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A pick 'n' mix genre author. "I'm not greedy. I just like variety."

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Christmas Wish List: Day 4

12 Day Wish List - Book 4: Calling Home (A Destiny's Child Book) by Zee Monodee

Blurb:

It's the little things that keep us calling home...

Forensic pathologist Margo Nolan is described as a cold, unemotional man hiding inside a woman's body. Clinical and rational, the ice queen persona is only a facade to protect herself after she has lost the one thing she has ever longed for: Emma, the daughter she brought up like her own.

When tragedy strikes in Emma's life, Margo is the only one who can step in... to become the stand-in parent to the 11-year old! Clueless about children, family life and anything that should involve her heart, Margo is at a loss.

But she need not worry - sexy and easygoing, and much younger, village doctor Jamie Gillespie is here to help the heart-thawing process.

4 Reasons to Read:
1.) The story is a return to old-fashioned, tender and sweet romances, yet lacks none of contemporary/modern edginess
2.) Every mother – working or otherwise – can find herself in Margo, because we all have those days when we wonder if we're actually helping our kids or totally screwing up their future.
3.) The book is about the lives and the deep-inside personas of the characters – full of substance, and not a fluffy, light surface read. Immerse yourself with this couple and take the journey to love right alongside them.
4.) We always see a profession in its work environment – what about when that person goes back home? Come see what it could be like for a female forensic pathologist in her day-to-day, at-home existence. Will she make it, or break it?

Buy Link: https://www.nobleromance.com/Books/369/Calling-Home

Excerpt:

Chapter One

Emotion is something foreign; cold, rational facts and proof drive everything. Brain over heart, always.

Every forensic pathologist knew his or her work boiled down to that line of conduct, and Margo Nolan lived her life by the principles of her job. Emotion used to be an unfamiliar concept most of the time, except for the rare occasions when the pain would tear through her, when she was unable to tamp the suffering into submission. Pain, the sharp, visceral, abject torture that gripped her every time she thought of Emma, during all those years she was away from the daughter of her heart. Lately, pain sliced through her every time her gaze landed on the pretty girl, fast blossoming into a beautiful young woman.

How many years we've lost . . . . If only I'd sought her out . . . .

But she couldn't—shouldn't—think of that then. No—there were more pressing matters at hand.

Margo's feet slowed in the lobby that also served as Dr. Gillespie's waiting room. He was the only doctor in the little village, Camberry, just outside London in the county of Surrey, where Emma, and lately Margo, too, lived. Like most country doctors, he operated his practice from his house. Emma had been sick at school that day, and had been sent to see him.

Under Margo's stilettos, the wood planks of the big Victorian manor didn't even creak or groan—strange, as old houses always had a telltale creak or two in the parquet. Or maybe her step remained light enough not to evoke any sound from the dark surface, worn smooth from years of foot traffic in that very lobby. No place echoed the click-clack of high heels louder than a morgue. Margo had learned how to keep her tread soft under any circumstance. Despite the high-gleam polish on the wood, her feet didn't skid on the glossy surface as she glided, more than walked, across the boards. Whiffs of beeswax and lemon wood polish tickled her nostrils—a completely different scent from the usual sterile tang and formaldehyde-permeated atmosphere at the morgue.

Margo stopped at the doorway that led into the anteroom to the doctor's office. Her gaze lingered on Emma, asleep on a high-backed, plush sofa. In slumber, the girl's dainty features still showed the sweetness of childhood. So very much the likeness of the chubby-cheeked cherub with corkscrew, auburn curls Margo had had to leave seven years ago—

Don't!

Today she was back with Emma, trying her damndest to bridge the gap between ages four and eleven, the time she hadn't been there for the girl. Not by choice—

Stop!

Margo straightened when a dark, looming shadow crept up on the tween. All her senses shot on high alert; she bristled, and her hands closed into fists.

The man, tall and imposing in the semi-darkness, bent and placed a hand on Emma's forehead.

Who on Earth is he? And why is he touching her?

"What do you think you're doing?" Margo crossed the distance to stand between her daughter and the stranger. She shouldered him aside, before folding her body protectively over the top of the armchair.

Her gaze raked over him, taking in the faded, threadbare-at-the-knees jeans, the hint of a dark T-shirt under the baggy, slate-grey jumper with a hoodie that obscured his face.

