Hi Annie and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, The Vet’s Secret Son!
Why thank you very much! It’s a delight to be here.
Please summarize the book for the readers here:
The Vet’s Secret Son dives into one of my favourite tropes: a second chance romance. Who doesn’t wonder what would happen if the stars realigned just a little bit differently and allowed you to find out what would happen if you met the one who got away one more time. Especially if he is the father of the child he never knew you had.
Please share your favorite line(s) or quote from this book:
“It’s good to see you, Ellie,’ Lucas said, meaning it. ‘How are you?’
She crossed her arms over the dark blue scrubs dotted with…were those toy poodles?…and glowered at him. Funny how toy poodles took the edge off a glare.
‘Hmm. Good question.’ She tapped her chin with her index finger. ‘Do you mean…how are you, Ellie, after six years of not ever speaking to you? Or, how are you, Ellie, seeing me swan into your clinic as if I owned the place. Or…wait a minute.’ She put her finger up in the air as if a light bulb had just gone off, her green eyes blazing with emotion. ‘Best yet…how are you, Ellie, after I dumped you and made it very clear there was no place in my life for you despite the fact you were the one to always say there is no I in team?”
Excerpt From: Annie O’Neil. “The Vet’s Secret Son (Not for Resale)”. Apple Books.
Please share a few Fun facts about this book…
This book is a duet with my great friend and super author Annie Claydon. We both wanted to write about vets because it’s another area of medical expertise and romance that appealed to us. I live on a farm so am pretty good friends with our vets – so much so I sat them down and plumbed them for great surgeries that they did when they were falling in love in veterinary college. (Hint: watch out for the dog down at the seafront!).
What first attracts your Hero to the Heroine and vice versa?
The hero and heroine had one of those love at first sight meetings in veterinary college. They were young, ambitious and saw bits of themselves in the other – instantly becoming inseparable.
Did any scene have you blushing, crying or laughing while writing it? And Why?
I really enjoyed writing the scenes with their son Maverick who was trying to figure out how the new daddy in his life was going to fit into how he understood the mysterious world of mummies and daddies to work:
“Lucas will staying at the Hungry Pelican tonight.’
‘But I’ll be moving in next door tomorrow,’ Lucas said reassuringly to Mav, and then, conciliatory to Ellie, ‘To make things easier for Mummy when she’s on night calls.’
Oh, jeepers. Who knew hearing that out of Lucas’s mouth would give her butterflies? To ignore them she countered with a cheery, ‘Unless, of course, Mummy decides to send Daddy on the night call.’
Ellie and Lucas shared a little tug-of-war smile. It reminded her of when they’d gone out on an internship at a huge clinic up north together when, in the dead of winter, they’d used to play rock, paper scissors to decide who went out to do a midnight calving or a pre-dawn set of lamb triplets where the farmer would, inevitably, surprise the vet with a series of ‘While I have you here…’ cases in their huge, unheated barns. The butterflies took flight again.
‘So…’ Maverick gave his curly mop a scratch. ‘Will I stay in my bed?’
‘Absolutely.’ Ellie sent a pointed look in Lucas’s direction but refused to meet his eyes. “Her body obviously would, but her brain was shouting out the reminder that daddies didn’t get to just pop up after six years of absence and pretend they hadn’t kicked Mummy to the kerb right after they’d proposed to her. She blew out a little breath before she answered. ‘Daddies and mummies who haven’t seen each other in a while sometimes have different ways of living.’
‘You mean like Rockford and Esmerelda?’
‘Who’re they?’ Lucas asked.
‘The stud dog and Mum’s golden retriever.”
Readers should read this book….
If you love puppies, a chance for a single mum who still loves the dad to find her HEA and if you LOVE the idea of living in a beautiful seaside village in Cornwall with delicious fish and chips. Also – there’s Annie Claydon’s book – Healing the Vet’s Heart – that follows right after so if you don’t get enough of Dolphin Cove in my book…there are more sexy vets to follow!
What are you currently working on? What other releases do you have in the works?
I just turned in a book that will be a duet with the wonderful Scarlett Wilson. I don’t know the name yet, but my working title for it is Double Trouble in the Roman Baby Bubble. That was great fun to write. Suffice it to say, my characters go out to eat ALOT. I also have a Christmas book that isn’t a Harlequin Romance coming out (although there’s still romance in it) called A Miracle on Christmas Street. It’s out in eBook in September and out in book book in November. I am seriously excited about that one as I adore Christmas books.
Thanks for blogging at HJ!
Giveaway: I have three books (The Vet’s Secret Son) to give away to you gorgeous readers.
To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: What has been your craziest trip to the vets? And if you don’t have a pet…one you’ve heard about? (I heard about a woman whose dog got his paw glued to a mousetrap and then she got her hand glued to it trying to get it off!)
Excerpt from The Vet’s Secret Son:
ELLIE DIDN’T THINK her heart had ever hammered so hard.
She pictured the village defibrillator in the old-fashioned phone box outside her parents’ pub just in case her heart decided to fly straight out of her chest and directly into Lucas’s very lovely surgeon’s hands.
