Over the last year, I’ve been sometimes puzzled by the things I’ve missed during lockdown. And August Bank Holiday Monday (on the 30th August) reminded me of one more thing.
Maybe it seems perverse to miss something that isn’t so very different from what we’ve all been experiencing of late. One of the traditional options for a Bank Holiday is to spend the time at home doing some of those outstanding DIY jobs, which is a lot like what many of us have been doing during lockdown. Taking the day off work? Well, I work at home anyway and can dictate my own timetable, but that’s not such a novelty these days either. True, the idea of jumping into the car and joining a traffic jam that leads most of the way to the nearest piece of busy coastline hasn’t been possible, but frankly it never was at the top of my list for Bank Holiday pleasures. So of all the things I could have missed, why Bank Holidays?
Thinking about it, the thing I’ve missed the most is that Bank Holidays have always been different – even from other holidays. Usually there are people back in the office when you take a holiday, so it’s tempting to wonder what’s happening while you’re away – but on a Bank Holiday most offices are closed so you can be pretty certain that nothing’s going on. One day isn’t really enough to do anything that requires extensive planning, so it tends to be a day when we’re free of the normal routine, and can just decide on the spur of the moment what to do. The thing about Bank Holidays is that they’re a change from the everyday – and that’s what I’ve really missed the most, because recently they’ve become just another day.
So today I’m writing in praise of the Bank Holiday, and in the hope that in future they’ll regain their ‘something special’ status. When I turned to the internet to find out when the idea of a Bank Holiday started, I was surprised to find that they haven’t been a feature of the calendar since the year dot. Sir John Lubbock drafted a Parliamentary bill to create Bank Holidays in 1871 – although the May Day Bank Holiday reflects May Day celebrations that go back to at least Roman Times in England, if not before. Unlike many of our much loved institutions, the name does give you some clue as to the original intention – they were named Bank Holidays because the banks closed 🙂 As time went on, other industries gradually followed suit and took the day off.
Since the Queen can add new Bank Holidays to the rota, I’m wondering what might be a good candidate. A Midsummer Bank Holiday, maybe, so that we don’t get a rash of them around April and May, and then have to wait until August for the next one. Maybe having too many Bank Holidays would destroy their charm – but I think that the current eight might be increased to ten, just for the sake of having a round number? Perhaps we could have a poll every year, where different dates are suggested for the following year and everyone votes on it? That way we can celebrate different Bank Holidays that are relevant to whatever’s going on in that particular year. Do you have any suggestions?
And – since one of my favourite pursuits for a day off is reading, this leads me on to my latest release. Which is sadly too late for the Bank Holiday 🙂 This book is one half of a duo with the lovely Louisa Heaton – both stories are set at St Barnabas’s Hospital in Richmond, Surrey. So don’t forget to check out Louisa’s story Twins for the Neurosurgeon as well!
The Doctor’s Reunion to Remember by Annie Claydon
Second chance at forever!
In this Reunited at St Barnabas’s Hospital story, Dr Gil Alexander has adapted to a slower-paced life and his partial memory loss, following his traumatic brain injury. But when Dr Clemmie Francis arrives at his rehabilitation centre, he can’t shake the feeling he’s met this captivating yet cautious doctor before…
Last week I was walking through the house when a scene on the television had me stopping to watch. It was a rerun of a sitcom that I had never seen, but the sight of a Christmas tree and the sound of a Christmas carol filled me with a joy I hadn’t felt in weeks. It’s been a hard year at the hospital where I work. Things seem to be going from bad to worse the last few weeks and things like joy and laughter has been scarce.
But for a few minutes while I listened to that silly Christmas carol everything seemed right with the world. And I’m so glad the Medical team allowed me the opportunity to be a part of their Christmas series, The Royal Kensington Project, so that I could share the joy of Christmas with you.
In my Christmas book, December Reunion in Central Park, New York City nurse Felicity Dale has had a hard year too. After losing her brother to suicide 18 months earlier, she can’t find it in herself to celebrate Christmas until her best friend, and former lover, Dr. Scott Thomas returns from London and reminds her of the joy to be found in Christmas.
