Seeing Stars

Available in stores

Mills & Boon Modern Extra

October 2006

ISBN: 9780863849998

 

A fake engagement - an explosive affair!

Kerry Francis is nothing like the stick-thin, leggy blondes her gorgeous neighbour Adam McRae um - entertains! Though Adam is sexy enough to create X-rated visions even for Kerry, they are just friends. Until Adam asks her to be his fake fiancée. . .

Up until now, the only stars Kerry's been seeing are the ones of the firework variety she creates in her lab, working as a pyrotechnician. Now, with Adam sending her senses spiralling with every kiss, every touch - in the name of deception, of course it's only a matter of time until Kerry wants more. And she gets a lot more than she bargains for when they end up getting hitched!

A wedding night to remember follows. But now Kerry's in love, what will happen once the honeymoon is over?

Also released in Australia in paperback (February 2007, ISBN: 9780733575723).

 


Behind the Book

When my ed asked me what my next idea was, I was in the middle of organising a large firework display. And I got to wondering just how you made a firework and how to get those gorgeous starbursts in the air... so I said I wanted to write a book about a pyrotechnician. 'Fine,' said my ed, 'but remember this isn't a Med. I don't want any detailed science in this.' Hmmm... is she saying I have nerd tendencies? She knows me well! (And I had a private bet with my CP about whether my 'how to make a firework' scene would be axed. It was.)

So then I got to thinking... what would be the worst person a seriously nerdy pyrotechnician could fall in love with? Answer: the guy next door. (The guy upstairs, if we're being picky.) A man who never dates someone more than twice. A man who's charming, drop-dead gorgeous, and a commitment problem. Enter Adam McRae. Especially as Kerry's family background is dysfunctional, to say the least.

And what would be the worst that could happen? A marriage of convenience...

My hero rather ran away with me. And decided the wedding was going to be in Edinburgh. And Scots law is most definitely not the same as English law (so I had to do some research. Fast). And then he decided he wanted to make a vow in Gaelic. (Give me strength!)

As for Kerry's dress... At the time, I was looking for a posh outfit as I'd just discovered I'd been shortlisted for the RNA Romance Prize, and you need something posh for lunch at the Savoy in London. And while I was looking, I found The Dress. (Not for me - for my heroine!) It's also a kind of homage to my pal Kate Walker, a reference to the dress worn by my favourite heroine of hers.

If you fall in love with a girl, you're supposed to say it with flowers. Except if she's not girly, she's a nerd and she's a pyrotechnician... well. Adam says it in a rather unusual way!

It's dedicated to my friend Maggie (who helped me out with the Gaelic and Scots wedding customs - and also, as Medical Romance author Maggie Kingsley, writes fabulous books set in Scotland).

As usual, there's a recipe: Adam makes Kerry some cranachan cranachan - which is truly scrummy (and of course oatmeal and raspberries are very good for you).

The Book's Soundtrack

As always, I write to music. Kerry makes fireworks displays to music; and Adam's a 'dinosaur rock' fan. You know the rule about 'don't use contemporary references' . . . So this was basically what I was listening to while writing key scenes:

  • Rachmaninov - Piano Concerto no 3
  • Beethoven - Symphony no 9 (my favourite piece of music ever)
  • Mozart - Piano Sonata no 11
  • Locatelli - concerti grossi
  • Led Zeppelin - Tea for One, Since I've Been Loving You, Kashmir, The Rover
  • Pink Floyd - Breathe (actually, it was the whole of Dark Side of the Moon - fabulous, fabulous album)
  • Free - Don't Say You Love Me
  • Deep Purple - Mistreated

    Read a Bit

    CHAPTER ONE

    Kerry ignored the doorbell. It had to be a cold-caller, because all her friends knew this was her mega-busy time of year. She designed fireworks and displays all year round, but autumn was always the really crazy time. The time when she had to co-ordinate displays for Bonfire Night or New Year's Eve; the time when she had to sort out the computer detonation and design something even more exciting than the previous year's display. The time when people rang up at the last minute to see if she could just squeeze in a little something for them - oh, and could they have some music with it, too?

    Right now, she was running on a good two hours' less sleep per night than she needed. And she absolutely refused to give up time on her pet project - developing a proper ocean green firework, the holy grail of pyrotechnics. So tonight she really didn't want to have to stop what she was doing and listen to someone give a spiel about politics or changing her electricity supplier or what have you.

