It’s party time!!!
I’m thrilled that my third book, The Doctor’s Return, officially releases today (August 5) in North America! To celebrate, I’m giving away two print copies (worldwide, wherever The Book Depository delivers) on my blog today.
The Doctor’s Return, Luke and Megan’s story, is the third book in my Snowgum Creek series. Luke is the town doctor and Ben’s brother from The Nurse’s Perfect Match (Book 2). Megan is Jack’s sister and Kate’s best friend from Falling for the Farmer (Book 1). A reunion romance, the story starts when Megan returns to Snowgum Creek.
Megan Bradley Is Putting Down Roots
After years spent traveling the globe, she never expected to be back in her hometown sharing an office with her former sweetheart, Dr. Luke Morton. Megan is focused on building her business, and doesn’t have time to dwell on past mistakes. But she can’t ignore her feelings for the handsome doctor who works down the hall.
Luke is afraid to trust his heart to Megan, knowing she may not stay for long. But as they work together, their romance quickly rekindles. When a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity comes her way, Luke must free Megan to choose between a big-city career or love and family…right there in Snowgum Creek.
CHAPTER ONE Excerpt:
Megan Bradley inhaled the sweet perfume of a champagne rose in her sister-in-law’s garden. “Kate, I love your roses. Jack has outdone himself this time.”
Kate smiled. “A belated wedding present but definitely worth the wait.”
Megan’s brother had planted the rose garden along one side of the newly built home on the family apple farm in Snowgum Creek. After a number of delays, the house had been completed a couple of months ago, but Kate’s debilitating morning sickness had postponed their Saturday lunch housewarming until today.
Megan stretched out the muscles in her back, stiff after yesterday’s long drive from Sydney. Family and friends gathered on the spacious wooden deck at the back of the sandy brick house overlooking the Snowy Mountains. Only one person was missing—her brother’s best friend, Luke Morton. She needed to summon the courage to talk to Luke soon.
She lifted her arms above her head, releasing tension in her shoulders. “As much as I’d love to hide away and chat, we should mingle with your guests.”
Kate nodded. “I’ve been ordered to take it easy. Your mom and Aunt Doris have taken over my kitchen, and Jack is in charge of our new outdoor grill.”
Megan straightened the hem of her lilac shirt. “They won’t stop fussing over you until the baby arrives.” She grinned. “I can’t wait to meet my little nephew or niece.”
Kate placed her hand on her slightly rounded abdomen. “Hopefully bub won’t arrive early. I’d like some time to get settled in the house first.”
A black Jeep meandered along a narrow dirt track leading to the house. Megan sucked in a deep breath, her pulse skyrocketing.
Kate lifted a brow. “I told you Luke was coming.”
“I know.” A busy doctor, Luke Morton had probably been delayed at the Snowgum Creek Medical Clinic. “I need to ask Jack something.” She strode toward the back deck, away from Luke, who had parked his Jeep under a gum tree near the front of the house.
Kate followed close on her heels. “You can’t run away from him forever.”
“I’m not running.” She frowned. Who was she kidding? She’d spent eight years trying to forget the events that had transpired the last time she’d seen him. “And I will talk to him today.” Assuming he was willing to talk to her.
Megan left Kate chatting with friends and walked over to her brother. Jack stood near the grill on the far side of the deck, a broad smile covering his tanned face. She was glad he’d married her best friend a few years ago, and that he now looked forward to becoming a father later this year.
She breathed in the tantalizing aroma of barbecued beef. “Something smells good.” Rib-eye steaks sizzled on the grill.
Jack nodded. “Lunch is nearly ready.” He turned over a couple of steaks. “How are you?”
She pasted a bright smile on her face. “I’m fine. A bit tired from the drive yesterday.” She’d arrived after dinner, exhausted from her last-minute rush yesterday morning to pack up all her belongings in her Chatswood apartment.
“How long are you visiting with Mom and Dad?”
“I’m not sure.” Her family was unaware of her potential job opportunities and the strong possibility she might live in Snowgum Creek for the next twelve months. The longest period she would live in one place since she’d completed her exercise physiology studies in Sydney eight years before.
His lips formed a wry smile. “Luke is heading our way.”
Megan spun around and flicked her long dark hair back over her shoulders. Luke’s golden-brown eyes met her gaze, his face devoid of emotion as he wove his way through the guests gathering around tables on the deck.
She wiped clammy hands down the sides of her designer-label black fitted pants, holding his gaze and refusing to look away first. Her heart danced to a faster beat as old feelings, long forgotten, washed over her. He was leaner and fitter than she remembered, decked out in a casual shirt and jeans. His face had matured and his honey-brown hair was cropped short. No surprise he was considered the most eligible bachelor in Snowgum Creek.
Jack stepped forward and shook Luke’s hand, stealing his attention. “Glad you could make it.”
“Sorry I’m late. I had to fit in a couple of extra patients.”