So if you need a pick me up watch a Christmas movie, listen to a Christmas carol, or pick up a Christmas book to read. Because no matter what time of year it is, it’s never too early for Christmas.
It’s been sometime since I last visited the blog. I hope life is being kind and treating you well.
I’m here today to talk about my new release, Reunited by her Twin Revelation. I have to admit that every time I write the title, I burst into the song Reunited by Peaches and Herb. I think I’ve just about driven everyone in the house crazy singing it for the last few months.
Anyway, as the title suggests my hero is about to have his world knocked sideways thanks to a revelation – times two.
Here’s a short extract–
Logan opened the car door. The ache in his chest refused to ease and continued to grow and intensify. Damn emotions. Why couldn’t they just stay stuffed down where he’d shoved them? He didn’t have the time or the inclination to deal with them.
He planned to cut his last remaining ties with England and fly out before the end of the week. Whether he’d return to Malta or head somewhere new he didn’t know.
His eyes shifted to the shop building, his gaze drawn towards the large window and the woman who stood inside. A strange, unfamiliar tingling surfaced from the deep recesses of his stomach, slowly prickling and twisting through his whole body.
Staring harder at the woman, he took in her appearance, slowly moving his gaze over the mustard-yellow top she was wearing to rest on her long blonde hair and strong Nordic features. She looked familiar. Like someone he’d once briefly known – in the physical sense, anyway. A woman who’d tempted him to do unfamiliar and sinful things he’d never tried before. Someone whose sweet, gorgeous body he’d explored intimately during one long night.
Someone whose sweet, kissable and frankly too enticing mouth he still dreamt about all these months later…
Will the truth finally allow them to be a family?
When a mix-up led Nurse Thurza to falsely believe that Dr Logan had abandoned her and their unborn babies, she said goodbye to him – forever. But, when he returns and their past and the truth begins to unravel, will she let him back in?
Paramedic Lina Edwards feels instant sparks with deliciously brooding consultant Garth Hughes–only, she’s learned not to trust her instincts. Yet Garth makes her feel seen in a way she’s never been before. The sadness in his eyes shows he has secrets, but when Lina discovers that, shockingly, she’s bound up in his past, she must decide: Is their passionate connection too good to be true, or too good to let go?
Dr. Octavia Hendlington–aka Lady Octavia–only agreed to marry handsome, iron-willed billionaire Lukas Woods to help her brother. The inconvenient attraction sizzles between them is disconcerting…And then Lukas discovers his wife is not the “it” girl he thought, but a doctor who volunteers in the Sudan. As he accompanies her to Africa, Octavia also discovers the “real” Lukas Woods–and suddenly her “convenient” husband is just too hard to resist!
Nurse practitioner Gemma Baxter’s sunny disposition hides a heart broken by the cracks left in her family after the loss of her sister. She escapes by focusing on charity fundraising and plans on hustling new, sexy GP Ollie Langley for a donation! The reserved doc is the opposite to daredevil Gemma, who soon realizes Ollie’s hiding a heartbreak of his own…Perhaps the only way to heal themselves is together?
Doctor Hugh Duncan might be determined to hide behind his scars on Sandpiper Island, but his new neighbour, nurse practitioner Gina, is having none of it. He’s a doctor, and she needs his help to take care of the islanders. But Gina, also understands how life-changing tragedy can be, and she wants to help mend this gorgeous hero’s heart–even if that means losing her own to him in the process!
Divorced New York firefighter and paramedic Zach Murphy is looking forward to the more relaxed pace of Hawaiian life and building a brighter future for himself and his son. But his stunning new search and rescue colleague Lulu Kahale has the potential to derail his dreams of a quiet existence! Falling in love was never part of the plan, but Lulu tempts Zach to break all his own rules…
Dr. Florence Jacobs can’t believe she was unable to resist her explosive chemistry with temporary doc Robert Langley even for one night! Rob’s charm is a salve to Florence’s damaged heart, but they’re looking for different lives: she wants a family…he craves adventure. The shocking revelation that she’s pregnant hands Florence the future she’s dreamed of. Dare she hope that Rob will want to stay and share it with her and their baby?
