Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Readers Blogs

An interview with Aussie reader Helen Sibbritt

This year’s ARRC was held in Melbourne

I’m thrilled today to feature one of Romancelandia’s greatest advocates and supporters – reader extraordinaire, Helen Sibbritt. Helen is a romance fan from way back, a voracious reader and dedicated reviewer, who is also a super active member of the Australian Romance Readers Association (ARRA). I caught up with Helen at ARRA’s biennial convention, held this year in Melbourne in February, and she kindly agreed to answer a few questions for Love is the Best Medicine.  

AVRIL: Tell us a little bit about the Australian Romance Readers Association (ARRA) and why you’re a member.

Helen with ARRC2017 special guest the Fairy King

HELEN: Well, this fabulous organization started in 2008 to enable readers and authors to get together with a convention. They have since organized five conventions and many, many other reader events that I’ve been a part of. I’m a member because I love the interaction between readers and authors, the friends I’ve made, and the awesome book recommendations!

AVRIL: What were the highlights for you of this year’s Convention?

HELEN: So many! the wonderful morning and afternoon teas that I had with authors, the Awards dinner on Saturday night, and panels discussing so many subjects involving the books I love to read.

AVRIL: What are some of the other activities ARRA undertakes to bring writers and readers together?

HELEN: There have been High Teas, Book launches for authors, and readers’ getaways for the weekend where lots of chocolates are consumed during fun trivia nights.

AVRIL: Can you give us an idea of how many books you read in a year?

HELEN: Well last year I read 208 books – that is the most I’ve read after challenging myself on Goodreads to read 200. So yay for me! I loved it.

Fiona Lowe, Amy Andrews and Helen Sibbritt at ARRC2017

AVRIL: What kinds of books do you gravitate towards?

HELEN: That is a hard question for me as I read across all of the romance genres although not as many paranormals and sci-fi as contemporary, erotic, historical and the Harlequin M&B lines. I do love the Medicals and the Presents, Blaze and Desire.

An Avril Tremayne goody bag from the ARRC2017 Meet An Author morning tea

AVRIL: Do you have any pet hates in romance novels?

HELEN: A whingy heroine – although I don’t come across many of them. But that would be about all. I’m pretty easygoing and most stories will keep me turning the pages.

AVRIL: If you were in charge of bringing medical romances to new readers, how would you describe them?

HELEN: Explain the emotion, the empathy, and just how moving they are. There’s always lots going on in this category. Gorgeous heroes that come to the rescue of heroines, and there are often children and pets in them that add so much to the stories. And they deal with real life situations and health issues that people deal with every day they make me smile and cry – so yes, the emotion in them. And most of them are also very sensual with such sexy heroes.

A selection from Helen’s medical romance library

AVRIL: What was the last medical romance you read, and what will be the next one?

HELEN: Dante’s Shock Proposal – #4 in the Hot Latin Docs series by Amalie Berlin – and wow, what a story what a series! Next one is Her Hot Highland Doc by Annie O’Neil, although I do have all of March’s releases on my kindle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AVRIL: Do you have any message you’d like to send to medical authors in general?

HELEN: Thank you so much for the awesome hours of pleasure you have given me. I have been able to lose myself in these stories – cry, laugh, drool over heroes and just simply enjoy.

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Young at Heart

It is true what they say about Baby Boomers (the demographic group born during the post–World War II baby boom, approximately between the years 1946 and 1964. This includes people who are between 53 and 71 years old in 2017, according to the U.S. Census Bureau). We don’t age the same way our parents did. While we may complain now and then about our arthritic knees, the need to wear glasses to read our mobile telephone messages and our annoying bunions, we refuse to slow down. We fight the aging process by keeping up the pace we did in our younger years.

UnknownBaby Boomer Estate Planning

Last night I was in the audience of an outdoor evening concert. A trifecta of musical talent. Australian legend, Russell Morris, the brilliant Doobie Brothers and the amazing Carlos Santana. Not even the bitterly cold breeze nor the threat of rain kept us away from the concert in the Botanic Park. Baby Boomers were there in droves, rugged up a little more than we might have been forty to fifty years ago but we were there among the towering gum trees swaying our hips to the rhythms and singing along in harmony … well we hope in harmony because most of us damaged our hearing over the years by playing our stereos far too loudly to really know how we sound.  But to be honest we don’t care because we are having a good time.  Enjoying life and not taking ourselves too seriously. We grew up in a time of change and rebelled against the establishment and rules that we knew in our hearts had to be broken.  Now we are going through the ‘other change’ but choosing to ignore the hot flushes and still rebelling by having fun.

AARP Baby Boomers (Sean McCabe)

I love my life and after health scares along the way I appreciate everyone and everything in it even more. I am blessed to have grown up in a time that allowed me to find my own style and make mistakes without social media having a record of my dubious choices. We were not not the victims of technology instead we had just enough to make life interesting and still enjoy our freedom.

images

Looking back is wonderful but Baby Boomers very much live in the present.  I am writing the blog at midnight because tonight (only one night after the trifecta outdoor concert) I was at a surprise 60th Birthday party … and it was a blast.

One day we may grow up … or not!

baby-boomers-the-sweetspot-demographic-in-the-middle-of-the-action-15-638

Are you a Baby Boomer or do you know one who still likes to live life to the the fullest?

 

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Happy April!

