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

Taming Her Hollywood Playboy, Emily Forbes, December 2019

Taming Her Hollywood Playboy, Emily Forbes, Dec 2019

My new book in time for Christmas 🙂 A taste of the Australian outback in Coober Pedy, South Australia where my hero, Hollywood actor, Oliver Harding has been sent in order to keep him out of trouble. Needless to say – it doesn’t work!

I have some photos of Coober Pedy taken on my recent visit/ research trip on my facebook page if you would like to see more.

Book available here  and Mills&BoonAus plus Mills&BoonUK and Harlequin USA have Black Friday sales (use code BLACKFRIDAY19 at checkout).

 

CHAPTER ONE

Oliver massaged the lump on the side of his head. He’d taken a couple of paracetamol for the dull headache but fortunately he’d escaped serious injury yesterday. The bump on his head and some slight bruising on his shoulder were minor complaints and he had no intention of mentioning those aches and pains. The ATV had taken a battering but could be fixed. The repairs meant a change in the filming schedule but nothing that couldn’t be accommodated. A serious injury to him would have been far more disruptive.

Despite his luck, however, the incident had made George, the director, wary and Oliver had agreed to hand over some of the stunts to the professionals. The movie couldn’t afford for anything to happen to its star and he didn’t want to get a reputation as a difficult actor. George had been good to Oliver; he’d worked with him before and he’d been happy to give him another role when other directors had been reluctant, but Oliver knew that being argumentative, disruptive or inflexible wasn’t a great way to advance a career. He wasn’t stupid, he knew actors were a dime a dozen. He wasn’t irreplaceable. No one was. A reputation as a ladies’ man was one thing; a reputation as being problematic on set was another thing entirely.

He stretched his neck from side to side as he tried to rid himself of the headache that plagued him. The schedule change caused by his accident meant he wasn’t required for filming this morning, but now he was bored. He wandered around the site, knowing that the heat was probably compounding his headache but too restless to stay indoors.

A whole community had been established temporarily in the middle of the desert just for the movie. Transportable huts were set up as the production centre, the canteen, the first-aid centre, lounge areas for the cast and crew, and Oliver, George and the lead actress all had their own motorhome to retreat to. Marquees surrounded the vehicles and more huts provided additional, and much needed, shade. The site was twenty miles out of the remote Australian outback town of Coober Pedy, which itself was over three thousand miles from the next major town or, as the Australians said, almost five hundred kilometres. No matter which way you said it, there was no denying that Coober Pedy was a mighty long way from anywhere else.

He’d been completely unprepared for the strangeness of this remote desert town. He’d imagined a flat, barren landscape but the town had sprung up in an area that was far hillier than he’d expected. The main street was tarred and lined with single-level shops and a few taller buildings, including his hotel, with the houses spreading out from the centre of town and into the hills. Along with regular houses there were also hundreds of dwellings dug into the hillsides. He’d heard that people lived underground to escape the merciless heat but he hadn’t thought about what that meant in terms of the town’s appearance; in effect, it made the town look far more sparsely populated than it actually was.

He knew he should hole up in his trailer and stay out of the heat but he wanted company.

Generators chugged away in the background, providing power for the film set, providing air-conditioning, refrigeration and technology. He was used to having a shower in his trailer but because of water restrictions apparently that was a no-go out here in the Australian desert.

If he moved far enough away from the generators he knew he would hear absolute silence. It should be peaceful, quiet, restful even, and he could understand how some people would find the solitude and the silence soul-restoring, relaxing, but it made him uneasy. He needed more stimulation. He wanted crowds, he wanted noise, he didn’t want a chance to be introspective. He was an extrovert, a performer, and as an extrovert he wanted company. He needed company to energise him and as a performer he needed an audience.

He wasn’t required on set but he decided he’d go and watch the filming anyway. It would kill some time and give him someone to talk to.

He slipped his sunglasses on as he stepped into the heat. Rounding the corner of his trailer, he heard an engine and noticed a dust cloud billowing into the air. He stood in the shade at the corner of his trailer and watched as a car pulled to a stop beside the mess hut. It was an old four-by-four, its brown paintwork covered in red dust, like everything else out here. A haze rose from the bonnet of the car, bringing to mind the story about it being hot enough in Australia to fry an egg in the sun. He believed it.

The car door opened and he waited, his natural curiosity getting the better of him, to see who climbed out.

A woman.

That was unexpected.

She stood and straightened. She was tall, slender, lithe. Her hair was thick and dark and fell just past her shoulders. He watched as she scraped it off her neck and tied it into a loose ponytail, in deference to the heat, he presumed. Her neck was long and swan-like, her limbs long and tanned.

She was stunning and the complete antithesis of what he’d expected, judging from the car she was driving. She reminded him of a butterfly emerging from a cocoon.

He blinked, making sure it wasn’t the after-effects of the bump to his head causing his imagination to play tricks on him.

She was still there.

She wore a navy and white summer dress, which must have been lined to mid-thigh, but from there down, with the morning sun behind her, the white sections were completely see-through. He wondered if she knew but he didn’t care—her legs were incredible. Magnificent.

Oliver was literally in the middle of nowhere with absolutely nothing of interest to look at. Until now. The middle of nowhere had just become a far more attractive proposition.

He watched as she walked towards him. Graceful. Ethereal. Sunglasses protected her eyes but her skin was flawless and her lips were full and painted with bright red lipstick. The shade was striking against her olive skin and raven hair.

He’d seen plenty of beautiful woman in his thirty-two years, he was surrounded by them on a daily basis, but he didn’t think he’d ever seen a woman as naturally beautiful. The ones he worked with had all had some help—a scalpel here, an injection there—and he’d swear on his father’s grave, something he hoped he would be able to do sooner rather than later, that she hadn’t had any assistance.

He watched, not moving a muscle, scared that any movement might startle her, might make her shimmer and disappear, mirage-like, into the desert.

