Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Remembering Margaret Barker

We’re taking some time today to remember a wonderful author and friend.  Margaret Barker, author of over 60 titles for Harlequin/Mills and Boon Medical Romance, passed away earlier this year.  Writers Kate Hardy and Caroline Anderson, and Senior Editor Sheila Hodgson share their memories of Margaret, and Kate has also shared three photographs (Kate is the lady behind the lens in the first two).

Caroline Anderson

caroline and margaret
Margaret and Caroline

I first met Margaret in the early 1990s as my first book hit the shelves, after I’d been asked to do an interview on local radio with Mary Lyons, who had been writing romances for Mills & Boon for some time.  It was a hilarious interview, and afterwards Mary invited me to lunch in Colchester with another author, Margaret Barker, who also wrote Medicals.  It was a fabulous lunch, and Margaret then invited me to her house for an author ‘do’.  What a great introduction to life as a real author!  We had a marvellous lunch cooked for us by Margaret’s charming husband John, and it was a great day.  I saw Margaret frequently after that, at theirs, or at Mills & Boon functions, and it was always a joy to see her and John who often accompanied her.  On one occasion Margaret and I did a library talk somewhere near St Albans.  We dragged our husbands along, too, which of course involved lunch as well, which I began to realise seems to be a feature of author get-togethers!

Margaret came to London every year for our annual Author lunch, usually accompanied by John until his untimely death in 2006, and then she continued to come alone, still every bit as vibrant and elegant and funny as ever.  Then bit by bit she herself became more frail, until her osteoporosis was so bad she was unable to make the journey alone.

She had countless fractures but brushed them aside and carried on, and it never dimmed her spirit, she never lost her sense of humour, her charm, her wicked twinkle, her elegance or glamour.  She’ll be sorely missed, not least by her large and very close family of whom she was always so proud.

Rest in peace, my friend, and give my love to John.  I’m glad you’re together again at last.

Sheila Hodgson

margaret, sheila, caroline
Margaret, Sheila and Caroline

I was Margaret Barker’s editor for many years, and she was always a lady of style and glamour, the soul of any party, spirited, a little naughty (loved bubbles) but always so wonderfully genuine and charming with it.  But it was just part of the wonderful exuberance and joy of life that was essentially Margaret.  She approached every turn with positivity and grace.  She was never afraid of doing something different, she loved travel, lived in France, and did everything from nursing, teaching, writing and was also a mother of three, her family, including her many grandchildren were at the heart of everything for Margaret.

I remember she used to love to meet me for lunch at the Royal Overseas League, where she would relish chatting about her next storyline, she would jump on every idea we discussed and make it into something wonderful. And I’ll never forget the first time I met her after the death of her husband, she talked about him with such love, and such joy but she also was looking forward to what came next, her next book, her next venture, she particularly touched me that day.  And she never allowed any health issue of her own to stop her from doing anything.  Margaret always found a way.

She was such a wonderful lady, you couldn’t help but smile and laugh in her presence, and her belief that everything would turn out fine and that there was always more of life to be enjoyed was an inspiration, both to me, and of course it was the essence of her romance writing.  I will miss her hugely, and I know that her readers will too.

Kate Hardy

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Kate, Sheila Danton, Jennifer Taylor, Caroline, Roger Sanderson and Margaret.

I first met Margaret Barker in the late 1990s at an East Anglia RNA lunch. She was the first M&B author I’d ever met and she was INCREDIBLY glamorous! Very charming, very funny, and great company. She used to head the RNA chapter back then, and persuaded me to organise a couple of lunches. I do remember her trying to persuade me to take over the RNA chapter – but I had to decline as I’d discovered earlier that week I was expecting my youngest.

She was always a delight to be with at M&B and RNA lunches, full of wonderful tales of her travels in India, and she was always very kind. She always greeted me with a hug (a gentle one in later years when her osteoporosis took hold) – and to be honest the M&B author lunch this year is going to put a lump in my throat because it won’t feel the same without her and Sara Craven.

When I think of diamonds and champagne, I’ll always think of Margaret Barker, with a very big smile.

