Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Excerpt from Susan Carlisle’s latest – The Sheikh Doc’s Marriage Bargain

By Susan Carlisle

Sheik

Out in April

Dr. Laurel Martin placed the test tube into the rack with great care, her pulse racing in anticipation. This could be it. The breakthrough she’d devoted her career to finding. The process to stop the mutation in the factor IX gene in the X chromosome. If it could be tested for during pregnancy and corrected then thousands of lives could be changed, in some cases even saved. The key was finding that link.

To find the answer she had to have funding. That money was difficult to come by. She’d already been put on notice that hers was running out. Still she held out hope that would change. She’d submitted another grant application and should hear from it any day.

The study of hemophilia had become her life’s calling. In medical school it hadn’t taken her long to realize her comfort zone didn’t include interacting with patients and their loved ones. She didn’t like to tell them bad news. Being an introvert further hindered her ability to do so. Research had become her safe spot.

A tap on her lab window drew her attention. She pushed her glasses up on her nose. Stewart, the director of the lab, stood on the other side of the glass. His medium height was dwarfed by the tall, lean man standing beside him.

Oh, my. Laurel’s heart jumped then adjusted. She stared. The stranger was gorgeous. She hadn’t had that type of reaction to a man in years. Not since college when she’d first seen her ex-boyfriend, Larry. A college football player, he’d been shockingly good-looking as well.  She’d learned the hard way that good looks didn’t make a kind person.

The man beside Stewart had an exotic appearance that implied he might be of Middle Eastern decent. His skin had a warm pecan tint as if he spent a great amount of time in the sun. His proud baring gave him an aura of authority, as if he knew his place in the world and had no trouble holding it. The black tailored suit jacket covering his broad shoulders that matched his hair and equally dark, meticulously-groomed beard screamed wealth and power. His gaze locked with hers.

To her surprise his eyes weren’t like ink. Instead they were chestnut, reminding her of a racing stallion she’d seen once as a girl. One of his well-shaped brows rose slightly as if he suspected the effect he had on women and wasn’t surprised by her reaction.

His look bore into hers making her feel like one of her petri dish specimens under a microscope. The devil of it was, he was the kind of man she’d always been attracted to. The brand of male who had always looked passed her mousy, too serious and impossibly intelligent personality in favor of a tall blonde, with perky breasts, long legs and an engaging giggle that stood just behind her. She was wallpaper and his type were interested in the chandeliers.

Men like him didn’t seriously consider her worth noticing. The one time someone had, she’d been traumatized. Larry had damaged her that much. So much so she’d sworn off men and had stuck to that vow for ten years. Long enough to become so absorbed in her work she had little life outside of it. None of that had anything to do with the man before her.

The wave of hand Stewart’s hand drew her look away from the arresting stranger. Stewart indicated he wanted her to come out of her lab. Laurel checked her test tubes again and pushed the rack further away from the edge of the table before rolling her chair back. She exited the room door with a swish of the airlock seal behind her. In the outer room, she removed her goggles and adjusted her glasses. She pulled her mask, gloves and gown off leaving her in a simple round neck t-shirt and jeans.

Shrugging into her starched lab coat, she touched the bun at the back of her head making sure it was in place. She glanced over her shoulder. The stranger intense gaze remained on her. A ripple of heat went through her, disconcerting her even more.

Shaking off the response, she moved with cool proficiency into the main lab. It wasn’t until she’d almost joined the men that she noticed the two larger ones standing a few paces behind the man. How had she missed those intimidating figures? Because she’d been so absorbed by her reaction to the man standing front and center. These males were larger with bulkier shoulders and had even grimmer faces, if that was possible. They stood with hands clasped in front of them and legs wide as if ready to move into action. Who were these people and what did they want with her?

Laurel’s hands trembled. She shoved them in the pockets of her lab coat. Had she done something wrong? Her eyes narrowed and she gave Stewart a questioning look, relieved to have an excuse to break off eye contact with the other men.

