The Doctor's Tender Secret

Available in stores

Book 1 in the London City General Trilogy


Mills & Boon Medical Romance

January 2005

ISBN: 0263832827


Harlequin Medical Romance

March 2005

ISBN: 0373064977


Winner of the Cataromance Reviewers' Choice Award for Best Medical 2005

Emotions running high in the City Hospital

On the hectic paediatrics ward of London City General, love just isn't running smoothly for Dr Brad Hutton and Dr Zoe Kennedy. They may be instantly smitten with each other, but the secrets they have kept locked away make their future together uncertain.

For Brad, the solution lies in putting his past behind him, But Zoe's secret goes a lot deeper, and to reveal all she needs to find the courage to trust Brad completely. Only then can their powerful feelings win through...

Also released in the UK as a hardback (November 2004, ISBN: 0263183785). Also released in Australia in paperback (February 2005, ISBN: 0733558615).


Behind the Book

I wanted a challenge: to write a trilogy. I knew it was going to be set in London - but also partly in Norfolk, by the sea, because my home area inspires me so much. The first book in the trilogy is set in a paediatric unit, mainly because the children's ward is one of my favourite settings (and yes, that was the third paediatric book in a row, if you count neonatal as a branch of paeds!).

Originally, the trilogy was going to be about three doctors who went through med school together and who'd promised to matchmake for each other if they weren't in a settled relationship five years after graduation. My ed rang me and sighed. "Like the plots. Like the characters. But lose the matchmaking - it's been done to death," she said. "Oh, and can we have a bit more emotional punch?" (Ha, nothing new there, then!) But I could keep the three doctors being great friends and going through med school together - they support each other through everything. In that respect, they're a tribute to my own best friends. (The ones who won't let me put them on the website, but they know who they are!!)

Brad's American, gorgeous, and is very musical. But he has to come to terms with tragedy in his past. You may need some tissues with this one, because the scene where he tells Zoe what happened was written around the anniversary of my mother's death, and some of the feelings there are very close to my own.

Zoe's bubbly and fun... but she's hiding something, even from her best friends. And Brad discovers it very unexpectedly! (My ed definitely approved of this bit...)

We often go to the beach in winter (we're only half an hour away, and the kids are as eccentric as we are!). One particular evening, I saw people surfing, and that set my inner lightbulb going. A bit later on, we went when the sea was a bit wilder. More lightbulbs: result, one dramatic rescue scene!

It's dedicated to my friend Elizabeth, who's known me since we were teenagers at university. Liz is also rather close to the ceiling rose...

Zoe's Mediterranean vegetable sauce is a favourite recipe. It goes well with pasta, rice, couscous and jacket potatoes; add a bit more liquid and stick it in the blender, and it makes wonderful soup.

Because of Brad's singing, this book has a soundtrack - particularly Van Morrison and Robbie Williams. I've also sneaked in some Christina Rossetti and Shakespeare, and a quick nod to one of my favourite places in London - the Pre-Raphaelite room in the Tate Gallery. I'm a big fan of Dante Gabriel Rossetti and even more so of Edward Burne-Jones - The Beguiling of Merlin is my favourite picture ever!

Read a Bit


Brad Hutton was beginning to regret his decision to oversee the paediatric assessment unit this morning. They'd had a non-stop string of cases, from suspected poisoning to asthma attacks to viruses where the GP didn't want to risk missing meningitis. The parents had all been so worried that they'd hardly heard a word he'd said and he'd had to repeat everything three times. He'd barely had time to draw breath.

The only bright spot in PAU was his registrar, Zoe Kennedy. He'd seen her around the ward over the last few days, but this was the first time he'd actually worked as a team with her. She made him want to start humming 'Poetry in motion' - because that really was what it was like, watching her. The way she reassured the parents, scanned through the notes, assessed the child and decided on the best treatment: fast, fluent yet very thorough. And every decision he'd seen so far today had been spot on. She really knew her stuff.

Don't get too interested, a voice in the back of his head warned him. You're in no fit state to get involved with anyone.

I'm not planning to get involved, he defended himself. I don't know anyone in London. A friend won't go amiss.

Just make sure that 'friends' is all it is.

It will be. Anyway, she's not my type.

