Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Exclusive Excerpt – Costa Rican Fling with the Doc

Costa Rican Fling with the Doc by Traci Douglass
Dude sprawling in autumn leaves wearing a Witch Way to the Wine T-shirt.
In other words, all of us.

Hello again and Happy Autumn! 😊🍁🍂

Spring and Fall are my favorite times of the year. Not too hot, not to cold, beautiful colors everywhere. Though I will say for me, since about mid-September and through to Oct. 22nd has been and will be a blur. Lots of stuff has happened–good and bad.

On the good side, I turned in my 11th book for the Medicals line, Island Reunion for the Single Dad, on August 27th. I also hit an author milestone this month with the release of my 10th book with the Medicals line, Costa Rican Fling with the Doc, on Oct. 26th, and I’m getting new author photos taken on 10/22—like hair, makeup, the whole “top model” treatment—and I’m both excited and nervous. LOL. 😂 And I celebrated another birthday.

On the bad side, after turning in the Aug book, I received two-weeks worth of edits on it in mid-September. Around the same time, my beloved 15 y.o. dog, Clara, passed away, on 9/22. And I was also busy writing book #12 with the line, which is due 10/15. So yeah. A LOT. But I’ve learned over the years to keep persevering, to keep my head down and focus on just that moment, just that hour, just that day, and keep moving forward. Eventually things get done, plates get cleared. And the sun shines again and we write on. ❤️

But, needless to say, I haven’t gotten to do nearly the amount of cheerleading for my upcoming release later this month that I usually do, so I thought I’d share an exclusive snippet with y’all today to hopefully pique your interest.

In this scene below, my hero Gabe and heroine Sara have finished up a difficult birth for a patient in the village nearly, and are strolling back to the field hospital together that night, still too buzzed to sleep and too aware of each other to want to part ways just yet. Enjoy…🤓📚❤️

Exclusive Excerpt:

As they walked back to the clinic, Sara marveled at the lush foliage. Everything seemed bigger now, brighter now, since the birth. She still couldn’t quite believe she’d done that. Working in the PICU, she cared for tiny infants all the time. But bringing them into the world? Now that was something.

The late-afternoon sun filtered through the trees, its rays still prickling Sara’s sunburned skin as they passed a bar, a crowded convenience store and a school painted in primary colors in the village. Gabe pointed toward a tiny house to their left. He looked rumpled but perfect, a tiny, infant-size handprint staining the front of his scrub shirt. “That’s where to go for the best tortillas in Costa Rica.”

“Really?” Sara smiled. “I’ll have to remember that. Thanks for letting me help out today.”

“Thank you for being there,” he said, the solemnity in his green eyes making her think they were talking about more than the breech birth.

Before Sara could ask more, however, they reached to compound and walked back to the clinic tent to drop off their supplies. At the entrance, an older woman waited, her gray bun perched precariously atop her head and her blue cotton dress neat but faded a bit around the edges.

“Hola,” Gabe said, waving. “What can I do for you?”

The woman smiled, then spoke in rapid Spanish.

“Anything I can help with?” Sara asked him, setting her supply bag on the table inside the tent.

“Sí.” Gabe grinned, walking past her to his exam area to drop off his stuff. “She’s inviting our team to dinner tomorrow.”

“Oh.” Sara straightened. “That’s very nice.”

“It is.” He chuckled. “She’s an old friend and a patient here at the clinic. She feels it’s her duty to feed us while we’re here.”

The woman, still waiting at the entrance, nodded. She spoke to Gabe once more, too fast for Sara to keep up. Maybe something about a horse? Or hair? She could never keep those two words straight. Gabe moved in beside Sara then, and maybe it was the adrenaline from earlier still sizzling through her veins, or the joy of bringing new life into the world. Whatever it was, she suddenly couldn’t help being aware of how close he was standing behind her and how if she leaned back just slightly, his chest would rest against her back, all warm and solid and…

Oh, boy.

Gabe promised the woman they’d all be there for dinner the next evening, and the woman walked away, leaving the two of them alone again. Inside the tent, long shadows increased the intimate feel of the moment.

“Thanks again for your help with Angela,” he said, leaning in to rest his free hand on the desk behind her back. Her body buzzed, hyperaware of his every move even though there was still a good foot of space between them. He lowered his head and stared at the ground. “There were moments during the delivery when I thought…” His dark brows drew together.

Cicadas sang their nightly song outside the tent, but inside it was just the two of them. Sara hesitated, then asked the question that had been on her mind since she’d arrived and first met Gabe. “What happened to them? Your family?”

He swallowed hard and straightened, and for an awful second, she thought he might shut her out again, but then he took a deep breath and said quietly, “They died. When our apartment in Croatia was bombed during the war. I lost my family, everything I cared about within a matter of hours.”

“Oh, God.” Sara’s own heart broke at the eviscerating agony in his voice. “I’m so sorry, Gabe.”

She tried to put her hand on his arm, but he took a step back, reaching into the back pocket of his scrub pants for his wallet. “I have a picture of them. Would you like to see?”

Sara nodded, trusting herself not to cry.

The photo he pulled out was a bit crinkled and bent at the edges, as if handled a lot. He moved closer to Sara again, handing her the picture, then pointing at the pretty woman smiling in it. “Her name was Marija. We were married almost two years when this was taken. She’s holding our son, Karlo.”

Blinking back tears, Sara smiled. “She’s lovely. And Karlo is precious.”

“Thank you.” He took the photo from her, staring down at it reverently. “He was our everything. We couldn’t wait to move from Vukovar to Prague and start a new life there, but I had to finish medical school first. Marija and I used to fight about it, but she let me win.” He gave a sad little snort. “I was so young and stupid back then. I thought we’d have all the time in the world.”

“You couldn’t have known this would happen,” Sara said, touching him now to emphasize her point. “No one knows what the future holds.”

“I should have.” His expression darkened to a scowl, and he put the photo away, those damned walls of his crashing down hard again. “Anyway, I apologize if I seemed distracted during the delivery earlier.”

It took a moment for his words to penetrate the emotional fog in Sara’s brain. “You weren’t distracted. I thought you were brilliant today. You saved them both, Angela and her baby.”

“No, you did.” Gabe smiled again, and it felt like a million stars shining to Sara, that dimple of his making her slightly dizzy with yearning. “Without your small hands, all would have been lost.”

Sara held her hands up as she shrugged. “Genetics, I guess.”

“Hmm.”

The low whirr of the generators kicking on outside reinforced the fact that she and Gabe were still alone out here in the tent, standing in the shadows, so close that the heat radiating from his skin penetrated the thin cotton of her scrubs, sending her pulse skyrocketing.

“We should probably go into the dorms,” she murmured past her taut vocal cords.

“We probably should,” he agreed.

Neither of them moved.

Finally, Gabe reached into one of the drawers of the nearest table and handed her something.

“What’s this?” she asked, staring down at the chunk of cellophane-wrapped white in her palm.

“Sweets for the sweet. Dulce de coco,” he said, his teeth even and white as he smiled in the darkness. “Coconut candy. I get tired of eating beans and rice.”

She sniffed the stuff. “Wow. Smells amazing.”

“It’s very good.” Gabe stood there a moment, staring down at her, then sighed and turned away. “Well…uh… I guess this is good night, then.” He started to leave, but Sara placed a hand on his forearm, her fingertips tingling from the touch. Gabe froze, looking back at her, his green eyes flicking from her eyes to her mouth, then back again. Her name emerged low and rough, and she felt it like a physical caress. “Sara?”

“Yes?”

Silence stretched for eons. Finally, he stepped closer once more, his fingers trailing down her arm, firm but tentative. Gentle but wanting. “I want to kiss you, but I know I shouldn’t.”

He was probably right—she knew that. With his past and her future waiting back in Chicago, getting involved, even temporarily, made no sense. And yet, at that moment, Sara wanted to kiss him more than she wanted her next breath. Taking the initiative, she closed the small distance between them and wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling him down until their lips met. She put all of her whirling emotions into it—the sweetness of the birth, the sadness of his picture, the need and want she’d felt for him since the first day she’d met him. Gabe seemed taken aback at first, holding back, but then her tongue traced his lips, and he gave in with a grunt, pulling her tight against him as he deepened the kiss. His mouth was perfect against hers, mirroring the soft eagerness of his touch. She couldn’t help giving a desperate whimper.

More. I need more.

The sound of footsteps outside the tent finally jarred them back to reality.

Sara inched away, breathless and light-headed.

Gabe’s warm breath fanned her face, stirring the tiny hairs near her temple. He gave a short sigh full of frustrated need, then kissed her forehead. “Tomorrow we talk, yes?”

“Yes,” she whispered, savoring the feel of him against her while she could.

“Good.” Then he brushed his lips across her forehead and started for the exit again. “Sleep well.”

She waited a moment, catching her breath and calming her racing heart, then headed for the dorms herself. Sara wasn’t sure about a lot of things but having a restful night after a kiss like that would be impossible—of that she was certain.

Until next time, Happy Reading! 😊

The road to happily-ever-after starts in Costa Rica in this passionate romance by USA TODAY bestselling author Traci Douglass.