    Buzz, buzz.

    'Go away,' she mouthed. Who on earth sent out cold-callers at this time on a Friday night? Wasn't there a law against it? And the fact that she wasn't answering but her light was visible through the window, so she was clearly in. . . couldn't they take the hint?

    Clearly not, because the doorbell kept ringing. In little short bursts. Insistently. And it was far worse than just one long ring because she couldn't tune it out. She could turn up the volume on her stereo and drown it out with Bach - but then she'd have her neighbours banging on her walls. With good reason.

    Right. If this was someone who wanted her to change her perfectly good windows - or, worse, if this was her best friend, Trish, intent on making her stop work for now and dragging her to some boring party or other to meet her 'ideal man': a man Kerry didn't need because she was perfectly happy with her life as it was, thank you very much - she knew exactly where she was going to suggest putting the rocket she was working on.

    She saved her file, marched to her front door and flung it open. 'What?'

    'Whoo. PMT. I knew I should've brought chocolate.' Adam leaned against the doorjamb, tipped his head on one side and gave her the full-wattage smile. The one that revealed his dimple. The one that made every female on the planet weak at the knees - including Kerry, because she hadn't quite become immune to it. Or to the mischievous twinkle in his blue eyes.

    'Will this do instead?' He held up a bottle of very decent cabernet sauvignon.

    She should've guessed it would be him. She folded her arms and tried to sound stern. 'What do you want, Adam?'

    'A corkscrew and two glasses. But as we're in your flat, I'll play nice and let you choose the music.'

    She rolled her eyes at him. 'Nobody's choosing any music. I'm working.'

    He shook his head, adding another of the knee-buckling smiles. 'It's Friday night. Half past nine. Normal people don't work at this time of night.'

    The comment stung, and she bit back, 'Your point being?'

    'That you work too hard and you need a break. There is such a thing as work-life balance, you know.'

    Now she knew he was teasing. 'Right. Says the man who works just as long hours as I do.'

    He laughed. 'Yeah, but I play hard as well. That evens it out.'

    Hard didn't even begin to describe how Adam played. He was the original party animal, who went snowboarding on his winter breaks and rock-climbing in the summer, and spent as many weekends as he could manage surfing the Atlantic rollers in Cornwall.

    'C'mon, Kerry. You need a break and I'm supplying it. I'm even supplying the refreshments.' He nudged her gently aside and closed the front door behind him. 'Have you eaten yet?'

    There were times when Kerry could cheerfully murder her upstairs neighbour. Usually at stupid o'clock in the morning when his current partner was moaning, 'Oh, Adam!' and Kerry's head was buried under three pillows so she couldn't hear his bedsprings creaking. And right now she really was busy.

    But when he smiled at her like that, how could she resist him?

    Adam McRae was lethal.

    Worse still, he knew it.

    She shrugged. 'I had a sandwich for lunch.'

    'A sandwich? And lunchtime was a good eight hours ago. Kerry Francis, that's just not good enough.' He shook his head in mock-sorrow. 'What am I going to do with you? You need a properly balanced diet. I hate to think what sort of state your blood sugar's in. Sit down. I'll go and make you an omelette or something.'

    'Your kitchen is upstairs. In your flat,' she reminded him.

    'Yeah, but by the time I've brought an omelette downstairs and you've answered the door, it'll be cold and flat and disgusting. Much better for me to cook it here, when it'll be hot and fluffy and melt in your mouth. I take it you do have eggs that are within their use-by date? And maybe the odd leftover bit of cheese that hasn't gone completely hard?'

    She waved her hands in a stop motion. God, Adam was such a whirlwind. He moved at a hundred miles an hour and expected everyone else to do the same. Heaven only knew how the nurses coped with him at work - then again, in the emergency department, Kerry supposed that you had to work that fast. 'I don't want an omelette, thank you. I'm fine. Really, Adam, I'm fine. I'm not that hungry.' She usually forgot to eat when she was concentrating, and by the time she remembered she was past being hungry. 'Will you please stop fussing?'

    'Someone's got to look after you,' Adam said.

    'That would be me,' she said, her voice cooling. She'd looked after herself for pretty much the last twenty years - since she'd first reached the age of double figures. That wasn't going to change any time soon.