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Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, New Releases

September Releases!

Howdy all and Happy September. Wecome to Autumn for the northern hemisphere and hello spring in the southern hemisphere! Six new books to feast your eyes upon including out latest debut author and two wonderful covers celebrating the diversity of human beings and the diversity of experience in love, sex and romance.

 

The Nurse’s Pregnancy Miracle by Ann McIntosh

med6She’s expecting a baby…not to meet her Mr. Right!

After leaving her cheating ex, nurse Nychelle Cory decided to have the baby she’s always wanted through IVF. As she’s determined to raise her child alone, she must ignore her inconvenient attraction to gorgeous colleague Dr. David Warmington. Especially as David has his own reasons for not wanting a family. But could Nychelle’s long-awaited miracle help heal them both?

 

 

 

The Family They’ve Longed For by Robin Giannamed5

 

Paediatric surgeon Rory Anderson is dreading returning to her small Alaskan hometown and seeing her ex, local doctor Jacob Hunter! After everything they lost, discovering he’s a single dad brings back so many painful memories. Only when it becomes clear their chemistry’s as powerful as ever, Rory dares to hope Jacob and his son could be the family she’s always longed for…

 

 

 

Carrying the Single Dad’s Baby by Kate Hardy

med4One night of comfort… One unexpected miracle!

Beatrice Lindford’s fresh start is abruptly derailed the moment she starts working with gorgeous single dad Dr Daniel Capaldi. He instantly ruffles her guarded feathers, but Beatrice must keep her mind on her new job and away from the temptation of Daniel’s charming yet sorrowful smile. Both try – and fail! – to keep their professional distance, and they soon find themselves unexpectedly bound by a tiny miracle.

 

 

 

The Surgeon’s One-Night Baby by Charlotte Hawkes

A desire they can’t resist…A consequence they’ll cherish forevermed3

Still reeling from her failed marriage, Archana Coates is ready to rediscover the vibrant, fun-loving woman she once was. So an unexpected encounter with her childhood crush, playboy surgeon Kaspar Athari, leads to temptation she can’t resist… Then Archie arrives in LA—pregnant! And when she and Kaspar discover their baby is at risk, Archie will do anything it takes to fight for her new little family.

 

 

 

 

Rescued By Her Mr Right by Alison Roberts (Bondi Bay Heroes)

med2Dancing in the best man’s arms…is her biggest risk of all!

In this Bondi Bay Heroes story, injured nurse Harriet Collins agrees to let hunky paramedic Jack Evans get her fighting fit and back on the Specialist Disaster Response team. After all, it’s purely platonic, right? Plus she’s already nursing a broken heart. But when she’s the bridesmaid and Jack’s the best man at their teammates’ wedding, Harriet wonders if it could be more…

 

 

 

 

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Healed By Hr Army Doc by Meredith Webber (Bondi Bay Heroes)

Her army doc returns…but can she tell him her secret?

In this Bondi Bay Heroes story, general surgeon Kate Mitchell is reunited with Dr. Angus Caruth—the gorgeous army doc she spent one night with three years ago. Working together on the Specialist Disaster Response team reignites their flame, but before Angus moves on again will Kate finally be able to share their secret heartache…and believe their temporary fling can lead to forever?

 

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

Taking the Waters by Kate Hardy

 

Kate HardyBack in the nineteenth century, people used to go to a spa town and ‘take the waters’ to cure themselves of anything from skin complaints to leprosy…

And this weekend I fulfilled a long-time wish to go and see the Roman spa and baths at Bath. (If you’ve read Unlocking the Italian Doc’s Heart, my last Medical, you might have noticed the reference to the Roman Baths in London  – this is a continuation!)

The hot springs in Bath bubble up into three springs at the rate of 1.17 million litres a day, at a temperature of 46 degrees C.