Sometimes the future…
is just a fling away!

For single mom Sara, life has been all about raising her now adult son. But volunteering for a medical charity in Costa Rica is finally the nurse’s chance to focus on her passions. Only, her guarded new boss, Gabe, stirs something deep in her that she’d thought long forgotten… And as the devastatingly handsome doctor sends all her senses into overdrive, for once sensible Sara can’t help wondering—what if they didn’t resist temptation?

GET YOUR COPY HERE!

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, New Releases

October New Releases

Happy October! Here in Canada we’re gearing up for our Thanksgiving (it’s a month earlier than our American friends to the south) and Spooky Season is upon us. It’s my favourite time of the year.

We have six fabulous reads for you.

Congratulations to our milestone authors this month. Juliette Hyland with her 5th book Reawakened in the South Pole and Me (Amy Ruttan) with my 30th Falling for His Runaway Nurse.

Falling for His Runaway Nurse by Amy Ruttan

Could a runaway bride…
…be the one to tempt him?
Brooding Thatcher Bell enjoys the anonymity of life as a cruise ship doctor. But when beautiful Lacey Greenwood storms into his life—wearing a wedding dress!—to take up the vacant post as nurse, he’s shocked by their instant chemistry. Lacey is obviously escaping something, and Thatcher recognizes some of the pain she’s hiding behind her dazzling smile. But as they set sail, there’s no way of running from their real and ever-growing feelings!

Reawakened at the South Pole by Juliette Hyland

An antarctic adventure
and a reunion of a lifetime…
ER nurse Helena Mathews wants just one thing: to show her parents that she’s no longer the fragile, premature baby they cradled in the NICU. So her new South Pole–based job is the perfect way to break free! But Dr. Carter Simpson’s arrival proves that you can’t just erase the past. Her one-time best friend may have left without a trace after a life-altering discovery, but he never left Helena’s heart…

Reunited by Her Twin Revelation by Shelley Rivers

“I just want to talk.”
Is he ready to hear her secret?
Nurse Thurza had pictured this day thousands of times. The day that Dr. Logan would return. Still, nothing could have prepared her for the real thing… Why? Well, when a mix-up led a brokenhearted Thurza to falsely believe that he had abandoned her and their unborn babies, she said goodbye to Logan—forever. But, as their past and the truth begin to unravel, will Thurza let Logan back in?

Starting Over with the Single Dad by Tina Beckett

A past kiss…
…A happy-ever-after?
For former army surgeon Mysti, a return to Forgotten Point was not in the cards…until a tragic accident while on duty leads her home. Her physical wounds may have healed, but it’s the invisible scars that remain. So the last thing that Mysti needs is to bump into Dr. Jesse: her unexpected new colleague and the one that got away. Now Jesse’s a single dad with his own hidden pain. Can they heal—together?

The Doctor’s Reunion to Remember by Annie Claydon

A forgotten past…
An unforgettable future?
In this Reunited at St. Barnabas’s Hospital story, former workaholic Dr. Gil Alexander is happy with the slower-paced life he was forced to adopt following his traumatic brain injury. The only things missing are his memories of just before the accident. But when Dr. Clemmie Francis is temporarily assigned to his rehabilitation center, he can’t shake the feeling he’s met this captivating yet cautious doctor before…and that this isn’t the first time he’s experienced their explosive chemistry!
 
Reunited at St. Barnabas’s Hospital duet
Book 1 – Twins for the Neurosurgeon by Louisa Heaton
Book 2 – The Doctor’s Reunion to Remember by Annie Claydon
 

Twins for the Neurosurgeon by Louisa Heaton

Two tiny heartbeats…
…will change their lives forever!
In this Reunited at St. Barnabas’s Hospital story, top neurosurgeons Samantha Gordon and Yanis Baptiste spend one unforgettable night together in Paris. Their reunion in London proves even more explosive when they discover Sam is pregnant with twins! Neither Sam nor Yanis is prepared for parenthood, but those two tiny heartbeats could help them find the family neither of them believed they would ever have…
 
Reunited at St. Barnabas’s Hospital duet
Book 1 – Twins for the Neurosurgeon by Louisa Heaton
Book 2 – The Doctor’s Reunion to Remember by Annie Claydon

Happy Reading!

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

What does Self-Care look like to you?

If I’ve had a theme this year, it’s been self-care. Over the last few years, I put my personal needs on the back burner, giving far more of myself to others than was sustainable long-term. I am by nature a giver, a caretaker, and it’s hard for me to say no to others who need my help. So, the whole concept of actually putting myself first? Yeah, that’s been a hard one.

It took me a minute to realize that self-care is not selfish. We simply can’t care for others if we are falling apart.

In my upcoming Christmas release, Winter Nights with the Single Dad, Stella has to make some real changes in her life in the name of self-care. She travels halfway across the world to take care of her needs.

Stella’s situation meant she needed to go big. The changes I’ve made have been on a much smaller scale:

  • I took a short kid-free vacation to visit one of my best friends for a week.
  • I’ve given myself more time to refill the creative well by reading a lot of books and watching a lot of movies (both good and bad).
  • I’ve taken time off writing when I needed the break.
  • I changed my diet to avoid the things that make my Rheumatoid Arthritis flare.
  • And biggest of all, I’ve learned to say no to others when what they want affects what I need.

What are your favorite ways to practice self-care? Anyone have any tips on how to make this easier to incorporate into your life when you aren’t naturally inclined to do so?

Winter Nights with the Single Dad available Dec 2021

It’s time for surgeon Stella to start over in this emotional, seasonal story from Harlequin Medical author Allie Kincheloe.

Two months in Toronto… …a gift to change her life? As a TV star, surgeon Stella was suffocated by the pressure to be perfect. So the offer of a temporary job three thousand miles away from home is a chance to break free. Then, meeting single dad Dr. Aiden Cook and his little boy offers a window into a life she could never have imagined! Now Stella must ask, “Do I really want to leave?”

Pre-order now.

Excerpts, Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Reading

Here’s to Five! An Excerpt from Reawakened at the South Pole

Cover of Reawakened at the South Pole By Juliette Hyland

Five medical romances, five books with my name on them! When Reawakened at the South Pole comes out on September 28th it will be my fifth medical romance, almost exactly two years to the date from when I signed my first contract. A dream come true to say the least. I loved writing Helena and Carter’s happily ever after. I know I say that about all my characters (mostly because it’s true, writing happily ever afters is the best job ever!).

It’s available for pre-order now and until September, you can enjoy this short excerpt.

“I am angry that anyone could think that you were anything less than one of the strongest people they’d ever met.”

His finger traced a line along her chin, burning her as his gaze gripped hers. “You are gorgeous, Helena.”

She let her gaze linger on his face. Drinking in the soft look of his eyes, the roughness of the stubble on his cheeks and the fullness of lips that she yearned would caress her.

“Kiss me.” Her demand poured from the depths of her soul. These were the words she wanted to say all those years ago, the words she wished she’d stated last night.

Carter’s fingers slipped to the base of her neck as he pulled her close. The little distance between them evaporated as his lips met hers. The kiss was firm, not demanding as one hand pulled her hips tighter to his.

Wrapping her arms around Carter’s neck, Helena deepened the kiss. She’d waited far too long to know how Carter Simpson kissed, and she would not waste this moment. The world tumbled as his tongue dipped along her bottom lip.”

“Carter.” Her head fell back as he traced lines of kisses first along her jaw and then down her neck. But as his fingers slipped along the edge of her shirt, Helena froze.


He pulled back immediately and smiled as he dropped a light kiss on the tip of her nose. “I want you, Helena. I’ve wanted you for weeks. Years, if I’m being honest. But this goes only as far as you want it to.” He swallowed and held her close.


Blood pounded in her ears as Carter gripped her. His fingers skimming across her back in soothing motions. She wanted him. He’d seen her scar—at least part of it—and hadn’t recoiled. Swallowing the last bit of fear, Helena looked up and kissed him.


“I want you, too…”

Excerpts, Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

A Return to St. Eustace

In July of last year, one of the favorite of all the books I’ve written was published. Being a tropical girl, I’d wanted to set a book on an island in the Caribbean, yet couldn’t decide on a specific one. After going over it in my head again and again, I decided to create a fictional island nation, called St. Eustace, (not to be confused with the Dutch island of Sint Eustatius) and set Best Friend to Dr. Right there.

Then, as is the way of authors, I moved on.

But that world, those characters, the setting kept calling me back.

The fact is, the Caribbean is a rich, multicultural area, which attracts so many people for so many different reasons. Centuries ago it was an area people ran to, to hide, to escape, to reflect, to prosper, and it’s really little different now. That aspect of the Caribbean is one that fascinates me and that fascination led me to a new storyline, and back to St. Eustace.

So, Island Fling with the Surgeon was born, and will be released in August 2021. In it two flawed but delicious characters navigate their way through a faux love affair, that becomes oh, so real! There are also glimpses of familiar characters from Best Friend to Doctor Right. I hope you enjoy the excerpt below!

Make-believe?

Or more than she bargained for?