I was going to say something witty about the fact April showers bring May flowers, but it’s April 7th and there’s snow on the ground where I live. Boo!

I love April, even though it’s usually a rainy month. April is my birthday month. It means, ice cream cake! WOOT!

Although, since starting Weight Watchers in January I might opt for some frozen yogurt. *little woot*

April is also a very busy month for me. Ever since I sold to Harlequin, I always seem to have a deadline around or right before my birthday. I’m not complaining, because I love the work. And honestly, I never really noticed before until my husband started building my office in the basement.

See, I had this great office in the spare bedroom in the basement, but then my daughter became a teenager and wanted her own space (and bathroom), so I gave up that room so she could get away from her brothers. The boys each had their own room upstairs and I worked in the living room, with stuff scattered in boxes in the unfinished part of the basement.

Then, my boys missed being together. So they took their bunk beds and moved back into a room together. I took the other upstairs room. I loved it. I loved having that office again where I could close a door and work. I wrote One Night in New York and my Sealed with a Valentine’s Kiss duet in that room.

Ahh. It was heaven. That lasted about a year. Then, the fighting and bickering started as they got older.

I went back to my boxes in the basement and have been working in the living room. I escape to hotel rooms near my deadline to work, because it’s hard once the kids come home to write in the living room. Since I dropped Diet Coke for good, I can’t pull all nighters and with working out …I don’t want too. I’m tired.

My husband asked me what I wanted for my birthday and I said a small room where I can shut you all out. I love my family, but for my sanity and career, I need a door between us.

So, he went to work. Everything is done (as of writing this blog post) but the door.

The first thing up was my new wardrobe. It’s massive and I was finally able to take all the copious author copies from 14 books (currently out) and store them somewhere safe. This picture isn’t even the foreign translations. I keep one copy of foreign translation books and I’m shipping out a bunch to different libraries.

IMG_0209
14 books released so far, 3 books per shelves. All the hard covers are on the bottom. It’s a lot of books!

Then after the walls were up I got bookshelves! They’re pretty bare, but it’s a work in progress. Nice to have all my books together. Something to look at.

The table I work at is one my Mom made when she was moving into her first apartment, or rather she was going to move into her first apartment alone and then met my Dad. LOL

IMG_0206
Yep, that’s a Mountie Bear and the painting is one I did.

I can’t wait to finish unpacking, but I’m headed to Toronto this weekend for an all day workshop with the Toronto Romance Writers. Since it starts bright and early Saturday, I’m spending the night in my old hometown by myself in a hotel room to write.

And I’m taking the train. I love taking the train, especially business class because I can work on the train. It’s a 3 hr train ride (roughly) to downtown T.O.

It’s only one night away, since I’m catching the late night train back to London, Ontario Saturday night, but I’m planning on enjoying the silence and cranking up the word count.

Maybe, just maybe there will be door to my office on my return.

Oh and in March, I had 2 releases! Check them out.

9780373215164

His Pregnant Royal Bride (Royal Spring Babies Book 1)

Pregnant with the prince’s baby

Nurse Shay Labadie’s one exquisite night of passion with Dr. Dante Affini was meant to be a beautiful memory. But now Shay’s expecting…and Dante is expecting her to take his hand in marriage!

Dante’s proposal is shocking enough, but then he drops an even bigger bombshell—he’s not just a doctor, he’s a prince! Now to win his child and the woman he loves, Dante will have to prove he can master his most important role yet—as the husband Shay deserves…

BiochemicalReaction_highres

The Omega Team: Biochemical Reaction

An attraction like no other…

Former Navy Seal Jack Crane walked away after a chemical attack wiped out his platoon and scarred him, forcing him out of the military–the hardest thing he ever had to do…Until Omega Team contacted him to protect an undercover agent at a secret lab.

Lisa Morgan had nothing to lose when she took on the assignment to uncover Bio-Tek’s dark secrets concerning the deadly chemical agent that killed her brother and cost her the only man she ever loved a decade ago when he walked away.

When the man hired to protect her turns out to be Jack, she’s forced to trust with her life the man she couldn’t trust with her heart, and make sure the antidote for that terrible chemical gets into the right hands before it’s too late.

 

You can find out more about Amy here:

Website: www.amyruttan.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AmyRuttanAuthor?ref=hl

TWITTER: http://www.twitter.com/ruttanamy

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/amyruttan/

Newsletter: http://www.amyruttan.com/contact.html#newsletter

 

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, New Releases

April New Releases

Happy April everyone! 6 new releases to read over the long Easter weekend. May the chocolate flow!

 

Reunited by Their Pregnancy Surprise by Louisa Heaton.

Reclaiming his wMEDICAL6ife…and his baby!

Obstetrician Sam Saint wakes in hospital after an accident to find he doesn’t remember the past eighteen months. The beautiful woman by his bedside is in fact his wife…and she’s pregnant!

Midwife Emily never thought her husband would want the child she longs for. But now that she’s expecting his baby, she’s determined to fight for their marriage. And as they rediscover each other, Emily and Sam find themselves making new memories—ones they’ll both treasure forever!