Stewart’s voice shook slightly as he said, “Laurel, this is Prince Tariq bin Al Maktum, and he would like to speak to you.” Stewart enunciated the man’s unusual name carefully as if he’d been practicing in order not to trip over it.

Prince? Why would a prince want with her? A “lab rat” according to her siblings. Astonishment made her blurt, “About what?”

“I’ll be glad to share that in private,” Prince bin Al Maktum answered in a deep smooth voice like refined velvet with a thread of steel running through it. His accent made Laurel want to hear him say more.

She twinkled her nose as alarm washed through her. “Stewart, what’s this about?”

“I’ll let the prince tell you. Why don’t we go to my office?” Stewart turned and started toward the swinging doors separating the main lab from the offices. The prince stepped aside, allowing her to proceed him. Acutely aware of him and his security men, she walked stiffly. At the doors, he quickly stepped ahead of her and held one open. Laurel gave him a quick glance as she passed. His inscrutable look revealed nothing. She wouldn’t want to deal with him on a daily basis. How could she ever discern what he was thinking? Feeling?

As they walked down the tiled hall her low sensible clogs made a tap-tap but there was no sound behind her. How did such great men move with such agility? That thought didn’t comfort her.

Stewart swiped his card and pushed the office door open. She entered, expecting him to follow but instead Prince bin Al Maktum joined her and closed the door behind him. The already small space shrunk in proportion to his large presence. She faced him and shoved her hands into her lab coat pocket, bracing herself.

“Please Dr. Martin, have a seat.” He indicated the chairs in front of Stewart’s desk.

“No thank you. I need get back to my lab as soon as possible.” She wanted to return to her safe place. “How can I help you?” Laurel couldn’t imagine how but it seemed like the right thing to say to hurry this along.

“Sit.” The prince’s tone implied she had no choice.

She hesitated but eased into a chair, noting too late it put her in closer proximity to him. To her surprise he took the other chair. At this point she fully expected he might try to lord over her. After all, he acted as if he owned the place. Stewart didn’t allow just anyone to take over his office. She clasped her hands in her lap and waited for bin Al Maktum to speak.

“Dr. Martin, I would like you to come to Zentar with me.”

“What?” she yelped, leaping to her feet. Had this man lost his mind? Why had Stewart allowed this crazy person in their lab?

The prince raised his hand. “Just hear me out for a moment. Please.”

Laurel eased back into her chair more from shock than trying to please him. She glanced at the door.

“I assure you, you are safe. What I meant to say is that I would like to offer you a position. And chance to further your research.”

Laurel shook her head in confusion. That sounded completely different than his earlier statement. She already had a place to do research, one in which she was so close to a breakthrough. Her family lived near. She already had a settled and secure life. She cared nothing about going somewhere else. Where was Zentar anyway? Even if she know she had no intention of marrying a stranger. “Thank you, but I already have a position here.”

“I understand you are the top researcher in the field of hemophilia. I am the Minister of Health for Zentar. I have overseen the building of a state of the art laboratory. I intend for my country to be a leader in finding a cure for hemophilia.”

Really. That was interesting. Her interest pricked.

“I have vetted you and you come with the highest of recommendations.”

“Thank you but I have no idea who you are.” Why was some prince of some tiny nation she’d never heard of focusing on hemophilia? “I appreciate your confidence in me but I’m happy here.” She wasn’t the adventurous type and she had that fact driven home in no uncertain terms. The idea of living in another state much less some far flung country terrified her. “I don’t even know where Zentar is.”

Finally, there was a spark of emotion in those dark penetrating eyes. Was it pride? “It’s an island in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Tunisia. We have beautiful white beaches and stark mountains that are amazing in their own right. We are a small independently wealthy country and progressive in many aspects. My brother, the king, has worked hard to make it so. Still we remain very traditional in others.”

What would it be like to have a man talk about her with that same admiration? She shook that shocking idea away. “It sounds nice but I have my work here.”

He leaned forward. “I can offer you anything you desire. The best of equipment, assistants and endless funding.”

“But why me? Why hemophilia?”