In Celtic times the goddess Sulis was worshipped there (hence the town’s Roman name, Aquae Sulis) and then in Roman times the bath complex was built in about 60AD and Minerva was worshipped. There are remnants of a temple here as well as the bath house, changing rooms and saunas; and a really stunning survival is the lead curse tablets. Citizens who were unhappy about something would write it down on a lead tablet, roll it up or fold it into an ‘envelope’, and throw it into the spring to let the goddess deal with it. One of the curse tablets is written in Celtic – it’s the ONLY known piece of Celtic writing. Anywhere. In the world. (It’s untranslatable, but I was very excited about it.)

Piccies: the Great Bath.

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The head of Minerva.

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Curse tablets (one Roman, one folded over, one Celtic – you might be able to make out the diagonal downstroke of the letter L). Plus Roman remains and a middle-aged medical author…

 

Originally people bathed in the waters for a cure (anything from skin ailments to leprosy), and from the 17th century people drank it. You can actually try the waters here in a little paper cone. As a Medical author, I knew my duty was clear. As an English graduate, I knew Dickens had mentioned the waters in The Pickwick Papers – Sam says, ‘I thought they’d a wery [sic] strong flavour of warm flat irons.’

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I was expecting it to be vile (because the biggest component of the 43 minerals is sulphate), but I wasn’t expecting it to be warm (despite what I said about the temperature above!). And, actually, it wasn’t that bad. ‘Interesting’ is probably the right word. It didn’t restore me on a very hot day (that was the iced coffee I had later!). But it was interesting…

imageKate’s latest book, Carrying the Single Dad’s Baby, is out later in August. If you like Notting Hill, astronomy and cute children, this one’s for you 🙂

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

An Irrational Fear

I’m afraid of dogs.  I can’t remember a time when I haven’t been, but I’m told it all started when I was three years old.  An incident with a very large dog and an owner, who thought that trying to force a screaming terrified child to hug her dog was a good idea, left me physically unhurt but not without scars.  To this day, man’s best friend is still capable of filling my heart with terror.

Things have got better over the years.  When I was little, I went through phases of having to be dragged out of the house, I was so afraid I might meet a dog.  My mother would put pepper dust onto the soles of my shoes, telling me that it would keep dogs away from me.  (I’m not sure that this was a wholly practical proposition but I believed it because my Mum had told me in no uncertain terms that it was true, and it gave me the confidence to walk to school on my own.)  In my teens, I’d avoid streets where I knew ‘monsters’ lived, and cross the road if I saw someone approaching me with a dog on a lead.

In my twenties, I made a breakthrough.  On a long train journey I fell into conversation with a couple who were blind, each of whom had a guide dog.  These beautiful, placid creatures didn’t seem so very bad to me, and after a while I gathered up the courage to ask if I might touch one of them.  They agreed, giving their dogs a command to sit still, so that I could reach out and stroke them.  I’ll always remember this couple, who so generously helped me face my fears and shared in my achievement.

And… it’s better now.  I walk wherever I please, and if I give dogs a wide berth, and sometimes jump when one takes notice of me, then so be it.  But here’s the thing.  It’s an irrational fear.  Annie O’Neil’s gorgeous, gentle Bernese Mountain Dog failed to scare me even slightly, even though I’m sure he was bigger than me!  Another friend has a Red Setter, whose main aim in life seems to be to knock visitors over and lick them to death, and I can deal with that.  I adore Kate Hardy’s and Lynne Marshall’s Facebook posts about their dogs, and have been known to reach out and stroke them on my computer screen.  But at times, even the tiniest dog can have me racing for cover, and I can’t be persuaded to approach it.

The only answer I have for loving owners who push their dogs towards me, telling me that I can’t possibly be afraid of their dog, is that yes actually, I can.  I have no idea why some dogs scare me and some don’t, but I’m always immeasurably grateful to those owners who allow me to keep my distance if I need to and approach their dog in my own time.

