Their Very Special Marriage

Available in stores

Mills & Boon Medical Romance

June 2005

ISBN: 0263843114

 

Rachel Bedingfield, GP:

With two beautiful children, a successful job and a husband whom she loved beyond anything, Rachel should have a life to envy. She just wishes she had more time on her hands, for herself and for Oliver.

Oliver Bedingfield, GP:

A full-time doctor and senior partner, Oliver can't help the fact that he seems more married to his work than to his family at the moment. He loves Rachel and his children so much, but they just donít seem to be able to communicate any more.

However, their relationship is very special - and it's only a matter of time before they realise that theirs is very much a marriage worth keeping...

Also released in the UK as a hardback large print edition (December 2005, ISBN: 0263184897). Also released in Australia in paperback (July 2005, ISBN: 0733562582).

 


Behind the Book

I was writing the GP idea I'd had the previous summer (the one that was shoved out of the way by The Spanish Consultant's Baby) but it wasn't working. The problem was the hero. So I decided to ditch it. I still wanted to write a GP book, and my ed asked if I'd ever thought about writing a 'marriage in jeopardy' book. The next morning, the plot and the characters were both there in my head.

It's something I think many parents of young children can identify with. You're both working long hours, you're spending all your spare time with the children - so when do you get to have 'couple time'? (Easy if you've got family nearby who can babysit; not so easy if your close family are several hundred miles away.) How do you keep the romance going?

Although most people nowadays would confront their partner if they suspected something, there are some situations where you just don't want to rock the boat too much. And that's the situation Rachel and Oliver find themselves in. There are secrets all over the place - and are they going to wreck the doctors' marriage?

It's dedicated to Gay, my much-loved stepmother.

And the recipe for this one is a very, very rich white chocolate mousse - definitely the food of love!

Read a Bit

CHAPTER ONE

The noise was deafening. Thirty children running around in the huge room, crawling through tunnels, sliding down enormous tubes into a pool of brightly coloured balls, jumping harder and harder on the bouncy castle until -

Rachel saw it happening from the other side of the room, but she wasn't fast enough to get there in time to stop it. Robin misjudged his bounce, moved at the wrong angle and clashed heads with one of his classmates. Rachel raced towards them, but Oliver was already there. Both little boys were crying and holding their heads, and he led them away from the bouncy castle to a quieter corner of the room.

'All right, let's have a look at you, birthday boy.' His gentle, teasing tone helped to soothe the little boy. 'Robin, can you tell Daddy where it hurts?' He gently checked the little boy. His fingers probed the bump to help him estimate the extent of the injury, then he checked the little boy's pupils. Robin was still crying, but Oliver kissed his forehead, stroked his hair and turned to the other little boy, who was holding one hand to his forehead and crying equally hard.

By the time Rachel brought over two cold pads - years of working together meant that Oliver hadn't needed to ask her for them - both little boys had stopped sobbing.

'Here we go. Let's put a cold compress on to make you feel better,' Rachel said. 'Do you two want to come and sit with me for a little while and have a story?'

Two small, solemn heads nodded.

'Come on, then.' Rachel moved so the boys could both sit on her knee, and her gaze met Oliver's for a moment. His wry smile said it all: kids.

'Pupils both equal and reactive, for both of them,' he said softly. 'No signs of loss of consciousness, though I think Mikey's going to have a bit of a shiner.'

She nodded. But with head injuries, you couldn't be too careful - what looked like a harmless bump could turn into something nasty a few hours later. A tear in an artery could lead to an extradural haemorrhage, where blood pooled between the bone and the dura and caused pressure inside the skull to rise. They'd need to keep a close eye on Robin - in case he started being sick, had a severe headache or fits - and warn Mikey's parents to do the same.

That was the one bad thing about being a qualified doctor: you knew the worst-case scenario. And when your own children were involved, you stopped being rational and calm and remembered the rarest complications of any condition.

Oliver was smiling at her, now, and Rachel was conscious of a jolt somewhere in the region of her heart. Even after ten years of being together - eight years of marriage - her husband's smile could still make her heart turn over. Just the curve of his mouth, and remembering the pleasure that mouth had brought to her over the years. Or the light in his blue, blue eyes. He'd smiled at her like that at Robin's second birthday party and, nine months later, Sophie had made her arrival into the world.

Would they make love tonight?

Oh, now she was really getting depraved. Thinking about sex in the middle of a six-year-old's birthday party. But it had been a while. Oliver had been too busy, Rachel had been too tired, and the weeks had slipped by. Maybe tonight she should make an effort. When Rob and Sophie were asleep, she'd put some chilling-out music on the CD player, open a bottle of wine and tempt Oliver to relax with her.

'That's my daddy,' she heard Sophie lisp proudly. 'He makes people better. So does my mummy.'

'Come on, little one. Shall we go and tell the ladies we're nearly ready for tea and Robin's birthday cake?' Oliver asked, picking up his daughter and lifting her onto his shoulders.

Rachel smiled gratefully at him. 'Thanks, love,' she mouthed, and started telling her son and his best friend a complicated story about pirates and dragons which soon had them forgetting their bump on the bouncy castle.