He paused, looked away from her so long she became uncomfortable. “I have my reasons.” That sounded like a dismissal more than a confession.

Laurel started to rise.

His expression turned shadowy and looked away. “Hemophilia is a problem in my country and growing.”

Laurel now knew what drove him. “I see.”

He pierced her with a look. “I am not sure you do. In my country the number of children born with the disease is increasing. As the Minister of Health I must find out why. You can help me.”

Apparently he believed she would accept without question but it wasn’t going to happen. Just the idea of getting on a plane made her shudder. She could not and would not pick up her entire life and move to a strange country. “I can go.”

“Is there a husband or boyfriend keeping you here?”

“No.”

“Then why not?” He watched her too closely.

“I don’t fly.”

His silent steady examination lasted a heartbeat too long. “Ever?”

“More like never.”

“You would be taking my private plane. Every luxury would be afforded you. All I ask is that you come and have a look at our facility. Then you could decide.”

Laurel appreciated him thinking so highly of her but she had no interest in going to Zentar. She wasn’t a daring person. Her work, her life, was here. She stood and he did as well. “Thank you for the offer but I cannot accept. So I really shouldn’t waste anymore of your time. If you will excuse me, I need to get back to my lab now.”

The prince’s lips thinned and his eyes were emotionless again, more telling than if they had held some. She’d just refused a man who was used to getting his way. It took a great deal of willpower, but she stepped between the chairs into his personal space. A whiff of his citrus aftershave tickled her nose. A shiver ran along her spine as she hurried to the door. She was unsure if her body’s reaction was in response to his close proximity or from the anger gusting off him.

“Dr. Martin.”

Laurel turned.

In a low, even voice he informed her, “Just so you know, I make a point of getting what I want.”

 

That evening in his hotel suite Tariq poured himself a finger of whiskey.  Perplexed, he pondered where his interview with Dr. Martin had gone awry. The nondescript slip of a woman had refused him! He was both irritated and impressed. In his world, few if any people told him no, yet a wallflower doctor who lived most of her life closed up in a glass room laboratory had done so. He was confounded. What had gone wrong in the meeting he’d so carefully planned?

Leaning back in his chair, he stretched his legs out and crossed them at the ankles, swirling the transparent copper-colored liquid in his glass. He’d done his homework. In fact, he’d even called a couple of research facilities to verify she was the person he should focus his efforts on. It never occurred to him she would turn down his offer. What research scientist wouldn’t want to head their own lab and have access to all the research money they wanted? Apparently he had overlooked some pertinent fact about Dr. Martin. He didn’t have a Plan B formulated but by evening’s end he would. He wanted Dr. Martin in Zentar and he would have her.

After his brother’s death from a car accident, Tariq had taken over the responsibility of his sister-in-law’s and Roji’s welfare. Tariq would give anything to have Roji grow up with his father there. That wouldn’t happen now, but if Tariq had anything to do with it no more of his family would have to endure what Roji would. The future members of the royal family would be free of hemophilia. The cure was out there and he’d built a lab to find it in. Now he needed the right person to lead it, and that was Dr. Martin.

He would never put a wife and child in the same position as Zara and Roji. Despite being the only male in his family that did not have hemophilia he refused to take the chance on having a family. He didn’t deserve one when the others had to deal with the disease. As a doctor he understood that the ailment was thought to be passed by the female. What if he picked the wrong woman? He already lived with enough guilt.