 

A Mother to Make a Family by Emily Forbes (Tempted and Tamed)

A fresh start in the outback… MEDCIAL5

When Dr. Mitch Reynolds lost his wife, he blamed himself and turned his back on medicine. He keeps his three children close but the world at a distance. But then Rose Anderson walks into his life…

Teacher Rose always dreamed of falling in love, but after an illness left her scarred, her dreams feel further away than ever. Yet helping Mitch’s little family become whole again gives her the chance to belong and the prospect of being loved…just as she is.

 

 

The Nurse’s Baby Secret by Janice Lynn

Pregnant wiMEDICAL4th the brooding doctor’s baby…

Nurse Savannah Carter is ecstatic to discover she’s expecting, but before she can share the joyful news with the baby’s father—gorgeous Dr. Charlie Keele—he stuns her with the announcement he’s leaving town.

Charlie knows Savannah deserves better than he can give her, and pushing her away is for her own good, but that doesn’t make leaving any easier. Then he discovers Savannah is pregnant! Now he must win back the woman he loves…and convince her how much he wants to be a family with their beautiful baby.

 

 

Forbidden to the Playboy Surgeon by Fiona Lowe (Paddington Children’s Hospital)

MEDICAL3

Unbuttoned—and out of bounds!

Sparks fly from day one between playboy neurosurgeon Alistair North and his talented, sexy trainee surgeon Claire Mitchell. He’s on a mission to help überserious Claire relax, but his cavalier approach is driving her crazy.

Alistair is completely out of bounds, even if he is completely gorgeous—he’s her boss! But when he confronts Claire after a difficult surgery, desire overcomes reason. With secrets holding them both back, can they find a way to turn their forbidden passion into forever?

 

 

Their One Night Baby by Carol Marinelli (Paddington Children’s Hospital)

MEDICAL2

Their sexy cease-fire!

Working together to save Paddington Children’s Hospital, paramedic Victoria Christie and Dr. Dominic MacBride never fail to challenge each other. Until one night they discover a new way to relieve the tension…by turning their arguments into reckless abandon!

Dom came to Paddington’s to escape a betrayal and has no intention of falling in love—but when Victoria reveals she’s pregnant he finds himself reevaluating his lone-wolf status. Now he’s fighting for the woman who fires his blood, and their surprise baby!

 

 

The Boss Who Stole Her Heart by Jennifer Taylor (The Larches Practice)

 

Taking a risk with the single dad!medcial1

Ellie Munroe retreated to the stunning Yorkshire Dales for a brand-new start. Her plans definitely didn’t include developing a crush on her boss, GP Daniel Saunders! Ellie has been burned before, but the handsome single dad tempts her out of sadness…

After being widowed, Daniel believes his heart is more damaged than Ellie deserves. But she awakens a longing that has him wishing for more, and he realizes falling for Ellie could be a risk worth taking!

 

 

 

 

Book Awards, Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

The RoNAs 2017! by Kate Hardy

A couple of weeks ago, I was thrilled to attend the Romantic Novelists’ Association annual awards do. It was especially lovely because I’m good friends with everyone who was shortlisted for the RoNA Rose award, and I was really looking forward to catching up with everyone. Louisa Heaton was up for her first nomination, Scarlet Wilson for her fifth, and me for my seventh (OK, so I’m greedy…). And it was FAB.

Sadly, Louisa went down with a nasty bug the day before the awards (and we missed her so much!).

They say that a picture tells a thousand words, so I’m telling most of our day by pictures.

Firstly we had lunch with the editors at the Corinthia. Anticlockwise from me – that’s editor Bryony Green, Christy McKellen, editor Linda Fildew, Virginia Heath, editor Sheila Hodgson, Scarlet Wilson, and editor Megan Haslam.

P1020684.JPG

Then we had some pink fizzy in Scarlet’s room and dressed up before heading to the Gladstone Library at One Whitehall Place. (It’s pretty much opposite the London Eye.)

Look at the amazing staircase!

P1020690.JPG

And our shortlisted books were on show.

P1020691.jpg

And then it was time for the official photographs. (LTR Scarlet, Christy, me, Virginia.)

P1020693.JPG

And then we waited nervously at the table next to our editors…

P1020705.JPG

for the awards to be announced by Prue Leith…

P1020744.JPG

And it went to our Scarlet!

P1020746.JPG

And she made a fabulous acceptance speech 🙂

P1020748.JPG

Congratulations, Scarlet Wilson – and it was a real pleasure to be there!

Excerpts, Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Excerpt – A Mother to Make a Family

A Mother to Make a Family USA April 2017  I’m so excited that this book has finally made it. This is the third in my “Tempted & Tamed” series which started in 2014 with ‘Doctor by Day…’ and ‘Tamed by the Renegade’. These are the stories of the Anderson sisters, Scarlett, Ruby and Rose, and Rose is finally getting her turn in ‘A Mother to Make a Family’. It might have taken me a while but I’m happy with how things have turned out for her 🙂 Hope you enjoy it, Emily.

CHAPTER ONE

A scream split the air, cleaving through the thick muggy silence that suffocated the land.

Mitch recognised the sound and it sent a shiver of fear down his spine.

The hairs on the back of his neck rose up and the wrench fell from his hand as he sprinted from the machine shed.

He was halfway to the horse yards before the scream ended and the silence that followed stabbed at his heart. He’d never known silence to be so terrifying. It was ominous. After thirty-nine years he knew the sound of trouble.

