Italian Doctor, No Strings Attached

Available in stores

Mills & Boon Medical Romance

Sept 2011

ISBN: 9780263886061

 

Harlequin Medical Romance

Sept 2011

ISBN: 9780373068029

Also released as:

  • UK hardback (Sept 2011, ISBN: 9780263219159)
  • UK large print hardback (Mar 2012, ISBN 9780263224382)
  • Also released in Australian paperback (Oct 2011, ISBN: tbc).

 


Behind the Book

We all know I have a thing about Italy. And I was a little bit self-indulgent about this one because I set it partly in a place where we had a really nice family research trip - Capri and the Sorrentine peninsula.

I have to admit that we visited all the Italian locations mentioned in the book - including the trip up to the top of Vesuvius. Seeing the volcano, smelling the sulphur and seeing steam from the vents was absolutely awesome. The chairlift to Monte Solaro is pretty impressive, too!

And no, I haven't ever done abseiling. Much too chicken! But if I had to do it, I think I'd freeze. And I'd need to be, um, distracted, the way that Marco distracts Sydney.

As always, there's a very nerdy medical condition here - this one is neurofibromatosis, type 2 (and my thanks to Michelle Styles for bringing that to my attention - I've dedicated the book to her). Originally it was going to be the hero's problem, but then I discovered that it would be far more tricky for them if the heroine had the condition. Add in a heartbreaking past for the hero, and these two are going to be in for a less than smooth ride to true love...

Read a Bit

Chapter One

Face the fear.

Sydney faced the fear every single day of her life. Every day she made life-or-death decisions. Abseiling down the tower of the London Victoria hospital, to raise funds for specialist equipment for the emergency department, should be a breeze. She had a sheet full of sponsor signatures, with a large amount of money at stake. There was no question that she wouldn't do it. How could she possibly back out now?

But then she looked down. Over the edge. There was a white stone cornice and then. . . nothing.

For two hundred and fifty feet.

Back in the department, two months ago, this had seemed like a brilliant idea. Right here and now, she knew it was the most stupid, ridiculous thing she'd ever done. She sneaked another look at the edge, hoping that her fairy godmother was passing with some sparkly dust and the drop would look a bit less scary.

It didn't.

And there was no way that she could make herself walk backwards over the edge. OK, so she had a harness on, and a hard hat. The ropes were belayed, or whatever the technical term was, and the experts weren't going to let her fall. She knew that. All she had to do was go backwards over the edge and walk down the building.

But she still couldn't move her feet.

'It's OK, Sydney. You can do it. Just one tiny step back.'

One tiny step backwards. Over the edge. She couldn't even reply to the man who'd just spoken to her: the instructor who'd explained carefully to her just what she had to do to get off the top of the tower and go all the way down to the bottom. Her brain was refusing to process his name. Refusing to do anything.

Oh, help.

She couldn't step back. Couldn't step forwards, either, and let the team down.

Why, why, why had she agreed to be the first person down? Whatever had possessed her? Why had she thought it would boost her confidence in herself? She must've been mad. No way could she do this. She was stuck.

Then another man joined the instructor at the edge. 'Hi.'

She'd never seen him before. The part of her mind that wasn't completely frozen in fear thought how gorgeous he was, with eyes colour of melted chocolate, dark hair, and an olive complexion. He reminded her a bit of an actor she had a huge crush on and her friends in the department were always teasing her about.

'I'm Marco.'

And his voice was even more gorgeous than his face: just the hint of an accent, incredibly sexy.

He'd introduced himself to her. Now she was supposed to speak. But, just like her feet, her mouth was frozen and it wasn't going to let any proper words out.

'You're Sydney, yes?'

'Uh.'

Clearly he took the little squeak of fear as meaning yes. 'OK. What we're going to do now is sing together, Sydney.'

What? How on earth was singing going to help her frozen feet move?

'How about Tom Petty's "Free Falling"?' he suggested.

Not funny. So not funny. And just what any of her colleagues would've suggested. Clearly climbing people shared the same kind of dark humour as medics.

Falling. Uh. She gave him a look of pure loathing.

He grinned. 'At least you're not doing this face down, tesoro. That's a bonus. And singing's going to take your mind off it and help you down, I promise.'

He sounded a lot more confident than she felt.

'If I start, will you join in?'

She managed a nod, and in return got a full-wattage smile. If her knees hadn't been frozen, they would definitely have gone weak.

'That's great, tesoro. You're going to sing with me. And you're going to keep your right hand behind your back, holding the static line, and just take one tiny step back. You'll feel yourself go down a little bit, but don't worry, that's fine - it's just the tension in the ropes letting you move. The line's going to take your weight. And then you move your right hand out to your side, and it'll give you the slack to start walking down. If you need to stop, just move your hand behind your back again. Got it?'

She nodded again.

'Excellent. Do you know the song "Walking on Sunshine"?'

She could almost hear it in her head, infectious and upbeat, a real summer anthem.

Another nod.

He smiled and began singing. To her amazement, he even hummed the intro, mimicking the tune of the brass section - and then she found herself joining in.

They got to the first chorus. 'One step back,' he encouraged during the bit where he was meant to sing the 'woh-ohs'.

