Tell us a little about this book.
In At Odds With The Midwife, nurse/midwife Gemma Whitmire returns to her hometown of Reston, Oklahoma to open a birthing center where she can assist expectant and new mothers. At the same time, Dr. Nathan Smith is working to reopen the small local hospital which was closed years before after his father, the chief financial officer, embezzled the hospital’s funds and disappeared.
Although Gemma and Nathan were classmates growing up, and Gemma had a massive crush on him, they are now deeply divided over the care of expectant mothers. When Gemma learns that his issues spring from a tragedy in his own family, she works to help him accept her and her work, as well as his own past.
What made you want to write this book?
The truth is, I take advantage of research situations when they’re presented to me, and the more easily they come, the better. My daughter-in-law, Hailey, was studying midwifery. Since it’s a subject that’s interested me for a long time, I was thrilled to have a ready source of information and Hailey was glad to oblige. Also, I wanted to write a series of books set in Oklahoma, the beautiful state where my parents grew up, and where I still have many relatives.
Can you share an excerpt?
The place was warm and inviting, not at all the den of hippie craziness his mother had claimed it to be. Also, it was rustic, but not primitive. Thinking about it now, he wondered why she had chosen that word.
“Come over to the sink,” Gemma commanded and he did as he was told, standing with his hand under warm running water, very aware of her gently clasping it in her own while she turned it this way and that, keeping it under the stream from the faucet. Nate liked being close enough to catch the scent of her, faintly flowery, no doubt heightened by the work she’d been doing out back.
He was about to ask what she’d been planting, when she shut off the water, grabbed a handful of paper towels which she placed beneath his hand to catch the drips, and directed him toward the table. It was very old, with a scarred top that spoke of many meals eaten at it by many generations. The chairs were a mishmash of styles, but all seemed to be as old as the table. Nate glanced around again at the cabin. It was cozy and inviting and in his mind, he could see previous Whitmires sitting here, eating, talking, laughing. The place had a settled atmosphere. In spite of the modern furnishings, glowing electric lamps, and the laptop computer open on a living room table, he could picture a woman in a long dress from the early twentieth century, coming inside, removing her bonnet, and pumping water at the sink to wash up, get a drink, and begin preparing dinner. Maybe that’s what actually haunted the Whitmire farm – the ghosts of hard-working, happy people with established traditions going back generations. He shook his head at the fanciful thoughts. He never lapsed into daydreams like this.
Casting Gemma a wary glance to see if she had noticed his odd behavior, he ruefully decided that she wouldn’t know if this was out of character for him, or not. They hadn’t seen each other in fifteen years.
“This is nice,” he said, watching her pick up a rubber bulb syringe, fill it with warm water, and expertly flush his cut with a disinfectant solution. “Your family farmed this land for many years.”
“More than a hundred, but my dad wasn’t interested in farming so he sold most of the farmland and established the campground.”
“But they stayed in this cabin, kept the family home.”
“Don’t sound so surprised,” she said, glancing up and giving him the full attention of those remarkable green eyes of hers. “They have roots here that they wanted to maintain. My parents may have been . . . unusual, but they knew how to create a happy home.”
Nate didn’t answer. For all of their wealth and position, his parents had certainly never known how to do that. From his first memories, their home had been sterile, filled with icy silences. Funny, after all these years, he still never thought of the ostentatious house at the end of Pine Street as his home, only theirs. That’s why it was sitting empty, falling into disrepair. Why he’d rented a small house near the hospital, to which he had brought the furniture he’d bought himself. He had yet to include anything from his childhood home.
“And how are your parents?” he asked. “I heard they had left town, and the campground was permanently closed.”
She gave him a big smile – the expression of someone talking about those she loved. “They’re very well. As soon as I was launched into the world, they took the money they’d inherited from my dad’s family and the sale of the farmland and took off. They’ve traveled the world ever since, helping out on building projects in third world countries wherever they can. I see them a couple of times a year here in the states, or I go wherever they are.”
“It sounds . . . idyllic.”
Gemma laughed and her eyes lit up. “It sounds like what a couple of middle-aged hippies would do, but don’t tell them I said that.”
“I doubt that I’ll ever see them.”
“You might be surprised.” She lifted his hand and examined it closely for debris, then, apparently satisfied, she carefully positioned a bandage over the cut. “This is their home, after all.”
“Are you going to be here long?” Maybe he could get her to go out to dinner with him. There was no decent restaurant in Reston, but Dallas was only a couple of hours south and he knew there were plenty of fine dining places there. Besides, if she was as competent a nurse as she appeared to be, he might have a job for her.
“I’m back permanently.”
“Really?” More and more promising, Nate thought. “Is your nursing license current?”
“Of course.” She tilted another smile at him. “What’s the matter?” she asked in a teasing voice. “Afraid I didn’t bandage your hand right? Remember, you were on my property without being asked, while I was busy working.”
Deciding he’d better change tactics, he asked, “What were you doing out there, by the way? At first I thought you were burying a body.”
“In the dark?”
“It’s not dark. There’s a full moon, which is when these herbs must be planted.”
Maybe she wasn’t as different from her parents as he’d thought. “Oh? What kind?”
“Blue cohosh, for one.”
He frowned. “It grows wild all around here. You only have to walk out into the woods and pick it.”
“I’d rather have it close by and if I grow it myself I can ensure the quality.”
She was watching his face carefully. Nate felt as if he was trying to communicate in an unknown language.
“And you need these for cooking?”
“No, for pregnancy, labor, and delivery. Tincture of blue cohosh stimulates labor.”
Nathan went very still as those words sank in, the facts lining up before him as if they were printed on the very air.
“You’re a midwife.” His tone was flat.
What’s up next for you?
There are two more books in the Oklahoma Girls series. The Husband She Can’t Forget will be available in February in 2017, and His Twin Baby Surprise will be available in May 2017.
Patricia Forsythe is the author of twenty-five books for Harlequin, with many more to come. She loves creating stories with interesting characters and happy endings.