The sound of his boots as they slapped the dirt echoed across the ground and the pounding of his feet imitated the pounding of his heart that had lodged somewhere in his throat. He listened for more noise, another sound, anything, as he ran, anything would be better than the oppressive silence.

Time stood still. Red dust flew from under his boots but the red dust might as well have been quicksand. The horse yards weren’t getting any closer.

He rounded the corner of the staff quarters and almost collided with his six-year-old son.

‘Dad, Dad, come quick. It’s Lila.’ Jed grabbed Mitch’s hand but Mitch didn’t slow his pace and his hand pulled out of his son’s grasp. Mitch still didn’t stop. He would make better time without him. He kept running, knowing Jed would follow.

He had to get to Lila. He had to get to his daughter.

He skidded into the horse yards and felt Jed come to a stop beside him. He scanned the enclosures, searching for his two other children.

Charlie was standing still. He was holding Ruff, their Australian terrier, in his arms. The little dog was squirming and wriggling, desperate to get down. Ruff wasn’t supposed to be anywhere near the horse yards but Mitch didn’t have time to think about that now.

His daughter lay flat on her back on the hard, red ground. Her face was ashen and she lay as still as a corpse, her eyes open. His heart was lodged firmly in his throat now and he fought to breathe. The air was thick and muggy, choking him as he tried to force it into his lungs. He’d already lost one daughter. He couldn’t lose Lila too. His children were all he had left.

And then he saw her chest move. Rising and falling as she breathed.

She was alive.

The lump in his throat dislodged and he sucked in a breath.

Ginny was kneeling over her and Mitch crouched in the dirt beside her.

‘Lila!’

He wanted to gather her into his arms, to pick her up and carry her away but he didn’t dare move her. He knew it wasn’t safe.

His daughter’s lips were parted, her eyes huge and dark in her pale face. They brimmed with tears and her bottom lip wobbled.

‘It hurts.’

Mitch could hear the catch in her voice and it was almost more than he could bear. ‘Where?’

‘My back.’

Shit.

‘You haven’t moved her, have you?’ he asked Ginny. He hadn’t acknowledged the governess until now. He was far too intent on Lila.

‘No.’ Ginny shook her head. ‘She fell like this.’

The ground was a hard as concrete. They’d had no rain in this distant corner of Queensland for three years, even the river was dry. The station was relying on water from the artesian basin for the cattle, there was nothing spare to soften the ground or water the gardens. Who knew what injuries Lila might have sustained? What damage had been done?

Mitch slipped his fingers into Lila’s palm. ‘Can you squeeze my hand?’

He relaxed ever so slightly as he felt the reassuring squeeze.

‘Don’t move your legs,’ he told her, ‘but see if you can wriggle your toes.’

Lila was wearing elastic-sided riding boots. He couldn’t see if she was moving but she winced.

‘Could you do it?’ he asked.

‘Yes. But it hurts.’

That was a good sign, Mitch thought. Not that he wanted his daughter to be in pain but pain was often absent in serious spinal injuries. ‘I know, sweetie, you’re being very brave.’

Tears spilled from Lila’s lashes onto her cheeks.

Mitch wiped the tears from her face. ‘It’ll be alright, Lila.’

Thankfully she’d been wearing her helmet. Thank god she’d had some protection. He didn’t remove it. He couldn’t risk the movement. Not until her injuries had been assessed. He knew what to do but she needed more attention than he was able to give her and somehow, when the situation was personal, it became harder to remain objective. He didn’t want to do the wrong thing. And that was the trouble – he didn’t trust his own judgement anymore. Lila needed medical attention but they were in outback Queensland, hundreds of kilometres and a five-hour drive from the nearest hospital.

‘Go to the house,’ he instructed Ginny. ‘Call the flying doctor on the satellite phone and bring it back to me along with the medical chest.’

She stood up and Mitch noticed that her knees were shaking, her hands too, and her face was ashen. Everyone was on edge. ‘Take the dog,’ he called after her as she hurried away. Ginny came back and took Ruff from Charlie’s arms. ‘And make sure he’s tied up.’

‘Do you know what day it is, Lila?’ he asked.

‘Wednesday,’ she replied, and Mitch breathed a sigh of relief.

‘Do you know what happened?’

‘I came off Fudge.’

As far as assessments for concussion went it was as basic as they came but hearing the correct responses was a positive sign.  Her eyes were open, she wasn’t confused and she could move independently even if it hurt. Fourteen points out of a possible fifteen on the Glasgow coma scale, Mitch thought automatically, although that was only part of the story.

He sat in the dirt and held Lila’s hand as he waited for Ginny to return. Waiting was the hardest thing. He was useless until he had the medical chest and even that wouldn’t be enough. He was pretty certain that Lila had sustained some fractures and there was the risk that she had also suffered some internal injuries but he didn’t want to start an assessment. He didn’t want to be the one to cause her pain. He’d wait for the medical chest, at least then he’d be able to check her blood pressure which would give him a bit more of an indication as to what they were dealing with but he was convinced Lila would have to be evacuated. They needed the flying doctor.

He kept talking to her. Soft, nothing words, just sounds really, letting her know he was there, that he wasn’t going to leave her.

Her eyes fluttered closed and he fought back another wave of panic while he reminded himself that she didn’t seem concussed. She seemed alert enough, even if she was in pain.

‘Is she going to be okay, Dad?’