When Dr. Genevieve Broussard convinces nurse Zach Lewin to enter a fake relationship to help keep her meddling mom off her back, she’s confident there’s no danger of it turning into anything more. Her first priority has to be her surgical career, and both Gen and Zach are still reeling from recent betrayals. But as the summer heat in the Caribbean loosens inhibitions, their fake “affair” is at risk of becoming all too real…

Excerpt

The drive over to Coconut Beach took only about fifteen minutes, but Zach found his thoughts repeatedly going back to Genevieve, no matter how he tried to keep them on other matters. So much so that, on turning into the car park next to the beach, he thought perhaps his eyes, following the lead of his brain, were playing tricks on him.

That couldn’t be Dr. Broussard sitting on the bonnet of her car waving to him, as he pulled into a nearby space, could it?

It most certainly was, and as she hopped down from her perch and made her way toward his car, bemusement had the muscles in his neck tightening.

What the heck was going on?

He had hardly closed the car door behind him before she started speaking.

“Hey, I’m sorry to stalk you like this, but I really needed to talk to you, and the hospital wasn’t the best place to do it…”

Although she stopped to take a breath, Zach didn’t have a chance to utter even one word before she asked, “Would you be my boyfriend?”

Gen hadn’t meant to blurt it out like that, but she was so nervous her palms were sweating, her knees were weak and the words just tumbled out of her mouth. The look of shock on Zach’s face just made it all worse. Heat climbed the back of her neck, and she rubbed at it, trying to dispel the prickling sensation.

“I’m sorry?” he said, his voice clipped and terribly precise, sharp enough to cut. “I beg your pardon?”

“Oof,” she replied, then wished she could pull the inarticulate sound back into her mouth, especially when his eyebrows contracted into a fierce scowl. Who would have thought she’d won prizes for elocution in the past, if that was the best she could come up with? “No, I’m sorry. I know it sounds crazy, but will you give me a chance to explain?”

He was still wearing that scowl, and the searching nature of his gaze made her wonder if he thought she was nuts.

She was wondering the same thing herself and couldn’t blame him if he were!

“I’m waiting with bated breath for you to do just that,” he said, with a hint of sarcasm overlaying the words.

She rubbed at her nape again and tried to regain some hint of composure.

“I’m not propositioning you, although I know it sounds like it.” The urge to start babbling again had her stopping and taking a deep breath. After blowing it out, she continued. “The truth is, I lied to my mother and told her you and I were involved in a relationship.”

“You what?”

He said it softly, but he couldn’t have sounded any more dangerous if he’d shouted.

Gen held up her hands. “I know. I know. It was stupid, but Mom is always on at me about not having a social life, and one night I just couldn’t take it anymore. So, I made up a story to get her off my back.”

Not the entire truth, but close enough under the circumstances.

“Why me?”

Now she could hear curiosity warring with his outrage, and it made her embarrassment deepen, if that were at all possible.

“I don’t know for sure,” she replied, trying to be honest. “I think it was because you’d just arrived, and I’d worked with you in the OR for the first time, so your name just popped into my head.”

Zach shook his head slowly, still giving her a suspicious glare.

“And now—?”

“Now Mom’s coming to visit, and I can’t let her know I lied.”

His nostrils flared slightly, as he drew in a harsh breath. “Just tell her it didn’t work out, and we’re not friendly anymore. Wouldn’t that solve the problem?”

“No!” Yikes, now she was barking at him. She had to get a grip. “It would make it worse—for me anyway—because then the whole cycle would start again.”

His gaze made her feel like a recalcitrant child, and now her entire body flushed hot. Looking around, she spied a small gazebo farther along the beach and gestured toward it.

“Can we sit down and talk about it?” Yeah, she was pleading, but although it felt weird, she was willing to do whatever it took to get Zach on board with her plan, no matter how crazy it was.

He didn’t reply for such a long interval she was absolutely sure he was going to tell her to get lost, but finally he nodded and waved his hand in the direction of the hut.

“After you.”

“Thank you,” she said, as they started walking that way. “I really appreciate it.”

“Don’t thank me yet,” he said in that cool, cutting tone. “I haven’t agreed to anything.”

“You agreed to at least hear me out,” she pointed out, perhaps more sharply than she should, all things considered.

That earned her a stern, sidelong glance, but he was gracious enough to say, “That’s fair.”

By the time they sat across from each other at the shaded table, she was struggling with what she was going to say. It had sounded, if not sensible, at least reasonable when she’d rehearsed it all in her head, but now all that she’d planned to say fled in the face of that interrogatory gaze.

“Well?” he said, not breaking eye contact. “What do you have to say for yourself?”

She was suddenly catapulted back in time to the principal’s office, where she was supposed to explain how one of her many escapades had gone awry—and the sensations were still the same.

Embarrassment.

Shame.

But also, the unmistakable high of an adventure unfolding.

The last made her smile, and Zach’s scowl grew even more ferocious.


Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Excerpt – Her One-Night Secret

Hi All!

Hope your April is going well. For us in the Northern Hemisphere it’s Spring, my favorite time of the year. Everything’s fresh and new. The plants are blooming and growing. Flowers. New baby animals everywhere. Vaccines for COVID finally going in arms. So invigorating!

Plum blossoms from the Japanese Plum trees in my backyard!

Anyway, let’s talk Medicals. My next stories with the line release June 1, 2021 and are my first duet–First Response in Florida! Take two adopted brothers who both work in the medical field (Jackson is a top paramedic and Luis is an ER doc), a Key West setting, throw in tons of sexy, romantic conflict, and one nasty hurricane and you have the basis for the First Response in Florida duet!

The last time I was on the blog, I gave you a sneak peek into Book 1 in the duet, The Vet’s Unexpected Hero–Jackson and Lucy’s story. So, today, I thought I’d share and exclusive excerpt from Book 2 in the duet, Her One-Night Secret. This is Luis and Stacy’s story and it’s full of past regrets, second-chances, and one very special surprise.

I hope you enjoy this snippet from the story, where Stacy and Luis have their first conversation since their one night together four years before. And I also hope you’ll check out the First Response in Florida duet when it releases on June 1st! If you like action, suspense, heat, and happily ever afters, these are the books for you!

Until next time, stay safe and healthy and Happy Reading!

Traci 🙂

Excerpt:

HER FIRST IMPULSE was to feign ignorance, but from the way he’d been watching her this whole time, it was clear he’d recognized her, so what was the point? Besides, the last thing Stacy wanted to do was draw more attention to her past indiscretions, so she hiked her chin toward the other members of her fire crew to go on out into the hall, then waited until they were gone before turning back to face Luis.


“It is.” She forced a smile she didn’t feel and looked him over. Man, he was still gorgeous as ever. At first, when she’d looked back on that night, she’d figured she’d been imagining that thick, curly dark hair, those velvety caramel-colored eyes, the impossibly long eyelashes that most women would kill for. Of course, then, as luck would have it, her own son was born with those same features nine months later, so…


Stacy swallowed hard and did her best to cover her nervousness with chatter. “Didn’t think I’d see you again. How are you? You look well.”


Luis blinked at her a moment, a slight frown lining the smooth skin between his dark brows. “I wondered what happened to you after that night, if you were okay.”


That slight accent of his sent a sudden shiver of unwanted awareness through her, taking her right back to that night on the beach, the stars twinkling above, his strong arms around her, sweet endearments on his lips as he’d moved over her, in her, so careful, so tender, so…


“I’m fine. Great, actually.” She needed air, and space. The walls of the room seemed to be closing in on her with him that close, his warmth and scent surrounding her—soap and sandalwood. Stacy turned fast and pushed out into the hallway, grateful for the bright lights and noise of the other meeting members to distract her. She pointed at her badge and headed down the corridor toward the entrance to the ER. “Captain now.”


“I see that,” Luis said, keeping pace beside her, adjusting his long-legged stride to accommodate her shorter one. Funny how that worked. She was a good six inches shorter than him, but that night they’d fit perfectly together.


Stop thinking about that night. Stop it.


“Are you living in Key West now?” he asked as they passed her fire crew, who were giving her curious looks.


“I am,” she said, leaving it at that. She and Miguel had moved into a nice apartment at a local complex the previous year when she’d taken the captain’s job here after leaving her department in Miami. “And you? Are you still traveling the world on your mission trips?”


“No. Not anymore,” he said, tapping the square metal handicapped button on the wall with his elbow so the automatic doors swung open ahead of them. “I’ve taken the position as head of the emergency department here at Key West General, so I’m staying put now.”


“Good to know.” Actually, it wasn’t good. Not at all. Because if they were both staying here in Key West, that meant she needed to tell him about Miguel. Honestly, Stacy had never meant to keep it a secret from Luis for this long. It was just that once she’d found out she was pregnant, he was long gone, and she’d had no way to get a hold of him. Then she’d had the baby and had to fend for herself, and she’d been too busy working and surviving to consider another trip back down to Key West to search for Luis. Being accepted into the fire academy training program had been a godsend—good pay, good benefits, good exercise and a new, extended family she’d always wanted but never dreamed she’d have. The guys in the Miami-Dade County Fire and Rescue Department had embraced Stacy and Miguel as their own, giving her son all the attention and positive male role models he could ever want or need.