I have a dear friend who has been super-supportive of my writing career, buying my books whenever they come out and even recently asking me to sign my latest, which she swears is her favorite. While I definitely have more than one friend who buys my books, her love of Island Fling with the Surgeon means a lot to me, because she’s one of those people who doesn’t hesitate to give her honest opinion. Well, maybe she just wouldn’t *say* anything if she hated it, but she wouldn’t say she liked it if she didn’t!
As I keep saying, this was a fun book to write. My impulsive, mischievous heroine and steady, loving hero are the kinds of people I’d love to hang out with, and I want to party with their extended families. While we can’t make it back to the Caribbean just yet, or have the opportunity to visit far-flung family and friends, I hope this book will remind us all of what awaits once we can again!
Excerpt: Island Fling with the Surgeon
Zach leaned back as the deepening shadows cast Gen’s face into a mysterious, gorgeous study in gray scale. They were sharing companionable silence, while she watched the final colors of the setting sun fade from the sky, and he found himself equally enthralled by her profile. The more time he spent with her, the more fascinated he found himself becoming.
It was all well and good to say they were play-acting in an effort to fool the people around them, but he knew, for him, the acting was starting to feel far too real.
Leaning over her earlier, he’d realized he was tempted to kiss the top of her head or her cheek.
It had been a long time since he’d felt drawn to another person the way he was to Gen. He could spend hours with her and never feel bored or uncomfortable—except when his body reacted to hers in untoward ways, like when they’d danced together.
That had been far too real for comfort.
She’d moved like silk in his arms, her lush body swaying in perfect time with his. It had been easy to imagine they really were a couple, and all he had to do was dip his head and she’d lift hers for a kiss.
Which was something he’d been thinking about way too often.
It had crossed his mind repeatedly that kissing her on her cheek when her mother was around would seem highly unusual. After all, they were supposedly in the midst of a months-long relationship. Wouldn’t it be more natural for them to greet each other with a kiss on the lips?
But that was a direction he was chary of going in, since he wasn’t sure he was ready to take such a step.
It seemed far too dangerous to go down that path, especially with his heightened awareness of the attraction building toward the beautiful woman across from him.
What he was beginning to feel for her was way too close to desire to be entirely comfortable, despite the fact it would make his performance all the more realistic.
Shaking the thoughts away, he got up to turn on the lights in the house and catch his breath.
“Would you like some pudding?” he asked, as a way to distract himself. “I have some stewed local plums and ice cream.”
The sound of her little chuckle made him smile too.
“That’s not pudding. That’s fruit and ice cream. But no, thank you.” Her chair creaked as he watched her get up. “I’m going to head home. I’m operating early tomorrow morning.”
As she spoke, she came into the kitchen, blinking at the brightness of the light. When she rubbed her left eyelid, he realized she was probably more tired than she was letting on.
“Okay,” he said, his brain unerringly going back to his previous thoughts about kissing. “Drive carefully, and let me know when you get home.”
“Will do,” she replied, taking up her handbag. “And why don’t you come by my place tomorrow evening for a change. I’m so in love with your house, I keep coming here, making you cook for me. It’s time I returned the favor.”
He chuckled. “I don’t mind. I like cooking.”
And he liked having her there. She brought new life to the house, blowing away the cobwebs of his previous funk.
“And I very much like eating your cooking,” she agreed serenely, as they walked to the stairs. “But come by anyway. I have a hankering for steak, done on the grill.”
“I’d like that,” he admitted, and it was no lie. He’d only glimpsed the inside of her town house when he’d gone to pick her up for one of their excursions. It would be nice to get a more intimate look. “You need me to bring anything?”
