Reading

Book Recommendations!

I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump just lately. I start books, but haven’t felt compelled to carry on reading them, so I thought I’d share the books that I HAVE read that I really enjoyed, in case you’re caught in a bit of a slump, too.

And if you have any recommendations for great books that YOU’VE read, then please add them to the comments, so that I can get back to what I love.

In the small French village of Lansquenet, nothing much has changed in a hundred years. Then an exotic stranger, Vianne Rocher, blows in on the changing wind with her young daughter, and opens a chocolate boutique directly opposite the church. Soon the villagers cannot keep away, for Vianne can divine their most hidden desires.

One September evening in 1785, the merchant Jonah Hancock finds one of his captains waiting eagerly on his doorstep. He has sold Jonah’s ship for what appears to be a mermaid.

As gossip spreads through the docks, coffee shops, parlours and brothels, everyone wants to see Mr Hancock’s marvel. Its arrival spins him out of his ordinary existence and through the doors of high society, where he meets Angelica Neal, the most desirable woman he has ever laid eyes on… and a courtesan of great accomplishment. This meeting will steer both their lives onto a dangerous new course.

What will be the cost of their ambitions? And will they be able to escape the legendary destructive power a mermaid is said to possess?

England, the 1520s. Henry VIII is on the throne, but has no heir. Cardinal Wolsey is his chief advisor, charged with securing the divorce the pope refuses to grant. Into this atmosphere of distrust and need, comes Thomas Cromwell, first as Wolsey’s clerk, and later his successor. 

Cromwell is a wholly original man: the son of a brutal blacksmith, a political genius, a briber, a charmer, a bully, a man with a delicate and deadly expertise in manipulating people and events. Ruthless in pursuit of his own interests, he is as ambitious in his wider politics as he is for himself. His reforming agenda is carried out in the grip of a self-interested parliament and a king who fluctuates between romantic passions and murderous rages.

This collection of twelve original short stories, all featuring Jane Marple, will introduce the character to a whole new generation. Each author reimagines Agatha Christie’s Marple through their own unique perspective while staying true to the hallmarks of a traditional mystery.
· Naomi Alderman
· Leigh Bardugo
· Alyssa Cole
· Lucy Foley
· Elly Griffiths
· Natalie Haynes
· Jean Kwok
· Val McDermid
· Karen M. McManus
· Dreda Say Mitchell
· Kate Mosse
· Ruth Ware

Miss Marple was first introduced to readers in a story Christie wrote for The Royal Magazine in 1927 and made her first appearance in a full-length novel in 1930’s The Murder at the Vicarage. It has been 45 years since Agatha Christie’s last Marple novel, Sleeping Murder, was published posthumously in 1976, and this collection of ingenious new stories by twelve Christie devotees will be a timely reminder why Jane Marple remains the most famous fictional female detective of all time.


So what amazing books have you read lately? I’d love to hear all about them, because I need to be reading more!

Thanks in advance!

Louisa xxx

Can a fake date—

change everything?

Paramedic and single dad, Tom, is gorgeous, but to Cara he’s simply her best friend. So when she needs a pretend date for her meddling father’s fundraising ball, Cara knows exactly who to call! Yet learning to dance together in preparation, is it her imagination or is there suddenly a spark between them? Firefighter Cara knows she can’t replace the wife Tom lost, but deep-down she’s always loved him, and his son. Is Tom beginning to feel the same?

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

Little Libraries across Canada

Happy July, this summer is flying by really fast!

I spent most of July on the road, traveling across the western part of Canada, the trip was about 10,000 kms by the time we got back home to our slice of heaven in the central western part of Ontario. It was just the DH and I this time, our kids stayed home with one of their aunts and our dog.

Since COVID, I have been amassing a lot of author copies and I was running out of room. I don’t plan on doing any signings this year, so I had to do something and I thought about the Free Little Libraries that were scattered all over the old city I used to live. I knew they were in other places, so I found a free app called Little Free Library.

I got the brilliant idea to drop off author copies as I make my way across across to Alberta and then do a reading of A Reunion, A Wedding, A Family in Jasper where it’s set. My videos and reading are on Tik Tok under Amy Ruttan (I refer to myself as a reluctant farmer!).

I signed the books ahead of time and marked them with a Canadian author sticker. I took my debut book from 2013 Safe in His Hands and dropped it by the closest Little Library to our farm in Seaforth, Ontario.


The next Little Library came at 8 in the morning after an eight hour drive. Yep, an eight hour drive, we left shortly after midnight, to get around Lake Superior from our house, it takes about 17 hours.

The Little Library I stopped in was in Bruce Mines, Ontario and after my visit there I woke up the next day in Thunder Bay to discover I had made their news! They were thankful for the book and encouraging others to donate to their Little Library.