Maybe his headache was affecting his thought processes; maybe he’d been out in the sun for too long, or simply in the outback for too long. Other than the cast and crew he’d barely seen another person for days. The hot, dusty streets of Coober Pedy were, for the most part, empty. The locals hunkered down in their underground dwellings to escape the heat, venturing out only briefly and if absolutely necessary, scampering from one building to the subterranean comfort of the next. But perhaps many of the locals looked like this. Perhaps that was the attraction in this desolate, baked and barren desert town.

She had stopped walking as her gaze scanned the buildings, looking for something or someone. Looking lost. His curiosity was piqued. His attention captured.

Her gaze landed on him and she took another step forward. Belatedly he stepped out of the shadows and walked towards her; he’d been so transfixed he’d forgotten to move, forgotten his manners, but he wanted to be the first to offer her assistance.

‘Hello, I’m Oliver; may I help you?’

She stopped and waited as he approached her.

‘Thank you,’ she said. ‘I’m looking for George Murray.’ Her voice was deep and slightly breathless, without the broad Australian accent that he’d heard so many of the crew speak with. She glanced down at her watch and his eyes followed. Her watch had a large face, with the numbers clearly marked and an obvious hand counting off the seconds. Her fingers were delicate by comparison, long and slender, with short nails lacquered with clear varnish. He was trained to be observant, to watch people’s mannerisms, to listen to their voices, but even so he was aware that he was soaking up everything about this woman. From the colour of her lips and the shine of her hair, to the smooth lustre of her skin and the inflection of her speech. He wanted to be able to picture her perfectly later. She lifted her head. ‘I have an interview with him at eleven.’

‘A job interview?’

She nodded. ‘Of sorts.’

‘Are you going to be working on the film? Are you an extra?’

‘No.’

‘Catering? Publicity?’

‘No and no.’ Her mouth turned up at one corner and he got a glimpse of perfect, even white teeth bordered by those red lips.

He grinned. ‘You’re not going to tell me?’

Her smile widened and he knew she was enjoying the repartee. ‘No, I don’t think I am.’

Two could play at that game. ‘All right, then,’ he shrugged, feigning disinterest, ‘George is out on set but he shouldn’t be long. Filming started early today to try to beat the heat, so they’ll be breaking for lunch soon. Let me show you to his trailer.’ He’d take her to where she needed to go but he wouldn’t leave her.

He bounced lightly up the two steps that led to George’s office and pushed open the heavy metal door. He flicked on the lights and held the door for her. She brushed past him and her breasts lightly grazed his arm but she showed no sign that she’d noticed the contact. She stopped just inside the door and removed her sunglasses, and he caught a trace of her scent—fresh, light and fruity.

He watched as she surveyed the interior. An enormous television screen dominated the wall opposite the desk, which was covered in papers. A laptop sat open amongst the mess. A large fridge with a glass door was tucked into a corner to the left, and a couch was pressed against the opposite wall with two armchairs at right angles to it and a small coffee table in between.

He wondered if this was what she’d expected to see.

‘Have a seat,’ he invited as he waved an arm towards the chairs. She sat but avoided the couch.

‘Can I get you something to drink?’

She nodded and the light bounced off her hair, making it look like silk. ‘A water would be lovely, thank you.’

He grabbed a glass and two bottles of mineral water from the fridge. He twisted the tops off and passed her the glass and a bottle.

‘I’ll be fine waiting here,’ she said as she took the drink from him. ‘You must have something you need to do?’

He shook his head as he sat on the couch. He leant back and rested one foot on his other knee, relaxed, comfortable, approachable, conveying candidness. ‘I’m not busy. The scene they’re filming doesn’t involve me.’

‘You’re an actor?’

He looked carefully at her to gauge if she was joking but her expression was serious. Her mouth looked serious, her red lips full but not moving. But was there a hint of humour in her dark eyes? He couldn’t read her yet. Perhaps she was an anomaly, someone who didn’t immediately recognise him, or maybe he just wasn’t famous out here in the middle of nowhere.

Should he tell her who he was?

No. That could wait. She still hadn’t told him what she was doing here. She’d said she wasn’t publicity but she could be a journalist. He didn’t need more reporters telling stories about him. But if that was the case, surely she would recognise him.

Unless she was a better actor than he was, he was certain she wasn’t a reporter.

He settled for vague. ‘I am,’ he said as the door opened again and George entered the trailer.

‘Kat! Welcome.’ He was beaming. Oliver was surprised; George never looked this pleased to see anyone. George was a little rotund, always in a hurry, and seemed to have a permanent scowl creasing his forehead. Seeing him so delighted to see another person was somewhat disconcerting.

He crossed the room as the woman stood. Kat or Kate, Oliver thought George had said, but he wasn’t quite sure. Oliver stood too; manners that had been instilled in him, growing up as the son of a strict military man, remained automatic.

George greeted her with a kiss and Oliver was more intrigued. There was obviously some history here that he wasn’t privy to. Who was she?

‘I see you’ve met our star, Oliver Harding.’

‘Not formally.’ She turned to him and extended her hand. ‘I’m Katarina Angelis, but call me Kat.’ Her handshake was firm but it was the softness of her skin and the laughter in her eyes that caught Oliver off guard. ‘It’s a pleasure to meet you.’

He realised she’d known exactly who he was. Which put him at a disadvantage. He still knew nothing about her. But he did know her name seemed to suit her perfectly. He was sure Katarina meant ‘pure’, and Angelis had to mean ‘heavenly’.

‘The pleasure is all mine,’ he said.

George cleared his throat and Oliver realised he hadn’t let go of Kat’s hand. He also realised he didn’t want to. Beautiful women were everywhere in his world, but there was something more to Kat. Something intriguing. Something different.