Jed stood beside him and Mitch noticed that he had his arm wrapped around his little brother, comforting him. Mitch should be doing that but he found himself stretched to the limit, as had been the case so often in the past two years. There just wasn’t enough of him to go around.

‘She’ll be fine,’ he replied. He had no other answer. He didn’t want to lie but he had to believe she would be okay. He had to believe his own words.

‘You can fix her, can’t you, Dad?’

‘I’m going to need some help, Jed, but the flying doctor will be here soon. Why don’t you and Charlie go down to the kitchen for smoko?’

He hadn’t heard the bell for smoko but it must be nearly time for morning tea. The station staff would all converge on the kitchen and a drink and a piece of cake would keep the boys occupied.

Ginny returned on one of the quad bikes. She had the medical chest strapped to the back of the bike and a blanket thrown over her lap. She carried the medical chest over and put it down beside Mitch before draping the blanket over Lila. Mitch hadn’t thought of the blanket, the temperature was nudging thirty four degrees Celsius, but if Lila went into shock he might need it.

‘The plane is on its way and the base is holding for you,’ Ginny said as she handed him the satellite phone.

Mitch knew that depending on where the plane was coming from it could take an hour to reach them. He took the phone as he instructed Ginny to get his head stockman and pilot to prepare the runway for the plane.

He spoke to the doctor at the Broken Hill base and relayed the little information they asked while he opened the medical chest and found the few things that he needed. He checked her blood pressure, kept her warm and gave her some pain relief and then he waited.

And waited.

Time stood still as his daughter lay in the dirt, in pain.

Lila looked so like her mother that Mitch’s heart ached every time he looked at her. Dark hair, dark eyes. All three of the children had his dark eyes but the boys were much more like him. They had the same white blond hair he’d had as a child. His hair had darkened with age. And had even gone a little grey with stress.

He had been trying his best not to let his feelings show over the past two years. He didn’t want the children to grow up sensing his pain. His loss. It was their loss too but he knew they felt it differently. They were so young, so much more resilient than he felt, but he had vowed to do his best by them.

He had become very good at disguising his feelings, an expert at pretending everything was okay. But he didn’t know if he had the strength to get through another tragedy. Hopefully it wouldn’t come to that but if it did he’d have to find the reserves somewhere. The children were all he had and he was all they had.

He knew he had to keep his composure, had to stay calm, and he was grateful that no one else had been injured. He’d seen more than his fair share of injuries, and even a couple of fatalities, from accidents with horses. But being around horses was a way of life on the station and Mitch knew it was important that the children were familiar with them. But he had always insisted that they wear helmets when they were riding and fortunately that was a rule they had never broken. Lila’s accident could have been much worse; it wasn’t as bad as it got but it was close.

In the distance he heard the sound of an engine. The familiar whine of the flying doctor plane. He heard it coming from the west and he looked to the sky, searching for a flash of silver and white. There. The plane was silhouetted against the endless, clear blue sky. He watched as it dropped lower, heading for the dirt landing strip behind the out buildings and waited again for the doc to get to the stables.

Darren, the head stockman, pulled up in a dusty four-wheel-drive and the doc and the flight nurse piled out. He recognised Doc Burton. Mitch reckoned he’d worked with all of the doctors over the years. He nodded in acknowledgement and then relayed what he knew of the events, what he’d given Lila for pain relief and her medical history which was pretty minor, he knew she had no allergies but had to guess her weight, and then he stepped aside to let them examine his daughter. He wasn’t one of them anymore, he was just Lila’s father.

Lila was alert and talking as they checked her pupils, got her to move her fingers and toes and gradually worked their way up her limbs. She seemed to be able to move her upper limbs reasonably comfortably but her legs were a different story. Doc Burton gently palpated Lila’s neck before removing her helmet. He moved to her abdomen as the nurse retested her blood pressure.

Lila cried out in pain as the doc pressed on her pelvis and Mitch had to restrain himself from leaping in and stopping the doc’s examination right there. He couldn’t stand to see Lila in more pain.

‘Temp 36.2 degrees, pulse 100, respirations 22, BP 90 on 60, oxygen 98%.’ The flight nurse relayed Lila’s vital statistics.

‘Can you run 500mls of normal saline and draw up 5 milligrams of morphine? I want to give her a shot before we move her,’ the doc finished speaking to the nurse before turning to Mitch.

‘I agree with you,’ he said, ‘there’s no apparent head injury and her spine seems okay but it looks like she has a fractured pelvis so we’ll need to take her with us to the Base.’ Back to Broken Hill, to the hospital. ‘I don’t think she has major internal injuries, her observations are quite reasonable, which suggest that there’s no excessive internal bleeding but I won’t really know until we get her to Broken Hill for scans. She may need to go to Adelaide but you know the drill.’

The doc took the syringe from the nurse and injected the morphine into Lila’s abdomen. ‘This will sting a little, Lila, but it will work fast to take the pain away,’ he told her.

Mitch knew the drill all too well. Doc Burton would take away the pain and then he’d take Lila. Mitch had known that would be the case. He’d known her injuries were too severe to be treated out here. He’d known she would need to go to hospital and he would follow. He hadn’t set foot in a hospital for two years but that was all about to change. He’d known the day would come when he’d have to face up to the past and that day was now. He would have to cope, for Lila’s sake.

He picked up Lila’s hand, holding it, not sure whether he was comforting her or himself.