The next day, we left Thunder Bay and were heading for Saskatoon Saskatchewan. Another 17 hour day. It takes two days to drive out of my province! First I stopped in Kenora, Ontario and dropped a book at Little Library outside a woman’s shelter. It was packed full and well used!

We had to cross Manitoba and most of Saskatchewan to get to Saskatoon. I had never been to Saskatoon, but it’s very bizarre to be watching for a city on a flat prairie horizon and not see it until you go down into a river valley. Saskatoon is beautiful and I found a gorgeous little library in a tree lined neighborhood know as Caswell Hill.



It’s not far to Alberta and we had a couple days to ourselves and headed to Drumheller, which is the badlands in southern, Alberta. Drumheller had an amazing Little Library with Moby Dick and Lord of the Rings quotes painted on it. After Drumheller we made our way to Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump and I left a couple more books in towns like High River (where they film the TV show Heartland) and an author friend Taryn Leigh Taylor left copies in her home town and a town near her.

After some days with my other sister in law at her ranch. We went into Jasper, Alberta the setting for A Reunion, A Wedding, A Family and I did a reading at Medicine Lake. Forest Fires have devastated the area. The last time I was there, Medicine Lake was lush with trees…now, just the ghostly remnants of them remain. It is a natural cycle to a forest though. And even though it had changed, I was still privileged to see elk, big horn sheep, wolf, black bear and my first time seeing a Grizzly Mama and her 3 cubs!


Medicine Lake!

The nearest little library to Jasper, is Hinton, Alberta. And the caretaker there originally is from the town where I currently live. So that was a small world experience. I left a copy of A Reunion, A Wedding, A Family there.

After our time in Alberta, we made our way to Winnipeg on a day that Canada had a nation wide cell phone outage on the network I used. It also knocked out all Interac purchases. I was very glad we had our credit cards and cash. I was also glad our GPS in our Jeep was still functioning or we would’ve never made our way from Alberta, through Saskatchewan to Winnipeg, Manitoba.

I got to meet an author friend Elle Rush for lunch and visit the monument of Louis Riel. My ancestors were Metis, which is a mix of European settlers and Indigenous. Metis people are an Indigenous nation and have their own culture. Louis Riel is a founding father who fought for the rights of Metis, he was an elected politician and led resistance movements before he was hanged for treason.



As someone of Metis background, this has been a life long dream to visit his monument. My father, had to hide who he was for many years, to avoid residential school. For him and me, it’s been hard to try and process our loss of identity. Also to find ancestors, but I have been finding more and more names. Women, who were indigenous, often lost their identity when they married a white man.

I left a book in Winnipeg and we made our way back to Ontario and stopped in Thunder Bay. I am really getting to know Thunder Bay. My daughter goes to school there, so I make the drive often.

Thunder Bay is the lake head of Lake Superior. The last place Terry Fox stopped after his Miracle Run for Cancer because his cancer had returned and he collapsed, but one of the Little Libraries surprised me! It was on Ruttan street. Ruttan is my maiden name, so I looked up the history and discovered that Ruttan’s helped with the development of Port Arthur and Thunder Bay.

So of course I had to leave a book there!



And that was just a part of our trip. I dropped books off in Sault and Sudbury on the way home. I have way more pictures and a lot more special memories, but it was so good to get back to the kids.

I took a whole box of books and left them all on my journey.

If you happen to stumble on a Little Library I encourage you to donate or even just take a book too. Spread Literacy and help communities. I learned so much from this experience and fell in love with my country all over again.

It’s why I continue to write books set in the place I love the most. Canada.

Here’s a slideshow of some more pics along the way!

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Do You Read Like I Read?

BOOOOOOOOOOOKS!!!!!

I think we are probably agreed that books are one of the very best things in the world. Now…It would be fairly safe to say that I am a total book whore. If, for some freak reason, I find myself out in the world with a spare, say, two minutes…I develop an urgent, pathological need to buy a book. Bookstores (old and new) draw me in like magnets. I’ve always loved them more than magazines, music, movies (well…I love movies too but the best ones are based on books, am I right????). This week I thought it’d be fun to see what your reading habits are like. Feel free to put in as much detail as you like in the ‘other’ options. Don’t worry! This is a safe place!!!

I’ll let you know what the results are soon. Until then, happy reading!!!! xx Annie O’

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Reading, The Writing Life

Filling The Well

These are difficult times. Stuck in this pandemic, trying to get through this second wave and here in the UK, puzzling over the different rules for different tiers and for me in particular, trying to make my mother adhere to the rules especially as she is in Nottingham (an area of the country with some of the highest Covid infection rates) and who is starting down the terribly rocky road of Dementia.

Put simply, she lives alone, now that Dad has died and she forgets that there is a pandemic. We do what we can from 200 miles away. She has signs on the doors reminding her to put on her mask before she goes out (even though we tell her she shouldn’t be going out) and other reminders throughout her flat to wash her hands and to sanitise and to try not to touch her face.