After the birthday tea - where all the healthy options of raisins, cherry tomatoes and cubes of cheese were ignored in favour of crisps and chocolate finger biscuits, and the jelly and ice cream disappeared in record time - and two rousing choruses of 'Happy Birthday to You', because Sophie wanted to be like her big brother and blow out the candles too, the children dispersed, clutching a balloon, a windmill and a party bag. Rachel strapped the children into their car seats while Oliver paid for the party and brought Robin's pile of presents back to the car.

'Did you have a nice party, darling?' she asked Robin.

'It was brilliant!' Robin's smile was a mile wide.

'Can we have another one next week?' Sophie asked.

Rachel laughed. 'We'll have to wait until it's your birthday, Soph.'

'But that's ages away,' Robin said in dismay.

'Never mind. We can try out your new bike when we get home,' Rachel suggested, knowing it would distract him.

The ploy worked, because Robin started chattering about his new bike and how it had got proper gears and a really loud bell.

'And I can go on my pink scooter,' Sophie said. 'Robin, you've got to wear your hat.' She blew on her windmill. 'Look, Daddy, it goes round!'

'Mmm.'

Oliver was making the right noises but Rachel could hear that his heart definitely wasn't in it. She shot him a sideways look and groaned inwardly. She knew that look. He was thinking about the practice.

Today was their son's birthday. His sixth birthday. Oliver had swapped duties so he wasn't on morning surgery or on call. He'd promised to spend the day with them as a family. To give him his due, he'd spent the day with them so far. He'd been good with the kids at the party, chatted to the other parents. But Rachel knew it just wasn't possible for Oliver Bedingfield to go for more than four hours without thinking about the practice.

So she was prepared for her husband to check his mobile phone as soon as they got indoors, and equally prepared for the apologetic look on his face.

'Sorry, love. There's something I need to sort out.'

Couldn't he put the children - and her - first, for once? But no. He was a Bedingfield, brought up to believe that his duty to the community came before everything else. 'Rob wanted to show you how good he is on his bike,' she reminded him. She'd taken the stabilisers off Robin's old bike a week ago to get him prepared for his birthday present. Where she'd grown up, it was always the dads who taught their kids how to ride a bike. In the Kent village where they lived, even, it was the dads who did the bike-riding lessons.

Except for Oliver.

'I'll come and see him ride it later. I promise,' Oliver said.

His eyes had grown wary, as if he was expecting a row. He damned well deserved one, Rachel thought angrily. Was one single day too much to ask?

Clearly, it was. She forced herself to smile at him, even though she wanted to shake him and tell him their kids were growing up so fast and he was missing everything - that he wouldn't get this time back again and he was wasting it. 'OK. We'll be out in the front garden.'

'I'll be with you as soon as I can,' Oliver said.

But he didn't meet her eyes, and when he walked into his office Rachel knew he wouldn't come out into the front garden with them. He never did. She was always the one who watched the children when they went out to play, chatted to other parents in the street.

It wasn't that Oliver was a snob. He was good with people and everyone in the village loved their GP. But his background was so different from Rachel's own. He'd grown up in the big house at the far end of the village, always that little bit apart from the others; she'd grown up on an estate in Newcastle where everyone popped in and out of each other's houses, and children went from garden to garden, playing noisy and busy games until somebody's mum came out with a tray of orange squash and biscuits. When she'd been pregnant with Rob and they'd moved to the small modern estate on the edge of the village, she'd thought that Oliver would fit in and discover what it meant to live right in the middle of a close community. That he'd break away from the Bedingfield way of doing things.

But then Oliver's father decided to retire, over a long enough period for Oliver to ease into taking his place as the senior partner in the practice. So Oliver didn't get the time to join in with Rachel. And, following the Bedingfield tradition, he always kept slightly apart from everyone else.

From the book Their Very Special Marriage by Kate Hardy.

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance
Publication Date: June 2005
ISBN: 0263843114
Copyright © 2005 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 heartwarming romantic story which tackles an issue women everywhere will relate to - the lack of communication in a marriage. Told with warmth and sensitivity - 4.5 stars

I always enjoy Kate Hardyís books. She draws her readers into her stories from the very first page, bringing the characters so vividly to life that it is always a chore to say goodbye to them at the end. Rachel is a character readers will relate to as she faces a problem which women everywhere will understand whereas Oliver is a fabulous hero whose flaws make him all the more real to the reader who will understand the reason why he is as he is as they read on. Readers canít resist falling in love with Oliver; nor can they resist cheering on Rachel and Oliver to get the happy ever after which they so rightfully deserve. Kate Hardy has once again written an excellent story which will keep you engrossed until the very end. Their Very Special Marriage has got it all - richly drawn characters, a page-turning premise, vivid medical scenarios, sizzling sexual tension and a great cast of supporting characters.

What they're saying on e-Harlequin:

  • Rachel and Oliver have been married for a number of years but are going through a rough patch. As their union deteriorates misunderstanding crop up - first hers, then his. This is a story that all too often plays out in real life. As much as some readers might want these two to sit down and talk their inability to communicate is familiar in some households. Both characters are loveable and believable.

Stories by Kate Hardy with GP (family doctor) settings

 

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