They were at the foot of the steps when she paused, looking up at him, and something in her expression froze him in place.
“Zach,” she said softly, coming a little closer. “I’m going to kiss you. If you have any objections, now’s the time to voice them.”
His throat was suddenly so tight it rendered him unable to voice anything at all. So instead, he opened his arms to her, reminding himself it was all just play-acting, even as his body hardened and his heart rate went into overdrive.
She smiled slightly, but it had an uncertain edge to it, and he saw the color staining her cheeks just before she stepped into his arms.
And even though he tried to hold back, he couldn’t resist moving his mouth against hers, deepening the kiss in minute increments until he felt the tip of her tongue touch his lower lip.
I love music. Of all kinds. I don’t have a great singing voice – except for maybe when I’m in the shower (where everyone sounds great and the acoustics work in our favour) but I love singing to my favourite songs.
I have different playlists for different moods and different occasions.
When I’m writing, I tend to listen to film scores, or orchestral music, as long as there are no lyrics. I very quickly discovered that trying to write, whilst singing along, only resulted in me typing the lyrics, or not typing at all, as I sang along.
But if I’m not writing, then I love to listen to Pentatonix, an acapella band. They do an amazing version of Hallelujah.
I also like a little bit of Home Free, who do this amazing version of Ring of Fire, one of my Dad’s favourite songs.
So what sort of music do you like listening to?
Can you belt out a tune?
Tell me your favourites. I’m always on the lookout to add great music to my playlists.
Two tiny heartbeats…
…will change their lives forever!
Top neurosurgeons Samantha Gordon and Yanis Baptiste spend one unforgettable night together in Paris. Their reunion in London proves even more explosive when they discover Sam is pregnant with twins! Neither Sam nor Yanis is prepared for parenthood, but those two tiny heartbeats could help them find the family neither of them believed they would ever have…
If I’ve had a theme this year, it’s been self-care. Over the last few years, I put my personal needs on the back burner, giving far more of myself to others than was sustainable long-term. I am by nature a giver, a caretaker, and it’s hard for me to say no to others who need my help. So, the whole concept of actually putting myself first? Yeah, that’s been a hard one.
It took me a minute to realize that self-care is not selfish. We simply can’t care for others if we are falling apart.
In my upcoming Christmas release, Winter Nights with the Single Dad, Stella has to make some real changes in her life in the name of self-care. She travels halfway across the world to take care of her needs.
Stella’s situation meant she needed to go big. The changes I’ve made have been on a much smaller scale:
I took a short kid-free vacation to visit one of my best friends for a week.
I’ve given myself more time to refill the creative well by reading a lot of books and watching a lot of movies (both good and bad).
I’ve taken time off writing when I needed the break.
I changed my diet to avoid the things that make my Rheumatoid Arthritis flare.
And biggest of all, I’ve learned to say no to others when what they want affects what I need.
What are your favorite ways to practice self-care? Anyone have any tips on how to make this easier to incorporate into your life when you aren’t naturally inclined to do so?
Winter Nights with the Single Dad available Dec 2021
It’s time for surgeon Stella to start over in this emotional, seasonal story from Harlequin Medical author Allie Kincheloe.
Two months in Toronto… …a gift to change her life? As a TV star, surgeon Stella was suffocated by the pressure to be perfect. So the offer of a temporary job three thousand miles away from home is a chance to break free. Then, meeting single dad Dr. Aiden Cook and his little boy offers a window into a life she could never have imagined! Now Stella must ask, “Do I really want to leave?”
Today we welcome Harlequin Special Edition author, Sera Taíno to our Origin Stories feature.
It’s all my mother’s fault.
When she was a teenager, my mother, together with my entire family, moved to Jersey City, NJ from Puerto Rico. Her first language was Spanish, so her English wasn’t very good. As a result, she struggled in school, which led her to drop out and eventually earn her GED. To improve her language skills, she set herself the task of reading books in English, but as a single mother with two children, money was often tight, so she either borrowed from the library, or went to the used bookstore to buy bags of Harlequin category romances for ten cents each. She could have read anything, but I think she simply loved romance novels so much, she wasn’t going to let a little thing like language get in the way of reading them. She kept only her favorites before trading the other ones in for more.
