Friday, August 4, 2023

#NewBlogPost #BookBlitz...A Hospital in the Clouds...#Adult #Historical #Romance @XpressoTours @SexyNerdRevue

A Hospital in the Clouds
Mhairead MacLeod
Publication date: April 27, 2023
Genres: Adult, Historical, Historical Romance


Reinventing herself as a nurse in the tropical frontier of Australia, healing her soldier-lover, raising her unruly daughter – these are just a few of the challenges Anna Sinclair, a young suffragette, faces while on the run from the law back in Scotland.

As she struggles to establish her own hospital, her past draws closer and risks exposure of her shameful secret, along with the loss of everything she holds dearest.

Will everything she desires be achieved, or crumble around her?

“A powerful and perceptive depiction of love in the wake of war and trauma.” Nadine Davidoff, Freelance Editor

“A story about confronting and overcoming trauma within history… It had me turning the pages in a frenzy. Absolutely captivating!” Sandra, Indie Book reviewer

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When I saw Tom Austen that March morning of 1918, I knew there was something about him I recognised, something shared. It was in his expression as he let me dress his foot, rotten and black around stumps of cartilage where his toes had been surgically removed. He held in the pain, hissing through clenched teeth.

I drew the screen and squeezed a fresh cloth into a warm basin of water. ‘Here, Lieutenant Austen, I’ll help you off with your things.’

His shirt was damp with sweat, his pants soaked with urine.
‘Do you need to use the bedpan?’
‘Too late.’
As I pulled off his pyjamas his hand went to cover his crotch.
‘You should be used to this by now,’ I said, handing him a towel.
I wiped his face, the fair chin stubble uneven from alopecia, then massaged the washer gently down his chest, across red shrapnel scars and under his arms.
‘I was quite a hairy bugger until the war,’ he said.
‘Why didn’t you stay in England until your recovery?’
‘Must have been homesick. And Australian nurses are much prettier.’
We’d heard that old line from the soldiers many times, as if they were determined to assure us they were still virile men inside those broken bodies. We nurses usually played along – it was our job to heal, after all. But it was more than a job, more than just providing moral support and sympathy. We were part of their new family, we sisters who cared for them day and night. But the men we tended in the Injured Veterans’ Ward of the Cairns District Hospital were only a few of the hundreds who’d been shipped up to regional centres. It made room down south for the newly-arrived from Passchendaele, Pozières, Villers- Brettoneux, Lagnicourt – exotic names these men had no trouble pronouncing.

‘How lucky am I, eh? Shelled with phosgene. Didn’t realise what was happening. Thought I’d landed back home in a vat of newly picked corn – that’s what it smelt like. Didn’t feel it at first, then couldn’t breathe for the life of me. Crawled around, found my gas mask. Got patched up and sent back. Took another hiding from Fritz. Now this bloody trench foot.’

He made his butchering sound like a jaunty boy’s adventure, but I knew the truth. One night when the other men were asleep, I had found him, drawn back into that dark underworld, his body curled into a tight ball, his shoulders shaking.

A fly crawled over the bed, attracted by the rot that even disinfectant swabs couldn’t wash out. I flicked it away. ‘Your lungs are healing, Lieutenant. Our tropical weather will help. And you will get better, you hear?’ There was a liver-coloured wound at his neck, fading into scar tissue. At first, I suspected shrapnel damage, but when I looked closer, it resembled the more rounded scar of a bullet. ‘How did you get that?’

He propped himself up on one elbow and looked at me. ‘I can see what you’re thinking. So, don’t say it.’

‘Say what?’
‘That I’m really quite a lucky chap.’
‘I wasn’t going to.’
‘Then you’d be the first. That’s the platitude they come up with.’ He coughed, and the pain from his burned lungs made him slump back as he squeezed his eyes tight, shutting everything out. ‘Bloody carbolic floors,’ he said.

It was supposed to be a quick wipe down before I changed the basin and cloths for the next patient, but I slowed the process a little, the water wringing and splashing, sponging and soothing the pale landscape of violence. I patted dry the tattooed profile on his bicep. ‘She’s a pretty one. With her dark blue hair flying around.’

‘On leave with the battalion when I had that done. Got myself blotto. Didn’t have a girl to write home to, so I thought I’d carry one in my arms.’ He gave a chuckle then coughed again. ‘It’s just not the sort of thing … an officer is supposed to do. Is it, nurse?’

I guessed a warning about STDs would embarrass him, especially from someone his own age, and he’d probably have heard the standard lecture many times. Instead, I said with a smile, ‘You’d know how to set a good example, then.’
‘I’m the least qualified in the world to do that.’
‘Sounds like false modesty to me.’
‘No. Hard to explain – and if I tried, it would probably be bulldust.’

Author Bio:

Mhairead MacLeod was born in Scotland and now lives in Australia. Her first novel, The False Men won two manuscript awards. The manuscript for A Hospital in the Clouds has been short-listed for and won screenwriting manuscript awards. Before she became a writer Mhairead was a lawyer, which has proved useful for researching her historical fiction.

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