Still, having a father—his father—in his life was important for her son, at least to Stacy. So, no matter how awkward, she would tell Luis. Just maybe when the time and place were more appropriate.


“You work with Reed?” Luis asked as they stopped near the nurses’ station in the bustling ER. “The injured firefighter?”


“I do. He’s on a different crew than mine, but we’re all in the same battalion.” She swallowed hard against the lingering constriction in her throat. “It’s like a big family.”


“That’s nice,” Luis said, turning his attention to a chart the nurse behind the desk handed him. “Your colleague is in for a tough battle.”


“Is there any word on how the surgery went?” she asked, glad for a topic of discussion.


“I can’t discuss the specifics because of privacy laws, but suffice it to say that when I left the OR upstairs, he was holding his own. With luck they got the bleeding under control and we can move on to evaluating his leg injury.”


“Will he walk again?”


“I can’t give you a prognosis on that at the moment, I’m afraid.” Luis continued jotting notes in the chart he was working on. “It will be a long recovery either way. Given the extent of the initial injury, there will be nerve and tissue damage that will take time to heal. Physical therapy and bed rest are definitely in his future whether he keeps that leg or not. It will just depend on what the focus is—restoring strength and mobility or retraining him to use a prosthetic.”

“Will he be able to return to active duty as a firefighter?” Stacy asked, her heart aching for his family and what they were going through. “He’ll have his pension, but I know Reed, and he’d hate sitting behind a desk all day.”


“We won’t know until after the surgery and the ortho consult.” He glanced over at her. “But if everything works out well, I don’t see why not. They’ve made huge strides in technology and many people with prosthetics can do just as well, and in some cases better, than their counterparts without disabilities. That would be up to your department, however, and what the physical therapists have to say once they work with and evaluate him. We’re getting way ahead of ourselves here, though.”


Now that Stacy had a chance to really study him as he worked, she could see tiny lines near the corners of his eyes that hadn’t been there before, and a hint of dark stubble just beneath the surface of his strong jaw. She wondered how long his shift had been, if he had someone waiting at home for him once he was done…

Not that it was any of her business. Nope. She was not looking for a relationship. She had plenty enough on her plate as it was with work and Miguel and now the hurricane heading in their general direction. It was just that if he was involved with someone else, that would add another dimension to him finding out he had a son from a previous liaison. She needed to tread carefully, since the last thing Miguel needed right now was more upset to his schedule. With his mild Asperger’s, routine was the glue that held their little world together. And most of all, she didn’t want her son hurt.


As someone who knew the struggle of being an only child, raised by a single mother, Stacy knew all too well the pain of letting someone in, only to have them walk away or disappoint you. She remembered when her own father had walked out on them. At first, she’d cried and cried, running to the window each time a car drove by their house, thinking it might be him. Then, after a while, she’d turned the pain and hurt inward, thinking it was her fault he was gone. That it must’ve been something she’d done, or if she’d only been better, somehow, her father wouldn’t have left them. Eventually she’d internalized that feeling of never being enough and translated it into constantly pushing herself to do more, be more, hoping someday it might be enough to keep those she loved from leaving.


Stacy refused to have her son experience that same trauma by exposing Miguel to a man who might just as likely disappear from their lives as quickly as he’d arrived. She’d never really explained to Miguel about where his father was, and luckily he hadn’t asked. It had always just been the two of them. Now, though, as he was getting older, she feared the questions would come and, with them, the knowledge that he’d been a surprise baby. But in the best possible way. Stacy couldn’t image her life without her son. He was her reason for being, her reason for getting up every day, her reason for everything.


There wasn’t anything she wouldn’t do for Miguel, including telling Luis the truth.


Soon. Just not yet.

They stood there a moment, neither knowing what to say, until finally Stacy spotted Reed’s wife and daughter in the hall and seized on her opportunity to escape. “Uh, I should get back to my crew and Reed’s family. Excuse me. It was nice seeing you again.”


“I’d like to have dinner,” Luis said as she was walking away, halting her in her tracks. “To discuss coordination of our protocols for the hurricane.”


Her heart thudded harder against her rib cage. The hurricane. Right. “Uh, I…”


“Stacy,” he said, handing the chart back to the nurse then stepping toward her, a hint of his tanned chest visible through the vee of his light green scrub shirt. She concentrated there and not on his eyes, those too-perceptive eyes that sent tingles of heat through her like fireworks and always saw way more than she wanted to reveal. Like how nervous she was around him. Like how he still affected her, even after all these years. Like how almost five years later and a lifetime of changes apart, her attraction to him burned bright as the sun. “Just dinner. That’s all. How about tonight? Say, 8:00 p.m., after my shift? Unless you have other plans already.”

There it was. Her out. She seized on it with both hands, even as she cursed herself a coward. “Actually, I do have other plans tonight. Sorry.” Namely, mac and cheese and homework with Miguel. “Maybe another time.”


She took off before he could ask any more questions, the weight of his stare prickling the back of her neck all the way down the corridor.

First Response in Florida Duet

BOOK 1:

In the midst of the hurricane…

…will she find safety in his arms?


Vet Lucy Miller is happy with her quiet, ordered life. But when a tropical storm bears down on her Florida Keys animal sanctuary, the arrival of devastatingly gorgeous, yet equally guarded, emergency medic Jackson Durand brings disorder—and desire! He’s there to rescue her, but Lucy suspects her red-hot reaction to Jackson will be much more dangerous than the storm raging overhead…

PRE-ORDER HERE!

BOOK 2:

A return, a reunion…


…A shocking revelation!


Firefighter Stacy Williams knows two things about her return to Key West. Her promotion gives her the security she needs to raise her son, and it will be almost impossible to suppress the memories of her passionate night with Dr. Luis Durand. Almost…until working on the hurricane response team brings an encounter with the tall, dark and nomadic doc! And the chance to make her life-changing confession…

PRE-ORDER HERE!

Excerpts, Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Excerpt – Rescuing the Paramedic’s Heart, Emily Forbes

Welcome to Bondi!

As the world slowly comes out of the dreadful fog that was 2020 there is the hope that, with vaccinations, we will be able to go about our lives more normally very soon. In Australia we have been relatively lucky and domestic travel is opening up even while our international borders stay closed. As the northern hemisphere sees summer approaching a literary trip to Bondi Beach in Sydney might be something to enjoy.

My latest book is the first in my four-book Bondi Medics series about the Carlson siblings – Lily, Jet, Poppy and Daisy.  This is Poppy’s story.

Excerpt –

CHAPTER ONE

‘Easy? Keep an eye on Backpacker’s Express, I reckon we might have trouble.’

Jet Carlson’s voice came through the radio, catching Ryder’s attention as he stood beside the lifeguard buggy. Jet was up in the circular lifeguard tower that overlooked Bondi Beach, keeping watch over the one-kilometre curve of white sand, issuing updates to the lifeguards on patrol. Ryder reached into the buggy and picked up his binoculars and scanned the beach, looking towards the troublesome rip to the south. He picked out a dark-haired man swimming alone where the first waves were breaking as the Pacific Ocean rolled into the shore.

He picked up the walkie talkie, certain he was looking at the same man Jet had spotted. ‘Copy that, Central, I see him,’ he responded.

He stood by the buggy as he kept his eyes on the swimmer. The water to the man’s left was deceptively calm between two sets of rolling waves. Ryder knew the tide was turning and the calm water indicated a passage of water flowing out to sea. If the man got any closer, he’d be pulled out to sea with the tide.

It was the danger period, after lunch on a hot Sunday. It wasn’t peak season yet; it was only the middle of spring and school hadn’t finished for the year but the beach was still busy. Holiday makers, shift workers and backpackers all flocked to Bondi at any time of the year. The tide was going out and the notorious rip was going to cause grief. Most likely to an unsuspecting tourist. No matter how hard the lifeguards tried it was impossible to get all the beachgoers to swim between the flags. Ryder knew it was sometimes because they didn’t understand English or the dangers or where to swim, at other times they just chose to ignore the lifeguards and the risks, thinking their swimming ability was better than it was or that the warnings were some kind of joke or scaremongering tactics and the treacherous conditions wouldn’t affect them. It didn’t help matters that the main access point to the beach was closest to the dangerous southern end. But no matter what the reason was for swimmers ending up in the wrong place, the lifeguards’ job was to look after them all. The drunk, the ignorant, the stubborn, the unlucky.

Life was precious and Ryder felt a strong sense of responsibility and, at the end of the day, a strong sense of satisfaction in a job well done whether that had been saving a life or just preventing a disaster. Not every day brought an emergency although there was always some excitement but a quiet day on the beach was preferable to one filled with drama. Either way he enjoyed the work. It was interesting and varied and he met people from all over the world and from all walks of life and he reckoned that would hold him in good stead for his future career as a psychologist. If he could cope with the Bondi beachgoers, he could cope with anything.