Err…no! Her heart would stay precisely where it was, thank you very much.
Then why was her hand shaking as she reached out to close the exam-room door?
She’d known Lucas was coming. For an entire twenty-four hours.
Time in which she’d steeled herself to see him. Made plans even.
She had decided to be cool, calm, collected, introduce him to his son, make it clear he’d never ever have custody and then send him on his merry way.
So what had she done instead?
Not prepped her son at all. Made a panicked phone call to her parents then hung up before she could take any of their advice, paced and paced and paced in between trying to sleep, which had worked for about…oh, sixty seconds.
Only to go berserk and all but bare her soul in front of the entire village.
A bit of her soul in front of two villagers and one visitor who wanted his pet to be seen by Lucas and not her. Still. Talk about heaping one humiliation on another.
As the exam-room door clicked shut, she turned round, only to find herself face to chest with the chest she had once been so familiar with that it was pure instinct to reach out and touch it. As she stood, hand raised between them, Lucas asked, ‘Where do you want me?’
Their eyes caught and locked. Electricity buzzed between them, just as it had the night of their very first kiss all those years ago. His clear blue eyes bored into her, asking about a hundred questions all at once.
Am I forgiven? Do you mind that I’m not leaving even if I’m not? What have you been up to for the past six years?
Uh…having and raising the son I still have to tell you about.
‘I’ll just put Audrey here, shall I?’ Caspian’s plaintive tone mercifully pulled Lucas’s attention away from her. Her nerve-endings crackled with discomfort as he settled in front of the exam table as naturally as if he’d worked in this room for years. He’d always had that knack. Putting people instantly at ease. The Lucas Effect, she’d called it. No one was immune. Even a young Cornish girl who’d never been to London or had sushi or a million other things life in Dolphin Cove hadn’t prepared her for.
One glimpse of that warm smile of his and…swoon!
And look at him now. Taking over her patients as easily as he’d stepped in front of the cameras and won Britain’s heart over as the Uber-Vet.
Uber-Jerk, more like.
She gave him a sidelong glance as she washed her hands and popped on a pair of gloves. Where was the goofy, nerdy funster she’d fallen in love with?
The glasses had been replaced by contacts. Laser surgery?
The short haircut complete with cowlick was gone.
Even the usual glob of jam or spaghetti on his shirt was nowhere to be seen. Just an immaculately kitted out ‘smart casual’ ensemble, which he filled to perfection.
Nope. The twenty-something veterinary science geek was gone and in his place was the suave, sophisticated and properly grown-up Uber-Vet.
Lucas gave the Pekingese a scratch on the head and an admiring look. Owners loved that and Caspian was no exception.
If Caspian looked at him any more adoringly, sugar cubes would start popping out of his eyes.
In fairness, it was difficult not to be sucked into the Lucas Williams vortex of lust. His dark blond hair was combed back in a wavy invitation to run your fingers through it. His sea-blue eyes spoke volumes, darkening when he saw an injured or abused animal, flashing with a jewel-bright brilliance when he did things like, oh, propose to a woman with a puppy only to take it back the next day. A few freckles. A crooked front tooth that made his dazzling smile just a tiny bit mortal.
Water under the bridge, love. You’ve put it off long enough. Find a way to have him in your life for Maverick. Your boy deserves to know the truth. So does Lucas.
Ellie could hear her mother’s earlier counsel as clearly as if she was in the room. Even so, she hoped her mother had seen that Lucas had arrived and had steered Mav straight to the ‘puppy wing’, as her son had taken to calling the purpose-built whelping and puppy-rearing pens at the far end of the clinic when she’d dropped him off. He loved it there. Seeing the puppies born and raised before being given to the various families who fostered them until they were old enough for training at specialised centres around the country.
As they all shifted into place around the exam table, a waft of Lucas’s man scent enveloped her. How a Londoner managed to smell of warm summer air, freshly chopped wood and oranges was beyond her. She began to mouth-breathe, asking herself on a loop why she hadn’t given him his marching papers the instant she’d laid eyes on him.
She’d known this moment was coming ever since she’d seen that smiley face on the pregnancy test. You’d have thought six years would’ve given her enough time to prepare herself and her son, but…nope! No such luck.
Lucas gave her a look. The kind that meant she’d been staring at him but not actually speaking words.
‘Mind if I get started?’
‘Not at all.’ Why would she? Just because the father of her child had re-entered her life seemingly out of nowhere was absolutely no reason to get all tetchy about when he started a canine exam.
Smile and nod.
She should call Drew. Drew would know what to do. He’d been the one to tape her together all of those years ago when her life had fallen apart and come back together in a totally different shape. Drew, who was still in hospital healing from all sorts of injuries—emotional and physical—himself. No. She should not call Drew. She was a grown woman perfectly capable of handling herself in this entirely unnatural situation.
That was something she knew how to do.
She grabbed her tablet and began tapping in Audrey’s details. She pulled up her chart from a previous visit and placed it on the exam table so Lucas could see it.
