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  • The Cake (Elemental Superpowers 1)
  • Caitlin @ Romance Junkies
  • Warning; this story will make you hungry for cupcakes and men. In addition, I should note that this is a very steamy novel.
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  • Garnets of Destiny 1 (Gemstone Chronicles 1)
  • Lena @ Rainbow Book Reviews
  • The first tale in the 'Gemstone Chronicles' is an endearing love story, endowed with marvelous, well-developed characters, but it also has its dark side, featuring malicious villains with hidden political agendas...
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  • The Ship Engineer (Workplace Encounters)
  • Becky @ Bike Book Reviews
  • I am so in love with the Workplace Encounters series it isn't even funny, and this book is no different!
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  • Please, Doctor
  • Lena @ Rainbow Book Reviews
  • Serena does a great job of exploring the out-of-the-ordinary world of fetishes in a palatable and understandable way.
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  • The Mistletoe Phenomenon (Mistletoe Science 1)
  • Maya @ readalloverREVIEWS
  • The story was well written and utterly cute, sweet and it is oriented around family and Christmas.
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  • Aquamarines of Courage 1 (Gemstone Chronicles 3)
  • Pixie @ MM Good Book Reviews
  • Oh, this is a fantastic addition to the Gemstone Chronicles with its twists and hidden turns. Nico and Nayder are a wonderful pair.
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  • Aviophobia (Flight HA1710 #5)
  • Heather @ Padme's Library
  • I love how the author has balanced fear, tragedy, and love.
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  • Eye of Scota (Dalriata 1)
  • Lilyraines @ Night Owl Reviews
  • I really enjoyed reading the book because it talks about taking chances, doing things way out of the characters' comfort zones..
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  • The Chauffeur (Workplace Encounters)
  • Becky @ Bike Book Reviews
  • I love a short story that makes me feel like I just read a full length it is so good!
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  • The Baker (Workplace Encounters)
  • MelanieM @ scatteredthoughtsandroguewords
  • The Baker by Serena Yates is the first I’ve read in her Workplace Encounters series but I enjoyed it so much that I’m going to search out the rest.
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  • The Elevator Mechanic (Workplace Encounters)
  • Lena @ Rainbow Book Reviews
  • 'The Elevator Mechanic' is a delightful, heartwarming story which I thoroughly enjoyed, and would recommend.
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  • The Model (Workplace Encounters)
  • Lena @ Rainbow Book Reviews
  • Fabio and Edwin are great characters whose devotion is tested by fire and they come out on the other side stronger than ever.
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  • Amethysts of Wisdom 1 (Gemstone Chronicles 2)
  • Crissy @ Joyfully Jay
  • This is a wonderful love story highlighting that differences in a relationship, when accepted, can strengthen that bond.
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  • The Carpenter (Workplace Encounters)
  • Becky @ Bike Book Reviews
  • It is one of my favorites in this series! Thanks Serena for a series that just keeps getting better and better!
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  • The Carpenter (Workplace Encounters)
  • Lena @ Rainbow Book Reviews
  • Reading 'The Carpenter' for the second time was easy for me because even though all of Serena's men in the 'Workplace Encounters' series are terrific characters, Tom and Matt are two of my favorites, at least so far.
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  • The Bricklayer (Workplace Encounters)
  • Becky @ Bike Book Reviews
  • I love an author that can give you such a good plot and delivery in a book that isn't novel length, this is a rare talent indeed!
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  • The Baker (Workplace Encounters)
  • Lena @ Rainbow Book Reviews
  • Thanks, Serena, for your magical touch when it comes to giving your couples the happy ending they deserve, and for making me drool all over my Kindle while describing all of the fabulous baked goods.
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  • The Bricklayer (Workplace Encounters)
  • Lena @ Rainbow Book Reviews
  • Serena has created an endearing love story, with two awesome men and put them together with brilliant results.
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  • The Baker (Workplace Encounters)
  • Becky @ Bike Book Reviews
  • Read this one friends, you will love it as much as I did! Thanks Serena, for yet another fab book in this awesome series!
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  • Araton's Destiny (Celestial Justice 1)
  • Lena @ Rainbow Book Reviews
  • 'Araton's Destiny' is an enjoyable, sweet Christmas story with passionate, wonderfully written love scenes and a great happy ending.
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  • The Ship Engineer (Workplace Encounters)
  • Lena @ Rainbow Book Reviews
  • For those of you who haven't read the story, I'd like to recommend that you do so, especially if you like a good romance with great characters, and a happy ending.
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  • To Find and To Keep (Keeping You 1)
  • Regina @ Coffee Time Romance
  • If you never read another m/m romance this year, read this one, you will not be sorry.
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  • The Chauffeur (Workplace Encounters)
  • Lena @ Rainbow Book Reviews
  • If you are like me, you will enjoy the story even more the second time around.
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Fighting for Hope (Modern Battles 1)