She always kept those favorites in the bottom drawer of her end table, away from prying eyes. But I was a rather naughty child and the fact that she kept something to herself made me all the more curious to know what she was hiding. So of course, I snuck into this drawer and stole her books.
The moment I started reading those novels, I fell in love with the stories and the characters I found inside. They were so much better than the stories I was assigned to read in school! I was a precocious reader and by the end of elementary school, I was reading at a college level. I might have been too young for some of the themes in those Harlequins but they challenged me as well as entertained me, unconsciously mapping in my brain what I would look for in future stories. I graduated from nicking the books in my mother’s drawer to browsing the ones in her bag to find favorites of my own.
These stories made me incredibly happy. No matter how hard things got for those beloved characters, there was always the promise of a happy ending. Real life rarely works out that way. My mother passed suddenly the summer before my freshman year of high school and I was sent to live with my grandparents. But the romances I’d read all those years before had done their work. They gave me a model for optimism, to hope when things were hopeless. This was my third act break-up, my black moment. But every character I read made it through their crisis to get to something better. I knew somehow that I, too, would survive.
I started to consider writing as a career later in life because it simply did not occur to me that this could be within the realm of possibility. As an adult, I dabbled in poetry and short story writing, but my stories didn’t find a lot of success in writing workshops. They were far too centered on the relationship between characters, and weren’t gritty or experimental enough for my fellow authors. At the time, I had already begun writing fanfiction. Those more positive reader reactions showed me that there was interest in the kind of stories I loved to write. The feedback gave me the motivation to believe that I might be able to write something of my own, something that people outside of fandom could read as well.
I wrote many short romances and novels that were not great, but those stories were a means to an end. I learned through failure. I took writing classes to learn the craft of romance writing and became mindful of the writing process as I taught others to write in my chosen profession as a high school teacher. For years, I wrote and submitted, getting rejection after rejection, until my stories began finding homes in anthologies and collections.
And then the Harlequin Mentorship came around and everything changed! I was given the opportunity to learn, from beginning to end, all the elements of how a romance novel is brought from proposal all the way to publication. I was assigned a wonderful, patient editor who helped me develop as a writer and a professional. I learned to edit down an unwieldy manuscript and make it fit the requirements for a category. I even drafted a second novel with the category in mind, putting into practice what I learned.
I can’t even describe what it means to have that kind of insight. So much of what happens in publishing is usually hidden from new writers so this mentorship has been a gift to someone like me who had absolutely no clue. It was like coming full circle. The girl who scrabbled through her mother’s Harlequin romances became the woman who wrote them. Who would’ve thought?
And now, my first book with Harlequin Special Edition, A Delicious Dilemma, will be in stores September, 2021. Like my dedication says, I think my mother would have liked this one.
Excerpt: A Delicious Dilemma
The truth was, he invited Val to the fundraiser because he wanted to spend time with her. Take her on another quasi date. Watch her glee as she tasted all the delightful things his mother had likely planned for the dinner. Have an excuse to dress up and dance badly with her and hear her make a joke or observation about something he wouldn’t have dreamed of seeing the way she did. No wonder he’d vomited his feelings all over her.
She’d been so stunned, she’d had nothing to say in return.
She’d accepted the invitation anyway, because it would serve her purpose. She had always been clear about what her motivation was for engaging with him ever since she’d found out who he was. Unlike him, she’d never lied.
So when he drove up to her building and stepped out to ring her doorbell the night of the fundraiser, there was no reason for his stomach to be twisted in knots. He had no reason to worry about his appearance, which even he had to admit was pretty damned impeccable. And there was absolutely no reason for his heart to be pounding as if it were going to leap out of his chest and run off into the night. That was not what he was here for.