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Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Wedding anniversaries

1ST YEAR: Paper
2ND YEAR: Cotton
3RD YEAR: Leather
4TH YEAR: Fruit & Flowers, or Linen & Silk
5TH YEAR: Wood
6TH YEAR: Iron / Candy
7TH YEAR: Wool/ Copper
9TH YEAR: Pottery
10TH YEAR: Tin/ Aluminum
11TH YEAR: Steel
12TH YEAR: Silk
13TH YEAR: Lace
14TH YEAR: Ivory
15TH YEAR: Crystal
20TH YEAR: China
25TH YEAR: Silver
30TH YEAR: Pearl
35TH YEAR: Coral
40TH YEAR: Ruby
45TH YEAR: Sapphire
50TH YEAR: Gold
55TH YEAR: Emerald
60TH YEAR: Diamond

Two golden wedding rings with heart bokeh on background

Celebrations are all around at the moment! I was at a 10th wedding anniversary party last night and I know a couple celebrating 23 years on the 5th, another couple clocking up 28 years on the 13th. November seems to be a month of anniversaries for me and my friends, which is a little surprising given that when I got married (19th November) in England it was winter and cold and not necessarily a month you’d choose to celebrate your special day. But, intrepid people that we are (LOL), we decided to brave the cold and dark afternoons and 25 years ago we signed on the dotted line. Then we went to Scotland for our honeymoon. SNOW! We married on a budget so I don’t have any glossy photos, just a few snapshots from friends, but I look at them now and can’t believe how young we look!

fullsizeoutput_381aIt honestly doesn’t feel like it’s been that long, it seems like only yesterday when we were standing in that register office promising a lifetime of love

Because we had such an amazing trip to Europe earlier this year, and currently have no family with us, we won’t be having a huge celebration, so we’ve booked a couple of nights on Waiheke island (a short ferry ride from where we live), and a long lunch at our favourite vineyard. Quite fitting as, judging by this picture, I have loved not only him, but wine for many years!

 

 

fullsizeoutput_381bAnyway… call me materialistic but I’m pretty happy we’ve finally got down to the interesting gifts part of marriage. Silver sounds a lot more me than leather or steel. Iron, I have to confess, sounds too domestic and I’m really not happy about ivory. And fruit????? To celebrate 4 years? Who thought up these things?

Silver on the other hand… I really hope that after 25 years he knows me well enough that silver with a diamond always works! I’ll let you know!

Any celebrations or milestones coming up for you? Do share so we can all celebrate with you.

Talking of milestones, I never told you about Book 4 in my (not medical romance) Something Borrowed series which came out in September. It’s a standalone story, which means you don’t need to have read the other books in the series to understand the storyline. It has a divine cover, don’t you think?

something-secret

Here’s the blurb:

After being scammed by her own boyfriend Katriona Croft is big on honesty and loyalty. No way will she ever fall again for some two-bit scammer with a pretty face. But when Gabe Cassidy arrives in Portobello with a story about secrets and lies, and touting the sexiest smile she’s ever seen, all her resolve is blown apart and her loyalty to her best friend is sorely tested.

All his life Gabe’s mantra has been that being alone is better than being broken. But when he overhears a conversation in a pub his life is tipped upside down and instead of being alone he finds himself very much in the middle of a big family feud. Kat Croft seems to be the key to fixing it all, but any alone time with her makes things even more complicated… But can Gabe convince the woman who has lost all trust to take a chance on sharing a whole lot more than secrets?

Available from all good e-book stores!

Louisa George is an award winning author of books with humour and heart.
RITA finalist. Allergic to housework. Zumba addict. Visit her website for a complete list of her novels, which includes women’s fiction, contemporary romance and medical romances.
Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Life in a Turmoil

By Susan Carlisle

 

I like order. I keep files – in order. I make lists. I have to have things in their correct places and one job finished before I move on to the next one. Right now my life is completely disorder.

moving1

My husband and I recently bought some land and plan to build a house. Now we are in the process of selling the home we live in. It is filled with thirty years’ worth of stuff and memories. I won’t even allow myself to think about the memories because I will cry. I am focusing on the stuff. I am busy de-cluttering, which means throwing away, giving away and packing away the things that are more keepsakes than useful items. In other words, I am staging the house so it will show in the best light.