Fighting for Hope (Modern Battles 1)
Release Date: 02 August 2013
Description:

Eccentric Sir Malcolm Witherspoon has bequeathed a rare piece of land to the Oxford Hospital Trust with only one stipulation: it must become the site for a new medical center. Unfortunately, he left the details unwritten. Now, several hospital departments are fighting to get their visions approved by the Appropriations Committee. Head of Pediatrics Dr. Grayson Burrows believes the land should be used to build a new children’s hospital. Oncologist Dr. James Pearson is certain a cancer research center will do the most good.

It’s a battle neither wants to lose.

Soon, their professional integrity is on the line, and they don’t see eye to eye on medical care: Grayson thinks a holistic approach is optimal, while James knows logical trial and error works best. But when they’re tasked with obtaining the hospital board's approval for their respective proposals, their personal attraction threatens to take over, making them behave in an entirely unprofessional way. As the deadline looms on the committee's decision, both Grayson and James must reevaluate their priorities or neither doctor will get what he wants.


Pages: 240
Words: 73,143
Heat Index:Heat Index
Cover Artist: L.C. Chase
Book Type: E-Book, Paperback

CHAPTER ONE



At the knock on his office door Dr. Grayson Burrows looked up from his notes and frowned. He wasn’t expecting anyone. He wasn’t on duty and he’d set this time aside to prepare his thoughts for tomorrow’s meeting of the Appropriations Committee. Every hospital department was going to get an opportunity to give reasons why they should be granted use of the new building site. The rare bit of property had recently been left to the hospital trust by a local celebrity, the eccentric aristocrat Sir Malcolm Witherspoon. It was about the only way to obtain space for hospital modernization and expansion anywhere near central Oxford.

He sighed. No other lots were likely to be available in the foreseeable future. This was it. Only one department was going to win. He just had to make sure it was the children’s department. Currently spread over three different sites, the facilities were barely adequate for his young patients’ physical requirements. But they needed—no, deserved—so much more than physical care. Emotional well-being was an essential part of the healing process and the current run-down facilities were just not up to the task.

The next knock was louder and more insistent. Though he didn’t wish to be interrupted, it seemed like he had no choice.

“Come in.” He took a deep breath, steeling himself for the inevitable.

“Sorry to interrupt you, Grayson, but I want you to meet our new head of Oncology.” His boss, William Davies, entered the small, cluttered office, pointing at the man following right behind him.

Grayson wanted to greet this newcomer quickly, be civil enough to make sure he felt welcome, but all he craved was to get back to his preparations. But when he looked at him, his breath caught in his throat.

The new doctor was tall, at least six-four, broad shouldered with a magnificent chest showing through the open white coat he wore over a brown suit and beige shirt. He had a high forehead, a chiseled nose, and a strong jawline and chin. His hair was a light brown, cut short but somewhat disheveled, slightly graying at the temples. His eyes were the blue of a summer sky. He stared at Grayson with frank curiosity, his face all hard angles and shadows in the glaring artificial light.

Shit, was he for real? How could any man this gorgeous be standing in front of him, looking at him with that kind of curiosity and warmth? Grayson almost pinched himself to check if he was dreaming. He was about to get lost in those eyes when his boss harrumphed. He shook himself, trying to return to reality. What was wrong with him? He was a bloody professional and needed to remember to behave accordingly.