‘Alright, we need to get her in the plane.’ Doc Burton looked at Mitch and Mitch knew his face would be pale under his tan. ‘You’re coming?’

            Mitch nodded as the doc and the flight nurse wrapped a brace around Lila’s pelvis and rolled her onto a spinal board.  He’d managed to avoid the hospital for two years but he’d wondered what it would take to get him back there. Now he knew. This was it.

            He climbed into the plane choosing a seat from where he could keep watch.

Lila was drowsy now, the pain relief was working, and as the engines started up her eyelids fluttered and closed.

Through the window Mitch watched the station fall away as the pilot lifted the plane into the air. Red dirt, chestnut cattle, the dry, stony creek, grey-green trees and the silver, corrugated tin roofs of the buildings that glinted in the sunlight. He looked down onto Jed and Charlie as they stood at the edge of the runway and watched him leave.

He could see it all laid out before him, his entire life, and he wondered when it would get back to normal. Would it ever?

The past two years had been the most difficult of his life. How many more traumatic events could they be expected to endure?

The last time he was in the flying doctor plane on his way to Broken Hill he’d been with his wife and unborn child.

He turned away from the window, his gaze seeking Lila. He was determined to come back with his daughter. He couldn’t bear the thought of returning alone again.

 

***

 

‘Is she asleep?’ Rose asked as her sister walked into the kitchen.

Scarlett had been settling her daughter, Holly, for her afternoon nap while Rose had chopped what felt like a mountain of cabbage and carrot to make coleslaw. But she’d been glad to have a job to do. She was hoping it would keep her mind busy which would leave her no time to think about gorgeous men with kind faces and daughters in hospital. Lila’s father had unsettled her. Her reaction to him had her on edge but she found if she kept herself occupied she could almost manage to push him to the back of her mind. Wielding a sharp knife was making sure she stayed focussed on the task at hand. She scraped the vegetables into a bowl and started tossing them together to make the salad.

‘Yes,’ Scarlett replied, ‘but she was fighting sleep every step of the way. I think she has too much of her father in her – she knows there’s a party going on and she doesn’t want to miss out!’

Rose smiled. Her brother-in-law did like a party.

Like Jake, the old Rose had loved a party too. She enjoyed attention and she knew she got more than her fair share but now that attention made her uncomfortable. Now it made her more aware of everything that had happened to her. Aware of the contrast between the pretty Rose of her youth and the new Rose. She felt much, much older than her twenty-three years. She been through a lot in the past two years and had come out the other side a lot less positive about the future. She knew now that some things were out of her control and just because she had a plan didn’t mean that life had the same one for her.

Things were different now.

Rose had been avoiding parties but Scarlett had refused to listen to any of her excuses and the only reason Rose had agreed to come to the barbeque was because Scarlett had threatened to withhold time spent with Holly if she didn’t attend. It was emotional blackmail – Scarlett knew Rose couldn’t bear to think of being separated from her niece. Holly was one of the few highlights in her life. One of the things that Rose had fought so hard for. She adored Holly and Holly adored her.

Having a family of her own was all Rose wanted. It had been all she’d wanted since she was eight years old. Her dreams had been so different to those of her two elder sisters yet now they were both married and Scarlett had a daughter. Scarlett and Ruby were living Rose’s dream and Rose couldn’t help feeling a tiny pang of jealousy when she thought about it. Scarlett had professed that she was never going to have kids, she always intended to focus on her career, yet look at her now; a qualified anaesthetist and mother to the most adorable little girl.

Ruby, the middle of the three Anderson sisters, was a different kettle of fish altogether. She was nomadic, nothing remotely like Rose who was the epitome of a homebody, and marrying Noah was the first ordinary thing Ruby had ever done and even then she’d gone for the unusual. Not too many people were married to professional race car drivers. Ruby always had a point of difference, whether it was her dress sense, her living arrangements or her boyfriends, no one could ever accuse her of being ordinary whereas Rose longed for an ordinary life; a husband who adored her, perfect children and her own happily ever after.

She wanted to recreate that perfect world she used to live in. The world she’d inhabited until the age of eight. She wanted to fall in love and have her own family. She believed in true love and part of her still hoped it would happen for her. She still imagined her white knight would come and sweep her off her feet. He would give her the world and would be so blinded by love that he wouldn’t notice all her flaws.

The Anderson sisters had grown up with their own labels. Scarlett was the clever one, the career girl, Ruby was the fun one, the slightly wild and offbeat sister and Rose, not overly ambitious, had been content to be the pretty one. Until recently.

She used to be so confident.  She used to be able to walk into a room and know that men would look at her. She knew she was pretty and her blonde hair and big green eyes lent her an air of innocence that men couldn’t resist. But Rose didn’t feel pretty any more. She was scarred, emotionally and physically, and she didn’t want anyone to see those scars.

She was also scared. Scared that no one would want her now.

Scarlett kept telling her to give herself time. To get back out into the world without expectations. To relax, have fun and see what happened. Her psychologist was telling her the same thing – give yourself time – but Rose wasn’t convinced that time was the great healer that everyone professed it to be.

She was scared and scarred and she didn’t believe that was a combination conducive to finding love.

Scarlett held out a tray of burgers and shashliks to Rose.

‘Would you take these out to Jake for me please?’