Her skin was soft and cool. Flawless. She looked like a desert rose, a surprising beauty in the harshness of the outback, and he found himself transfixed by her scarlet mouth. Her lips brought to mind ripe summer cherries, dark red and juicy. He wondered how they’d taste.

‘If I might give you some advice, my dear,’ George said to Kat as Oliver finally let her hand drop, ‘you should stay away from Oliver.’

‘Hey!’ he protested.

‘You don’t have to worry about me, George,’ Kat replied, ‘I can handle myself.’

George shook his head. ‘You’ve never met anyone like Oliver.’

Kat was looking at him now. Studying him, as if sizing him up and comparing him to George’s assessment. Oliver smiled and shrugged and spread his hands wide, proclaiming his innocence. He had to take it on the chin; he couldn’t remonstrate with George in front of Kat—it would be better to laugh it off. He couldn’t afford to show how she’d affected him. It was safer to return to his usual persona of charm and confidence, of not taking himself or anyone too seriously. She had floored him and he needed to gather his wits and work out what to do about it. About her. But, for now, he’d play along. ‘George is right, Kat, I’m the man your father warned you about.’

She laughed. ‘Don’t go thinking that makes you special. My father is always warning me about men.’

He cocked his head and quirked one eyebrow. This was even better. He had never been one to back away from a challenge.

‘Don’t make me regret hiring you.’ George eyeballed them both. ‘Either of you.’

Oliver laughed; he was used to being told off, but he was surprised to see that Kat was blushing. She looked even more delightful now.

‘I mean it, Oliver— don’t mess with Kat.’ George looked him straight in the eye. ‘There aren’t too many places left for you to run to and if you hurt her you’ll want to start running, believe me.’

So now they were both going to put a challenge to him. Of course, that only served to entice him even more. George could warn him all he liked but Oliver had never been one to steer clear of a challenge. But he knew he had to tread carefully. He couldn’t afford any more scandals.

‘Go and find something to do,’ George told him. ‘I need to talk to Kat.’

Oliver left but he knew it wouldn’t be the last he saw of Kat Angelis. He was glad now that she hadn’t admitted that she recognised him, that she hadn’t said his reputation preceded him. Perhaps she’d have no preconceived ideas about him and he could try to impress her without any rumours or innuendo getting in the way.

He was still none the wiser as to her actual reason for being on set but, if George was hiring her, he’d make sure their paths crossed again. If he was going to be stuck in this town for the next few weeks he might as well have some fun. He knew it was his choice, almost, to be here—George had made him an offer that his publicist thought was too good to refuse—and timing was everything. But that didn’t mean he couldn’t enjoy himself. He wouldn’t misbehave, but even if he did he doubted anyone would ever hear about what went on out here. Coober Pedy and the Australian outback seemed to exist in its own little time capsule. It really was a whole other world.

 

 

 

Kat watched on as George shooed Oliver out of his office. Of course she’d recognised him—Oliver Harding was a star of multiple Hollywood blockbusters. He had been the lead actor in several recent box office hits and he played action heroes just as well as he carried romantic leads. He was in the news regularly, if not for his movies then for his off-screen exploits with his leading ladies or other Hollywood ‘It’ girls. Kat may be a small-town girl, living out in the desert in the middle of nowhere, but she had television, magazines, the internet and the local drive-in movie theatre, which showed new movies every Saturday night. Oliver Harding was famous and she would have to be living under a rock not to know who he was. The thought made her smile. She did actually live underground, like so many of the local residents, but that didn’t mean she didn’t know what went on in the rest of the world. Oliver Harding appeared in a new movie every six months, and with a new woman far more frequently. Having met him now, she could understand why. He was handsome on the silver screen but incredibly gorgeous in real life. He had charm, charisma and a twinkle in his bright blue eyes that had made her lose her train of thought on more than one occasion already.

‘I’m serious, Kat,’ George cautioned her again. Had he mistaken her smile to mean she wasn’t paying attention to his warning? ‘I’ve seen that look in his eye before. You really don’t want him to set his sights on you. Stronger women than you have fallen for his charms. He loves the thrill of the chase and he hates to let a pretty girl go unappreciated, but he has a tendency to leave a trail of broken hearts behind him.’

He had a cheeky appeal and amazing eyes and his smile made her stomach tumble, but Kat wasn’t about to succumb to his charm. She’d met charming men before and didn’t intend to be another notch on his bedpost. And she hadn’t been kidding when she’d said she knew how to handle herself. There was no denying Oliver Harding was gorgeous and charming but she was not the type to fall for charming and handsome. Well, that wasn’t technically true but she wasn’t the type to have flings with famous men who were just visiting. That was something irresponsible people did. Spontaneous people. And she’d learnt not to be either of those.

‘Don’t worry about me, George. I really can handle myself. Now, why don’t you explain more about what you need from me?’

She listened as George ran through his ideas. When he finished they made arrangements going forwards before Kat took her copy of the filming schedule and stepped out of the trailer and found Oliver waiting for her.

‘Now are you going to tell me what you’re doing here?’ he asked as he fell into step beside her. His voice was deep and pleasant, his accent neutral. She’d expected more of an American flavour. Had he been taught to tone it down?

‘I live here.’

‘Really? Here?’

She could hear the unspoken question, the one every visitor asked until they got to know Coober Pedy. Why?

She never knew where to start. How did one begin to explain the beauty, the peace, the wildness, the attraction? She loved it here. That didn’t mean she never entertained the idea of travelling the world and seeing other places, but this was home. This was where her family lived. And family was everything.

She had no idea how to explain all of that, so she simply said, ‘Yes, really.’

‘And why do you have a copy of the filming schedule?’

She stopped walking and turned to look at him. She had to look up. She wasn’t short—she was five feet nine inches tall—but still he was several inches taller. ‘Are you always this nosy?’

‘Yes.’ He was smiling.

‘I’m going to be working on the film,’ she said, hoping to surprise him.

‘Doing what?’