“This is Prof. Dr. James Pearson, an oncologist of international fame whom we were lucky enough to attract to Oxford Hospital. His most recent appointments were five years at the Mayo Clinic then four years at Harvard. He has moved here from Boston not only to head Oncology but also to help us get more involved in theoretical research. As you know we have been tasked to strengthen our links with Oxford University. A joint research project or two with a major pharmaceutical corporation also wouldn’t hurt. Or so the treasurer and the fund-raising organizations we work with keep reminding the hospital board. And Dr. Pearson is just the man to help us.”

“Welcome to Oxford and to our hospital, Dr. Pearson.” Making an effort to pull himself together, Grayson managed to get up without tripping over his open briefcase that sat on the floor. He stepped around his desk toward the newcomer, offering his hand in greeting.

“Thank you, Dr. Burrows.” Dr. Pearson hesitated slightly before he crossed the space between them with two large steps. He moved like an athlete, with hidden strength and an economy of movement that made him almost graceful. His hand was big, with unusually long fingers and short, well-groomed nails. He took Grayson’s hand. “Please, call me James. I thought you had a first-name policy here?”

James’s eyes didn’t leave his when he spoke and a slow smile revealed two dimples in his cheeks that made him look more like a boy than the magnificent man he was. James looked much softer now, all the hard angles gone. His voice, dark and resonant, touched Grayson somewhere deep inside and made him shiver.

A jolt of excitement ran up his arm and straight to his stomach. He’d not had butterflies in there since he was about eighteen, but they were back in force. Lots of them. He returned James’s smile, and when the man’s eyes lit up, he grew hot and uncomfortably short of breath.

“Then you must call me Grayson,” he responded with an effort, trying to breathe normally.

He tore his hand away from James’s, stepped back toward his desk, and leaned against it for support. This could not be happening. No man had affected him like this in more years than he cared to remember. Just looking at James made all his carefully built protective walls crack. But he didn’t have time for a relationship. Not now that he was in for the battle of his life, and especially not after how badly he’d been hurt by all the men in his life so far.

James was still looking at him, but his smile had gone back into hiding as soon as Grayson retreated. His face was all hard angles and edges again. But his intense eyes were still focused on Grayson, as if he was attempting to read his mind by staring at him.

“Now that you’ve met all the senior staff, how about a bite of lunch?” William said, turning to James. “The cafeteria food is quite acceptable and it’ll be fast. That will leave you the afternoon to prepare for tomorrow’s Appropriations Committee meeting.”

James finally stopped staring at Grayson and turned his head to look at William. Grayson was almost relieved when that penetrating gaze ended. He’d never felt so—exposed. And all the man had done was look at him.

“Yes, I think lunch would be fine.” James nodded.

“Would you like to join us, Grayson?” William looked back at him. “I think it would be a good opportunity for the two of you to talk about the new oncology unit you want to set up for the children’s department. I’m sure that James would be happy to discuss any support you might want from him.”

Grayson nodded, drawn to the opportunity to spend more time with James. He was almost too good looking to be true. His eyes had held such fire when he smiled. And his voice sounded smooth and silky, like liquid seduction. He caught himself—what was he thinking? Surely he had more important things to think about than the looks of one of his colleagues. A man who, judging by his mostly theoretical background, was most likely going to oppose Grayson’s plans for the building site.

And as for the dedicated oncology unit for children—this was going to be a difficult discussion. If anyone knew what children needed, Grayson did. He’d experienced emotional rejection and neglect of the worst kind when he was only ten. He vividly remembered how his mother’s death had devastated him. Then, to make matters worse, his father had thrown himself into his medical research projects and had never looked back. He’d been left with the emotional fallout—his own as well as his two younger brothers’. And now he was responsible for sparing his young charges as much emotional stress as possible—a task he put his whole heart and soul into.