“No worries, we’re just about to sit down and eat.”
Luke turned to Megan, his intense gaze searching her face. “It’s been a long time.”
“Yep.” She nibbled her lower lip, words escaping her. He still had the ability to scatter her thoughts.
Jack cleared his throat. “I’ll be back in a few minutes.”
Luke nodded. “Do you need me to do anything?”
“Can you watch the grill? We’re putting the meat platters on the tables.”
“No problem.” Luke picked up an empty white ceramic platter.
“Thanks.” Jack stepped away from the grill. “I think we’re organized and ready to serve lunch.”
Her brother headed indoors and an awkward silence followed Jack’s departure. Luke filled a couple of platters with juicy steaks and she distributed the platters to nearby tables.
She lingered beside the grill. “Is there anything else I can do?”
“No, I think we’re all right.” He added a row of steaks to the grill. “You’re looking well.” Luke’s eyes softened, his velvet voice sending her pulse into overdrive.
“Thanks.” She twisted a lock of hair around her finger. “I hear you’ve taken over Dr. Davidson’s medical clinic.”
“He retired last year, and the clinic provided a great opportunity to move back home from Sunny Ridge.”
“That makes sense.” His dream eight years ago had been to finish med school and own a medical clinic in Snowgum Creek. A dream she hadn’t shared. Her yearning had been to travel and explore the world.
“I’m glad to be back. Snowgum Creek is a thriving town, unlike many small towns in this region.”
“Kate said Sunny Ridge is booming, too.”
“It has experienced significant growth over the last decade.” He checked the remaining steaks on the grill. “Did you know Sunny Ridge is now officially classified as a city?”
“Really?” She inspected her fingernails. They’d need a manicure if she helped Jack and his workers pick the last of the apple crop next week. “I heard your medical clinic is expanding.”
“Yes. It keeps me busy. My schedule this morning was jam-packed and I ran overtime.”
“Is that normal?”
“Sometimes. It depends on the day.”
Jack returned and Luke handed over the cooking utensils.
“Thanks.” Jack smiled. “You two should sit down and enjoy lunch.”
Luke turned toward her, indicating two spare seats at a nearby table. “Would you like to join me?”
“Sure.” He held out a chair and she slipped into the wooden seat. How many times had they practiced this ritual during their four-year relationship in college?
Luke sat beside her and together they served their lunch of steak, salad and crusty French bread rolls. Megan made small talk with a couple of Jack’s friends who she hadn’t seen in years. Her short visits back home over the past eleven years hadn’t included catching up with the townsfolk. Luke seemed at ease beside her, chatting with the other guests.
His forearm brushed against her elbow and she tensed, aware of his presence only inches away. She concentrated on her lunch, her traitorous heart liking his close proximity. The moment everyone at their table had finished, she stood and started clearing their plates.
“I’ll help.” Luke collected a few empty platters and walked with her to the kitchen.
Alone with Luke, she focused on loading the plates and cutlery into the dishwasher.
He leaned back against the kitchen counter, arms crossed over his muscular chest. “Are you here for the weekend or longer?”
“I haven’t decided.”
“Did you take leave from work?”
She shook her head. “I’m between jobs at the moment. Please pass on my congratulations to Ben and Amy, by the way.”
“I will. They arrived back from their honeymoon a few weeks ago.”
“Where did they go?”
“Batemans Bay, one of Ben’s favorite fishing spots. They were supposed to be here today but my niece is sick with a cold.”
“I hope she gets well soon.” She pulled out the top rack, already half-full with cups and glasses. “Um, can we talk?”
“Sure, what about?”
“No, not here. Can we go somewhere where we won’t be overheard?”
He raised an eyebrow. “It has taken you long enough to finally decide to talk.”
Touché. She lowered her lashes, knowing she had hurt him. At least he was prepared to talk.
“How about a walk in the orchards?” he asked.
Like old times. How often had they snuck away into the orchards? Her cheeks flushed as memories of her final year of high school invaded her thoughts.
She squared her shoulders. “I’ll finish cleaning the kitchen first.”
“I’ll meet you at my Jeep in ten minutes.” A smile curved up the corners of his lips. “If we’re not discreet, the gossips will have us married off by the end of the afternoon.”
“True, they don’t need any encouragement.”
“See you soon.” He left the kitchen, his boots tapping on the wooden floorboards as he headed toward the veranda.
She filled the top rack with cups and bowls from the sink and switched on the dishwasher. Luke seemed okay with her temporary return to Snowgum Creek, but was he prepared to make this a more permanent arrangement? Could she convince him to rent her a consulting room in his medical clinic?
Contest terms and conditions:
Please complete the form below to enter the drawing to win one of two print copies of The Doctor’s Return.
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The maximum number of entries per person in the drawing is two. The winners will be announced in a comment on this blog post on Tuesday, August 19.
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