Once a Playboy

Available in stores

Mills & Boon Medical Romance

Sept 2012

ISBN: 9780263891959


Harlequin Medical Romance

Sept 2012

ISBN: 9780373068494

Adrenalin junkie aristocrat George Somers is used to relationships as short and as sweet as the thrills he seeks, But, when an accident puts him in the care of physiotherapist and single mum Serena James, being bed-bound suddenly seems more than appealing! George may be a risk-taker… but letting Serena and her little boy into his heart will be his biggest challenge yet…

Also released as:

  • UK hardback (Sept 2012, ISBN 9780263227994)
  • UK large print hardback (Mar 2013, ISBN 9780263230932)
  • Also released in Australian paperback (date and ISBN: tbc).


Behind the Book

I've had emails from readers who enjoyed Dr Cinderella, asking me if I was going to write George's story. Given that he nearly took over Dr Cinderella, absolutely yes!

So we have George the risk-taker, following his accident, unable to do all the things he enjoys most - and being treated by a physiotherapist who really intrigues him, because he thinks she's hiding her light under a bushel.

Serena doesn't take risks at all - she's a single mum and is maybe a little too serious.

When opposite worlds collide, things start to get interesting. Especially as Serena just might be able to offer everything that George really wants but has told himself for years that he doesn't…

I've dedicated it to my wonderful editor, Sheila - who really deserves it.

The book's soundtrack

I had a lot of fun with this, because Serena's father is a musician and Serena plays the piano and cello.

  • Michael Buble, Still Haven't Met You Yet - this is the bit where George dances with Serena around the pond, and I drove the kids a bit potty with this on my playlist.
  • Joe Bonamassa, Sloe Gin - when George takes Serena to see a blues guitarist, this is what I had in mind. It's the bit where Joe sings about being 'so damn lonely' - that really matched my heroine's feelings.
  • Joe Bonamassa, Feeling Good - same gig, and I love Joe's version. I intercut it with Muse, too.
  • Sammy Hagar, Piece of My Heart - takes me right back to my teens!
  • Heart and Soul - as in the one that Tom Hanks plays on the giant piano in 'Big'. I play this on the piano with my daughter. And in the book - oh, just have some tissues ready because it put a lump in my throat!

Read a bit

‘So you’re doing static cycling on a flat surface, and swimming?’ Serena asked.

‘Yes,’ George said.

‘Does it hurt?’

‘No.’ And it wasn’t a complete fib. George could do the swimming and static cycling bits of his exercise programme without any problems. But he’d pushed himself a bit too far this week, thinking that he could start the last phase of his treatment a little bit sooner than his body was really ready for it.

She raised her eyebrow. ‘How about the truth?’

‘It is the truth.’

Serena folded her arms. ‘George, I know it’s driving you crazy not being able to do everything you could do before the accident, and you want to get your life back yesterday, but it’s going to take time until you’re completely fit again. You did a fair bit of damage to your thigh and your wrists – and, remember, it takes up to six months for a broken femur to heal, plus there’s all the soft tissue damage surrounding it.’

And that wasn’t the only damage he’d done to his body, George knew. Though he wasn’t thinking about that particular issue right now. He sighed. ‘OK. If you must know, I tried running, a couple of days ago. Through chest-deep water, so it wasn’t weight-bearing.’

She raised her eyebrows. ‘And?’

‘It was absolutely fine.’

‘If I had my way,’ Serena said, ‘my patients would be banned from looking up anything on the internet.’

He coughed. ‘How did you know that’s where I read about it?’

‘Because you didn’t get that advice from me or from Bruno. Your last lot of X-rays were fine – your bones are stable and they’re healing nicely – but you really can’t run before you can walk. Literally.’

‘I realise that now.’ Much as he hated to admit it.

She sighed. ‘What else did you do, George?’

‘Tried it on land. Not very far,’ he added swiftly.

‘But it hurt.’ It wasn’t a question.

‘A bit,’ he admitted.

‘I’d say it’s your quads, by the way you walked in.’ She shook her head. ‘What am I going to do with you, George?’

‘I used to hear that a lot. At school as well as at home,’ he said.

‘Why does that not surprise me?’ She rolled her eyes. ‘Do you mind if I take a closer look and check that you haven’t done any real damage?’

‘Sure.’ He paused. ‘Does this mean taking off my clothes?’

‘Well, it’s a bit tricky to judge muscles through a layer of material.’ She gave him an amused smile. ‘Let me know when you’re ready.’