He wasn’t sure how to approach James. He wanted the specialized oncology unit whether he got the new Children’s Hospital approved or not. And it would be better to have James’s professional help. But would the man do this while knowing they were opponents on the matter of the building site? It was the right thing to do, the moral thing, but, unfortunately, not all medical professionals these days had morality as their highest priority.

The cafeteria was bustling with lunchtime activity, patients and staff mixing freely, competing for the same food but not the same seats. William led them to the staff seating area after they had chosen their meals, explaining the layout to James as they walked.

The two men discussed some details of James’s new position while they ate, and Grayson found himself too engrossed in listening to the sound of James’s voice to say anything. When William had finished eating, he excused himself to get to another meeting.

When their boss had left, James turned toward him, his gaze settling on Grayson with an almost unbearable intensity.

“So, you want to set up an oncology unit for children?” James asked with direct and total attention on him to the exclusion of everything else.

Hot and cold shot through Grayson at the same time. The room around him vanished and all he perceived was those eyes. He nodded, at first not trusting himself to speak.

“That is quite an unusual idea.” Something flickered in James’s eyes.

“Well, it just seems to make sense when we have so many children suffering from cancer, many of them terminal cases. They deserve the best care possible, don’t you think?” He still could not tear his eyes away from James.

“But surely they would receive the best care by using the existing facilities in Oncology? Why duplicate efforts?” The beginning of a frown showed on the man’s gorgeous forehead.

“That’s just it. The existing oncology department is geared towards adults, not children.” He was warming to his subject, now that he detected interest.

“Adults, children—what’s the difference? The medical equipment and procedures are the same.” James’s frown deepened.

“What’s the difference? How can you ask that? Children need so much more reassurance and emotional care than adults. The medical procedures may be the same, but it’s important how they’re applied as well. If we ever want the children to truly heal, that is.” His cheeks were hot with suppressed anger.

How could James miss the point so thoroughly? The man sounded just like Grayson’s father, who had no interest in anything but the physical reality. That was why he was so good at theoretical research and atrocious at patient care. Nor did personal relationships, like those with his children, seem important to him. It was why Grayson had been so alone and had felt abandoned after his mother died.

“What does the way in which we apply a procedure have to do with anything?” James blinked once and his eyebrows went up as he leaned toward him. “Surely all we need to do is follow it correctly? Anything else sounds like unscientific mumbo jumbo to me.”

“Unscientific mumbo jumbo? What about compassion and emotional balance—they’re a very necessary part of the healing process. Especially for children who are still much more sensitive and have not had years in which to build emotional defenses.” Grayson was stunned. James exhibited a worrying lack of understanding of the workings of the human psyche for someone of his obvious intelligence and scientific achievements.

“But there’s no way of proving that.” James shook his head and waved one hand in the air as if to shoo away a thought he didn’t want to deal with. “Compassion and emotional balance belong in the sphere of psychologists and psychiatrists and such. They are far better equipped to deal with them than we are. We are scientists and deal in measurable factors. We use logic to examine cause and effect. We use tried and tested procedures to cure people. Anything else is dangerous because it’s open to interpretation and misunderstanding.” James sat back in his chair, crossed his arms over his broad chest, and stared at Grayson as if daring him to contradict what he’d said.

James really didn’t seem to get it.

But that shouldn’t surprise him. On their walk over here he hadn’t smiled or nodded at a single person in the busy corridors, had barely looked at them. And his last two assignments had been focused on very theoretical aspects of medicine, not patient care. It looked more and more as if dealing with people wasn’t something that James did easily—if at all.

Grayson stared back at him. James had challenged him on one of his favorite subjects, one he was passionate about. Suddenly, the physical attraction seemed less urgent as well. The lack of compassion and emotional intelligence James had displayed reduced his attractiveness considerably.

“I’m sorry, but I cannot agree with you. I’ve seen the difference emotional care and compassion can make with my patients in those few cases where we were able to provide them. I just wish we could do it more often. And for that we need a team that has the machines and facilities right where they need them. A team that can provide the children with a feeling of safety rather than worrying about getting access to another unit’s equipment. We need to find space for parents to stay with the terminally ill children as often as possible so the children don’t feel alone and lost.”