‘Keeping you out of trouble,’ she said as she continued towards her car.

‘Trouble is my middle name,’ he laughed.

She didn’t doubt that. She’d only known him for a few minutes and regardless of George’s warning she already had the sense that he was trouble. But she couldn’t help smiling as she said, ‘So I hear.’

Kat reached her car and stretched her hand out to open the door, which she hadn’t bothered locking, but Oliver was faster than she was. He rested his hand on the door frame, preventing her from opening it.

‘And just how exactly do you plan to keep me out of trouble?’ His voice was deep and sexy, perfect for a leading man.

She turned to face him. He was standing close. Her eyes were level with his chest. He was solid—muscular without being beefy, gym-toned. He didn’t look as if he’d done a hard day’s work in his life, and he probably hadn’t, but that didn’t stop him from being handsome. With his chiselled good looks, he could have come straight from the pages of a men’s fashion magazine.

He smelt good. He looked even better.

His blue eyes were piercing, his square jaw clean-shaven. His thick brown hair was cut in a short back and sides, slightly longer on top, like a military-style haircut that had been on holiday for a couple of weeks. She wondered if it was to fit the movie script or if it was how he chose to cut his hair. It suited him. It emphasised his bone structure.

‘I’m your insurance policy,’ she said.

He frowned and raised one eyebrow. She wondered if that came naturally or if he’d cultivated that move. Was it possible to learn how to do that?

‘I’m a paramedic,’ she continued. ‘I’m going to be on set for the stunt work. Just in case.’

She’d expected him to object but he took it in his stride.

‘Good,’ he said simply before he grinned widely. ‘I’ll be seeing plenty of you, then.’

He was so confident, so comfortable. She wondered if he’d ever been told he couldn’t do something. She imagined that if he had he would have chosen to ignore the instruction.

His arm was still outstretched, passing beside her head as he leant against her car. ‘So, Kat, tell me your story.’

‘Why do you want to know?’

She was caught between his chest and the car. She could step out, away from the boundaries he’d imposed, but she didn’t want to. She didn’t feel threatened. He was smiling at her. He looked genuine, friendly, but she needed to remember he was an actor. He was probably trained to smile in a hundred different ways. She remembered George’s warning but she chose to ignore it. Just for a moment. She wanted to see what would happen next. She felt as if she was in a movie moment of her own.

His smile widened, showcasing teeth that were white, even and perfect. His blue eyes sparkled. ‘Because I want to make sure I’m not overstepping any lines when I ask you out.’

He looked like a man who was used to getting his own way and she didn’t doubt that; with women, at least, he probably did. But she did doubt that she was the type of woman he was used to meeting. ‘And what makes you think I’d go out with you?’

‘I didn’t say you would, I’m just letting you know I will ask you to. The choice is completely yours.’

‘What did you have in mind?’ She shouldn’t ask but she wanted to know. She should heed George’s warning and get in her car and drive away but it had been a long time since she’d been asked on a date and she was interested to hear his thoughts. She was interested full stop.

He smiled. ‘I don’t know yet but I’ll think of something.’

There weren’t a lot of options in Coober Pedy and Oliver, not being a local, would know even fewer.

Kat couldn’t remember the last time someone had flirted with her or the last time she’d met anyone she wanted to flirt with. She couldn’t deny she was flattered by the attention. She’d need to be careful. She’d been hurt before; a monumental break-up had left her questioning her own judgement and she’d avoided getting romantically involved ever since. She wanted her own happily-ever-after but she’d been scared to go out to find it. She’d focused instead on her career and her family and it had been a while since she’d even thought about going on a date. George’s warning repeated in her head again but she had no idea if she was going to be able to heed it.

The touch of Oliver’s hand had set her pulse racing and the look in his eye had made her wish, just momentarily, that she was the sort of girl who would take a risk, take a chance.

But that wasn’t her. She’d learnt that taking risks was asking for trouble, and Oliver Harding had trouble written all over him.

 

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Making Christmas Special Again

One of the best things about writing for Mills and Boon readers, is their VORACIOUS appetite for Christmas books. Suits me to a T. I love them and I love Christmas. Two years ago a couple of weeks before the big Yulefest, I lost my beloved Bernese Mountain Dog. I was absolutely devastated. We weren’t lucky enough to have children so our pooches really were our children (No, they didn’t have their own bedrooms or anything, but they were family). The next Christmas we were down to one and it was tough. Then, a few months later, we lost our gorgeous chocolate lab. Time whipped forward at its usual frenzied pace and VOILA! Father Christmas came and visited us with this gorgeous little minx. I actually wrote the first few chapters of Making Christmas Special Again before we got this little one, but Skye has definitely made my Christmas special again. This year will be our first with her (she was only two days old last Christmas so was still with her mummy). I can’t wait.

Below is the opening chapter for Make Christmas Special Again. It is part of a quartet with the gorgeous Susan Carlisle, the wonderful Annie Claydon and the super divine Karin Baine. We love making up wonderful worlds we all want to move to. Immediately! And this time was no different. I hope you enjoy the teaser! Happy Holidays to one and all. xx Annie O’

Here are my gorgeous hero and heroine….I prayed to the cover gods but didn’t get a puppy, but rest assured – there are LOADS inside!!

HELL’S TEETH, IT was cold.
For once the all-consuming distraction of lungs vs arctic winds hurtling in

from the Highlands was welcome. Physical pain outweighed Max Kirkpatrick’s rage just long enough to remember that for every problem there was a solution. This time, though…

Trust the festive season to send him another blunt reminder that, no matter how hard he tried, the universe simply wasn’t going to let him put some good back into the world.

He’d genuinely thought he’d done it this time. He really had.

His eyes travelled the length of the scrubby inner-city hospital then scanned the former vacant plot. There’d been snow on and off for weeks and yet there were still patients wandering around with pets and still more in the greenhouse, fostering their plants as if they were their own flesh and blood.