It’s difficult. Especially when I receive calls from one of my brothers to say that he went to take her some groceries, found her flat empty and tracked her down in someone else’s flat, without a mask, laughing and joking!

Grr!

So, despite all of this, despite the fact that I am still trying to get over the death of my father, I have been trying to find things that make me happy. Trying to find things to occupy my mind, that fill the well, that gives me ideas, that allows me to learn new things, to always try and make my writing as good as it can be. So I thought I’d share a few things I’m doing, a few things I’m reading, to maybe give you all some ideas, or even to just spark a light in these weary times.

Books I’ve Read

What if you had a second chance with the one who got away?

Ben’s always loved December, but this year, with his relationship with Daphne on the rocks, it’s missing its usual magic. And then his old flame Alice gets back in touch. Ben’s always thought of Alice as the one that got away, and he can’t help but wonder: what if he’d done things differently all those years ago?

He never imagines he might get to find out… but when a stranger sells Ben a mysterious watch one freezing winter’s night, he’s astonished to wake up the next morning on 5th December 2005: the day he first kissed Daphne, leaving Alice behind.

Now Ben must make the biggest decision of his life, all over again. But this time around, will he finally find the courage to follow his heart?

I adored this book. A cross between One Fine Day and A Christmas Carol. Definitely high on my list of recommended reads and it’s perfect with Christmas coming up!

She must marry the knight .

By order of the king!

Widow Eleanor of Tallany Castle knows her people are broken by the taxes demanded by King John. So when she’s ordered to marry Hugh de Villiers, a knight loyal to the king, she’s furious—even if he is handsome! As gallant Hugh begins to heal the scars of Eleanor’s abusive first marriage, she’s even more determined to keep her secret: she is the outlaw the king wants to send to the gallows!

This book won the Joan Hessayon Award and rightly so! It’s a wonderful delve into the past with the Lady Eleanor who is passionate about protecting the people of Tallany from the severe taxes placed upon them by King John, being forced to marry Sir Hugh de Villiers who is the king’s man, determined to find the outlaw who is stealing all the taxes back! Very Robin Hood, I must say!

In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet up once a week to investigate unsolved murders.

But when a brutal killing takes place on their very doorstep, the Thursday Murder Club find themselves in the middle of their first live case.

Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron might be pushing eighty but they still have a few tricks up their sleeves.

Can our unorthodox but brilliant gang catch the killer before it’s too late?

This was perfect! Wonderfully eccentric in that British way, with dabs of humour sprinkled throughout as Joyce and her friends try to solve a murder from their retirement home! I zoomed through this one and enjoyed every single page and shall definitely read more from this author.

Classes

Taking Risks As A Writer (with Julie Cohen, Novel nights)

Julie Cohen chats to Novel Nights about taking risks in a writing career, overcoming writer’s block and challenging the status quo. Her award-winning novels have sold over a million copies worldwide and she’s twice been selected for the Richard and Judy Book Club. Julie runs an oversubscribed literary consultancy which has helped many writers get published. She is a Vice President of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, founder of the RNA Rainbow Chapter, and a Patron of literacy charity ABC To Read. Her latest novel, Spirited was published in July 2020.  This author talk and Q&A is hosted by David Lloyd.

By the time you read this blog, I will have taken this class. I love listening to other authors and hearing about what they’ve done, how they work and seeing if I can apply anything to my own writing.

I think it’s always worth continuing to learn, always striving to do better.

Building A Successful Partnership With Your Editor (Harlequin)

This will be a chat for Harlequin authors with Stephanie Doig (editor, Carina Press), Flo Nicoll (senior editor Harlequin presents), Johanna Raisanen (editor Harlequin Heartwarming) Ruby Barrett (author), Sasha Summers (author) and Maisey yates (author). The panel will discuss the ins and outs of editorial partnerships and share tips on building a successful author-editor relationship.

Now, I have a lovely relationship with my editor, don’t get me wrong! But, like I said, it’s always worth finding out more.

Sometimes when I take classes, I find that I know a lot of the information that is presented, but there are always one or two nuggets that I can add or incorporate to my own experience. It’s about being willing to be open to new ideas.

Hobbies

I’m currently into blackwork embroidery and I’m LOVING it! There’s something very peaceful and calming to the mind about it and it’s also an opportunity (when the pattern isn’t too complicated) to think about my story and characters and plot out scenes!

I’m currently working on a pattern called – Save The Stitches.

You can find this FREE PATTERN at Blackwork Journey if you want to take a look at it.

But I have plans to do so many more! The problem is seeing all the wonderful patterns I want to get started on, but know that if I do too many at once, some may get neglected, or they all will, if I get too overwhelmed with projects, so I’m trying to stick to this one, right now.

But, oh dearie me, it’s difficult!