He hadn’t worked at Bondi for long. It had only been a couple of months since he’d been offered a position and had become one of several lifeguards employed by the local council to patrol the popular beach three hundred and sixty-five days of the year. It was a highly coveted job and usually went to qualified Sydneysiders who had grown up surfing the waves at the local beaches and had years of experience of the conditions. He’d had years of experience as a surfer and as a lifeguard at Cottesloe Beach in Western Australia but that was on the opposite side of the country, on the shores of the Indian Ocean. But the Pacific Ocean was familiar to him – he’d spent his childhood surfing the breaks at Byron Bay on the coast north of Bondi. The ocean on Australia’s east coast had been home to him until one fateful day, just before his eighteenth birthday, when he’d been uprooted from everything that was special to him and moved thousands of kilometres away to the other side of the continent.  

Eventually he’d settled in his new home and when he’d arrived in Bondi, part way through his transcontinental road trip, he hadn’t planned on staying but he’d been offered a temporary position and it had been too good to refuse.

He was happy with temporary, he knew he couldn’t stay forever, he was needed back west, but for the moment this was good. Casual work would allow him to extend his break and make sure he was refreshed and energised when he went home.

It was a perfect situation, he thought as he had a quick glance along the beach, trying to figure out if there was anyone else keeping an eye on the man he had under watch. Was anyone else aware of his position? In situations like this it could be helpful to speak to someone who knew the swimmer. It could help determine how competent they were in the water. But he didn’t really need confirmation, he’d bet his next pay check on the fact that this guy wasn’t a strong swimmer. He could see him pushing off the bottom, not wanting to get out of his depth, but the outgoing tide was already taking him further from the beach and the minute he got washed off the sandbar he’d be in deep water.

As Ryder watched a wave broke over the man’s head, submerging him. That second or two when he went under was long enough to make him lose his footing. As he surfaced, he was swept into the channel and away from the beach.

He was in trouble.

‘Easy?’ Jet’s voice came through the radio, using Ryder’s nick name.

‘I’m on it.’ Ryder leapt out of the buggy, whipped off his distinctive blue lifeguard shirt, grabbed the rescue board from the rack on the side of the all-terrain vehicle and sprinted into the surf. He threw his board in front of him and dived onto it. He paddled strongly out past the small waves that were crashing onto the shore, past the swimmers who were oblivious to the drama unfolding a few metres off the beach, past the break.

He scanned the sea as pulled his board through the water and caught a brief glimpse of the man’s head as it appeared behind a wave before he lost sight of him again. He dug deep, paddling harder, knowing time was of the essence. His shoulder muscles bunched and already he could feel the burn but he was used to that. He was breathing deeply, his lungs straining and he could feel his heart racing but he wouldn’t stop. He was getting close now.

He crested a small wave just in time to see the man go under again.

Two more strokes.

He reached over the side of the board, plunging his arm into the water up to his elbow. He scooped his arm through the water but came up empty. He could see the man’s dark hair. He leaned over further, plunging his whole arm into the ocean, the sea reaching to his armpit, and this time his fingers grabbed hold of the man’s head. He pulled him to the surface by a fistful of hair. He knew it would hurt but having your hair pulled was a small price to pay in exchange for your life.

He dragged the man from the water, holding him by one arm. He wasn’t breathing. Ryder needed to get him securely onto the rescue board and back to shore. The man was of slight build and probably weighed no more than seventy kilograms. Ryder was six foot three inches tall, fit and strong, a muscular ninety kilograms with no excess weight but even so, he strained with the effort of pulling a dead weight out of the water. He grabbed his patient under his armpits and hauled him up, draping him across the board. He pulled his legs out of the ocean and waited to see if he would start breathing on his own.

The man coughed twice, expelling sea water, and began breathing. Now Ryder just had to get him back to the beach.

He got the man balanced, getting him to lie on his stomach in front of him. It was a long paddle back to shore and he didn’t want the board tipping. He didn’t want to lose his patient and have to go through the process of getting him out of the water a second time.

*

Poppy changed into her swimming costume, shorts and a t-shirt as Lily left for work. She’d go to the beach for a quick swim she decided, say hi to her brother and then come back and make a start on dinner.

 She checked her phone for what felt like the hundredth time as she slid her feet into her flip flops. Still nothing. She tossed it back on the bed. She wouldn’t take it to the beach, she wasn’t planning to be gone for long, if Craig called while she was out she’d call him back later.

She left her car parked on the road in front of the house and walked down Edward Street towards the beach. After consecutive six-hour days in the car driving from Brisbane to Sydney she needed to stretch her legs and the fifteen-minute walk to Campbell Parade would help to clear the cobwebs.

She turned onto the pedestrian path and walked along the Promenade past the skate park and the mural wall towards the Lifeguard Tower.

She stopped before she reached the tower and lent on the railing and looked out over the beach. The sun was behind her and the sea shone in the afternoon light. The sand was crisp and white and, despite the fact that it was not yet the summer holidays the beach was busy. She took a deep breath, filling her lungs with the sea air and stood for a moment enjoying the feeling of warm sun on her skin as she watched the water.

The waves were small but she could spot the rips, the deceptive smooth waters between breaking waves. She had years of experience as a surfer, growing up in Byron Bay she and her siblings had learned to surf almost before they could walk, but she could see why the tourists and the locals who weren’t familiar with the ocean could be fooled into thinking the rips were safe spots to swim.

She turned to the south to see if she could pick out Lily’s house perched on the cliff before she spun on her heels and headed for the circular lifeguard tower. She knocked on the blue door and waited, if Jet wasn’t in there someone would be able to tell her where he was.

‘Poppy! You’re here.’ Jet grinned as he swung the door open. His welcoming smile was wide, his perfect teeth white and even in his tanned face. His blonde hair was pulled back into a messy man bun but that was all Poppy had time to absorb before he stepped out of the tower and wrapped her up in a tight hug. He stood well over six feet tall, and even with his slim but muscular athlete’s build he managed to make her feel small. She was five feet seven inches, not short for a girl, but Jet made her feel petite.

He released her and dragged her into the tower where he introduced her to the other lifeguards.

‘Guys, this is my little sister, Poppy. Poppy met the guys – Gibbo, Bluey and Dutchy.’

Poppy smiled at Jet’s use of the guys’ nicknames.

‘Are you going to hang around here for a while?’ he asked as Poppy finished saying hello.

 ‘No, I just wanted to say hi. I’m going to have a swim and then head home. I hear you’re coming for dinner.’

Jet nodded and looked as if he was about to say something else when the radio on the desk crackled into life.

‘Central, this is Easy, we’ve got a problem down here, south of the flags.’

He held up one hand in Poppy’s direction, asking her to wait as he grabbed the radio. ‘Go ahead, Ryder.’

‘The tourist I pulled from Backpacker’s, he’s not looking great. I’m bringing him back to the tower for an assessment.’

Poppy’s ears pricked up as she listened to the exchange. Ryder was an unusual name. She’d only ever known one and he had been Jet’s best friend when they were at high school. He’d also been her first crush. But the Ryder she knew had moved away when he was seventeen, breaking her young, impressionable heart in the process – although she’d kept that to herself – and she hadn’t seen him since.

It couldn’t be him though, could it? Surely Jet would have said something.

‘Ryder?’ she said as Jet put the radio down.

‘Yeah, Ryder Evans, you remember him?’

Of course, she remembered him.

She could feel herself colouring as she thought about the last time she’d seen him. She hoped Jet didn’t notice the blush she could feel creeping up her neck.

She nodded. ‘You never told me he was in Sydney.’

‘Didn’t I?’ Jet shrugged. ‘Probably figured you wouldn’t care, you haven’t seen him for the best part of twelve years,’ he said over his shoulder as he went to open the door to the tower.

He had a point. He wouldn’t think it was important. It wasn’t important really, although that didn’t stop a frisson of nervousness from shooting through her at the thought of seeing him again. She hadn’t thought about him for years, had finally let the idea of him go, yet at the mere mention of his name all the old feelings rose to the surface along with all the memories of how much he’d meant to her teenage self. She could instantly recall all her teenage fantasies and the memories made her blush.

The lifeguard buggy pulled to a stop at the bottom of the metal stairs that led from the sand to the tower and Poppy’s jaw dropped as a lifeguard jumped out. Tall and muscular, tanned and fit.

Was that Ryder?

She managed to close her mouth as she watched him help his patient out of the buggy and up the stairs.

She hung back, out of the way, as Ryder got the man into the tower and onto the treatment plinth. Jet went to assist, instructing Bluey to keep an eye on the beach. Poppy stayed near the desk by the windows, the lifeguards had a job to do and she didn’t want to be a nuisance but staying out of the way also gave her a chance to check Ryder out unobserved. She knew he hadn’t noticed her; he was too focussed on his patient.

The last time she’d seen him there had been a hint of the man he would become, of the man waiting to emerge, but he’d still been a gangly teenager.  He’d been tall but he’d yet to have a fast growth spurt or develop the muscle definition that would come with young adulthood. But all traces of adolescence had disappeared now. Now there was no hiding the man.  And no ignoring the feeling of warmth that was spreading through her belly and into her groin. Poppy leant on the desk, taking the weight off her suddenly shaky legs.

Fortunately Ryder had his back to her and wouldn’t be aware of her reaction but she was very aware of him.