If I’ve learned one thing, it’s to respect other people’s fears.  To accept that it takes courage to face them, and and that everyone needs to be able to dictate what they can and can’t do.  In every other area of my life, I can assess risk and use logic to decide what I should and shouldn’t be afraid of.  I’ll pick up the biggest spider from the bathtub and carry it carefully out of the house, I know that flying is statistically a very safe form of transport… and so on.  But this is a fear I can’t explain, and if it doesn’t make much sense to anyone else I guess that’s the thing about irrational fear…

You’d think, wouldn’t you, that after all this I’d tell you that I don’t like dogs.  But strangely enough I love dogs.  I’ve always wanted one, even though I know it’s impossible.  Imagine me at a puppy training class 🙂  Or in the park, when another dog wanders innocently up to make friends with mine 🙂  But if anyone’s ever wondered why so many of my heroes and heroines have dogs of their own…  well they’re my dogs.  The ones I can’t have in real life, but can love and look after on the page.  Bruno, the retired rescue dog, who has the courage to save his master.  Trader, who’s at his mistresses side when she’s alone and frightened.  Jeff the faithful friend who’s been with his master through thick and thin, Maisie the mountain rescue dog, and Arthur the beagle puppy.  They all mean a great deal more to me than just four-legged characters in a story.

I have to admit that it’s taken a bit just to write about my irrational fear, and I’m not sure that I understand it any better.  Do you have an irrational fear?  I guess that everyone has something…  And can you explain it?  I’d love to hear what you think!

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, New Releases

June Releases

Welcome to Summer in the northen hemisphere and winter in the southern! Either season is perfect to curl up with a good book and we have 6 of the best for you!

Baby Miracle In The E.R. by Sue Mackay.

med1Will love pass them by again?

Or can a baby give them a second chance?

When paramedic Steph’s ex, sexy doc Michael Laing, revealed he doesn’t do commitment, it broke her heart. Two years later, she’s back in town having thought she’d moved on, until she meets Michael in the ER—and their chemistry is as hot as ever! Both are wary of getting burned again, but a little miracle is about to bind them together forever…

 

 

 

One Night With Dr. Nikolaides by Annie O’Neilmed3

 

One night…

In this Hot Greek Docs story, when an earthquake hits the Greek island of Mythelios, nurse Cailey Tomaras rushes to help—only to encounter childhood crush Dr. Theo Nikolaides!

As the trauma fades, they find comfort between the sheets… But when Cailey realizes the consequences of that night, she must prove to lone wolf Theo that he’d make the perfect dad.

 

Saving The Single Dad Doc by Louisa Heaton

med4

Dare she dream of a future…

With Cameron and his little girl?

Returning to her Scottish hometown, GP Bethan Monroe has no idea the handsome single father she’s replacing, Dr. Cameron Brodie, hides a serious illness. Bethan’s healing from her own heartache, but the gorgeous doc and his young daughter bring light back into her life. Does she have the courage to give them her heart and grasp the happiness life still has in store?

 

 

Tempted By Dr. Patera by Tina Beckettmed6

He’s gotten right under her skin…

But will she end up getting burned?

In this Hot Greek Docs story, since losing her fiancé, Dr. Lea Risi doesn’t do complicated. But helping after an earthquake, Lea’s thrown together with Dr. Deakin Patera in all his sexy, rugged glory! Scarred inside and out, Deakin’s everything Lea’s tried to avoid—but she’s still tempted. As their chemistry becomes something deeper, can Lea help him leave the past behind?

 

 

The Midwife’s One Night Fling by Carol Marinelli

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Is one night with Dr. Off-Limits…

The best mistake of her life?

Escaping her rural Scottish hometown, midwife Freya has a new job in busy London…and a new crush on sexy consultant Richard Lewis! Charismatic yet commitment-phobic bachelor Richard comes with warning signs, but Freya knows one night would be worth the risk. And when she ends up in Richard’s bed, it feels like a red-hot dream—one Freya doesn’t want to wake up from…

 

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Unlocking The Italian Doc’s Heart by Kate Hardy

His heart was broken…

 

Will she be the one to heal it?

