The Doctor's Very Special Christmas

Available in stores

Mills & Boon Medical Romance

December 2007

ISBN: 9780263852820

 

Harlequin Medical Romance

December 2007

ISBN: 9780373066292

His Christmas Day proposal

Emma Russell has had enough of men who can't be trusted - professionally and personally. But Rob Howarth, her new boss, not only brings brilliance and warmth to the hospital where they work – he's also drop-dead gorgeous!

As snow starts to fall, and festive sparkle fills the air, Emma's frozen heart thaws as she and Rob grow closer. Emma knows their relationship cannot go any further - her secret always brings an end to her relationships. But Rob has a proposal for Emma to make this Christmas very special for them both...

Also released in the UK as a hardback (October 2007, ISBN: 9780263198232) and a large print hardback (June 2008, ISBN: tbc). Also released in Australia in paperback (December 2007, ISBN: tbc).

 


Behind the Book

Normally, I get the beginning of a book first. With this one, the end was in my head right from the start. All because of something someone said which reminded me of what I'd wanted to do for my own wedding, but was persuaded out of it. I don’t want to give away the ending, but my heroine works on the mountain rescue team with a SARDA dog, who's a beautiful spaniel . . . You'll have to read the book if you want to know what I wanted to do, too!

Rob is the most gorgeous hero. But he’s running scared from his past and no way is he going to risk his heart again, while Emma's completely alone in the world with a shadow stretching from her past. Can they heal each other?

It's dedicated my friends Jo and Sarah, aka the Radley girls - not because of my Posh Docs, but because of the handbags...

And the book’s recipe – when I started writing this one, I'd begun having an organic veg box delivered, and I came up with the most wonderful beetroot soup - so of course Emma cooks the same soup for Rob...

Read a Bit

CHAPTER ONE

Life didn't get any better than this, Emma thought. A brisk walk in the Peak District on a frosty November morning, when the hills glittered in the winter sunlight and the air was so sharp, so clean, it made your whole body tingle.

Better still, she was on a late shift today so she could do it at sunrise. Watch the deep blue of the sky fade and turn pale pink and yellow at the edges, see the shadows blossom into trees and bushes and rocky folds. Feel the promise of a brand new day filling her.

A promise she definitely needed today, given that a new registrar was joining the team.

Hopefully he'd fit in to the team as if he'd always been there. Besides, nobody could possibly be worse than Jeremy, his predecessor, who'd come with glowing references and had been the doctor from hell. One who didn't believe in teamwork, who treated the nurses as glorified cleaners and who viewed patients as cases rather than people. Jeremy's clinical skills had been good but, without the communication skills to go with them, he'd been a liability to the emergency department. The hospital PR department had probably spent half its time following him around doing emergency damage limitation.

Robert Howarth had to be better than that.

The department couldn't be that unlucky twice in a row.

Could they?

At the gate, Emma unclipped Byron's lead, and the dog raced to the back door, tail wagging madly. She swallowed the lump in her throat, because she knew exactly what was going to happen next.

And it did. It had been more than a year now, but still Byron looked for Lucy. Ignored his water bowl, went straight into the living room to the sofa and then returned to the kitchen, his plumed tail drooping.

Spaniels always had big sad brown eyes; but right at that moment Byron's looked that little bit sadder. Emma dropped to her knees and ruffled his fur. 'Hey. I miss her, too.' More than missed the big sister who'd always, always been there for her. 'But she'd skin us both for moping. She'd want us to remember her with smiles, not sadness.' All the same, she had to blink away the tears. She rested her cheek against the dog's head. The wide empty space was still there in both their lives. A space that even working a junior doctor's hours and being on the local SARDA team with Byron couldn't fill.

'Motor neurone disease is the pits,' she said fiercely. And she hated the fact it had taken Lucy from her. Lucy, her big sister and best friend. Lucy, who'd practically brought her up, who'd stepped in when their world fell apart half a lifetime ago and who'd never complained when her own world fell apart for the second time. 'It's so bloody unfair. Why did it have to be her?'

The spaniel moved slightly closer, as if agreeing.

Then Emma shook herself. Moping and moaning was completely pointless. It wouldn't bring Lucy back, would it? 'C'mon, gorgeous.' She ruffled his fur again. 'We'll have breakfast. And then I need to hit the shower.'