She couldn't be much more than five feet three inches, whereas the girls he'd always dated had always been nearer five-ten. Her hair was mouse-brown and cut into a short bob, not blonde and falling down almost to her waist. Her eyes were warm and brown, not cool and blue. And beneath the baggy long-sleeved sweater and loose jersey trousers she wore, he had a feeling that Zoe Kennedy was all lush curves rather than the rail-thin type he usually went for. A pocket Venus.

Yeah, definitely Venus. She had a heart-shaped face. Cupid's-bow lips.

And she's not Lara, the voice in his head reminded him. If you rush straight in to find Lara's opposite, you're not the only one who's going to get hurt.

'Mr Hutton?'

Then he realised that the object of his thoughts was talking to him. 'Sorry, Dr Kennedy - Zoe, isn't it?'

She nodded.

He held out his hand. 'Brad. I prefer working on first name terms.'

She shook his hand and he almost flinched as a large dose of static electricity discharged. At least, he assumed it was static electricity. The alternative was something he didn't want to consider right now.

'What can I do for you?'

'I'd like a second opinion on a case.'

'Sure. Though from what I've seen of you this morning, you don't need it.'

'Um. Thanks for the compliment. ButÖ'

Those pink spots in her cheeks were cute. She looked young for a registrar, which meant she was clever. But the blush at his compliment proved she'd kept at least a trace of humility, so she'd treat her patients as human beings, not just academic cases. 'OK. What have you got?'

'Michael Phillips, aged twelve months. According to the notes, he was a floppy baby. He's had problems feeding right from the start, with poor sucking and chronic constipation; he smiled late and didn't roll over until he was eight months old. He's just starting to crawl now, but it's commando-crawling -' in other words, he lay on his stomach and propelled himself along with his arms, like a commando under a net '- and if you hold him up to stand his reflexes aren't what you'd expect.'

'And you're thinking?' Brad prompted.

'Cerebral palsy. Probably a mixture of spastic and athetoid.'

That would account for the late development. 'What do the parents think?'

'The mum's worried sick because he's not hitting the milestones in her parenting books. The dad's in denial and saying everyone's making a fuss over nothing, his son is perfectly all right and will catch up by the time he goes to school.'

'OK. I'll come over.'

Zoe introduced him to Jenny and Dave Phillips. Brad examined little Michael. 'Tell me, does he have any problems eating?' he asked.

'Of course he does. He's a baby,' Dave said. 'They all dribble their food, don't they?'

'Michael doesn't like finger food,' Jenny said. 'He likes yoghurt and he'll eat purees, but he's not keen on lumps.'

'He'll grow out of it,' Dave insisted. 'You're making a fuss, Jen. He's perfectly all right.'

She shook her head. 'There's something wrong, Dave. I know it.'

'Tell her, doc,' Dave pleaded. 'Tell her she's fussing over nothing.'

'Actually,' Brad said, 'I think she's right.'

From the book The Doctor's Tender Secret by Kate Hardy.

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance
Publication Date: January 2005
ISBN: 0263842827
Copyright © 2004 by Pamela Brooks
® and ™ are trademarks of the publisher.
The edition published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.
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From Cataromance: a highly charged emotional novel which will keep you spellbound till the very end. - 5 stars

Kate Hardy is a hugely talented writer who will take you on an emotional rollercoaster and will make you feel every pain, every ache and every other emotion which her characters are feeling. In Zoe, Kate has created a terrific heroine whom readers everywhere cannot fail but take her to their hearts. She is strong yet vulnerable at the same time and as for Brad, Kate has created one of the best heroes ever! He is good looking and sexy and has got a heart of gold beneath that good looking exterior. Kate Hardy's latest Medical Romance will touch your heart as well as make you shed plenty of tears with intensely emotional scenes, brilliant characterization and a plot which will keep you turning the pages late into the night.

What they're saying on e-Harlequin

    This book just reinforced why I think Hardy is such a terrific writer. She weaves the medical elements into the h/H story so smoothly. She creates loveable, fallible, wonderful characters and she has an inherent understanding of living with disabilities that so many authorís donít understand on a visceral level - this makes her writing about children, relationships, parents views (in regards to disabilities) much more authentic.

Stories by Kate Hardy with paediatric settings


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