So, what about you, dear reader? What have you been up to? What have you been reading? Doing? Learning? Have you taken up a new hobby? Have you tackled all those DIY projects that have been waiting in the wings? I’d love to hear from you!

Louisa xxx

Their passionate fling…
Has given them a gift to last a lifetime!

When pediatrician Merry Bell turns up at his hospital in Iceland, Dr. Kristjan Gunnarrson’s quiet Christmas is shaken up. After a hot fling together in Hawaii, they both agreed to walk away. But now Merry has brought him life-changing news – she’s pregnant! Commitment phobic Kristjan will not waver from his responsibility, but is his bruised heart ready for a family?

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

The Army Doc’s Secret Princess

 

The Army Doc's Secret Princess, UK Aug 2020 large Emily Forbes

Could her royal fling…

…last a lifetime?

Princess Viktoria made a promise: do her duty and marry a duke. But she wants one final adventure first! So she welcomes the freedom that working incognito at the Legion’s Games gives her. There’s only one tall, dark and brooding problem – surgeon and medical team leader Campbell Hamilton. Because the delicious-yet-damaged army doc leaves Viktoria wondering if the adventure she really wants is forever with the man she’s falling for…

 

 

 

PROLOGUE

Two years ago

Campbell’s headphones blocked out most of the engine noise, but he could still hear a faint rhythmic thump-thump as the chopper blades beat the air and he could feel the vibrations as they shuddered through his body. After almost six months he thought he’d be used to the overwhelming assault on his senses—the smell of fumes and dust, the incessant noise, the constant jarring and jolting—but he had yet to get used to the tension. He was always on edge when he was in flight, despite knowing that one of the Australian Army’s best pilots was in control of the aircraft, and he was looking forward to getting back on the ground.

Cam kept his eyes cast down, focusing on his patient. He kept up a one-sided conversation despite the fact that his patient was heavily sedated, and the engine noise would make conversation almost impossible even if he were conscious. He gave him a rundown of his situation—only the positives though. His IV line was running smoothly and his vital signs had stabilised, he told him. He avoided the specifics of his injuries. The soldier was badly wounded, but he didn’t need to be reminded of that. He’d live, at this stage that was the important information, but he’d be getting sent home for a while. Home to Australia. Where he’d have a chance to recover physically, if not mentally.

Cam knew the soldiers would always be haunted by their experiences fighting a war on the other side of the world. Some would cope better than others. He knew he’d have scars too. Mental, not physical. This war wasn’t what he’d anticipated or expected.

Gemma had warned him, but how did you warn someone who had grown up in rural Australia? A land of dust and dirt but safe enough. Hot, and at times desolate, but it had been a different sort of barren. A different sort of danger.

Apart from the snakes and some angry rams or falling off a motorbike or a horse, Cam hadn’t really had anything to worry about. Now, every day was a battle. Here, there was always a chance of getting hit by a bullet, being on the wrong side of an IED, being wounded or killed by enemy fire or even by a civilian on a suicide mission. Life here was stressful.

His job as a medical specialist with the Australian Army meant he was responsible for lives in a country where lives were not highly regarded. Lives here were seen as disposable, which went against everything he believed in and made his job difficult and, at times, impossible. He still had access to First World medical facilities but, more often than not, he was trying to save lives in the middle of a dustbowl, trying to do his best while war raged around him. Gemma had tried to explain it to him but, until he’d seen it with his own eyes, until he’d lived through the experiences she had told him about, he knew he hadn’t understood.

He glanced towards the cockpit to where Gemma sat in the pilot’s seat. As if she had felt his gaze, his fiancée turned and looked back at him and smiled.

Cam was looking forward to getting back to base. He was looking forward to dinner with Gemma, even if it was just in the mess tent. He could pretend for a moment that they were a normal couple, looking forward to making a life together, planning a family. He needed that idea of his future—it was what kept him going on tough days. Gemma was the bright spot in his world. He loved his job but, if he was asked, he’d have to admit he preferred to do his job in the sterile environment of an Australian medical facility. He didn’t mind dust and dirt, he was country born and bred after all, but practising medicine in these conditions was challenging, often unpleasant and definitely not fun.

But no one was interested in his opinion and if he wanted to be with Gemma, this was where she was.

He wondered if he had any chance of convincing her to quit the army and return to Australia. She loved flying but it would be years before she would achieve flight instructor status with the army. Years before she wouldn’t have to fly combat missions. Perhaps she could work privately instead.

He wondered when it would be safe to have that discussion. Would it ever? Could he ask her to give up something she loved? How would he feel if she started to tell him how to live his life or run his career?

He knew he wouldn’t be happy.

He blew her a kiss just as a bright light burst in his peripheral vision.

The chopper lurched as Gemma’s head whipped around and even through the headphones Cam could hear the sound of tearing metal.