Who is this hooligan? What's he doing here? Emma's grandmother had come to Camberry because the countryside appeared safer for a growing girl than bustling London. Nevertheless, here was some man, alone in a room with her daughter.

He gave a soft grunt. "Checking if her fever's gone down."

Yeah, right!

Margo drew closer to Emma, her protective instincts shooting sky-high. If anyone ever touched her daughter to harm her . . . . Finally, she understood how women murdered in cold blood when their children were hurt, how they showed no remorse afterward.

As she leaned over the prone girl, her gaze shot back to the man. She steeled her spine, tensed her arms and shoulders, and glared at him. Seasoned police officers knew not to mess with her when she stood like that, and criminals always thought twice before bullshitting her when she gave them the narrowed look. Let him try to take her on—he had another think coming if he believed he'd get away scot-free today. "And how's that any of your concern?"

He sighed.

Sighed. She couldn't stop her eyes from widening with surprise, before she frowned again.

Good grief! What have perverts come to, nowadays?

"As her physician, that's my job, don't you think?" His low voice flowed, smooth and composed, reminiscent of police officers trying to calm a hysterical victim.

Damn you. She frowned so hard, her forehead hurt. Margo blinked to ward off the shard of pain that lanced behind her left eye. Nice try. Who did he think he was?

"Where's Dr. Gillespie?" she asked.

"I am Dr. Gillespie. And you are?"

She snorted, at the calm confidence and at the unashamed allegation. Which one won her contempt more? No way was he the "good ol' doctor." She had met the bear of a man with the soft voice and bedside manner a couple of weeks ago, when she came to settle here. Dr. Gordon Gillespie had looked a far cry from the lean, intense young man before her. The old man had also come out clear on the background check she had a police contact run on him, and on anyone else involved in Emma's life here.

And to think the man here had fallen through a hole in her security net? No, she refused to contemplate that.

But, questions first; accusations later, when she had proof. The logic of her profession came like second nature to her.

"Stop the act. You are not he." She threw a glance around the room. "Where's Helen? Why is Emma alone here?"

"Helen just left for home. It was past time she made it back to her own children."

His tone conveyed cold reproach. Margo bristled. She was late, she knew it. But she'd been detained by a string of autopsies today. And no one had bothered to tell her Emma had been hurt during football practise. The lab staff had ascribed Helen's call to a prankster—Dr. Nolan had no life, let alone a daughter.

"You are Ms. Milburn, I presume."

"Nolan. Dr. Nolan." She corrected him by reflex—no one addressed her by any other name.

Did his jaw tense? He moved, and the hooded cap slid off his head, to reveal his sharp, angular features and messy dark hair, no longer shadowing the dark brown depths of his deep-set eyes.

Dangerous. The rational whisper danced inside her head.

"Who the hell are you?" Tingles of awareness and peril skittered up her spine, like the time when she was on a crime location, and the killer managed to sneak up behind her. Trusting her gut that day—those shivers—kept her alive, when she didn't hesitate to look like a chicken, and called the chief inspector into the room with her.

The moment here was one such instance too, urging her to call for backup. She felt her hand itch, where it lay against her trouser pocket. All she needed to do was grab her cell phone and call all her acquaintances in the police—in short, the whole London Metropolitan force.

"I told you. I am Dr. Gillespie, the one treating your daughter for that bad tackle."

She snorted. "I have met the man."

He rolled his eyes and sighed. "You met my uncle. He's away, and I'm filling in for him."

"Oh." His explanation killed the wind in her sails. Some of the pent-up tension left her body, and she winced at the weary ache that settled in her stiff muscles. Looking him over, she knew he didn't lie. Nothing in his body language betrayed him, and his eyes didn't dart left or right when he spoke to her, focused directly on her face. She'd watched enough interrogations to pick up body language cues.

Still not a hundred percent convinced, she squinted, and hoped the harsh planes of his face, the pointed chin and nose, and shaggy dark locks, would clue her in about him. After a moment, when she realized she rudely stared, she gave up. Corpses clued her in on their deaths—and lives—while living beings were almost an alien race.

He wasn't lying, that was a given. Her suspicions allayed a little, and she relaxed her shoulders, before drawing to her full height to stand straight.

So he is the doctor. Margo stroked a wayward dark curl from Emma's forehead. "She isn't running a fever."