He traced his finger along a frost-singed rose. The parents of a little boy who’d lost his struggle with cancer had planted it three years earlier when Max had only just started Plants to Paws. The lad had loved coming out here to play with the family mongrel. Golden moments, his parents had called them. Golden moments. They still came and tended it as if their son were still with them. In a way, he supposed, he was.

This week.

Max’s disbelief that someone was going to destroy the garden shunted through him afresh. Gone were the piles of rubbish, the burnt-out car, the thick layers of tagging on the side of the Clydebank Hospital walls. In their place were raised vegetable patches, benches with the names of loved ones on shining brass plaques dappled about the small wildflower meadow and, of course, the greenhouse and extra-large garden shed he’d built with a handful of other doctors. They’d recently installed a wood stove for added comfort. That would go, too. Along with the bow-laden wreath someone had hung on the door, despite his protestations that it was too early.

He crouched down to pop a couple of stones back onto the rock garden one of the Clyde’s long-term leukaemia patients had helped build. Her first ever garden, she’d crowed. She’d be gutted when she found out it was going to be demolished, all to help some fat-cat property developer.

As he nestled another rock back into place, a young Border collie ran up to

him with the tell-tale wriggle of a happy dog. She rolled onto her back for a tummy rub. He took a quick glance around and couldn’t place her with anyone within sight.

He gave her soft white belly a rub. ‘Hey, there, little one. You’re a pretty girl. Now, who do you belong to?’

‘Some would say they don’t belong to anyone.’

The female voice slipped down his spine like warm honey. Low and husky, it was the type of voice that could talk a man into anything if he didn’t watch himself. Good job he’d put the emotional armour on years back.

Max was about to say he was very familiar with the way canine-human relationships worked, thank you very much, when a pair of very expensive boots appeared on the woodchip path. Expensive boots attached to a public school accent. Still Scottish, but he would put money on the fact their schools had had a mixer dance. The military school his stepfather had deposited him in strongly encouraged shoulder rubbing with the ‘power makers’, as the school head had liked to call them.

‘Deal breakers’ would’ve been a better moniker if today’s news was anything to go by. He still couldn’t wrap his head round the hospital reneging on their word. Sure, they needed the money, but obliterating Plants to Paws to let a developer build a car park?

Bam! There went three years of hard work. Not to mention the slice of peace that came from knowing he’d finally made good on a years’ old vow to do what he hadn’t done for his mother: offer a refuge from a life that wasn’t as kind as it should have been. All for a bit of money they’d never see on the wards. Hello, cement trucks, sayonara Plants to Paws.

The puppy nuzzled against his hand.
‘What’s her name?’ He had yet to look up.
‘Skye,’ the voice said.
She sounded like a Christmas ornament. Angel? Whatever. Too damned nice was what she sounded.
Her leather boots moved in a bit closer. Italian? They looked handmade.
‘I think you’ll find her “love me tender” routine is an act. Skye’s always got an ulterior motive and, from the looks of things, you’re playing right into her paws.’

He didn’t even want to know what that meant.

‘Is she a working collie or one of those therapy dogs?’ They’d been trying to introduce the therapy dogs into the hospital but, as ever, stretched resources meant the lovable fur balls weren’t seen much on the wards.

‘Working. Though she’s still in training. Precocious. Just like her mother.’

Damn. This woman’s voice was like butter. Better. Butter and honey mixed together. If he was to add a shot of whisky and heat it up it’d be the perfect drink on a day like this.

‘What type of training?’ he asked, to stop his brain from going places it shouldn’t.

‘Search and rescue.’

That got his attention. He had been expecting agility. Maybe sheep herding. A voice like that usually came attached to some land. Land managed by someone else. As he tilted his head up, the sun got in his eyes and all he could make out was a halo of blonde hair atop a stretch of legs and a cashmere winter coat that definitely wasn’t from the kind of stores he shopped in.

Miss Boots squatted down to his level and the second their eyes met he stood straight back up.

Piercing blue eyes. A tousle of short curls the colour of summer wheat. A face so beautiful it looked as though it had been sculpted out of marble. For every bit of wrong she elicited in his gut, there was an equal measure of good.

‘Are you a patient?’ It was the only thing he could think to ask, though he knew the answer would be—

‘No.’ She put her leather-gloved hand out to shake his. ‘Esme Ross-Wylde.’

He kept his facial features on their usual setting: neutral. Though society papers weren’t his thing, even he’d heard of the Ross-Wyldes. Scottish landed gentry of the highest order. The Ross-Wylde estate came with about five thousand acres, if memory served. A couple of hours north of Glasgow. Before his mum had married The Dictator, as Max liked to think of his stepfather, she’d taken him there for one of their famous Christmas carnivals. Huge old house. A castle actually. Expansive grounds. Extensive stables. Skating rink. Toffee apples and gingerbread men. It’d been the last Christmas he hadn’t been made to ‘earn his keep’.

‘So.’ He clapped his hands together and looked around the sparsely populated garden. ‘Have you brought Skye along to meet someone?’

She unleashed a smile that could’ve easily lit him up from the inside out. Good thing she’d met him on a bad day. On a good one? He might have had to break some rules.

‘I was looking for you.’ She held up a familiar-looking scarf.

‘How’d you get that?’ He knew he sounded terse, but with his luck she was the developer. If she was trying to sprinkle some sugar in advance of telling him when the wrecking ball would swing, she may as well get on with it.

Esme was unfazed by his cranky response. She tipped her head towards the garden shed as she handed him his scarf. ‘A member of your fan club gave me this to give Skye a go at “search”.’
He glanced over at the shed and, sure enough, there were a couple of patients from the oncology ward waving at him. Cheeky so-and-sos. They’d been trying to blow some oxygen onto the all but dead embers of his social life ever since they’d found out the nurses not so discreetly called him The Monk. He rolled his eyes and returned his attention to Esme Ross-Wylde. ‘I presume that means you’re here for the “rescue” part?’