    'I mean properly, Kerry.' He ruffled her hair. 'Just sit down and make yourself comfortable, and I'll open this.'

    He was telling her to sit down and make herself comfortable - in her own flat? Well, that was Adam. Bossy, organising everything. Probably force of habit from what he did all day long.

    'I can't believe you've already run out of nurses to bother,' she said. 'You only moved hospitals a month ago. Surely you haven't gone through them all, already?'

    'Oh, ha, ha.' He pulled a face at her and disappeared into her kitchen.

    She followed him and watched while he retrieved two glasses from her cupboard and uncorked the wine. 'Seriously, Adam. You always have a date on Friday nights.' Usually with a different woman each time, although they all had a lot in common. Like having legs up to their armpits, stunning looks and long blonde hair.

    So, so, so clichéd.

    Which made it odd that Adam was here in her flat on a Friday night. OK, she had the long blonde hair - which she usually wore scraped up in a knot on the back of her head - but that was as far at it went. She had average-length legs and ordinary looks. And she definitely wasn't a Friday night companion for a tall, dark and handsome sex god like Adam McRae. 'What's so different about tonight?' she asked.

    He shrugged. 'I don't always go out on Fridays. Anyway, I was working a late shift today.'

    Which meant nothing. She knew Adam could work a split shift and still party with the best of them, and be up bright-eyed and ready for an early shift in the emergency department the next morning. He was changing the subject to avoid the question - so something was definitely wrong.

    Even though sometimes Adam irritated her beyond measure, Kerry liked him. Had liked him ever since the day she moved into the flat underneath his and managed to lock herself out, and he'd come to her rescue. Not only had he picked the lock to let her back in, he'd brought her a mug of coffee and shared a packet of chocolate biscuits with her. Definitely good neighbour material.

    Over the last year or so, that relationship had deepened into friendship. A good friendship with no pressure. They understood each other. Adam was an emergency doctor who worked hard and played even harder, and Kerry was a pyrotechnician who preferred messing about with chemicals to socialising. They teased each other silly about their lifestyles but didn't try to change each other. If she was having a bad day, she'd knock on his door and he'd make her a latte, feed her chocolate biscuits and make her laugh. If he was having a bad day, he normally showed up at her door for a chat.

    Like now.

    So what was wrong? The obvious thing was also the most unlikely. Men like Adam didn't have women problems - unless you counted having so many women falling at his feet that he couldn't move. But she asked anyway. 'Women problems?'

    'No.'

    'Then what?'

    'I just thought I'd call in and see my favourite pyromaniac.'

    Kerry didn't bother correcting him to 'pyrotechnician'. He knew perfectly well what her job was. He just liked teasing her. 'Who happens to be working.'

    'But it doesn't take you that long to design a rocket or even a whole display. You're brilliant at what you do - you could do it in your sleep. And yeah, yeah, I know you want to make the first ocean-green firework, but people have been working on the formula for years and years. Someone's not going to beat you to a chemical formula overnight, Kerry. You need to take time out - smell the roses, watch the clouds, listen to the birds.' Adam filled their glasses. 'Talking of which, do I get to choose the music?'

    She groaned. 'If you mean you've brought some dinosaur rock with you, the answer's no.'

    'Honey, it's the stuff to make fireworks to.' He batted his eyelashes at her and gave a mock leer.

    'Not my kind of fireworks,' she teased back. 'For that, you need classical.'

    He scoffed. 'What, "Bolero"?'

    'What a cliché,' she said loftily. 'And, for your information, I hate Ravel. Try Rachmaninov's third piano concerto. About nine minutes in to the first movement, and again almost five minutes later.'

    'A double climax?' He looked interested. 'Oh, yeah? Where's the disc?'

    'You can borrow it later. And you know perfectly well I didn't mean that sort of climax.' Typical guy. Everything revolved around sex, in Adam's world.

    Though, now she thought of it...

    No. She wasn't going to allow herself to think about sex with Adam. That would be way, way too stupid. It wasn't worth ruining a good friendship over sex. Even if the sex was spectacular - and she had a feeling that with Adam it would be spectacular.

    From the book Seeing Stars by Kate Hardy.

    Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance
    Publication Date: October 2006
    ISBN: 9780863849998
    Copyright © 2006 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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