Rose could see her brother-in-law at the barbeque talking to one of his friends.

‘I know what you’re doing,’ she said.

‘What?’ Scarlett replied, all wide-eyed and innocent.

‘You want me to talk to Rico.’

‘He’s a nice guy.’

‘I’m not saying he’s not but-’

‘ “You’re not ready.” Scarlett finished the sentence for Rose with her usual retort but that hadn’t been what she was about to say. ‘I’m worried about you Rose. You need to get out there. You’d have fun with Rico. It doesn’t necessarily have to be anything more than platonic fun but at least you’d be out and about. Working and spending time with Holly isn’t enough. You’re twenty-three, have some fun.’

It was on the tip of Rose’s tongue to say I’ve met someone but that would be a ridiculous admission. Scarlett would want to know who and where and when and Rose didn’t know who. She’d said barely a dozen words to him, he was, quite literally, the tall, dark, handsome stranger she’d dreamt about since she was a teenager but she couldn’t share that with Scarlett. She’d think she’d gone mad.

She reached out and took the tray of barbeque meat, resigned to the fact that she would have to let Scarlett win this round. Scarlett won most rounds. She was the bossy older sister. Rose knew she did it out of love and so she gave in. It was easier that way. ‘Alright,’ she sighed, ‘I’ll go and talk to him.’

*

 

‘Could I have your number?’

Rose had been chatting to Jake and Rico for several minutes when Rico asked the question. She was glad he’d waited until Jake had taken a tray of cooked hamburgers inside to Scarlett. She didn’t think she had the heart to turn him down in front of his mate but she couldn’t give him what he wanted. Rico was handsome in a swarthy, dark, Mediterranean way, he had a great body, hours in the gym had toned it to perfection, and he seemed genuinely nice but there was no spark. Rose wondered if she’d ever feel that spark again. Rico was just the type of man she normally fancied, tall, dark, good-looking, a few years older than her but she wasn’t interested. She hadn’t been interested in a long time.

Not quite true she thought as she remembered a man with chocolate brown eyes, a triangular jaw and an easy smile. She might make an exception for a man like him. But that was just a silly fantasy about a complete stranger. She didn’t even know his name.

‘I’m sorry,’ she said, ‘I’m not dating at the moment.’

She knew she had to figure out how she was going to fulfil her dream of having a family when she didn’t feel ready for a relationship. She still dreamt of finding love but in reality she was scared. She knew she couldn’t wait for ever, she didn’t want to wait for ever, but she was afraid to take that first step back into the dating game. She knew that first step would lead to others which would lead to her having to share parts of herself and that was the part she wasn’t ready for.

Rico looked as if he might be getting ready to plead his case and Rose tried to remember how she used to turn invitations down without appearing rude. ‘Why don’t you give me your number,’ she added, ‘and if I change my mind, I’ll call you.’

‘Sure.’

‘Great,’ she replied, pleased he wasn’t going to argue with her, ‘I’ll just grab my phone.’

She ducked inside and rifled through her handbag. Her phone was lying in the bottom of the bag under a tin of coloured pencils she had bought for Lila. She pulled the pencils out with the phone. She’d get Rico’s number and then she would go and see Lila. She’d had enough of the party. She knew it would only be more of the same. Talking to Jake’s friends, getting asked for her number. She made her excuses to Scarlett promising to call back later, hoping that Jake’s friends would have left by then and she could play with Holly without interruption.

But right now, there was somewhere else she’d rather be. Someone else she’d rather talk too.

           

*

 

He was there.

He was sitting beside Lila’s bed, his long legs stretched out in front of him, feet crossed at the ankles, watching as his daughter scrolled through what appeared to be photos on his phone.

She couldn’t deny she’d been hoping to see him but now she was ridiculously nervous. What had she expected? That she could just feast her eyes on him from a distance, hiding in the shadows without being seen herself?

That was exactly what she’d hoped. She hadn’t thought about the reality of seeing him. Of talking to him. She wasn’t ready to make scintillating conversation. She had nothing to say. She was completely out of practice.

But she couldn’t stand in the doorway for ever. She crossed the room and the movement caught his eye. He lifted his head and his chocolate eyes followed her progress. He stood up as she got closer and Rose put another tick in the box that would be beside his name if only she knew what it was. He had manners. She adored men with manners.  Having someone who would open a door for her or pull out her chair at dinner and seat her first, not because he thought she was incapable, just because it was a nice thing to do, always made her go weak at the knees. She always thought it gave a little glimpse about what he would be like as a husband or a lover. A mark of consideration and kindness. A man with manners would treat a girl properly.

‘I didn’t mean to interrupt,’ she said. ‘I just brought some drawing things for Lila.’

He smiled at her and Rose’s knees wobbled as the ground tilted a little under her feet. She’d liked his smile yesterday when he had smiled at his daughter but that was nothing compared to having his smile directed at her. His face brightened and his brown eyes warmed and darkened like melted chocolate as he looked straight at her. ‘You’re not interrupting, Rose.’

A rush of pleasure flooded through her and she could feel a faint blush stealing over her pale cheeks. He remembered her name!

She stopped next to Lila’s bed before realising she should have continued to the opposite side. She was standing far too close to him. Her head barely reached his shoulders, if she turned her head towards him all she could see was the powerful breadth of his chest, if she looked down she got an eyeful of a narrow waist and long, lean legs. If she breathed in she could smell him. He smelt clean and fresh as if he’d not long been out of the shower, and his scent overrode the antiseptic smell of the hospital.