Somehow she did it. Took a step backwards.

Everything lurched, but then it was stable again.

And he was still singing. Still keeping her company. Still with her.

She could do this.

Her voice sounded thready, but she was singing back. And she was walking. Not on sunshine, but against brick.

How she actually got down the building was a blur, but at last she was at the bottom. Her legs were shaking, so were her hands, and she could barely unclip the harness and move out of the way so the next person could abseil down the building and land safely.

***

'So are you going next?' the instructor asked.

'Me?' It had been a while since Marco had abseiled. But a building in the middle of London was going to be a lot safer than the last abseil he'd done at home, down the cliffs in Capri. Apart from anything else, they didn't have to worry about the tide coming in and causing problems with landing.

He glanced at his watch. Well, it'd be almost as quick as taking the lift. And nobody was going to notice any creases in his suit caused by the abseil harness once they were in the thick of things in the emergency department. 'I'm not on your list,' he warned, 'so it's going to put you off schedule.'

'Not as far off as we would've been if you hadn't talked Sydney down,' the instructor pointed out. 'So are you next?'

He wasn't technically part of the department for another half an hour, and he didn't have a sponsor form; but that wasn't a problem. He'd sponsor himself for the same amount as any of the other registrars had raised. He grinned. 'Yeah, I'm next. Thanks.'

It didn't take long to buckle on the harness. And going over the edge, he felt the whole adrenalin rush as he stepped backwards into nothing… It was the first time he'd really felt alive since Sienna's death.

By the time he reached the bottom of the tower, the rush had filled his entire body.

And the first person he saw when his feet touched the ground was Sydney. The woman he'd talked over the edge. The woman who'd been full of fear, and still looked slightly dazed.

He unbuckled the harness. 'Hey. Are you OK?' he asked softly.

OK? No. Sydney was still shaking all over. 'Yes,' she lied.

Then she made the mistake of looking up. It was him. Mr Gorgeous from the top of the tower. He'd just done exactly what she'd done, and he wasn't a nervous mess. He wasn't even breaking a sweat.

Get a grip, she told herself, and took a deep breath. 'Thanks for talking - well, singing - me down.'

'No problem.' He looked concerned. 'Are you sure you're all right?'

'I have to be - I'm on duty in a few minutes.' And she would be OK. She never let anything get in the way of work.

He touched her face gently with the backs of his fingers. 'I take it this was your first time?'

She nodded. 'And last. Next time one of our consultants gets a bright idea, I'm paying up and bailing out.'

He smiled. 'The adrenalin rush hasn't kicked in yet, then.'

'What adrenalin?'

'Look up,' he said softly.

She did, and saw someone slowly walking backwards over the top of the tower.

'You just did that,' he said.

'And I was stuck. Scared witless. I froze up there.' She shook her head. 'I didn't think I was scared of heights or anything like that. I've never frozen like that before.' Not even when she'd had the MRI scan and they'd told her the bad news. She'd managed to find a bright side. Up there had been simply terrifying.

'But you still did it. Which makes you amazing, in my book.'

'Amazing?' It had been a long, long while since someone had called her amazing.

'Amazing,' he confirmed. 'People like me, who do this for fun - we're not brave. The ones with real courage are people who do it even when they're scared, because they're doing it to make a difference. People like you.'

Sydney wasn't sure which one of them moved first, but then his hands were cupping her face and his mouth was brushing lightly against hers. Warm and sweet and promising - and then suddenly it spiralled into something completely different. Something hot and sensual and mind-blowing.

Or maybe that was what he'd meant by 'adrenalin rush'.

When he broke the kiss, she was still shaking – but this time for a different reason. She couldn't remember the last time someone had made her feel like this. And that in itself was incredibly scary.

'Now your eyes are sparkling,' he said softly.

From the book Italian Doctor, No Strings Attached by Kate Hardy.

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance
Publication Date: July 2010
ISBN: 9780263213881
Copyright © 2010 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 Romantic Times

Overall, this is a wonderfully poignant tale of second chances. Readers follow the two characters in their quest for family and everlasting love. This excellent romance will touch your heart and have you shedding tears.

From Cataromance

Her books are always full of warmth, pathos and heart and she never fails to create richly drawn characters that the reader cannot help but care about.

Italian Doctor, No Strings Attached, is a dramatic, at times heartbreaking, but ultimately uplifting story about taking a chance on love, devastating choices, redemption and triumphing against the odds that will make readers smile as well as shed a tear or two. Sydney is a wonderful heroine readers will relate to and admire whereas Marco is a gorgeous hero whose strength, sensitivity and magnetism will melt even the hardest of hearts!

What they’re saying on e-Harlequin

  • a wonderful medical romance that I found charming, absorbing and moving. Kate Hardy is a terrific writer who creates likeable characters readers are sure to take to their hearts
  • a wonderful story that was warm, charming, and extremely moving. I loved how Kate Hardy introduced the hero, Dr. Marco Rannieri who is personable, sensitive, and caring individual. The heroine Dr. Sydney Collins is a strong, feisty woman who deals with her fear every day of her life. When they meet it is a beautiful scene, you can picture it and the emotion between them sizzle...it's instantaneous.

Stories by Kate Hardy with emergency department settings

 

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