The chopper shuddered and he could see Gemma and her co-pilot fighting to keep control as the bird started to spin.

It took him a few seconds to work out what had happened. It felt like an eternity.

They’d been hit.

There was a second explosion, the burst of light so intense that Cam closed his eyes against the glare.

He could feel the chopper spinning wildly. He opened his eyes and saw the ground rushing towards them as the machine fell from the sky.

Black smoke filled the cabin, making Cam’s eyes water. He couldn’t see Gemma. He couldn’t see anything. He lost all sense of space and time.

He threw himself over his patient as the helicopter plummeted. He knew it was a ridiculous gesture. He wasn’t going to be able to protect him. He wasn’t going to be able to save him. The situation was completely out of his control.

There was nothing he could do.

 

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

Present day

Campbell’s leg ached and he fought hard against the urge to stand up. The meeting had been long and he was beginning to get restless. He’d never been good at sitting still and these days it was almost impossible. He needed to stand and stretch; prolonged periods of sitting disagreed with him. Irritated his mind and his body. If he sat still his leg complained and his mind wandered. He needed to be moving, he needed to be busy. He wanted to keep his mind occupied. He didn’t want time to dwell. Too much time to think had proven to be difficult.

He stretched his right leg out under the boardroom table as he tried to ease the cramp in his hip. He needed to get in the pool. Swim a few laps. He would prefer to swim a few laps in the ocean, but he knew from experience that he’d fare better in a warm pool. The heated water would ease his aching muscles. It had been two years since the chopper crash and he didn’t need ice baths any more.

It had been twenty-four months since the incident, but he was still adjusting to his new life.

A life as a solitary man.

He brought his attention back to the meeting as Douglas began to wrap it up.

Thank goodness it was almost over. Cam hoped no one had any additional items for discussion. He looked around the table at the ten other men and women, trying to gauge if any of them looked like they had something on their mind. He’d had enough experience with meetings, ward rounds as well as military discussion groups, to know that there was always one person who seemed to delight in dragging meetings on for far too long but today, for once, it appeared as though everyone was just as eager to escape as he was.

He stood up the minute Douglas officially closed the meeting. He stretched, knowing that if he didn’t take a moment to ease the stiffness in his back and leg his limp would be far more pronounced, and he preferred not to draw attention to himself.

He was used to being noticed but he didn’t want to be noticed for the wrong reasons. He knew that was ironic and he’d never say it out loud, not when he was surrounded by so many others with far more severe disabilities and injuries than he had, but he knew that perception was a very personal thing.

‘You okay?’ Doug was beside him.

Cam knew Doug would have noticed his attempt at surreptitious stretching. Doug was one of his closest friends in the service and had been a good support to him during his rehabilitation and recovery phase. His family and friends had helped get him through the past year. He felt he owed it to them to pull through, although there had been times when it had seemed like too much effort, but he was having better days now.

‘I didn’t think it was possible to have this many meetings.’ Cam had made no secret of the fact that he liked to be busy and when he’d agreed to be on this committee he’d imagined that he’d be doing something practical like overseeing the medical facilities and programme for the games, not sitting around talking.

‘We’re almost done,’ Doug said, making an effort to appease him. He knew full well Cam’s opinion about meetings. ‘The Games start next week.’

The countdown was on until the Legion’s Games began, when hundreds of injured veterans from twenty countries around the world would descend on Sydney to compete in a dozen different events across ten days. The Games were the brainchild of Prince Alfred, an army captain himself, and the Games Committee was responsible for the event but, as the host nation, the Australian defence force was heavily involved. It was a massive exercise and the logistics of the Games fell to the Australians, which was how Cam found himself involved.

‘Not much longer and your suffering will all be over,’ Doug added with a smile.

Cam doubted that. Sure, he’d have fewer meetings to attend but his current life was still so far removed from what he’d thought it was going to be; he wasn’t sure that his suffering was ever going to be over.

He’d hoped the Games would be a good distraction, a way to mark the passing of time. He’d expected to be consulted over the details of the medical facilities, but somehow, he’d found himself dragged along to every damn meeting in existence. He tried to be positive. He’d put his hand up for this project after all, but he’d put his hand up for any work that had been offered to him over the past year. Exhaustion was the only way he could get even a half-decent night’s sleep. A few hours when he could shut out the horrors of everything he’d experienced during his tour of duty in the Middle East.

‘Before you go, can I have a word with you about tomorrow’s schedule?’ Doug asked.

‘Don’t tell me there are more meetings—I’m consulting tomorrow and I know my list is pretty full.’

‘I know you’re out at the rehab centre tomorrow; that’s why I need to speak to you. I have a favour to ask. The Prince’s social media manager has arrived in Sydney ahead of the Prince and has asked for a tour of the facilities.’

‘Which facilities?’

‘All of them. But I thought we could start with the old barracks first.’