She shrugged nonchalantly. ‘If you’re interested.’
Skye’s tail started waving double time.
If he wasn’t mistaken, the corners of her rather inviting lips were twitching with the hint of a smile.
Something about this whole scenario felt like flirting. He didn’t do flirting. He did A and E medicine in Glasgow’s most financially deprived hospital. Then he slept, woke up and did it all over again. Sometimes he came out here and dug over a veg patch. There definitely wasn’t time for flirting.

When he said nothing she asked, ‘How do you fancy keeping Plants to Paws the way it is?’

His eyes snapped to hers, and something flashed hard and bright in his chest that had nothing to do with gratitude. It ricocheted straight past his belt buckle and all the way up again. By the look on her face, she was feeling exactly the same thing he was. An unwelcome animal attraction.

Oh, hell. If life had taught him anything, it was the old adage that if something seemed too good to be true, it usually was.

The Dictator had taught him that everything came with a price. Best to rip off the plaster and get it over with. ‘What’s the catch?’

STAY TUNED FOR MORE – OR RUSH OUT AND BY THE SERIES – BUT MOST OF ALL – TAKE CARE OF YOURSELVES AND LET THERE BE PEACE ON EARTH! xx Annie O’ (cue Jingle Bells…jing Jing Jing Jing!)

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

It’s Beginning To Look a Lot Like …

CHRISTMAS!

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Yeah, I know. Some of you may be squirming right now at me even talking about the festive season, but I know that the next book I’m going to write is going to be a Christmas one and so that means, for me, a lot of Christmas preparation.

I’ve been making a Christmas Spotify playlist and though there’s only a few songs on there at the moment, it’s slowly building.

Photo by Public Domain Pictures on Pexels.com

I’m also setting my story in Iceland, in a fictional town, but am very much enjoying researching Icelandic festive traditions and, of course, my hot hero! There are a few candidates and I thought you could help me choose my inspiration!

Now, because I don’t want to incur the wrath of copyright infringement on photos (which I have fallen foul of, in the past and it cost me a pretty penny, or two!) I’m going to put the link to pictures of my heroes on Pinterest, on my Which Viking? board. This link is safe.

My first hero that I’m looking at is Lasse Matberg. He’s your classic-looking Viking. Blonde. Blue-eyed, rugged. Broad and muscular. Yum!

The second hero that I’m looking at is Travis Fimmel (and he appeared int he show Vikings. He has lovely ice-blue eyes, but appears more rough and ready to me and I’m not sure he has the right appeal for me.

The third hero I’m looking at is Chris Hemsworth! I mean, he plays Thor, so I had to put him in, right?

And finally, my secret favourite, is Alexander Skaarsgard. He played Eric the vampire in True Blood and Tarzan, Lord Greystoke, for heaven’s sake! (sighs)

They all have their plus points for me! I’m not sure if I can choose between Lasse and Alexander.

I can’t think why …

Anyhoo! Tell me which one you like the best?

Who should be my Icelandic Paediatrician hero?

Or is there someone else I might have missed? Tell me all about it in the comments below. I can’t wait to drool over more pictures can’t wait to see what you suggest!

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

July New Releases!

Happy July! We have some brand spanking new releases for you this month. Perfect for the beach or to snuggle up under a blanket with, depending on which part of the world you’re from!

JulyRelease1The Army Doc’s Baby Secret by Charlotte Hawkes

His wife is back…

…with his secret son!

Since losing his leg on a mission, soldier Zeke Jackson has worked hard and come a long way; now a multi-millionaire he’s also committed to helping others. Yet nothing can prepare him for the moment his wife, army doctor Tia Farringdale, walks back into his life and reminds him just how powerful their connection still is… And Tia isn’t alone — she’s brought his son with her!

 

JulyRelease2Saved by Their One-Night Baby by Louisa George

Can a shock baby…

…redeem this damaged doctor?

In this SOS Docs story, the last person pediatrician Ethan Reid expects to see on board the rescue boat during his latest humanitarian mission is nurse Claire Durand. The woman he shared an electrifying, anonymous encounter with is now his newest colleague! Life’s taught Ethan to keep everyone at arm’s length, but Claire’s bombshell changes everything. Because Ethan’s no longer alone — Claire’s pregnant, with his baby!

SOS Docs duet

Book 1 — Saved by Their One-Night Baby

Book 2 — Redeeming Her Brooding Surgeon

 

JulyRelease3Redeeming Her Brooding Surgeon by Sue MacKay

He couldn’t save his friend…

Can she save his bruised heart?

In this SOS Docs story, haunted by the fact he couldn’t save his best friend, brooding surgeon Chase Barrington dedicates himself to saving lives. He won’t get close to anyone again, but is blindsided by a passionate kiss with stunning ex-army doc Kristina Morton. Suddenly Chase is on a rollercoaster of emotions, but can he leave the past behind and embrace a future with Kristina?

SOS Docs duet

Book 1 — Saved by Their One-Night Baby

Book 2 — Redeeming Her Brooding Surgeon

 

JulyREelase4Pregnant by the Single Dad Doc by Louisa Heaton

Working with her ex…

…leads to unexpected consequences!

Turning her life around after a crushing loss, medical student Ellie Jones is shocked to discover her new mentor is Dr. Logan Riley—who broke her heart years earlier! Single dad Logan’s hands are full raising his autistic daughter, but Ellie finds herself more drawn to him than ever. And when the family losses they’ve both experienced bring them closer, reigniting their old flame, it leads to an unplanned surprise…

 

JulyRelease5A Nurse to Tame the ER Doc by Janice Lynn

Their connection is undeniable…

Will it last forever?

