Excerpts, Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Excerpt – No Job for a Girl, by Meredith Appleyard

Chapter 1

xno-job-for-a-girl.jpg.pagespeed.ic.srNlgeGzMFIf there’d been any other way, Leah would have taken it, welcomed it with open arms. But there wasn’t. She rolled her tongue around her mouth, trying to make enough moisture to swallow, and scrubbed sweaty palms across denim-clad thighs.

Another patch of rough air and the tiny twin-engine plane dropped like a stone. Leah’s stomach lurched into her throat; hands flew to the armrests, knuckles blanching. Cold sweat prickled between her shoulder blades. Being buffeted about in a small aluminium capsule thousands of metres above sea level had just rocketed to the top of her list of least favourite pastimes.

She risked a look sideways. The man crammed into the seat across the narrow aisle hadn’t even looked up from the Guns & Ammo magazine spread across his lap. Her gaze darted around the small cabin and the remaining four occupants appeared just as unperturbed. And the pilot was laughing and chatting to the passenger in the seat beside him.

The moisture she’d been searching for moments before flooded her mouth when the Piper Chieftain shook and shuddered like a boat tossed about on a wild sea. More of this and her hastily eaten breakfast would reappear. Were the experts lying when they said air turbulence wasn’t that dangerous?

She plunged her hand into the seat pocket but came up empty. Great. No airsickness bag. She did a rapid inventory of the contents of her hand luggage. The only bag she had was the canvas carryall.

Her eyes watered. She licked her lips and swallowed hard, held onto the armrests until her fingers ached, silently drafting her eulogy. Always did her best . . . Not afraid to stand up for what she believed in . . . Scared witless by turbulence when flying in small aircraft.

The pilot’s voice sputtered through the tinny intercom. ‘Apologies for the bumpy ride, folks. It shouldn’t be much longer. Keep yourselves belted in and I’ll see what I can do.’

The small plane bounced and chopped some more. Leah squeezed her eyes shut, mentally rehearsed the brace position and hung on. After what felt like an eternity, the twin engines changed pitch and the flight smoothed. With considerable effort she relaxed the death grip she had on the armrests, flexing her fingers.

She would have to get used to this. Flying in a small aircraft was the way she’d get to and from work for the next months. Being sick in her own lap or, worse, onto the bloke sitting next to her wouldn’t be a stellar start to what was already a tenuous position.

Leah made herself look out the tiny Plexiglass window. She tried to concentrate on the dry watercourses snaking their way through the desert below instead of rehashing, for the umpteenth time, her final interview with Cameron Crawley, the Head of Safety, Security and Environment.

She scanned the blindingly bright salt pans, the intermittent drifts of red sand. But there it was again, that interview . . . The man in his slick-looking suit with his thinly veiled misogyny; an attitude at odds with his age and his position in the company. Cameron Crawley had looked younger than Leah’s thirty-eight years, and although she’d bumped up against similar prejudice before, it had usually been from the more senior, blue-collar male workers.

The horizon flatlined into infinity. She pushed against the ache that tightened her throat. In the interview he’d made his position abundantly clear, more by what he hadn’t said than what he had. He would have preferred the job went to someone, anyone, with more testosterone. He’d kept reiterating how rough and tough the construction fly camps were for men, the subtext being how did she think she’d survive out there? Few women did, and only by being as rough and tough as their male counterparts.

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

My Love Affair with the Australian Outback – by Meredith Appleyard

We’re thrilled to welcome Meredith Appleyard back to Love is the Best Medicine today!  Meredith will be joining us again on Friday with an excerpt from her latest book No Job for a Girl.

Meredith Appleyard1The setting for my latest book No Job for a Girl (Penguin Random House Australia, March 2017), is the South Australian outback, in all its stark and fragile beauty. A timeless land, reminiscent of a moonscape. And if you look closely, home to a variety of extraordinary flora and fauna.

A memory that will stay with me forever is waking to my first outback sunrise. Travelling by Greyhound bus to Coober Pedy to take up a job as a freshly minted registered nurse, I woke from an uncomfortable doze, opened my eyes and was awestruck. Above the dark and endless nothingness the horizon glowed like molten gold; the night sky softened to a wash of gold-tinted hues of pink and blue. It was beyond beautiful.

For me, the outback has never lost its appeal. Even when the daytime temperatures hit 50ºC plus, and birds drop from the sky, I can’t help but be amazed that anything survives at all. It’s a landscape full of wonder, a landscape that demands respect.

It takes a special kind of person to work in these extremes, so far from the supports and comforts of home. The challenges, both personal and professional, are huge, and the rewards well earned. Among the most memorable of my work experiences are the times I spent working in remote areas – the opal fields of Coober Pedy, remote communities in the Northern Territory and Queensland, and the oil and gas fields of the Cooper Basin.

Nursing in these places taught me to be independent and resourceful. I loved the autonomy and the challenge to be self-sufficient. What a cast of characters I worked with, laughed with, and shared my hopes and dreams!

It’s no surprise then that my latest book is set in the outback, in a construction fly camp. And that the main character, nurse and safety advisor Leah Jackson, relies on her skills, common sense, and a well-stocked RFDS medical chest to make a success of what they said was no job for a girl.

Please enjoy!

Regards

Meredith

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

What’s special about small country hospitals…

We’re thrilled to have Meredith Appleyard join us, at Love is the Best Medicine, today.  Welcome Meredith!

Meredith Appleyard1When I started writing I knew I wanted to write novels and I knew my stories would be set against the backdrop of rural Australia. Accepting the advice commonly given to aspiring writers – to write about what they know, my novels are about country communities, their hospitals, and the people that work in them. And the country communities I’m referring to have populations in the hundreds not the thousands. Places boasting a small hospital that generally doubles up as a residential aged care facility and employs the required cohort of skilled nurses and support staff. There is one, or perhaps two locally based GPs, and maybe a small contingent of allied health professionals, either visiting or resident. Choice of service providers is limited, non-existent, or a very long drive away.

What’s unique about these small country hospitals is that they’re ‘owned’ by their community. Governments might provide a considerable chunk of the funding to keep them afloat but the community’s commitment to their hospital is constantly demonstrated through volunteering and tireless fund raising. Refurbished patient rooms, new hospital beds, state of the art emergency equipment, volunteer drivers and delivered meals all reflect this ongoing community support and wouldn’t exist without it. Occasionally, a bequest from a deceased estate has contributed to the building of a new hospital ward or similar facility.

Through buying locally the hospital supports local business and industry. And the hospital is often the largest employer in the district. Many farming families have made it through drought and hard times because of employment opportunities at their community hospital.

From a practical point of view, the hospital buildings provide a place for community groups to meet, for example, the local weight watchers group or a mental health support group. A Day Care Centre is often associated with the hospital, facilitating events and activities for the community’s independently ageing citizens and those in residential care. The hospital is a safe place for people to go when their circumstances change for the worse – in a domestic violence or abuse situation. While many small rural hospitals don’t provide surgical or obstetric services anymore, they are a welcome place to recuperate after an operation or having a baby.

If you think I’m passionate about small country hospitals and their role in the communities they serve, you’re damn right! During a long career as a registered nurse/midwife I’ve had the privilege of working in hospitals at Coober Pedy in Outback SA, Katherine in the NT, Texas in remote south-western QLD, and Lameroo in SA’s Mallee region. I believe my life has been richer and my nursing experience greater as a result. And I reckon it’s qualified me to write contemporary Australian rural romance with a medical flavour!

Meredith Appleyard2