He’d grown even taller and he’d definitely filled out. He’d developed muscles where he hadn’t had them before. He wore only a pair of black boardshorts with “Lifeguard” emblazoned across his hips and she had plenty of opportunity to admire the view of sculpted muscles and smooth tanned skin. His shoulders were broad, his biceps bulging, his waist narrow. He looked fit. He looked healthy.  He looked magnificent.

She ran her gaze up the length of his spine and up his neck. She could see where the knobs of his vertebrae disappeared into his hair. He’d always had amazing hair, dark blond and thick, and at almost twenty-nine years of age it seemed he’d lost none of it.

Her gaze traced the line of his jaw. It was strong and square.  He looked good, even better than she remembered, and she felt another rush of blood to her cheeks as her heart skittered in her chest.

Her hands gripped the edge of the desk as she observed him, keeping her fixed in place and she wondered at the involuntary response. Was she stopping herself from crossing the room? While her rational mind might tell her that Ryder’s unexpected appearance was of no consequence it seemed her body had other ideas. Her palms were clammy and her mouth was dry and she suddenly felt like the sixteen-year-old schoolgirl she’d been when she’d last seen him.

When she had kissed him.

And he had kissed her back.

She knew from talking to her girlfriends that first kisses often weren’t anywhere near as fabulous as they’d dreamed about but the kiss she and Ryder had shared had been everything she’d hoped for and more. It had been the biggest moment of her young life. It had changed her life. 

She’d fallen in love.

First love.

She had only been a teenager but that didn’t make it any less real, any less all encompassing, any less all consuming.

And it hadn’t made it any less painful when he’d walked out of her life.

***

Australia

In Australia this book has been released as a print duo with Meredith Webber’s 103rd (and final) book – amazing!!


UK

USA –

https://www.harlequin.com/shop/books/9781488074899_rescuing-the-paramedics-heart.html

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Medical Romance Includes You: Hints and tips from our writers.

The Medical Romance Authors are so excited about the current #MedicalRomanceIncludesYou  Facebook and Twitter event for under-represented voices, on the 26th March 2021!  If you haven’t heard about this yet, there’s still time to get your entry ready so check out the details here.

The Twitter and Facebook pitch event is specifically looking for underrepresented voices who love to write Medical Romance.  The Editors welcome submissions from all authors at any time via the Harlequin Submittable page.

We’d love to encourage anyone who’s thinking of writing their own medical romance to give it a try.  So we’ve gathered some of our own, personal, hints and tips together – things that have helped us and which we hope will help you in your journey.

Good Luck, everyone!

Susan Carlisle

Keep in mind the story is about the characters, about how they think and feel in a situation. Emotion is what draws the reader into the characters world. You can write a great story and show emotion but if they don’t work together you don’t have a book. Also, the medical scenes are vehicles for the characters to learn something about each other. Good luck.

Fiona McArthur

Two things changed my writing forever. I hope they change yours.

Finish the book before submitting a partial – it took ten years of three chapters and rejections before I learned my book didn’t grab until I knew the whole journey.

Don’t expect to write thousands of words every day.  Some days, you will. But five hundred words a day, everyday, will give you a medical romance in a hundred days. Imagine. You’ve always wanted to write a book – now you can – in one hundred days. Good luck. Being a writer is wonderful.

Traci Douglass

To be more productive, word count wise, on a given day, try sketching out whatever scene(s) you’re working on ahead of time. Even if you’re a writer who doesn’t like to plot, per se, knowing the basics can help you write faster.  I like to do basic points—who, what, where, how and why—to make sure I’m staying on track and things are moving in the direction I want them to. Knowing what you want and need to accomplish in a particular scene will make it less daunting to sit in front of that blank page.

Also, the point of view characters goal at the beginning of the scene and at the end helps too. And don’t forget the emotional arc. That should change as well from the start of the scene to the end to keep the story moving along.

Ann McIntosh

As authors we’re constantly told, “Write what you know,” but when it comes to writing a medical romance, my advice is don’t be intimidated by what you DON’T know.

Medical romances are, first and foremost, romances. Medical professionals and first responders—whether doctors, nurses, paramedics, firefighters, vets, etc.—have the same hang-ups, phobias, family and relationship issues as the rest of us. Focus on the relationship conflict first, and think of the medical drama as a way to either up the stakes (e.g. they’re vying for the same job! Bucking heads over treatment options!) or to bring them closer together (e.g. she thinks he’s a dink until she sees him holding a scared patient’s hand, or a rescued baby!). If you’re comfortable doing medical research and love writing romances, go for it! We’re looking forward to welcoming you to our happy group.

Fiona Lowe

When you’re writing category romance, learn what’s popular in the line. After four rejections, I wrote a pregnant doctor working for the flying doctors, hitting two themes. They bought the book!

Don’t let anyone steal your voice. I was so desperate to be published, I let my critique groups’ opinions sway me. A Mills & Boon editor said to me, ‘your voice seems to disappear then return.’ It was a big revelation to me and I reclaimed my voice. They bought the book.

Louisa Heaton

Finish your work. Even if you don’t manage to sell it, or get it published, you will learn A LOT from writing an entire draft.

Each story will teach you something new.

Don’t get hung up on how long you think chapters should be! I see this concern an awful lot on forums. Your chapters are as long (or as short) as you need them to be. Chapters need to end on some sort of hook and this is what is most important. How will you make your reader want to read on? How do you make them want to find out what is going to happen? How will that situation resolve itself? What will happen to your heroine? Your hero? Leave your reader wanting more. Needing to know more.

Kate Hardy

* start at a point of change

* remember the medical is there to throw light on your characters or the situation

* if it’s not working, try writing the scene from the other character’s point of view (but avoid head-hopping – best to stick to one point of view per scene – and from the POV of the character who has most to lose)

Becky Wicks

ADOPT A FRIENDLY APPROACH
If you haven’t approached Harlequin before, it’s really all about your cover letter/email! Are you coming across as approachable, friendly, enthusiastic? Our lovely editors get a lot of mail every day, so it helps if you’re memorable off the bat. Forget formalities, politeness is fine but no one wants to work with a robot!

KEEP IT SIMPLE
Don’t use long words, in either your pitches or your cover letters. Remember, chances are, if you don’t know the meaning of a word, no one else will either, not without opening a dictionary!

BIG UP YOUR SOCIAL SKILLS
If you already have a social media following, shout about it. If you’re at a point where you can sell your own books to a fan base, sales and marketing will love you more. And yes, it’s unfair for those of us who can’t even open Twitter without crying but that’s the world we live in. Popularity sells.

BE RELIABLE
If an editor likes your idea and asks for more information, or something else back within a timeframe, leave your tardiness at the door and check in when you’re meant to. Or before. Knowing you’re an author/potential author who can be relied upon to deliver, whatever it is, will work hugely in your favour!

Annie Claydon

Sending your work off to an Editor can be daunting, but take your courage in both hands, and be confident – write your own story in your own voice.  Believe in yourself, finish your story, and submit your work!

But don’t be over-confident – read what’s already been published in the line you want to write for and listen to the Editors’ comments because they are always worth their weight in gold.  Always know that you can improve your work, and read it through (maybe reading it aloud to yourself, if that helps you to ‘hear’ your own voice more easily).  Don’t be afraid to change or delete passages that you think aren’t working.

More of Kate Hardy’s advice on writing can be found on her website – this is a must-read for new writers.

And don’t forget the Write for Harlequin website.  The Write for Harlequin Community Facebook page also offers lots of encouragement and good advice, including an Editor chat with Megan Haslam and Hannah Rossiter about the #MedicalRomanceIncludesYou event.

If you have a question, or you’d like to send a few words of encouragement to new writers, please post here.  We’d love to hear from you!

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, The Writing Life

How I Got My Idea for ‘Risking Her Heart on the Trauma Doc’

Can two love-weary doctors…

…heal each other?

Dr. Jess Young plans to use her time on the small Scottish island of Thorney to figure out how she can rebuild her shattered life, after a recent blow that has stolen the future she dreamed of. Only Dr. Adam Campbell is a complication she didn’t expect! Handsome but hurting too, Jess sees a kindred spirit in Adam. Will he heal her already fragile heart…

I often get asked how I come up with ideas for my stories, so I thought I’d go through the thought processes of how I created my January release, Risking Her Heart on the Trauma Doc.

I love to write stories that take place on an island (because I live on an island and I like the community feel you get, where everyone knows one another.) Next to Hayling is an island called Thorney, but most of it is taken up by an army base. You’re allowed to walk the coastal walk, but that’s about it. Well, I liked the name, Thorney and decided that Thorney would be the great name for an island up in Scotland where I wanted to have a setting.

So, initially, that was all I had – a place, so then I had to think about what kind of medical establishments would be on this island. Would the island be big enough to sustain an entire hospital and the people to staff it? Or would there only be a GP surgery? With people going to the mainland for surgeries/emergencies, etc?

I preferred the intimacy of a small GP practice, with doctors that took on many different responsibilities and I knew there would have to be a resident doctor to be either my hero or heroine, with a new doctor arriving to play the other part.

