around, he wouldn’t have to upset a young patient.

‘Sorry, Bryony. He must’ve escaped from the house.’

‘You can stroke him if you want.’ Harriet stepped in with a compromise and took the dog over to her before the tears had an opportunity to fully form.

‘He tickles.’ Bryony giggled as Dougal licked her face. Charles wasn’t pleased that Dougal had made an unscheduled, unsupervised visit but it was good to see her happy. Harriet too. Although the dogs were part of the ongoing therapy around here, he’d still have to have a word with Esme about keeping a closer eye on her four-legged friends. He didn’t want them getting in the way when staff were doing their rounds.

He lifted the hand sanitiser and passed it to her mother. ‘I’m so sorry about this..’

‘Don’t worry. He’s the best therapy we could have asked for.’ Bryony’s mother joined the group fawning over Dougal as though he were a newborn baby.

He understood their importance in terms of therapy here when he’d seen the results for himself. They calmed patients as well as provide a distraction from illness and treatment. However, on a personal level he didn’t know what the fuss was about.He’d never been a dog lover. Probably because his parents had stressed how much mess and destruction they could cause in a place like this where every stick of furniture had history and substantial monetary value. As proved by their canine companion. Sure, Dougal was cute, but he didn’t do anything for Charles except generally make his life more difficult around here.

‘We should get him back where he’s supposed to be.’ Charles stood back and let Harriet and her new friend leave before him.

‘’Bye, Dougal.’ There was a chorus as they left, indicating there was only one of them who’d be truly missed.

‘Just wait until I see Esme. I’d prefer he had a bath at least before he starts wandering around the place.’

‘Oh, poor baby, don’t listen to the nasty man. You smell like home to me.’ Harriet covered Dougal’s ears against the insult and peppered him with kisses, completely losing her own professional image to let her soft-hearted mothering instinct take over.

‘You lived in a kennel?’

She tutted. ‘We always had a dog in the house when I was growing up with Mum. They’re great company and totally devoted to their owners. If I wasn’t so busy with work, I’d still have one, but it wouldn’t be fair to leave one at home alone all day.’

‘Exactly why he shouldn’t be in the castle, unsupervised,while Esme is at work.’

 ‘He’s only a baby. Esme is the expert and she only has his best interests at heart. How could you be mad at this little face?’ She held Dougal out towards him. The dog’s tail was wagging so hard his body nearly folded in two.

Charles stared into the pair of soulful eyes begging for his love. A little pink doggie tongue shot out and began slobbering over his face, making it impossible to remember why he was being a grouch.

Then a warm trickle of liquid soaked through his suit and reminded him.

‘Dougal!’

‘Whoops. I think he got too excited.’ Harriet could barely contain her laughter as the puppypromptly forgot all the house training Esme had no doubt instilled in him the moment his Alpha hero had paid him some attention.