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I am being tough on myself. I have given items away I would have never dreamed I would part with. Our new house will not have as much space and will be an open-living plan so there is less wall space. I have hesitated more than once about giving something away but have remain strong as a general rule. I did slip once. My grandmother always served jelly in a certain jar when I was a child and I just couldn’t give it up even though I don’t use it often.

moving

So what does all of this have to do with my need for order? Almost everything is out of order in my house. There are boxes and things everywhere. The house is a general mess. That means I can hardly work on my current book because my world is in such a tumble. The one place that is neat and put together is my bedroom. It is the only sanctuary in the middle of the chaos.

Do you like order or are you good with upheaval?

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Fear of Missing Out!

princessesDisney_0 (2)         Or as I’m hearing a lot lately – “FOMO”.

My friends are talking about it in relation to their teenage kids. I’m not sure that it applies to my boys – they seem to march to the beat of their own drum – and I know that I’m more than happy at home in my PJs but at this time of the year I must admit to a little bit of FOMO.

Everyone in the romance writing world is heading off to conferences. First is the RWAmerica conference which starts this week in Orlando and the annual Harlequin Pajama party is tonight – BTW I’m perfectly dressed for this with nowhere to go! – then the RWAustralia conference is on in Brisbane and this is followed by New Zealand. Exhausting but loads of fun and I won’t be at any of them this year.

If anyone else out there fears they are missing out too I hope I can cheer you up. I have a few new releases which might help you pass the time and help you to forget what you’re missing.

Love Me Again and Love Me Forever are ebook exclusives available in the USA and Canada (am I contributing to FOMO?).

There is a Giveaway running  for readers in the USA to win a copy of Love Me Again

See this #AmazonGiveaway for a chance to win: Love Me Again (The Flying Doctors Book 1) (Kindle Edition). https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/d93d9e83bbd0c5a7 NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Ends the earlier of Aug 9, 2017 11:59 PM PDT, or when all prizes are claimed. See Official Rules http://amzn.to/GArules.

Tempted and Tamed, AUS, Aug17And for readers in Australia if you haven’t read my Anderson sisters trilogy, “Tempted & Tamed” is out now.

If you’re suffering from FOMO ATM let me know – we can console each other!

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Happy April!

I was going to say something witty about the fact April showers bring May flowers, but it’s April 7th and there’s snow on the ground where I live. Boo!

I love April, even though it’s usually a rainy month. April is my birthday month. It means, ice cream cake! WOOT!

Although, since starting Weight Watchers in January I might opt for some frozen yogurt. *little woot*

April is also a very busy month for me. Ever since I sold to Harlequin, I always seem to have a deadline around or right before my birthday. I’m not complaining, because I love the work. And honestly, I never really noticed before until my husband started building my office in the basement.

See, I had this great office in the spare bedroom in the basement, but then my daughter became a teenager and wanted her own space (and bathroom), so I gave up that room so she could get away from her brothers. The boys each had their own room upstairs and I worked in the living room, with stuff scattered in boxes in the unfinished part of the basement.

Then, my boys missed being together. So they took their bunk beds and moved back into a room together. I took the other upstairs room. I loved it. I loved having that office again where I could close a door and work. I wrote One Night in New York and my Sealed with a Valentine’s Kiss duet in that room.

Ahh. It was heaven. That lasted about a year. Then, the fighting and bickering started as they got older.

I went back to my boxes in the basement and have been working in the living room. I escape to hotel rooms near my deadline to work, because it’s hard once the kids come home to write in the living room. Since I dropped Diet Coke for good, I can’t pull all nighters and with working out …I don’t want too. I’m tired.

My husband asked me what I wanted for my birthday and I said a small room where I can shut you all out. I love my family, but for my sanity and career, I need a door between us.

So, he went to work. Everything is done (as of writing this blog post) but the door.

The first thing up was my new wardrobe. It’s massive and I was finally able to take all the copious author copies from 14 books (currently out) and store them somewhere safe. This picture isn’t even the foreign translations. I keep one copy of foreign translation books and I’m shipping out a bunch to different libraries.

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14 books released so far, 3 books per shelves. All the hard covers are on the bottom. It’s a lot of books!

Then after the walls were up I got bookshelves! They’re pretty bare, but it’s a work in progress. Nice to have all my books together. Something to look at.