Originally, I had my heroine, Dr Jess Young having arrived on the island to take over the hero’s job. She had already established herself there and was great friends with the hero’s family. His parents loved her and she had fallen in love with the stories they constantly told about him, the way he looked in photos and basically had developed a crush on a man she had never actually met (the reason for this crush on a man out of reach will be revealed later) The hero would then return from Afghanistan with PTSD and wouldn’t function well, however, my editor suggested that the hero could still have PTSD, but that he needed to very much be a fully functioning member of the medical team and that my heroine be the one arriving as a newbie and that we be there to watch her fall in love as they worked together.

So I went with that. But then I had to research PTSD and all the ways it could affect someone and how those issues might play into my story. Would there be night terrors, would he be affected by sights, or sounds? I decided that sound and night terrors would play into the story better, as I wanted my hero and heroine to be living in the same block of flats and that proximity would help for more scenes that would establish their burgeoning relationship.

So I knew what problems my hero had, but what about my heroine?

I wanted Jess to be as equally damaged as the hero, but how and why? Where Adam’s problems were mostly mental, I wanted hers to be physical and so I gave her a life-limiting disease. One that had killed her father, leaving her with slight Daddy issues and going after men that were never available to her emotionally.

Well, the Daddy issues were deleted! Mills and Boon like there to be strong heroines and Jess needed to be strong, to cope with her condition and also, to help Adam with his. I knew then, that Jess would be this incredibly caring individual, who put other people first, before herself and that this need to care, to deflect her concern onto other people, rather than herself, would be the key issue towards her and Adam falling in love and being vulnerable with each other.

Once I had all of that information, I began to write. A revised synopsis to send to my editor, and then a detailed chapter plan, exploring what would happen in each scene, before I wrote it. The chapter plan was six pages of single spaced work and as I wrote the book, became six pages of incredibly messy work, as I scribbled all over it and changed things as I went, as new things always occur to me, as I write.

I had this grand idea for a Black Moment at the end of the book, that took place in the pouring rain. You know that screen shot from The Notebook of the hero and heroine kissing in the rain, absolutely drenched? I wanted something like that, my characters arguing with each other, but only because they’re so frustrated and then they end up kissing and realising they can’t bare to be apart, but that idea was nixed by my editor (who suggested a different moment and I sadly placed my rain-drenched characters into a separate folder to be used in another story, at some point.)

So, there you have it. The thought process to starting a book.

It’s not actually as simple as it reads. It comes across that these Aha! moments come to you quickly and easily, but I promise you there were many days of head-scratching, hair pulling and biting of nails as I worked out various bits and pieces. There may even be lots of scrawled up bits of paper lying in rubbish tips with my notes still on them. Or maybe seagulls have used them to help line their nests? Who knows?

If you’ve got any writing questions, then please don’t hesitate to ask them below. I’m always happy to answer them.

Louisa xxx

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

First Response in Florida Duet – Exclusive Excerpt

Hi All!

Hope your February is going well. Since it’s currently -3 degrees Fahrenheit with a wind chill of -19 in my little corner of the world, I thought I’d share an exclusive excerpt from my upcoming duet for the Medicals line, First Response in Florida.

These books take place, as you can guess from the title, in sunny, warm Key West and feature two adopted brothers–EMT Jackson Durand and ER doc Luis Durand–on their journeys to find happily ever afters, all while battling a fierce hurricane to save their community.

In this excerpt from book one of the duet, The Vet’s Unexpected Hero, we meet Jackson Durand as he’s finishing up a busy shift as a paramedic at Key West General Hospital and rushing to finish his paperwork before a big meeting of the emergency response team ahead of Hurricane Mathilda’s arrival. He’s not looking for love. In fact, he’s a bit of a playboy. At least until a certain neuro-divergent veterinarian asks him for directions…

🤓📚❤️

Excerpt:

Disasters usually had most people running away from danger. EMT Jackson Durand wasn’t most people. 

His rig stopped outside the ambulance bay doors at Key West General ER and Jackson hopped out the back, followed closely by his EMT partner, Ned. Jackson’s adopted brother, Dr. Luis Durand, met them at the entrance ready to take on the case. 

“Forty-one-year-old firefighter with Key West FD,” Jackson said as he and Ned lowered the gurney from the back of the rig down to the ground. “Riding his motorcycle and thrown from the bike, no loss of consciousness on scene. Obvious open left femur fracture.”

The patient on the gurney moaned loud and tried to get up, but Jackson held him in place with a hand on his chest as they wheeled him into the ER and down a brightly lit hall to an available trauma bay, picking up nurses and techs as they went.

“Sir,” Luis said, stepping in beside Jackson. “Can you tell me your name?”

The patient bucked as they transferred him from the gurney to the hospital bed and one of the nurses lifted the sheet covering his lower body to look at the wound. “Reed,” the man on the gurney said. “What’s wrong with my leg? It hurts so bad.”

“Your leg is broken, sir,” Luis placed his stethoscope on the man’s chest and listened before continuing. “Pretty badly, I’m afraid. But we’re going to take good care of you.” He nodded to Jackson then took over his brother’s position at the patient’s bedside. “Okay, we’ve got a good airway here. Good breath sounds bilaterally. Sir, can you open your eyes again for me? Looks like you’re getting drowsy. Reed, can you wiggle your left toes for me?”

The patient screamed then, writhing on the bed. “Arrgh! It hurts, it hurts. I can’t. I can’t. My leg hurts so bad.”

“Blood pressure?” Luis asked the nurse across the table.

“70/40, doc.”

Jackson hid his wince, barely. He felt for the guy. With an open compound fracture of the femur like that, it had to be sheer agony, but they couldn’t risk giving him any pain meds for fear of his blood pressure dropping even lower, which would cause even more problems, including death if he stopped breathing.

“Right,” Luis said. “Let’s give him six units of blood stat.”

Jackson and Ned cleared the area to allow the staff more room to work. While Ned took the gurney back to the rig, Jackson headed down the hall to stock up on supplies before his shift ended. Along the way, he greeted staff as the passed. He knew just about everyone here and had a well-earned reputation as the go-to guy when it came to EMT services in the Keys. He liked being the man with the plan and the popularity that went with it. Mainly though, he liked the control. Hopefully his rep would earn him a coveted promotion soon; he just needed a chance to prove himself.

He entered the supply room and began to fill his kit with fresh gauze packs, elastic bandages, syringes, gloves, and Steri-strips. The neatly ordered shelves were a perfect reflection on his brother Luis, who was the head of this department. Thoughtful, quiet, efficient. Everything in its place and a place for everything. All equal. Yep. That was Luis Durand to a T. The complete opposite of Jackson, who thrived on chaos, quick decisions, and excitement. Always better to keep moving, keep going, because those who fell behind got left behind.

He’d learned that lesson the hard way.

“Hey,” a nurse said, coming around the corner of the aisle where he stood. She was dressed in pink scrubs with a jacket covered in cartoon babies. OB floor. Jackson’s gaze flicked to her face then back to the supplies he was sorting through. She was cute, maybe late-twenties, Asian. He didn’t remember her name, but from the expectant smile on her face, she obviously remembered his. Probably because they’d gone out, had a good time, maybe more. He had a reputation outside of the medical field too.

“Hey,” he said, not meeting her gaze. He wasn’t embarrassed about his flings. He only slept with women who knew the score. No strings, no complications. If they’d been together, then she’d gone into it with her eyes open too. He grabbed a handful of alcohol wipes and shoved them into the outer pocket of his pack, ignoring the hot prickle of her stare on the side of his face. 

When he didn’t say anything more, she stepped closer and smiled, shaking her head. “You don’t remember me, do you?”

“Of course, I do,” he said, concentrating on the zipper of his pack, and thinking maybe it was time to get out of the game. Not settle down, because he didn’t do relationships—get in too deep and all you ended up with was heartbreak and disappointment—but his thirtieth birthday was coming up soon and frankly he was getting too old for this crap. Maybe he’d get a dog or something to live on the houseboat with him. He hazarded a side glance at the nametag on her jacket. “How could I forget you, Susie?”

Her snort rang loud in the quiet supply room. “And that proves my point. I’m Amy. Borrowed this jacket earlier because I was cold.” Heat crept up his neck as he straightened, hiding his wince. “But don’t worry. I’m not offended,” she said, jovially. “We hooked up at the St. Patrick’s Day party at Durand’s earlier this year. The night’s pretty blurry for me too, since we’d both had way too much to drink. It’s all good.”

Right. 

His adopted parents owned one of the most popular bars in the touristy section of Key West, Durand’s Duck Bill Pub. He’d had a lot of good times at that bar, a lot of forgotten nights too. He flashed her a slow smile, hoping his charm might get him out of another sticky situation. “Ah. Yes, right. I do remember you now, Amy. You won the green beer contest and hung a T-shirt from the rafters.”

She shook he head and laughed. “I lost the whiskey duel and ended up having to kiss that gross leprechaun statue near the entrance. Nice try though.”

“Thanks.” He winked and sidled past her. “Gotta go.”

“Of course, you do,” she called as he walked out of the supply room fast. “Thanks for the memories.”