He crossed his arms, strong hands coming to rest on his jumper sleeves. Tension left him, too, and his body slackened into a casual pose. He rested one hip against the side of the high-backed sofa. "Not anymore. Seems she fell and grazed her shin yesterday. Left untreated, the wound got infected."

Oh, Em. Why didn't you say anything?

Because Margo wasn't around—that's why.

Margo hung her head. She was on call 24/7. Men thrived in her line of work. Women, not so much. The demands on the pathologist's private life were all consuming. There existed no place to fit a child or a semblance of family life. What would she do with a daughter?

Three weeks ago, she received the call that had changed her life. Ednah Milburn, Emma's maternal grandmother, was dying, and Margo was the next in line to become Emma's guardian. What happened to Cora?—Emma's mother and Margo's estranged best friend—she had asked . . . only to be informed that Cora had died five years earlier. Margo was not prepared for the next revelation, either—that Cora had named Margo as Emma's guardian, were anything to happen to her. But Emma's grandmother, Ednah, had concealed the will, and taken the little girl in, leaving Cambridge to start a new life in Camberry, Surrey, where no one knew them. The lawyer brought Margo up to speed on the phone. Ednah had suffered a stroke and wouldn't survive beyond the next forty-eight hours.

Margo had rushed to the hospital, for the first time in her life leaving an autopsy halfway through, to find her baby girl, grown into a tall, beautiful, auburn-haired tween. Emma had taken one look at her in that sterile hospital corridor, and rushed into her arms.

They hadn't looked back . . . . But, right then, Margo knew she hadn't looked forward, either. How would she accommodate a child in her life? The sleeping girl before her needed a mother . . . .

Emma whimpered. Margo shushed her with a soothing caress on her forehead. Nothing should distress her little girl.

"Mummy."

The word was soft, groggy, full of trust and the conviction that "mummy" would make everything all right.

"I'm here, luv." The phrase barely made it past the lump in Margo's throat. Mummy had been Emma's first word, spoken to her, and not to Cora, Emma's birth mother. Cora, who had gallivanted around like a flitting butterfly, content to leave her baby girl in Margo's care at home, in the tiny flat they shared near the Cambridge university campus. Between studying for her many exams and looking after Emma, Margo's life was complete. And she also had Harry in her world—

Don't think of Harry.

She forced her mind to return to the present.

Even after all these years, Emma still thought of her as her "other Mum". Should she be grateful and embrace the title, or be scared out of her wits at the terrible job she'd most certainly do as a mother? She recalled how panicked she'd been at Emma's first bout with colic, at three months. Cora wasn't home again, and Margo had rushed the baby to Casualty at two a.m., only to be told that first-time mums had a right to panic but that she had nothing to worry about, colic being a standard baby ailment.

"Ms. Nolan?"

Margo tore her misting eyes from the tween and blinked. "I beg your pardon?"

"She'll be okay."

"Yes." She bit her lip. "Yes, she will."

She'd make sure of that. Seven years ago, Emma had been torn from her care, and from her world. Fate had given her another chance, one she wouldn't relinquish without a fight.

Margo took a deep breath, her gaze going from the doctor to Emma and back again. "What do we do from here on?"

He straightened to his full height and uncrossed his arms; he let them fall to his sides. From her position on the arm of the sofa, she had to crane her neck to look at him. Easily six-four tall, with wide shoulders in perfect proportion to his big stature.

Margo's mouth went dry and she gulped. He surely was a man who had a daunting physical presence. The skitters of unease flittered over her spine again, and she wondered who would come to save her from him.

Get a grip!

"Come to the desk. Emma will be fine for a few minutes."

With reluctance, Margo peeled her arms from where they were propped on the armchair's back.

Be on your guard, her brain screamed.

"I'm Jamie Gillespie. We haven't been properly introduced." He stood on the other side of the wide oak table, and didn't extend his hand.

She hitched her arms to her sides and nodded. "Margo Nolan."

At the desk, she settled into a chair opposite him. "How is she faring? I mean, really. Please don't hide anything from me."

If he heard the worry and panic in her voice, she didn't care. They were talking about Emma, about her little girl.

"Not too bad. Just, like I told you, the wound on her leg got infected. She developed a fever, and a dizzy spell on the pitch meant she fell and twisted her ankle."