The table I work at is one my Mom made when she was moving into her first apartment, or rather she was going to move into her first apartment alone and then met my Dad. LOL

IMG_0206
Yep, that’s a Mountie Bear and the painting is one I did.

I can’t wait to finish unpacking, but I’m headed to Toronto this weekend for an all day workshop with the Toronto Romance Writers. Since it starts bright and early Saturday, I’m spending the night in my old hometown by myself in a hotel room to write.

And I’m taking the train. I love taking the train, especially business class because I can work on the train. It’s a 3 hr train ride (roughly) to downtown T.O.

It’s only one night away, since I’m catching the late night train back to London, Ontario Saturday night, but I’m planning on enjoying the silence and cranking up the word count.

Maybe, just maybe there will be door to my office on my return.

Oh and in March, I had 2 releases! Check them out.

9780373215164

His Pregnant Royal Bride (Royal Spring Babies Book 1)

Pregnant with the prince’s baby

Nurse Shay Labadie’s one exquisite night of passion with Dr. Dante Affini was meant to be a beautiful memory. But now Shay’s expecting…and Dante is expecting her to take his hand in marriage!

Dante’s proposal is shocking enough, but then he drops an even bigger bombshell—he’s not just a doctor, he’s a prince! Now to win his child and the woman he loves, Dante will have to prove he can master his most important role yet—as the husband Shay deserves…

BiochemicalReaction_highres

The Omega Team: Biochemical Reaction

An attraction like no other…

Former Navy Seal Jack Crane walked away after a chemical attack wiped out his platoon and scarred him, forcing him out of the military–the hardest thing he ever had to do…Until Omega Team contacted him to protect an undercover agent at a secret lab.

Lisa Morgan had nothing to lose when she took on the assignment to uncover Bio-Tek’s dark secrets concerning the deadly chemical agent that killed her brother and cost her the only man she ever loved a decade ago when he walked away.

When the man hired to protect her turns out to be Jack, she’s forced to trust with her life the man she couldn’t trust with her heart, and make sure the antidote for that terrible chemical gets into the right hands before it’s too late.

 

You can find out more about Amy here:

Website: www.amyruttan.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AmyRuttanAuthor?ref=hl

TWITTER: http://www.twitter.com/ruttanamy

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/amyruttan/

Newsletter: http://www.amyruttan.com/contact.html#newsletter

 

Foods We Love, Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels, Holiday Celebrations, Quirky Stories, The Writing Life

ISN’T IT ROMANTIC? Dianne Drake

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAValentine’s Day is one of those days where true love takes over, and all things chocolate, flowers, cards, romantic dinners and gifts are on our minds. Well, most of our minds. I could do without the chocolate and my cats eat my flowers. But I do love gifts and romantic dinners. Have you ever wondered, though, what Valentine’s Day is all about?

It’s said that this festival for lovers had its origin with Emperor Claudius II, who didn’t want Roman men to marry during wartime because marriage distracted them from their killing. Bishop Valentine, an Anglican and a right romantic gent, went against Claud’s wishes and performed secret weddings. For that, Valentine was jailed. While there, he wrote a note to the jailer’s daughter, signing it “from your Valentine.” He got caught, and was beheaded the next day–on February 14, sometime near the year 270.

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Cupids were a popular theme for a Victorian Valentine’s Day.

It wasn’t until the 14th century, though, that the date February 14 became linked to romantic intentions, largely thanks to the tradition of courtly love, which abounded in the circles of Geoffrey Chaucer. Still, it took another 4 centuries before the day became about gifts, and candy and all those other things we typically think about.

And just an aside here–about 1 billion Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged each year. Whether or not it’s true, the first Valentine’s Day card may have been a love letter from Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife, while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London. Makes sense, considering Charles was a Frenchman and France is noted for its romantic traditions. Oh, and in case you’re interested, teachers receive the most Valentine’s cards, followed by children, mothers, wives, sweethearts and pets. But don’t feel sorry for poor Fido and Fluffy, who come in last in cards, because they get 3% of all the Valentine’s gifts given. Not bad for a loved one who has a wet nose.