“Bye, Amy,” he called back, glad to be out of the firing line. By the time he returned to the bustle of the ER, his brother was at the nurses’ station barking orders into the phone to what Jackson assumed was the OR. 

“Yes. Fireman thrown from his motorcycle with a known bad femur fracture. Suspected pelvic fracture. I’m also worried he may have an as yet undiagnosed solid organ injury, perhaps liver or spleen that’s adding to the loss of blood. We’ll need ortho to assist for the leg, but my primary concern right now is saving his life. Okay. Yes. I’ll be up ASAP. Thank you.”

“Another busy day in the neighborhood, huh?” Jackson moved in beside him at the counter and placed his refilled equipment pack at his feet. “You think he’s going to make it?”

“I’m going to do everything I can to make sure he does,” Luis said, heading toward the stairwell up to the third floor only to be cut off by the man’s family and fire crew. Jackson concentrated on filling out the requisition forms for his supplies while his brother did his best to put the new arrivals at ease. “Yes. Reed has got a bad leg fracture from the accident and we’re taking him to surgery now to repair it and also to make sure there’s not more bleeding internally. If you have a seat in the waiting room, I’ll be down as soon as I can with an update. I…”

His brother’s voice trailed off and Jackson glanced up to see what had cause the rare occurrence. Luis was always well-spoken, always prepared, always on top of things. He had a mild case of Asperger’s, so that kept him constantly thinking, constantly working through problems in his head that usually spilled out of his mouth as well. So, him going speechless was quite an event. But all Jackson saw were the same people as before. A middle-aged woman sobbing on the shoulder of a teenaged boy and girl, who he assumed were the patient’s wife and kids. Behind them was Reed’s fire crew in their uniforms, their fire truck parked outside the doors beside the ambulance, lights still blazing. Jackson recognized the firefighters as they often went on the same runs as EMS, since many of them were trained as first responders as well. Bud Landry, John Cheeves, and Stacy Williams. Luis definitely wasn’t gay, so the guys were out as the source of Luis’ sudden silence. Which left Stacy. 

Blonde, twenty-seven or twenty-eight maybe. Pretty, in a natural, wholesome, beach bunny sort of way. Curvy and cute, and more than capable in the field and courageous as hell. Looks could definitely be deceiving in her case. Luis was staring at her like he’d seen a ghost. 

Huh. Interesting. Maybe he’d been bitten by the love bug at last. 

An overachiever in nearly every facet of his life except the personal, Luis pushed himself hard. Always working, always helping, always growing. He’d told Jackson once it was because his parents had died bring him to the US from Cuba, sacrificing everything to give their son a better life. Luis felt obligated to live up to the legacy they’d given him, one of bravery and selflessness, even if doing so was to his own detriment. It was the one area he and Jackson had in common, but for very different reasons.

Luis’s past was rooted in affirmation and acceptance. Jackson’s in abandonment.

His mother had left him behind at four years old with no explanation and no word since. 

He had no idea why she’d given him, just that she’d left him and deep down he knew he probably deserved it. 

The nearby elevators dinged and broke Jackson out of his thoughts. Seemed to break Luis out of whatever spell he’d fallen under too. He excused himself and shoved into the stairwell like his butt was on fire. Jackson went back to finishing up his blasted paperwork, pushing the painful past away.

Of all the aspects of his job, the bureaucracy was his least favorite. He much preferred being out on runs, saving lives, helping others, protecting those who needed it. In fact, protection was his calling, his reason for being. Plus, being an EMT meant he got in, got out, got on with the next patient, never getting too attached to any one person or case. Attachment—that’s where you really got in trouble. 

Because everyone left, sooner or later, once they saw the real, unworthy, you. 

“Dude, I’m going to take off,” Ned said, clapping him on the shoulder as he walked by, jarring Jackson out of his thoughts. “You need anything from the rig before I go?” 

“Nah, man. Thanks.” Jackson planned to use the staff locker room downstairs to shower and change after his shift before heading to the latest meeting of the local Emergency Response Team in the hospital conference room. He was Incident Commander for this one and if things went well it could lead to him landing the recently vacated regional director spot for the local ambulance authority.

“Oh, wait,” Jackson said, initialing and signing on the dotted lines. “You can take this full pack back with you if want.”

“Will do. I’m going to run down to the cafeteria and get a soda real quick first, then I’ll be back to get it. Sure you don’t want anything?” Ned asked as he walked over the elevators.

“No. Thanks, man. Have a good rest of your shift.” Jackson smiled over at his partner. If he got in and out of the showers fast enough, he’d grab a bite himself before the meeting. Coming off a twelve-hour rotation, he needed time to wind down though before thinking about a meal. “Take your time.”

Jackson flipped to yet another sheet on his clipboard and started on the next form, only half-listening to the drone of the TV in the waiting room behind him. 

“…Tropical Storm Mathilda is expected to strengthen into a major hurricane by the time it reaches the gulf early next week. As of right now, projections are still vague as to exactly where the eyewall will make landfall, but we do expect it to at least brush the Keys on its way toward mainland USA.”

Jackson sighed. Another early August day in southern Florida. They’d been having meetings off and on since the start of the hurricane season in May. Each week a few new faces appeared in the conference room, and the team was rounded out as conditions changed. The Incident Commander’s job was to coordinate all the different team members into a cohesive whole and direct their resources to the areas that needed them most during the crisis. Considering he’d worked as an EMT in Key West since leaving the Coast Guard six years ago, and had pretty much seen and heard it all, it was a task he was well prepared for. Plus, he loved what he did. But he also had more to contribute and being named regional director would give him that opportunity. 

Jackson dotted the last I and crossed the last T on his paperwork then handed it back to the nurse behind the desk, just as a female voice behind him asked, “Excuse me. Can you tell me where the conference room is please? I’m here for the ERT meeting.”

He turned to see a petite, dark-haired woman with a huge, panting golden retriever at her side. The dog was almost as big as she was, with a goofy doggo grin on its face, tongue lolling, and a red therapy vest on its back. Jackson couldn’t resist crouching to scratch the pup behind the ears. “Who’s a good boy, huh?”

“His name is Sam and he’s working,” the woman said, her tone edged with annoyance this time. “Directions, please? I don’t want to be late.”

Jackson glanced back up into her anxious dark eyes. He straightened and gave her a polite smile. “Sorry. I should’ve asked to pet him first. Come on. I’ll show you the way.” He stowed the pack for Ned with the nurse behind the desk then gestured for the woman to follow him. “You’re way too early though. Meeting doesn’t start until three. It’s only two now.”

“I know.” She moved around him and the dog trotted obediently at her side. “I’d rather be early. I always like to be prepared.”

They walked out of the ER and into a quiet corridor leading to the administrative wing. He gave her a side glance, their shoes squeaking on the shiny linoleum and the dog’s leash jangling in time to the clatter of its nails on the floor. Trying to ease the awkward with humor, he joked, “Isn’t that the boy scout motto? Always be prepared.”

“Could be. I really wouldn’t know.” She stared straight ahead, her steps evenly measured to avoid all the cracks between tiles. Hmm. Her cheeks were pink too, and he couldn’t tell if it was because it was hot outside—almost ninety today—or if she was still mad he’d pet her dog. Either way, it was clear she wanted nothing to do with him. 

At the end of the hall they reached a doorway marked with a gold plaque that read ‘Conference Room A’. She gave a curt nod and finally faced him, though she kept her gaze fixed on the dog. “Thank you.”

“Uh, sure.” He slowly backed away, more intrigued than he cared to admit. People liked him. Women liked him a lot. Except for this one. She posed a puzzling challenge, and he did love a challenge. The list of new team members ran through his head as he tried to pinpoint her identity. “I’ll see you later then.”

Confusion flickered across her pretty features and she frowned. “Why?”

“I’ll be in the ERT meeting too. Jackson Durand, by the way. That’s my name.”

He waited for her to tell him hers, but she didn’t. Just led her big old dog into the conference room then closed the door behind her.

Want to read more? My First Response in Florida Duet will be out June 2021. However, you can pre-order now, so they’ll show up as soon as they’re available! Links are below and until next time, Happy Reading! ❤️

~ Traci 😊

First Response in Florida Duet:

Book One

The Vet’s Unexpected Hero

In the midst of the hurricane…
…will she find safety in his arms?

Vet Lucy Miller is happy with her quiet, ordered life. But when a tropical storm bears down on her Florida Keys animal sanctuary, the arrival of devastatingly gorgeous, yet equally guarded, emergency medic Jackson Durand brings disorder—and desire! He’s there to rescue her, but Lucy suspects her red-hot reaction to Jackson will be much more dangerous than the storm raging overhead…

PRE-ORDER HERE!

Book Two:

Her One-Night Secret

A return, a reunion…
…A shocking revelation!


Firefighter Stacy Williams knows two things about her return to Key West. Her promotion gives her the security she needs to raise her son, and it will be almost impossible to suppress the memories of her passionate night with Dr. Luis Durand. Almost…until working on the hurricane response team brings an encounter with the tall, dark and nomadic doc! And the chance to make her life-changing confession…

PRE-ORDER HERE!