‘About three years, is she?’ Lucas asked.
Caspian all but swooned. ‘Oh, my goodness, me. Yes! How did you know? Are you, like, an animal whisperer as well?’
‘Erm, no…Ellie’s just pulled up her chart.’
‘Oh, right, well, I’m sure it doesn’t have all of the details because we’ve only been here once before, when poor little Aud had a sliver. We live in London, where you are based if I’m not mistaken?’ Caspian didn’t pause for breath, launching into a long story about how he was down for the weekend, visiting his Aunt Viola.
Ellie tuned in. Her hunch in the reception area had been right. Caspian was one of Viola Smythe-Bingham’s great-nephews. Viola had five cats, a pair of wolfhounds, a herd of alpacas and a nineteen-year-old pony called Arthur, all of which were under Ellie’s care.
Caspian must be down on one of his annual ‘make sure I’m listed in the will trips’ Viola frequently complained about. Viola was very rich, very single and had no children of her own. And her family never let her forget it. What they didn’t know was that Viola had made an incredibly generous donation towards the construction of their new clinic after they had saved her favourite alpaca, Starburst, from certain death. She had also promised a substantial donation to the Dolphin Cove Veterinary Clinic when she passed away. At ninety-two Viola showed few signs of slowing down. Ellie hoped she never died. Viola was far more fun than any stack of money would be. So were her alpacas.
As Caspian wittered on about Audrey’s pedigree, her agility classes, her specialised diet and grooming routine, Ellie’s gaze drifted back to Lucas, who was nodding along whilst deftly examining the dog who, although looking a bit wan and listless, was also gazing up at him as if he were a Greek god.
Traitors. The lot of them.
She wondered when Drew came back if he would go all googly-eyed, too. Ask his advice on everything. Treat him like the superstar he was and always would be.
Audrey yelped when Lucas palpated her tummy, then tried to climb into his arms. For comforting, no doubt. Arms that had failed to comfort her when he’d explained he wasn’t breaking up with her because he didn’t love her but because he didn’t want to ‘drag her down’. Drag her into the limelight more like. She wasn’t nearly as camera ready as the women she saw on his arm at all those star-studded charity events he attended. The swine. He made it very, very difficult to hate him seeing as he had single-handedly quadrupled the amount of donations Britons gave to animal charities.
Wasn’t life just great?
Her heart softened as she pictured her gorgeous boy. She wouldn’t have him without Lucas. So for that alone she owed him a thank you.
‘Her gums are a bit pale and her tummy does seem sore. Ellie, sorry, where do you keep your stethoscopes?’
Caspian and Lucas were both looking at her expectantly.
‘Stethoscope?’ Lucas took one of his lovely, beautiful surgeon’s hands—hands she’d traced again and again with her own fingertips—and put it to his broad expanse of chest as if explaining it to a five-year-old.
She did a weird ha-ha-ha laugh. ‘I know what a stethoscope is.’
‘I know,’ He gave her a funny look and put his hand on the small of her back just as he used to whenever her nerves had got the better of her.
She lurched backwards, then gave him a wide-eyed look, pretending his touch hadn’t just swept through her body in a honeyed spray of heated sparkles. ‘I would’ve thought the Uber-Vet would have his own, super-special stethoscope.’
Everything at the Uber-Vet’s was ‘super special’.
Not that she’d watched the show.
The comment hung in the air like a discordant note.
It had been a low blow. And not really her style. She wasn’t a sniper.
‘As you know, I’m not the Uber-Vet any more.’
Caspian gasped and asked for details. Ellie pulled out the stethoscope she always kept stuffed in her front scrubs pocket and handed it to him with what she hoped was an apologetic look.
Lucas popped the ear tips in and pressed the chest piece to Audrey’s tiny frame.
Caspian lowered his head in a reverent silence as Lucas’s features shifted into a deeply attractive expression of studied concentration.
No, she chided herself. It was not attractive. And he probably wasn’t even listening.
The Lucas Williams she’d once believed he was didn’t exist. That Lucas Williams had been the kindest, most generous, gentle, intelligent, capable, loving man she had ever had the privilege to meet.
This one was a stranger to her.
We’ll start our own practice, we’ll get married, we’ll have a family of our own.
Urgh. Why did it still hurt so much?
Because all of his reasons had felt like lies in the end.
It had been a Grand Canyon-sized break-up and just like the river that ran through it, she could already feel the self-loathing, disbelief and hurt wash back into her system.
The air in the exam room suddenly felt stifling. She had to get out.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
When Lucas Williams was forced to walk away from Ellie Stone, he knew he was giving up on their dreams of opening a veterinary practice together. Now he’s back and hoping to make amends. But he’s not surprised by how successful Ellie’s become, or that their powerful connection has endured. The surprise is that when he left six years ago, Ellie was pregnant – with his son!
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Meet the Author:
Annie is a supertronic bibliophile who LOVES pickles. And writing. And musicals. And dogs. And people. And rainbows. And unicorns. She’s a glass half full kind of gal.
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