Nurse Taylor Hall is finally putting her life back together post-divorce. And a fling with sexy playboy Dr. Jack Morgan, when they’re both working at a music festival, is the perfect way to move on. Their chemistry is electric, but Taylor isn’t looking for commitment and besides Jack’s leaving town soon… Unless their deep unexpected bond can convince Taylor to fight for a second chance at forever…

 

JulyRelease6A Nurse and a Pup to Heal Him by Kate Hardy

A nurse, her puppy…

And the family he never thought he’d have?

After losing his wife and baby to his best friend, guarded GP Ben Mitchell’s sworn off love. But nurse Toni Butler and her adorable therapy dog Archie are drawing him out of his shell. When a romantic weekend in Vienna leads to an unexpected pregnancy, Ben’s painfully reminded of the family he lost. What will it take for Ben to believe this family’s for keeps?

 

Happy Reading! xo

 

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Cover love!

Happy 70th Birthday to Harlequin.

I loved looking at all the covers that were posted on this blog last week to celebrate 70 years of Harlequin (and 110 years of Mills & Boon) and I must admit I then got a little side-tracked scrolling through my own. I have been published for 15 years this year and including anthologies, special editions and foreign translations there have been almost too many covers to count but I thought I’d share some of my favourites.The Consultant's Temptation 2004 Amazon

The Consultant’s Temptation has to be one – my first book! IMO it does look a little old-fashioned now, it was 2004!

This is the Australian cover style of The Playboy Firefighter’s Proposal from 2009 and the updated 2014 US version. You’re welcome!A Doctor by Day, USA Nov 14

 

 

Another North American cover from 2014. A Doctor By Day is one of my all-time favourites as it captures the characters and the story so well.

Rescued by the Single Dad is my current English language international release or if you’d prefer it in French 🙂 Un heros au coeur tendre

Hero By Nature, Aust June 2019 v2

And also out now in Australia, Hero By Nature, (a re-release of two books from 2011 and 2014)

Falling for the Single Dad, AUS ebook

I can’t go past my favourite ebook cover and a contender for my favourite cover ever, Falling for the Single Dad!

For something a bit different – Tempted & Tamed is a mini-series, three books about the three Anderson sisters – Scarlett, Ruby and Rose.

Tempted and Tamed 2, AUS, Aug17

I couldn’t choose a favourite English language cover so I picked a few Australian, UK and American ones!

You can find links to these books on my website.

And, finally, my favourite foreign cover (print version) – Breaking Her No Dates Rule – thank you Norway!

Breaking her no dates rule, Norway, May 17

Harlequin Scandinavia (Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden) are getting in on the celebrations too – it’s their 40th birthday this year – and I also have a book out to celebrate that!

2019 40 years of HQN Norway Georgie's BGW

I would love to know if you have a favourite out of these covers or a favourite style.

Do you prefer to see the hero or heroine on the cover? Or the hero and heroine together? Or children if they feature in the story?

Happy Reading, Emily x

Excerpts, Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Hot Docs!

Excerpt – Nurses in the City

 

Amy and I are at it again with another duo set in Sydney.

Reunited with Her Brooding Surgeon is Grace’s story:

Grace Gibson loves her job as a transplant coordinator at a Sydney hospital but she’s blindsided when a ghost from her past reappears. Devastatingly handsome surgeon, Marcus Washington, was her childhood neighbour – but he’s all man now and hiding a wealth of pain. Will Grace be the woman to break down his walls and claim his heart?

and Tempted by Mr Off-Limits introduces Grace’s brother, Hamish:

Lola Fraser knows better than to fall for her best friend’s brother, paramedic Hamish Gibson. Living together whilst he’s training could get awkward—fast! But as they work together on a heartrending case they can’t resist the temptation to take their minds off work. Surely one night will be enough…until they discover it isn’t!

Read on for an excerpt of Reunited with Her Brooding Surgeon

Grace followed Marcus out of the room. His strides were long and Grace found her gaze drawn to his hips. He’d removed his suit jacket leaving the shape of his buttocks under his pants clearly defined as his legs ate up the length of the corridor. Grace forced herself to keep her eyes lifted, she didn’t want to be caught ogling him or running into something because her attention was elsewhere.

She got the feeling he was trying to put as much distance between them as possible. But she had no idea why. Her curiosity got the better of her and she hurried after him. She wanted to know what his issue was. Why he was so abrupt with her. She didn’t think she’d done anything to put him off-side yet his aloofness was definitely directed at her. She had to admit he was an empathetic doctor with a good bedside manner and maybe she’d just have to be satisfied with that. But she still wanted some answers.

‘Dr Washington!’

He stopped and turned towards her.

‘Have I done something to upset you?’ She asked as she caught up to him.

‘No.’

Grace waited for him to elaborate but he was silent. Man, he could be the poster boy for the strong, silent type.

Oh well. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, she thought as she said. ‘Do you remember me?’

Marcus looked down at the petite redhead standing in front of him. She had her hands on her hips and looked as if she’d like to tear him to shreds. ‘What do you mean? Of course I do,’ he replied, attempting to use his most reasonable tone in an attempt to calm her down. ‘We were just in Connie’s room and I only met you a few hours ago.’

‘I meant from before.’

***

He watched her with his steady gaze but said nothing. He wasn’t going to admit to anything. Not until he knew what she wanted. She reminded him of a firecracker about to explode.

‘You grew up in Toowoomba,’ she said. It was apparent she wasn’t going to be intimidated and she wasn’t asking him a question. She looked small and easy to handle but, just like a firecracker, he got the impression that once something set her off, you’d know all about it and there’d be nowhere to hide.  ‘I lived around the corner from you. You were at school with my brother, Lachlan.’

It was obvious she knew who he was. He’d suspected as much. He had recognised her too. Well, not her as such, but her hair matched with her name was a giveaway. Her golden copper locks were distinctive. He hadn’t wanted to think she was the same person even though it was blatantly clear, just as it was clear she remembered him.