Speaking of love letters, every Valentine’s Day, the city of Verona, where Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet lived, receives about 1,000 letters addressed to Juliet. But Verona isn’t the only place where letters or notes are popular. In the Middle Ages, young men and women drew names from a bowl to see who would be their Valentine, then write that name in a heart-shaped note and pin it on their sleeve for everyone to see–especially the one whose name was on the note. Hence, the phrase:  “to wear your heart on your sleeve.” It’s still a tradition in South Africa, today and, in some cases, it’s how South African men learn of their secret admirers.

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Forget-me-nots were one of the most popular Victorian expressions of love.

But South Africa isn’t the only country with a unique Valentine’s Day tradition. In South Korea, the gift-giving commences on February 14th, with the women in the wooing mood when they give their men chocolates, candies and flowers. The guys return the woo on March 14th with a little one-upping by adding lavish gifts to the giving of chocolate, candies and flowers. Not to be outdone, however, in Italian tradition, young, unmarried girls wake up before dawn to spot their future husbands, believing that the first man they OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAsee on Valentine’s Day will be the one they will marry within a year. Of course, if that doesn’t happen, they have a back-up plan to help them save face, where they simply say, “Well, at least he looks like the man I’ll marry.” That plan runs a distant second to actually marrying the guy, but it’s something to hang on to. Back-up plans like that one are good though, and sticking with Italy, their next back-up plan is to come Valentine-calling with Baci Perugina in hand. It’s a small, chocolate-covered hazelnut wrapped with a romantic quote.

Yes, chocolate… Everybody loves it, including the Brazilians who go a-courting with it, as well. But not on February 14, because it’s too close to Carnival. So they hold off their lovefest until June 12, when they celebrate Dia dos Namorados, or “Lovers’ Day,” And yep, chocolates, along with flowers and cards, music festivals and performances.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So, why chocolates? Why not licorice, or cinnamon red hearts? Honestly, nothing spells romance better than a gummy worm, don’t you think? But, we have chocolate, and it’s been hanging in as the lovers’ favorite since the early 1800s. Back then, though, it wasn’t a romantic thing. Doctors prescribed it to their female patients to help relieve those certain symptoms associated with that special time of the month. It calmed them down, so it was said. Of course, so did those vibrator treatments those wacky doctors were giving out, personally, in their offices, back then. A vibrator AND chocolate…must have calmed m’lady right down into a perfect bliss. Oh, and about chocolate–Richard Cadbury produced the first box of chocolates for Valentine’s Day in the late 1800s, and more than 35 million heart-shaped boxes of pure, silky ecstasy are sold for Valentine’s Day any given year.

Cards, love notes, chocolates…isn’t it romantic? Actually, word romance wasn’t associated with the romance we know. It was originally a Latin adverb for Romanicus meaning “of the Roman style.” You know, when in Rome… The Romans considered themselves a chivalrous people, and their earliest tales of romance were actually stories of chivalric adventures. public-domain-images-vintage-postcards-valentine-victorian-1900s0075It wasn’t, until the late 17th century that the chivalric adventures turned more to the romantic escapades we know today. Probably had something to do with the hunk on the cover of a romance novel one of the ladies of the day was reading. She took one look at his bare chest, his long flowing hair, his well-muscled arms, his steely thighs…well, you know what I’m getting at.

Being the proper lady that she was, though, she surely hankered for the gift of a red rose from her true love, since chocolates weren’t around yet. Which is just another way to transition into why red roses have become the traditional Valentine’s flower. First, the red rose was the favorite flower of Venus, the Roman goddess of love. That’s as good a reason as any. But there’s more… red roses are also considered the love flower because red stands for strong romantic feelings, blood and fire, passion, desire, heat, longing, lust, sexuality…it’s a pretty long, self-explanatory list. Or, in other words, red just works.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So does the Welsh tradition of giving a love spoon for Valentine’s day. Only, it’s not exactly Valentine’s Day. It’s the celebration of Saint Dwynwen, the Welsh patron saint of lovers, on January 25th. The hand-carved spoons were given as token of affection for the women they loved, and different patterns were carved into these spoons, including horseshoes for good luck; wheels to symbolize support; and keys for the keys to a man’s heart. Often, spoons given to lovers had two handles intertwining to form one. Interestingly enough, this tradition of giving spoons known as “spooning” makes it especially fitting when two handles intertwine. We all know what comes of that!