"But, she'll be okay?" Never mind that she was herself a medical doctor. Facts and logic had left, to create a wide berth for emotion to play havoc with her mind.

Jamie chuckled. "No need to be so worried. She'll be good as new in a few days. The fever's come down but . . . ." He paused. "You didn't notice she had a high temperature this morning?"

Margo glanced away from his intent eyes, then returned her gaze to his face. Cursed be the good manners her mother had instilled in her, namely, to always look squarely at a person when addressing him. "I wasn't with her today. I had to stay overnight at work."

He clenched his jaw; his nostrils flared slightly.

He probably thought she was one of these career-minded mothers whose only claim to motherhood was to carry a child in her womb for nine months.

And that was not even applicable to her.

"Listen," she said, then thought better of trying to explain the technicalities of her incompetent, so far, journey into parenthood. Why did she care what he thought of her as a mother? "Can I take her home?"

His thick brows furrowed. "Yes. Just make sure the fever doesn't come back; five hundred milligrams of paracetamol every four to six hours should do the trick. I'll see her again for the sprain in two days. If there's anything, don't hesitate to call me."

"Will do." Margo stood. Her gaze fell on the sleeping Emma. How would she get her home? Paracetamol and painkillers had probably knocked the girl out.

"Is your car outside?" Jamie asked.

She nodded. "I parked in front of the porch."

"I'll carry her, if you want."

She acquiesced with a nod and a sigh of relief, grateful for his help. Emma wasn't a big girl; still, the tween's weight wouldn't be easy for her to manage all the way into the car. Doing autopsies day in, day out didn't build strong arm muscles.

Jamie scooped Emma up in his arms as if she weighed no more than a feather pillow.

Men. She shook her head. Nature blessed them with physical strength. Many abused that God-given privilege too, as she saw too often in her line of work.

Margo followed in the doctor's footsteps as he delicately carried Emma out, then settled the sleeping girl into the back seat of her Audi Q5. He clicked her seat belt into place just as Margo reached in from the other side of the car to take over the task.

Their shoulders bumped and their heads came up at the same time. Mere inches separated them, and Margo made the mistake of looking into his face.

Bathed in the soft radiance of the porch lamp that spilled in through the back windshield, his features were an arresting play of light and shadows. Suddenly seeing him so up close that she could make out the errant eyelash that had fallen on his cheekbone, she froze. Her outer shell remained immobile, while inside, a storm of uncalled-for heat and yearning warred for possession of her brain and senses.

That's a living, breathing man—a handsome, sexy creature in his own right. The red-hot memo wanted to sizzle its way all through her, but she couldn't—wouldn't—allow it.

Jamie Gillespie was definitely a hunk, and at first glance, not a day over thirty.

Latching onto him would be like cradle robbing. She was way over the big three-o, a few years shy of forty. She dreaded that prospect more than turning thirty, because with forty came peri-menopause; with it, hot flashes, followed by menopause, when many women went mental. Because she faced a dwindling biological clock with every year that passed, the minute she saw a man as desirable, she immediately viewed him as a baby-making machine, even though that had been less and less important over the last few years.

To see Jamie as sexy meant she could clearly picture herself making babies with him. A hot flash crept up her cheeks and stung her skin. She couldn't—shouldn't—picture him as anything but the local doctor. Men younger than thirty had a raging libido—Stop it!

She was further gone than she'd thought. Sex was not a possibility right then, especially not with Emma in her life. She had her child; the biological clock could go to hell in a hand basket. Let another pregnancy-craving young woman sink her teeth into the handsome Jamie.

But if she could sink her teeth into the flesh of his butt cheeks, run her tongue over the ridges of what she was sure were rock-hard pecs and abs—

Margo pinched herself hard and stifled the yelp of pain that tore her from her X-rated fantasies. A younger man was so not right for her . . . .

In the closed confines of the car interior, she blinked, and the fierce flutter of her eyelids shattered the paralysis that held her body prisoner. She moved and her hand brushed against his sleeve.

Soft, warm, yielding. Fine merino lamb's wool—that was no punk-grunge clothing.

All the more perilous.

"Thank you." She mumbled the words, and wondered if anything but a garbled sound came out of her mouth. Then she ducked out of the car before he could reply.

She slid into the driver's seat and waited, without looking back, for him to close the passenger door. Once she heard the soft thump, Margo hightailed out of there, as if the hounds of hell pursued her.