He still felt slightly self-conscious about stripping in front of her. Which was totally ridiculous. Apart from the fact that Serena James was his physiotherapist and this wasn’t his first session with her, George had stripped in enough bedrooms – and other places – not to feel in the slightest bit awkward at taking his clothes off in front of a woman. Especially as this wasn’t even a full strip; he’d still be wearing underpants and a T-shirt.

But he appreciated the fact that Serena had turned her back while he removed the hated tracksuit bottoms, leaving him a little bit of dignity. He’d already put up with more than enough during his recuperation, needing help to go to the bathroom in the early days and having to be spoon-fed because he couldn’t manage his own cutlery. He’d hated feeling so incapable and useless. A man trapped in the equivalent of a toddler’s body, needing help to do just about everything. His independence had vanished at a stroke.

And he was so, so ready to have his life back again.

If that meant he had to take this last phase just a little bit more slowly, then he’d have to learn to be patient. Even though taking things slowly felt as if it were killing him. He really loathed living life at a snail’s pace. For him, it wasn’t living, it was existing. And there was a huge difference between the two.

‘Ready now,’ he said, and she turned to face him.

Her hands were gentle as she probed his leg and felt the muscles. And although Serena’s movements were completely asexual, a physiotherapist’s touch rather than a lover’s, as she moved her head George caught the scent of her shampoo. Like sun-warmed, ripened strawberries. And all the blood in his head rushed south.

Oh, hell. He’d better start thinking of something else – such as how much repairing the roof at Somers Hall was going to cost this year and all the regulations that they’d have to comply with – or he was going to embarrass both of them.

Or was he? Did Serena feel this weird connection between them, too? And, if so, what would she want to do about it?

He glanced at her left hand. No ring. OK, so the lack of a ring didn’t mean that she wasn’t in a committed relationship, but he had the feeling that Serena James was the kind of woman who believed in marriage and would want that gold band on her finger. Which in turn meant that he was completely the wrong kind of man for her. He didn’t do commitment. Ever. If his mother’s behaviour hadn’t cured him of that idea, Rebecca certainly had.

‘There’s some tightness in your muscles here and here.’ Serena demonstrated by touch. ‘I can give you some different exercises to work on these, and that will help.’

‘Thanks. And I promise I’ll do the exercises every day, for as many reps as you tell me to.’

‘And you’ll also promise me that you won’t overdo it,’ she said firmly, folding her arms and looking him straight in the eye.

He smiled. ‘Would I overdo it?’

‘Considering that you ended up this way in the first place because you had a fight with a cliff and lost, my vote would be for yes.’

He loved the teasing glint in her green eyes. And he liked Serena James. Either she didn’t know he was heir to Somers Hall and the barony, or she didn’t care, because she treated him as if he were just an ordinary patient. George appreciated her being so down-to-earth and practical with him.

She turned away again to give him time to replace his tracksuit bottoms. This was the kind of clothing he never wore outside a sports field, preferring designer denims or made-to-measure suit trousers; the accident had done a fair bit of damage to his sartorial style, too, because jeans still didn’t feel comfortable on his broken leg. Dressing properly again was another thing he was looking forward to.

‘OK, I’m decent again,’ he said.

‘So why do you do it?’ she asked as she turned back to him.

‘Do what?’

‘All the dangerous sports.’

He shrugged. ‘My brother says I’m an adrenalin junkie.’

‘Is he right?’

‘I enjoy the rush of extreme sports,’ he admitted. ‘I guess it’s just a way of getting rid of tension.’ And it meant he didn’t have time to let himself think too deeply about anything.

‘And you can’t think of a safer way of getting rid of tension?’

At this very moment, he could. Not that he was going to embarrass her by telling her exactly what was in his head. Or the fact that it involved her. ‘Powered paragliding isn’t unsafe,’ he parried instead.

‘Says the man with a broken femur and two broken wrists.’

‘Which are almost healed,’ he reminded her. ‘I was wearing a helmet, and I’d done all the training. I just happened to be thinking about something else at the same time as a gust of wind caught me, and by the time I realised what was happening it was too late to avoid the cliff.’

She raised an eyebrow. ‘It must’ve been quite something on your mind to distract you that much.’

It was. As in whether he was really his father’s son. For a normal family, it might not have been so much of an issue, but for the Somers family it had had a lot of legal ramifications. Such as who was the real heir to the barony, and what would happen to the estate and the entailment. Absolutely life-changing things.

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