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So, before I end this history lesson, let me leave you with a few more romantic traditions, like an old one in the Netherlands where prospective couples were put in separate sacks in the same bed to sleep together, but not allowed to engage in any premarital hanky-panky. Talk about tough love. Then there was that time during Italian Renaissance when the gentlemen would give their lady loves erotically-inscribed belts which would both remind them of their chastity while at the same time inciting them to horniness. Also, there’s that old, popular stand-by called the bridesworth, which went beyond the offering of the dowry, but could include acts of humiliation or entertainment such as chariot racing, singing, dancing and grueling interviews with the bride’s family. Often, a bridesworth could last for an entire year. And finally–the eating of the haggis every day, from Valentine’s Day to Valentine’s Day, for a year, to prove a man’s worth to his lady love. Actually, I just made that one up. But it sort of fits in doesn’t it?

There are so many kinds of wacky, wonderful, strange and romantic ways to celebrate your love, and that’s something I try to capture in my books. The different ways we go about it. To each his own, as they say. For some, Valentine’s Day is an expression for every day of the year. For a dear friend, it’s the biggest heart-shaped box of chocolates her husband can find. My grandfather always gave my grandmother red carnations for Valentine’s Day, and my grandmother always gave me a fresh, brand new five-dollar bill straight from the bank. For me, personally, Valentine’s Day is all about the thought, not the deed. Deeds are nice, but in end, I’ll take the thought any day. So what about you? Are you doing OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAsomething special for Valentine’s Day? Gifts? Chocolates? A romantic dinner? Staying home together in your jammies, eating popcorn and watching a romantic movie? Or a scary one that’ll make you cuddle up?

Whatever your Valentine’s Day will be about, I hope it’s everything you wish for. It’s only one day of the year, so enjoy (unless you take up that haggis thing, then it’s for a whole year!).

And now…promo time. My latest, The Nurse and the Single Dad came out on the 1st. It’s available in all the usual places. That’s it. No more promo, no more wacky Valentine’s traditions like the one where, in 19th century rural Austria, an eligible lass would keep an apple slice crammed in her armpits during an entire evening of dance. At the end of the evening, she would give her used fruit to the guy she fancied. If the feeling was mutual, he’d wolf it right down, which sounds like true love to me. I know the old saying is something about the apple of his eye, but the apple of her armpit? Okay. I’m really done now. Promise.

Until next time, wishing you health & happiness.

DD

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February 1, 2017

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Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Memories

by Susan Carlisle

I know it is a new year and I’m looking forward to a great one, but I wanted to take a few moments to look back at some of my favorite happenings during 2016.

I had 3 books out.

 

 

I spent a wonderful week in London where I met many of the lovely authors from this blog. In this picture I’m having an afternoon tea sundae. (The weather was hot.) Can you tell how happy I was? This was at Fortnum and Mason’s. I can highly recommend.

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Christmas with my family. All 26 of us. We have two more on the way for next year. We all had to wear an ugly sweater. Some of us were uglier that others. We had great fun together playing games even though we exchanged no presents. That is my mother in the middle.img_0015

My nonfiction book a WWII Flight Surgeon’s Story was used as a prop in a crime scene on the show NCIS: New Orleans. Mine is the blue book to the left.

 

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A trip to Pennsylvania to a WWII reenactment weekend. There is a whole world out there I knew nothing about. Great fun! My husband and I got to spend a entire week together.

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My  youngest son (27) celebrated 25 years with a heart transplant.

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All in all, 2016 was an amazing year!