One of the old inner-city army bases had been repurposed as a rehabilitation facility when the site had needed updating. The active units had been reassigned to a new purpose-built base in the outer suburbs of Sydney and the old base had been upgraded and was now home to the medical facilities, including doctors, physiotherapists, psychologists, exercise physiologists, a purpose-built gym and pool for the injured and returned soldiers, along with outdoor sporting facilities. The repurposed base was going to serve as the venue for the majority of the events in the Legion’s Games.

‘You’re out there tomorrow,’ Doug continued. ‘Can they go out there with you?’

‘You want me to babysit the Prince’s—what did you call them—social media manager?’

Doug nodded and sweetened the deal. ‘If you can do me this small favour, I promise I won’t drag you into any meetings for the rest of the week.’

Cam sighed and ran his hand through his thick, dark hair. A day out of the boardroom was preferable to another day of meetings. Even playing tour guide to a stranger would have to be better than that. ‘All right,’ he agreed.

‘Okay, I’ll send you the details,’ Doug said as he took out his phone and tapped away. ‘Can you collect her from her hotel at o-nine hundred hours?’

‘Her?’ he asked as his phone pinged with the incoming email. Prince Alfred had a military background and Cam had, incorrectly it seemed, assumed his social media manager would be a man.

Cam had met the Prince once while he’d been deployed in the Middle East. Once, in the days before the incident. In the days before his life went down the toilet.

‘Yes—’ Doug grinned ‘—see if you can dredge up some of your old charm. Be nice.’

Cam looked at the email on his screen and noted her name, along with the hotel address, with a raised eyebrow. Apparently, Viktoria von Grasburg was staying in one of Sydney’s five-star hotels on the Harbour. He wondered who was paying for that.

‘Sure,’ he said as he sighed and stuck his phone back in his pocket, before massaging his hip subconsciously.

 

*

Viktoria had woken up well before sunrise, unsure whether to blame her excitement or her body clock which still hadn’t adjusted to the Australian time zone. She was on the other side of the world and about to start her first day ‘on the job’. A job that had nothing to do with her being a royal, a princess. Nothing to do with cutting ribbons, shaking hands or making speeches.

She was working for her cousin, the Prince, but no one in Australia actually knew who she was. No one here knew she was a princess. As far as the organisers of the Legion’s Games were concerned she was just running the Prince’s social media campaign.

Freddie had told her no one would be bothered anyway but she hadn’t believed him. She was about to find out.

‘There’s a Dr Campbell Hamilton here to escort you,’ her assistant informed her as she handed over a small bag. ‘I’ve put your phone, a credit card, a make-up purse and your sunglasses in there. Your schedule is on your phone.’

Viktoria took a deep breath to calm her nerves, suddenly realising this was it. She was doing this. Going off to work like a regular person, out into the world.

She took the lift down to Reception. She stepped out, wondering how she would know who to look for, before realising the reception staff would advise her. She looked to the front desk and her attention was caught by a man in army uniform standing near the concierge.

‘Miss von Grasburg?’ he addressed her, and she was momentarily flummoxed. She wasn’t used to being addressed so casually. There was no Your Highness or even ma’am.

No, this was what she wanted, she reminded herself. He knew all he needed to know. She smiled to herself and swallowed her surprise.

She was Miss von Grasburg.

‘Please, call me Viktoria,’ she said as she nodded and held out her hand to shake his.

‘Campbell Hamilton.’

He was tall, over six feet, with thick dark hair which was a little longer than she thought would meet standard army regulations. He looked lean and muscular, fit without being too bulky. He had wide blue-grey eyes and a dimpled chin. He was clean-shaven with a full mouth and she could see a small scar running through his bottom lip. He was handsome. Very handsome.

She wasn’t sure who she had been expecting but she had never imagined this.

His handshake was firm, his skin cool, but she wasn’t prepared for the heat that spread from his fingertips into her hand and up her arm. She managed to maintain her composure even while her skin tingled and flared under his touch.

She waited for him to say it was a pleasure to meet her, but he didn’t. Was that something people only said to be polite?

‘I understand you want to see the Games facilities?’ he said as he released her hand.

She nodded. The power of speech had deserted her momentarily. Dr Campbell Hamilton was tall, dark and handsome and made her feel strangely nervous.

She had an odd sensation that this man was the reason she was here. That he was what she’d come for. She had an overpowering sense that he was going to play an important role in her days here. Or was she just getting caught up in the excitement of the day ahead?

*

‘My car is out the front,’ he said as he turned and began walking towards the exit. He was quite abrupt, and Viktoria was a little thrown. While she had the sense that he was important, that there was some sort of connection between them, he didn’t appear to share her thoughts. She got the impression she had annoyed him. He seemed to wish he was somewhere else. Doing something else. Her bubble of enthusiasm deflated slightly but, refusing to be completely crushed, she followed him outside.