Her heart was racing, making her hands shake. She wasn’t sure why but he really unsettled her and she was unbelievably nervous. As she reached forwards to pass the pencils and sketch pad to Lila the tin slid from her moist hands. The lid popped off as the tin hit the ground and pencils spilled across the floor around their feet.

His reaction time was faster than hers. He crouched down and gathered the pencils up as she stood there trying to work out what had just happened. His head was level with her knees and she could look down onto the top of his head. His hair was cut short but thick and she had a sudden urge to reach out and thread her fingers through it. She curled her fingers into a fist at her side to resist the temptation.

He stood and handed her the pencils but the touch of his fingers sent a jolt of awareness through her that was so strong she almost dropped the pencils a second time.

Maybe it had been a mistake coming here. She was well and truly disconcerted and had lost all trace of coherent thought.

‘I can’t stay,’ she said as she finally managed to put the pencils and sketch book on the end of Lila’s bed. ‘These are for you,’ she said before she bolted for the door.

Lila’s father followed her from the ward. She didn’t turn around but she could feel him behind her. Her whole body was tense, her nerves taut, fighting against her as she tried to walk away.

‘Wait!’

Her steps slowed of their own accord as he called to her and then he was beside her, his hand on her elbow, sending her heart crazy. She turned to face him.

‘Thank you for getting those pencils for Lila.’

She was looking into a pair of eyes that were so dark she could see her own reflection. Her eyes were wide, startled, and she knew that he had caused that look, his touch had sent her body wild.

‘I meant to bring her things with me,’ he said. ‘She asked me to, but with all the other hundred things I had to organise to get away I forgot. Her brothers have been acting up, they’re missing Lila and upset with me for leaving them behind, and with all their carry-on I got completely distracted and forgot to pack Lila’s things.’ He paused to take a breath and gave her a half-smile along with a slight shrug of his shoulders. ‘But you don’t want to hear about all of that.’

Oh, but she did. She wanted to know everything.

***

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

….and breathe.

Unknown-2.jpeg Hands up everyone! How many of you out there make a concerted effort to give yourself a break each and every week let alone each day…just for you? I don’t. My days are crammed with activity – which I like – but now it seems – the happiest people take time out to stop the world and smell the roses.

Do you know your hygge from your lagom (apart from one being Danish and involving friends, candles and extra cosy blankets and the other being Swedish and being *ahem!* a bit more austere….three minute ice shower chased up by clearing your cupboards anyone?)

But seriously – when was the last time you actually sat and mainlined a new album the way you did when you were a teen? Are you a long, bubbly bath type? I am flawed in that respect. I can’t sit still long enough to get through a chapter of the book I magically imagine myself reading by candlelight whilst lurching half of the bubbles onto the floor in an aUnknown-1.jpegttempt to retrieve my rapidly warming glass of prosecco I envisaged the moment requiring. It never works out. All I do is get really hot feet and stress out about whether or not I’ve stayed in long enough to make it worth the energy used to get all that hot water in our lovely, but grossly underused bathtub. How about the last time you got a facial? And yes, even one of those inexpensive squeezy ones from the supermarket counts. What about just sitting down and painting your toenails? In stripes? Or frosting cupcakes then surreptitiously checking if anyone was looking before licking the whole bowl clean?

Have you answered “Not even close to recently enough to remember” to each and every one of these things? Never fear – help is on the way.

Obviously the best way to obtain joy and utter contentment is with an excellent romance novel – and if it’s a medical romance? so much the better. images-2.jpeg

Given that the world refuses to make days longer (who doesn’t need an extra twelve hours in the day if, on top of everything else, we’re also supposed to write books, get all the laundry done, do the grocery shopping AND have an aromatherapy bath with essential oils!

Lately, I’ve been building little things into my day that make each day feel – not like a spa day exactly…but giving ‘got to get through it’ things a bit of oomph. When I buy new pens? I pick ones that make me grin. Ditto to post-its. I know, I know. Not everyone gets google-eyed over lined post-its in neon on colours, but it turns out I do. I’ve also stolen a trick from my writer pal, Louisa Heaton and have started lighting a candle when I write. And I’m CONSIDERING bringing back something I used to do back in the days when worked in news and was on a tight deadline: The way I would alert my colleagues to the fact I was busy was to pop my tiara on my head (you all have tiaras, right?). The way I would let them know I was both busy AND cranky was to don my  tiara (natch) and a pair of rather wonderful fairy wings I bought for a tenner at a local costume store. My colleagues would walk into the office – take one look and head for the hills. Giggling, usually. But that was part of the plan. The point being – everybody’s day takes dips…but if there’s a way to give yourself a little mood booster…why not give it a try? If that doesn’t work, you might want to try taking half an hour and googling pictures of Tom Hardy. A friend and I did that the other day and I felt twenty years younger just giving myself thirty solid minutes of giggling over eye candy. Deeee-lish

I’d LOVE to hear what you all do to cheer yourselves up, or make your days have a bit more serenity.

3899dfe821816fbcb3db3e3b23f81585_XL.jpgIf all else fails…might I recommend just staring into the gorgeous baby blues of
Her Hot Highland Doc.