He cursed his luck. ‘Was I?’

He knew he was being bullish but he couldn’t help it. He’d spent twenty years trying to get away from his past. Twenty years spent reinventing himself and wiping away all traces of his childhood. He hadn’t been back to Toowoomba in all that time and he’d even debated the wisdom of returning to the east coast for this three-month stint but the opportunity of this experience at the Kirribilli General Hospital had been too good to refuse. Guilt and opportunity had brought him back. And now it seemed it was about to make him pay.

He hadn’t expected to run into any one from his past and he certainly wouldn’t have expected to be remembered. He didn’t want to remember who he had been and the life he’d lived then. He didn’t want to think about it and he definitely didn’t want to talk about it. So, he stayed silent, refusing to incriminate himself by admitting any recollection. He couldn’t admit to Grace that he had lied. That he had recognised her.

‘I guess I look a bit different,’ Grace admitted when he stayed mute. ‘I must have been about seven the last time I would have seen you.’

Was there are a question in there? Was she wondering why he’d never come back? Had she even noticed?

He wasn’t going to respond to vague insinuations but she was right. She looked nothing like he remembered. He remembered her brother and he remembered Grace as Lachlan’s little sister with skinned knees and missing teeth. The only thing that remained of the seven-year-old she’d once been was her hair. Her fiery copper locks hung in loose waves over her shoulders, its rich colour bright and vibrant against the contrast of her navy uniform. He’d hadn’t seen a colour like it since leaving Toowoomba.

But everything else about her was different. She no longer looked like anyone’s kid sister. She had filled out in all the right places. She was tiny, a good foot shorter than his six feet two inches, but her proportions were perfect. Her shirt was tucked into navy trousers, pants which would have been unflattering on most figures, yet his eye was drawn to her small waist, the swell of her breasts and the curve of her hips. He felt an unexpected surge of lust. Bloody hell, that was inappropriate. He lifted his head and met her amber eyes. They blazed at him. She appeared to have the fiery temper to match her hair but what was getting her so riled up? Had she noticed his inappropriate once-over? He needed to douse the flames of her temper, he needed to make sure he didn’t set her off completely. Something told him there would be no stopping her if he did that.

Or maybe he should take up the challenge he could see in her eyes. She gave off an air of not being one to back down. Of having the courage of her convictions. That didn’t appear to have changed. He remembered more about her than he cared to admit. She’d been loud and boisterous, full of energy, he’d always known when she was around and he suspected that hadn’t changed in twenty years. He wondered what had.

The idea of putting a flame to her wick just to see what would happen was strangely exciting but he resisted the temptation. He didn’t want to bring unnecessary attention to the two of them. He didn’t want anyone asking awkward questions. Going under the radar was always best. He’d learnt that from experience.

But what did she want? What was she after? What did she remember of him? What secrets could she spill?

He hoped not many.

As a child he’d been quiet, shy and nervous. The complete anti-thesis to Grace. He’d been nervous around the kids at school and nervous around his father. His life had been unpredictable and devoid of routine but it hadn’t been until he was at boarding school as a teenager that he’d realised that not everyone’s lives were like that. He’d never experienced anything different. Most of the time he just tried to get from morning to evening without being noticed. It seemed his presence irritated people – his classmates and his father – and he was never sure about what was going to happen, how people were going to react, although more often than not it was unfavourably. He’d learnt to keep his head down, to try to be inconspicuous, but that was never easy when he looked so different.

Thanks to his Caribbean mother he wasn’t white but he wasn’t indigenous either. He was part black but not the black that was common in Toowoomba. There wasn’t another person in the town who had the same genetic mix as him. Everywhere else in the world he would have been called African -American, even though he wasn’t American or African, but in rural Australia that wasn’t a common term and he was called any number of other things and none of them had been complimentary. And if that wasn’t enough to make him stand out then his family history and his unorthodox father certainly made sure that everyone singled him out.

His mother had disappeared when he was six leaving him behind with a father who had chosen to develop a relationship with alcohol instead of with his son. His young life had been full of disappointments and he’d learnt early on not to ask for or expect much. He’d learnt early on that the only person he could count on not to let him down was himself.

He’d worked hard to escape a miserable childhood and to avoid all memories of his past. He’d worked hard over many years to forget who he was and where he came from.  He didn’t want to be remembered as that boy. That wasn’t him anymore.

And he didn’t want anyone to remind him.

Which made Grace the last person he wanted to see.

 

You can buy these books here

Reunited with her Brooding Surgeon

Nurses in the City UK

Nurses in the City USA

 

Happy Reading,

Emily and Amy

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

And The Winner Is…

Sydney!!!

DSC03368

August is definitely Romance Writers’ conference time and next up is the Australian  conference which is in Sydney this year.

I know lots of authors and readers have already landed but I will be there in time for the Harlequin author afternoon and the cocktail party! I have checked in on-line for my flight and am about to start packing – as always culling shoes is the hardest part 🙂  My few days involves a cocktail party (or two), a dinner, meetings, an interview, lots of walking and an afternoon sailing on the harbour. I’m not sure that four pairs of shoes will be enough!

I’ll shortly be celebrating the release of my latest book, out in September (October in Australia), which is set in Sydney.  Reunited with Her Brooding Surgeon, is one of a duo with Amy Andrews, Tempted by Mr Off-Limits. Our Nurses in the City books tell the stories of siblings, Grace and Hamish, and their search for love and happiness.

In the meantime, on behalf of all the medical authors I want to wish Fiona Lowe ‘GOOD LUCK’ for the awards ceremony. Her book, Daughter of Mine, has been nominated for the Romantic Book of the Year. Daughter-of-Mine-Cover-Fiona-Lowe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Will you be in Sydney for the conference? Have you got a costume for the Tuxedo and Tiaras cocktail party? And how many pairs of shoes have you packed!? Let me know in the comments,

See you soon, Emily xx