Except that when the metallic buzz of Val’s doorbell reverberated within, and the fluorescent bulb in the corridor flared to life like a clutch of fireflies, he felt like it was prom night all over again. He stepped back when the door opened, the light illuminating her from behind, and his capacity for flimsy rationalizations disappeared. Words gnarled in his throat and all that came out was, “Wow.”
Val turned away, hiding a small smile. The green fabric drew light from the earthy undertones of her skin, making her appear illuminated from within. Her curls, the ones he wished he could bury his fingers in, were neatly tucked up, two perfect ones dangling like strings of dark pearls around her face, exposing a long neck bedecked by her ever-present rosary. His eyes raked over her, unable to find a place to rest because every single part of her demanded his attention.
“Val,” he said, her name an ache in the middle of his chest. He lost all track of his heart—maybe it had already left his body.
She took a step toward him, stumbling on her golden heels, and was suddenly in his arms.
“I got you.” He hadn’t held her since they’d last danced together, and in his opinion, in his arms was right where she needed to be. Nothing had changed since that first time except how much he wanted her, a need that was growing to unbearable proportions.
“It’s like a movie,” she said, her words suffused with that hint of humor she wasn’t afraid to turn on herself. “Girl undergoes transformation, girl almost falls on her face. Boy catches her.”
“What happens afterward?”
She straightened, smoothing out the nonexistent wrinkles of her dress. “If the writers are fair, the boy would fall, as well.”
No problem there. This boy had already fallen.
Preorder your copy and receive a bonus! Just screenshot/forward preorder receipts via email to email@example.com, and I will send you Sabor de Casa, an exclusive recipe book, courtesy of the Navarro Family Restaurant. Includes 10 recipes for dishes mentioned in the novel, with detailed instructions on how to prepare them as well as a few snippets of Val’s opinion. Because she has opinions. So many opinions.
Debut romance author Sera Taíno was selected for Harlequin’s Romance Includes You Mentorship, an initiative launched in 2019 to reach out to diverse communities of writers and bring more own voices stories to romance readers. For more information on this initiative, click here.
She is also the author of several short contemporary romances, including her latest, “The Other Half,” in the Friends to Lovers: A Steamy Romance Anthology Vol 2 (Romancing The Tropes) and “Oil and Vinegar,” part of the A More Perfect Union: A Voting-Themed Romance Benefit Anthology. All proceeds benefit Fair Fight, a national voting rights organization based in Georgia.
Her debut, #ownvoices novel, A Delicious Dilemma, is scheduled for publication with Harlequin Romance Special Edition in September 2021.
When she is not writing, she can usually be found teaching, traveling, or wrangling her family.
Be sure to sign up for her Mailing List to stay up to date on future publications.
My husband and I have just gotten back from a cruise around Iceland. I will admit we had hoops to jump through because of COVID but those came after we had already booked the trip. The beauty and friendliness of the country wasn’t dampened by all the “stuff” we had to do. Each stop became my favorite. Then the next day it was the next stop.
Masked and ready to go.
We had a great trip. One I would go on again. If you wish to hear more about Iceland check out my Facebook Live Talking Books, Tea and Everything in Between on Sunday, August 15. I do a Facebook Live every Sunday at 2pm eastern. I’d love to have you join me.
Hello lovelies! As I don’t have a book to share – although I will have another medical out this time next year, yay!! – I thought you might like to see some before and after kitchen reno pics in lieu! Who doesn’t like that, right?
We pulled out our old kitchen and replaced it a few months ago and we are very happy with the results!
Getting there –
Almost there –
Night time shot –
Feature wall and boozy bar 🙂 –
And that’s it! We still have one section of the ceiling that needs painting but other than that it’s all done and I love it! I love the way the morning sun shines on my pressed copper wall feature and, at night, the raised platforms where the bottles sit has strip lighting underneath and all the different alcohol colours light up 🙂
And it was relatively painless too, so a big tick all round!
What about you? Done any renos or got any planned? Have you had good or bad experiences? Tell me all the details 🙂