“Put like that,” James raised his eyebrows, “it does seem to be more logical and efficient to have everything in one dedicated area rather than wasting time and effort going to another unit. But I still don’t believe it matters one way or another whether the children feel safe or not. And as for parents staying with them overnight—that surely causes more disruption to hospital routine than benefits to anyone.”

“So, logic and efficiency are the only things that matter to you? You put hospital routine above patient care and emotional well-being?” Grayson wasn’t usually this confrontational, but this man’s attitude really irked him. It didn’t fit with the warmth he’d shown toward him in his office earlier. Where was the dedication to curing people that he’d surely needed to become an international expert in his field? James wasn’t the kind of man he could possibly be attracted to, even though he was devastatingly handsome and took his breath away.

“Logic, efficiency, and hospital routine are some of the most essential ingredients for making people better, aren’t they?” James tilted his head. “They are what make us scientists and good doctors rather than quacks. Why do you give those factors so little credit?”

“At least you’ve got making people better somewhere in there.” He was more relieved than he cared to admit. “I was worried for a bit. Look, it sounds like we don’t agree on how we do our jobs or the factors that make us good doctors. But we seem to have our primary goals sorted out and at the top of our lists: making patients better. I wonder whether that is enough of a starting point for you to help me set up the children’s oncology unit?” He held his breath.

James had sounded as though he was at least willing to listen. It would be so much easier to do this with his support than without it. And Grayson wanted the children’s oncology unit whether he got his new Children’s Hospital or not.

“To be honest, I’m not sure yet. So let me think about it. In fact, I’d like to talk to you about it some more. You seem to have some definite ideas that I need to understand better.” James paused. “How about we have dinner tonight? We’ll have time to talk about this in peace and quiet rather than rushing it over lunch.”

It was Grayson’s turn to raise his eyebrows. This was totally unexpected, especially after the way James had dismissed his ideas at first. But James had also seemed to “bite” when he’d brought up the efficiency of having everything in one place. Maybe he could build on that and get James to see matters his way after all? Never mind why he helped Grayson, as long as he did.

As for the prospect of having dinner with James, he wasn’t sure that was a good idea. On the one hand, he found it hard to resist the prospect of spending an entire evening with James, looking into his eyes, listening to his voice, maybe finding out more about him as a person. On the other hand, getting more closely involved could only lead to trouble, even disaster.

But then one dinner didn’t really constitute involvement, did it? And it might help him to get the children’s oncology unit set up much faster than if he tried to do everything on his own.

So, finally, he nodded. “Okay, let’s have dinner. You’re right. It will give us more time to talk about my ideas and to answer your questions.”

James smiled at him, his dimples deepening. He had such a beautiful smile. It touched something deep inside of Grayson, something he’d buried a long time ago. He wanted to see that smile more often.

“I definitely have more questions. Do you have a favorite restaurant? I’m still pretty new to Oxford and don’t really know where to go.”

Grayson blinked. James had changed from a detached scientist into an interested male in all of ten seconds. But a male who asked for advice on which restaurant to choose? That was certainly unusual. This James would be even more difficult to resist.

“Well, for an evening like this I think I would recommend Branca. It’s right in the city center, not far from here. They have great service and good brasserie-style food.” He smiled back.

“Sounds good to me. I’ll get us a table for eight this evening.” James looked at his watch. “I have another meeting to attend in a few minutes, but I’ll pick you up at your office at seven-thirty.”

“That’s okay, James, you don’t have to. I’ve got my car here, so it makes more sense to meet at the restaurant.” It was important to maintain his independence.

James nodded before he got up, returned his tray, and left the cafeteria. Considering his attraction to the man, he couldn’t help but think dinner was definitely a dangerous idea. He sighed. Why was he looking forward to it anyway? Just thinking about spending the evening with James, away from work, made the entire cluster of butterflies in his stomach take somersaults. Professional adversary or not, the man was damned attractive!

 

©Serena Yates, 2013
All Rights Reserved

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