Dr. Lorenzo Conti is devastated by his ex’s revelation that his beloved daughter isn’t his, and the pain of losing her from his life. Yet his new colleague, bubbly, generous pediatrician Jenna, incredibly connects with his brooding

heart. Could she help him move on to a new life and a new family? Maybe—if he can learn to trust again…

 

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

The joy of research by Kate Hardy

Kate HardyI think my favourite part of writing a book is the research. The book I’m finishing writing right now is a cardiac book, and learning about the cutting edge treatment has been so interesting; my mum was a specialist cardiac nurse, so this one kind of feels special (and I brainstormed it in the British Library with lovely Annie O’Neil, so that was an extra bonus).

My next book is going to be set partly in Florence – so you can guess where we ended up 🙂 There were certain iconic places I wanted to visit (and I have to confess to becoming addicted to ‘Medici: Masters of Florence’ on Netflix since coming home – we’re dying for the next season to come out). And one of them was a certain art gallery. My research team balked at the idea of going to a modern art gallery; but this is Florence, so ‘modern’ actually means ‘1750 onwards’, which is his favourite sort of art. (I’ve tried to appreciate modern art, but…) So we enjoyed the Pitti Palace, the Uffizi and the Accademia; we also enjoyed visiting a number of palaces and churches, but my two big highlights of the trip were climbing inside the Duomo and visiting the library at San Lorenzo. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

 

And we had a bonus at the end – we were flying from Pisa airport. We were pretty sure that tickets to climb the leaning tower would be like the Duomo, i.e. you need to book days in advance, but I was in the queue to buy a ticket for the cathedral when I discovered we could visit the tower in 20 minutes’ time. That has to be one of the weirdest experiences of my life – you can really feel the ‘lean’ of the tower, and as you climb the spiral staircase you straighten up and then lean in the opposite direction. The steps are worn in a spiral rather than in a straight line! And I was very glad of the safety railing at the top 🙂

What’s been your strangest experience when visiting somewhere?

imageKate’s latest is Unlocking the Italian Doc’s Heart (set partly in Verona and written there last year!), out in UK/Aus shops now and online at the usual places 🙂 For more information, see her website.

 

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, The Writing Life

A year of culture…

kate hardy sept 2015 400pxTwo years ago, I turned 50 and designated it a Year of Having Fun. I had lots of little birthday celebrations with people, I ate way too much cake, and I burned the candle at both ends.

Last year, I thought that it should be the Year of Carpe Diem – so between those two years I managed to see all three of my favourite musicians (Robert Plant, Radiohead and David Gilmour), and it was our 25th wedding anniversary so we ended up in Verona, which was lovely.

This year is going to be the Year of Culture.

Let’s start with the medical authors’ special giveaway, because you’re reading this blog because you love medical romance 🙂  You can find the entry form here!

So, my Year of Culture. I’m overdoing things just a tad for my birthday fortnight. So I have Twelfth Night at Stratford-upon-Avon this weekend (and a visit to Shakespeare’s birthplace), Hamilton in London next week, and Jeremy Irons in ‘A Long Day’s Journey into Night’ the weekend after. Add in a visit to a stately home (that’s research), afternoon tea in Norwich’s Assembly House (aka super-historic) twice, and an evening at Phill Jupitus’ show (where he does his own support act and reads poetry) – yep, it’s going to be good.

Did I mention tickets for three different Shakespeare productions at the Globe? (Othello, Shrew (that’s my daughter’s A level text, which is why I’m squeezing it in the day before we go to Florence and I’ll have to drive both ways), and the Two Noble Kinsmen). Oh, and another Stratford trip to see Macbeth. And a lot more stand-up – Jon Richardson (twice, because he’s my daughter’s favourite comedian), Tim Vine, Bill Bailey and Danny Baker. Musically, I have tickets booked for Scott Matthew, Sheridan Smith, Joe Bonamassa and Def Leppard. And I’m waiting for the Tate Gallery to announce booking details for their Burne-Jones exhibition (my favourite artist – I’ve been waiting rather impatiently since last October, but it opens this October so surely they can’t keep us waiting much longer?). Plus of course Florence, where I finally get to see the Uffizi, the Duomo and the Accademia 🙂

It’s going to be a good year. Do you enjoy theatre and art exhibitions? What have you seen recently, or can’t wait to see?