Lucy's remedy for everything had been a bacon sandwich with tons of tomato ketchup and a mug of tea. Comfort food at its best. And it helped a bit. Emma shared the bacon with Byron, who curled up at her feet, then drained her tea and hit the shower. Three hours until she was due at work, less twenty minutes' travelling. Which gave her enough time to drop in on both sets of elderly neighbours and check they were all right, nip into town to change their library books, call back in at the farm shop in the village for milk and bread, have a cup of tea and a chat with her neighbours, and make her shift on time.

The reception area was already full when Emma walked in. Fine by her: it was just the way she liked it. Though because everyone was busy in cubicles or Resus, it was the middle of the afternoon before she got her first glimpse of Robert Howarth.

And her heart sank.

Because he was the most beautiful man she'd ever seen. Tall, with Celtic colouring - very fair skin, hair so dark it was almost black, and slate-blue eyes.

Stunning good looks in a man went with equally stunning personality defects, in Emma's experience. The sort who bailed out when the going got tough. The sort who'd put himself first, second, and third. The sort who bothered about appearances but didn't have the substance to back it up.

The sort she never, ever wanted to get involved with again. Because if she did and her worst fears came true, she knew he wouldn't be there when the sky fell in. He'd walk away, and leave her to deal with it on her own. Just like Damien. Just like Jonathan. And the way he'd already managed to make himself the centre of attention in the staff room told her that Robert Howarth was definitely a man to keep at a professional distance.

***

Rob, even though he was chatting to Kirsty and Barbara, two of the emergency department staff nurses, was acutely aware of a woman walking into the rest room. The feeling of a still, calm space around her. Something that drew him.

Weird.

He noticed things, yes, but he never felt drawn to someone like this.

Especially someone who looked quiet and serious.

The best part of six months in plaster had given Rob enough time to learn the lesson and learn it well. Serious was out. Commitment was the quickest way to having your heart stomped on and ground into the dust: he'd been there, done that and didn't want the tour programme, thank you very much. Nowadays, he kept all his relationships light and fun and frothy. And very, very temporary.

This woman - clearly one of the other doctors, judging by the stethoscope round her neck, and who must've been on a late shift because he hadn't been introduced to her on his whistle-stop tour of the department earlier that morning - wasn't the fun and frothy sort. She was the complete opposite of the frivolous, bubbly women he normally dated. Definitely not his type.

Though she was lovely. Light brown hair caught in a scrunchie at the nape of her neck, eyes the colour of peridot, and a beautiful mouth that didn't look as if it smiled often enough. A mouth he wanted to make smile.

But then Barbara - whom he'd already pegged as the root of the emergency department grapevine - noticed he was staring and turned round to see what he was looking at.

'Hey, Em! Come over here and meet Rob,' she called.

Em. Was she an Emily, an Emmeline or an Emma? he wondered idly.

He didn't miss the slight disapproval in her expression as she walked over to join them. But why on earth should she disapprove of him, when they'd never met before?

And he was absolutely that they hadn't met. He would've remembered.

Barbara introduced them with a beaming smile. 'Rob, this is Emma Russell, our SHO. Em, this is Robert Howarth, our new reg.'

Emma gave him a cool nod. 'Welcome to the department, Dr Howarth.'

He didn't see her frostiness as a challenge, exactly - more that he preferred his working relationships to be easy and friendly. So he simply ignored the chilliness, smiled at Emma and held out his hand. 'Pleased to meet you, Dr Russell. Though I hope you'll call me Rob. I prefer first-name terms: it makes teamwork easier.'

'Rob.' Her smile was a bit on the faint side, but then she took his hand and shook it.

And it felt as if an electric shock had jerked through him.

From the book The Doctor's Very Special Christmas by Kate Hardy.

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance
Publication Date: December 2007
ISBN: 9780263852820
Copyright © 2007 by Pamela Brooks
® and ™ are trademarks of the publisher.
The edition published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.
For more romance information surf to http://www.eHarlequin.com

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Reviews

From Cataromance: a spellbinding tale of second chances and new beginnings written by an outstanding writer of romantic fiction - 4.5 stars

Packed with intensity, drama, emotion and heart-stopping romance, The Doctor's Very Special Christmas will move you to tears and leave you breathless as Kate Hardy tells this powerful tale of two kindred souls finding one another. Nobody tugs at the heartstrings better than Kate Hardy and romance readers will find themselves devouring The Doctor's Very Special Christmas in a single sitting!

Stories by Kate Hardy with emergency department settings

 

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