He was standing beside a white SUV, holding the door open for her.

She hesitated.

‘Is there a problem?’ he asked when she made no move to climb in.

Viktoria looked down the driveway and saw Hendrik pulling to a stop.

‘I arranged for Hendrik to drive us,’ she said.

‘Who?’

She gestured towards the black luxury SUV that was now stationary behind Campbell’s car. ‘Hendrik. My driver.’

‘You have a driver?’

‘Oui.’

‘No one said anything about a driver. This is my car. I will be driving.’

Viktoria made a split decision. She didn’t want to irritate him further and she wanted to live like a normal person. She’d let him drive. That would be safe enough, surely? After all, he was a government employee. ‘Do you have some identification?’ she asked.

‘Identification?’ He was frowning.

‘Oui. If you can show Hendrik some identification to verify yourself, I will give him the day off and let you drive me.’ She knew Hendrik wouldn’t be happy, but she’d deal with him later.

‘You’ll let me drive you?’

His tone was frosty, but Viktoria nodded even as she wished they could begin this conversation again. They were not getting off to a great start.

 

*

Cam bit back a sigh and resisted the urge to run his hand through his hair in frustration. He should have taken the meetings. This was going to be a nightmare. They already seemed to be at cross purposes, working off different briefs. He couldn’t care less if she came with him or not, but he had gone out of his way to collect her this morning and he didn’t appreciate finding out that it hadn’t been necessary. He could have easily met her at the barracks and sorted out her credentials and visitor’s clearance then. But he knew he had to be polite. This woman worked for the Prince. It wouldn’t do to get her offside. He suspected she was going to be demanding. She probably had every right to be, but he wished he wasn’t going to be the one who had to meet her demands.

And then she smiled at him.

The photo provided for her clearance documents hadn’t done her justice. It had been a flattering photo—she’d looked attractive—but he’d been mistaken. She wasn’t just pretty; she was absolutely stunning.

Her smile was like the sun coming out and it burnt through the fog that had surrounded his psyche for the past two years. As the fog lifted, he felt as if he could see clearly for the first time in months…and what he saw made him catch his breath.

 

***

 

The Army Doc's Secret Princess, USA Aug 2020 Emily Forbes

The Army Doc’s Secret Princess is available here

and also

Mills&Boon Aus,

Mills&Boon UK

Harlequin USA

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Unexpected Journeys

Like a lot of us, I was looking forward to doing some traveling this spring and summer. And while I’m disappointed that most of my plans have had to be canceled, I know it’s for the best. So earlier this week when I found myself a little down, I started going through old pictures from trips I’ve taken in the past. I enjoyed reliving the trips to Disney I’ve taken with my family, trips to New Orleans with my best friend and other trips such as the one to Times Square in New York last year where I got to sign my debut medical with Harlequin Mills and Boon, From Midwife to Mommy.

But I also realized there are many more trips I’ve taken over the years. The first one I remember was when one of my teachers read the book The Secret Garden to my class and I was carried away to the Yorkshire moors. Since then I’ve been on trips to Middle Earth with elves and hobbits, trips to other planets, and even trips back in time where I’ve fallen in love with handsome Vikings. I’ve visited cowboy ranches, beaches on deserted islands, and castles in Europe. And while I might never have left my home while I took these trips, because of some great authors I’ve been able to have some experiences that I never would have been able to have any other way.

So if you’re like me and are feeling a little down about canceled plans this year, go through those pictures or pick up a new book and enjoy the journey.

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Pets

Bit of a milestone by Kate Hardy

Kate HardySo my last few blog posts have been about my run for cancer research. I kind of hope you’d like to hear the last one in that – I did it! Sunday May 12. It was hot, some of the route was on a camber (so I walked that bit – otherwise there would have been a trip and a wrecked ankle), and I hate running outside. (I hate running, full stop. But outside is much worse than the gym.) 10k – or six miles – is a very, very long way. But, clad in my T-shirt and hat and tutu (!), and with my tech sorted out so I actually had music (I could NOT have done it without that), I did it. Took me 89 minutes (I have short legs so I’m slow), but I did it. And I raised £1325, so a massive thank you to everyone who sponsored me. But the big takehome? I was listening to Coldplay’s Up&Up as I crossed the finishing line, in fact to the very last words of the song. And they were very, very appropriate: NEVER GIVE UP.

image

So even if something feels like a challenge (and, as I’m not a runner, a 10k run was a huge challenge for me), don’t give up. Believe in yourself and keep trying.