In a way, they were. These hounds were those of desire and longing, to Margo, the most terrifying of all.

Buy Link: https://www.nobleromance.com/Books/369/Calling-Home

Author Site: http://zeemonodee.blogspot.com/

* * * * * *

Elizabeth's Recommended Read No. 4: Fantasy Lover (Dark-Hunter Series) by Sherrilyn Kennon

Blurb:

It might sound like a man's favourite fantasy - to live forever, destined to be the lover of thousands of women. But for Julian of Macedon, it's a nightmare. Once he was a proud Spartan general; now he's a love-slave, his essence magically held captive in a book, cursed to spend all eternity pleasing women. Then, one day, Grace Alexander summons Julian to fulfill her passionate dreams - and sees beyond the fantasy to the man himself. Long years as a sex therapist, listening to other people's bedroom problems, have taken a lot of the fun out of the physical side of love for Grace. But with or without sex, the rules of the enchantment cannot be changed - Julian is hers for the next month. And, as their time together slips by, Julian and Grace find more to share than sympathy and conversation and they begin to wonder if love might be within their grasp. That leaves only one question. Is love enough to break a 2,000-year-old curse?

Reason:

A sexy man who comes out of a book to fulfill all your desires.... Can you say, "A yes please?"

I actually won this book, and boy am I glad because it was yet another book that I was unable to put down. I mean yeah, sex slave, yum, but your heart sure goes out to Julian when you learn what he has been through and how he ends up in that magic book in the first place. Plus the hero is a Greek warrior, and I think you might be getting the idea of how much I love me some Greek mythology in my stories. Or if you haven't picked up on that yet, you will :-P

Oh the tension, the suspense. You want these characters to fall in to bed, or well, anywhere they want to fall and end the torment. But at the same time you routing for them to hang on, so that Julian can break the curse that is binding him to the damn book.

It's hot. It's fabulous. It's got Greek mythology worked in there! You just have to buy it!


Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/ / http://www.amazon.co.uk/

Author Site: http://www.sherrilynkenyon.com/

* * * * * *

Elizabeth's Wish List: Deeper than Midnight (Midnight Breed Series, Book 9) by Lara Adrian

Blurb:

Delivered from the darkness, a woman finds herself plunged into a passion that is DEEPER THAN MIDNIGHT . . .

At eighteen, Corinne Bishop was a beautiful, spirited young woman living a life of privilege as the adopted daughter of a wealthy family. Her world was changed in an instant when she was stolen away and held prisoner by the malevolent vampire Dragos. After many years of captivity and torment, Corinne is rescued by the Order, a cadre of vampire warriors embroiled in a war against Dragos and his followers. Her innocence taken, Corinne has lost a piece of her heart as well--the one thing that gave her hope during her imprisonment, and the only thing that matters to her now that she is free.

Assigned to safeguard Corinne on her trip home is a formidable golden-eyed Breed male called Hunter. Once Dragos's most deadly assassin, Hunter now works for the Order, and he's hell-bent on making Dragos pay for his manifold sins. Bonded to Corinne by their mutual desire, Hunter will have to decide how far he'll go to end Dragos's reign of evil--even if carrying out his mission means shattering Corinne's tender heart.

Reason:

Most of the books that I have read were recommended to me by friends. And eventually we all get to a point where we start looking for things we would naturally be interested in reading.

I went in to Borders - when it was still open. Oh, how I loved that shop - and basically just stared at books, as you do. And I came across a book called Kiss of Midnight, which I purchased along with it's sequel, Kiss of Crimson.

Well, did I pick good or what? Yes, yes I did. Lara Adrian's Midnight Breed series puts a whole new twist on vampires, and I mean a whole new twist in the form of an alien superior race... That's all I'm saying. Apart from I don't mean E.T. aliens or anything like that. I mean otherworldly vampire lords.

It's dark. It's sexy. Each book belongs to a different leading male, who finds his lucky leading lady. Each story links to the next, and continues to push the bigger story further. These vampires kick ass. They're like hot, military vampires.

You need to read excerpts at the authors site to get what I mean. The books are amazing, and really, really sexy. You definitely want to sink your teeth in to one of these this winter. *Fans self*

Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/ / http://www.amazon.co.uk/

Author Site: http://www.laraadrian.com/home.php#quiet

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