As well as that, I’ve been busy with other things – learning ballet! I’ve rather fallen in love with ballet, and my local theatre sent me an email after Swan Lake asking me if I wanted to join their adult beginners’ class. Absolutely! I’m not sure if it’s the gorgeous music, or the fact I have to concentrate on the teacher’s instructions, but after class I feel totally chilled out. (And then there’s the obligatory coffee and scone with my classmates afterwards…)

imageI’ve also been working hard, and I’ve reached another writing milestone this month with the publication of my my 85th M&B! A Nurse and a Pup to Heal Him does what it says on the tin 😉 It’s about a GP, a nurse and her PAT (pets as therapy) dog, and it’s set in my part of the world; and, although the dog on the cover is gorgoeous, the dog between the covers owes more to this one… 😉

 

 

 

And this picture was taken at the weekend in ‘Great Crowmell’ (aka Wells-next-the-Sea, my mash-up Norfolk seaside village). This is very much our happy place – the beach stretches for miles. The sky looks a bit dramatic, but it was actually a gorgeous afternoon and very warm.

image

Where’s your happy place?

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

The Mysteries of Book Covers

Shuffling through my books the other day, I marveled at the way some of the covers are so different from each other, while others carry some of the same elements. I will admit that I know next to nothing about what goes into the making of a book cover, but I definitely have my favorites.

So it made me curious. What is it about a book cover that grabs your attention? Is it a hunky hero? A hero and heroine gazing into each other’s eyes? A fun and flirty image? Or do you  prefer teacups and doilies with nary a person in sight?

Anyway, I’m going to share a couple of my favorite book covers: one of my Harlequins and one of my indie published books (with special thanks to Fiona Lowe’s uber-talented son for his help with that one).  And then I’d like your input on what draws you to a cover!

First up is a book cover from all the way back in 2013. It’s one of the older style covers, but I truly love the image on it. The hero is just how I envisioned him and the cover reflects the title, to me. book cover 1

Next is one of my indie books. On this cover, I love the way the hero appears to be whispering something in the heroine’s ear. Maybe something naughty? Maybe something nice? book cover 2
So now it’s your turn. What do you like to see on a cover? What don’t you like to see? Or do you never judge a book by its cover? 🙂

Guest Blogs

ONCE A MEDICAL AUTHOR, ALWAYS A MEDICAL AUTHOR by Lynne Marshall

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Padraig Delaney’s pub connected to the family hotel

Greetings to Love is the Best Medicine blog and followers! It is always a treat to stop by and say hello.

We medical authors hang out in a virtual break room and often remind each other that though some of us may have moved to other Harlequin lines or to completely different genres (shout out to Fiona Lowe and Anne Fraser) we will always be considered one of the tribe.

Thank you for that!

I’m especially happy to be here to share this milestone!

25thbookharlequin

I’m fortunate to publish three books over the next few months for the Harlequin Special Edition line in US, which is the new Mills & Boon True Love line in UK. It is still called Cherish in Australia, though. As it just so happens, the hero in the launch book FOREVER A FATHER, is a doctor. Surprised? I’m not. My loyalties to the medical profession will continue until the day I kick the bucket.

Daniel Delaney is a Doctor of Physical Medicine and has opened his own clinic back in his hometown of Sandpiper Beach. That is also where his family runs a quaint hotel. Some say you can never go home again, nor should you! But Daniel doesn’t see it that way. Returning to a family that loves and supports him is very important at this time in his life.

In this book, I get to introduce the entire family, Mom, Dad, brothers Mark and Conor, and including grandda Padraig, a real character, if you know what I mean. Plus three lovely women.IMG_3003 (2)

There are also a couple of medical scenes in the first book, one an emergency on Sandpiper Beach, and another where Daniel must relocate a dislocated shoulder using the Cunningham technique. I loved writing those scenes!

The Delaneys of Sandpiper Beach2
When I saw this logline written for the series, I thought, yeah, they nailed it.

I hope you’ll check out the trilogy to find out how eighty-five-year-old Padraig Delaney is up to his usual mischief and makes a bold promise that each brother will soon find the love of their lives. Where the seriously doubting brothers, one by one, fall in love, and finally might have to admit the old guy isn’t as daft as he seems.

Here is the UK cover and the book blurb

ForeverAFatherUK51Ttym-AGEL

“Will you be my dad?”

Ask me anything but that.

Once upon a time, Dr. Daniel Delaney had it all. But he lost it in the blink of an eye, and he won’t let himself fall again—not even for his dedicated new assistant, Keela O’Mara, and her adorable, lonely little girl, Anna. Resisting a starry-eyed four-year-old is tough enough. Denying her perfect, loving single mom may be more than Daniel can handle…

 

QUESTION FOR READERS: If an author writes a trilogy, do you read them one by one as they come out, or wait until all are released and read them all at once?

Thanks for putting up with me again!
Lynne Marshall
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Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Holiday Celebrations, Hot Docs!

I wish you a Merry Christmas…

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

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

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

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

From left to right, top to bottom:

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

Australia; Italy; France

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

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and happy and healthy 2018,

Emily xx