The hospital’s least eligible bachelor and its aloof administrator hate each other… so why are they pretending to date?
Dr. Owen Gagnon and HR director Erin Andreas are infamous for their hospital hallway shouting matches. So imagine the town’s surprise when Erin bids an obscene amount of money to win Owen in the hospital bachelor auction—and Owen ups the ante by insisting Erin move in with him.
Copper Point may not know what’s going on, but neither do Erin and Owen. Erin intends his gesture to let Owen know he’s interested. Owen, on the other hand, suspects ulterior motives—that Erin wants a fake relationship as a refuge from his overbearing father.
With Erin suddenly heading a messy internal investigation, Owen wants to step up and be the hero Erin’s never had. Too bad Erin would rather spend his energy trying to rescue Owen from the shadows of a past he doesn’t talk about.
This relationship may be fake, but the feelings aren’t. Still, what Erin and Owen have won’t last unless they put their respective demons to rest. To do that, they’ll have to do more than work together—they’ll have to trust they can heal each other’s hearts.
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Erin Andreas tasted soft and sweet—and he didn’t know how to kiss.
Owen regretted the move as soon as he’d done it, feeling like it was too much, the slowly sobering part of his brain shouting at his high, drunk id for following the impulse. Except Erin didn’t reject him. He tried to kiss him back, but with the blind panic of someone who didn’t want anyone to know they didn’t know what they were doing.
This man has never been kissed properly.This truth presented itself in Owen’s mind, twining with the memory of John Jean Andreas looming over a pale, trembling Erin.
Erin’s fingers grazed Owen’s cheek, falling to his neck. He wasn’t pulling away.
I didn’t think it would be so offensive for me to bid on you, but I see that it is.
Gut clenching in shame, Owen slipped his hand to Erin’s neck, thumb trailing down the quivering muscles, soothing them as he supported Erin’s head. Let me show you how much I’m not offended. He opened his mouth over Erin’s, coaxing him into a deeper kiss.
His hand that had drifted to Erin’s waist traveled lower, cupping the curve of Erin’s ass.
As the gasps of the room mingled with the swell of the music, Erin drew away, trembling. “What are you doing?”
Not quite the reaction he’d been after.
Owen spun them into the dance. He hadn’t done ballroom in a while, but his brain remembered, the same way it had the violin. Shit, he didn’t need to think about that either. He settled his hand more politely on Erin’s hip.
What happens now?
He was still searching for the answer when Erin spoke, his voice clipped and wavering. “I think a few people heard you announce you were my boyfriend, and this performance isn’t going to help that rumor go away.”
“I don’t mind if people think we’re dating.” Owen raised an eyebrow at Erin, but Erin was staring at Owen’s bow tie and wouldn’t look at him. “Do you have a problem with it?”
He hadn’t known Erin could blush like this. “Wh-why would you want them to think that?”
“Because of your father, obviously.”
“I didn’t—I don’t—” Erin stepped on Owen’s feet, frowning. “I don’t understand what you mean.”
Owen drew Erin closer. “Everything’s working fine. See? I’m right here.”
“Yes, but I think you’ve misunderstood me. And you’re making me so unsettled.”
“I honestly think having us be pretend boyfriends is better than just a date.”
The color drained from Erin’s face. “Pretend—what?”
“As for unsettling you, I think it’s only fair. You knocked me flat with your bid when I was already weak, then sauntered up to the stage as if you did that sort of thing every day.”
Erin’s trembling hand slid to Owen’s chest. “I don’t know why the quartet upset you so much, but I would never have let them enlist you if I’d known. I’m sorry.”
Now it was Owen’s turn to trip. He tried to cover his clumsiness with a wink, but that turned out to be a bad idea because Erin’s vulnerable face made him dizzy.
The thought plaguing Owen since he’d seen Erin with John Jean finally bubbled to the surface. He clung to Erin and focused on keeping them both upright, on drawing one steady breath after the other.
He reminds me of my mother.
The only sound in the room was the soft thump of his heartbeat in his ears, the slow, gentle pulls of air into his lungs. He felt as if he were a bird, caught by his foot with his wings extended. If he didn’t flee, he’d be dragged into everything he’d told himself he never wanted to face again. Yet even as he thought this, though his wings had yet to be clipped, he realized the chain had already been placed on his leg. He would never get Erin’s terrified face from his mind. He would never forget watching John Jean grab Erin’s elbow and Erin cowering before his father, trying to hide his pain, his fear.
Erin reminds me of my mother, and I can’t bear the thought of him going home with a man who reminds me of my father.
Maybe this time I can save her.
Cool fingers on his face drew him out of his trance. Glancing down, he saw Erin regarding him with a worried expression.
They stood in the middle of the room, no longer dancing, only holding one another in an awkward embrace as other couples danced around them.
Owen scanned the crowd for John Jean but couldn’t find him. Ignoring the stares from their onlookers, he turned back to Erin. “You live with your father, right?”
The shuttering of Erin’s expression set Owen’s primal instincts on red alert. “Yes. Why?”
Owen searched Erin’s face. “What’s going to happen tonight when you go home?”
The way Erin’s walls slammed up told Owen everything he needed to know. “That’s none of your concern.”
“I swear to you, I can protect you. I’ll keep you safe.” His grip on Erin tightened, and so did the muscles of his chest. “But if you want my help, you can’t stay in his house any longer. Not for a single night.”
Erin pulled away. “What in the world?”
Owen held him fast. “I’ll pretend to be your boyfriend and keep your father out of your hair. That’s a promise. Just move in with me. Right now.”
Erin stared at Owen. “Move in—with you?”
“That’s right.” Grinning, Owen spun them back into the dance.
4 of 5 Stars
While I liked the first book in this series, I liked this one much more…this one was personal for me.
I will say this – the embezzlement part of the story is like most stories I read these days – fiction, as I expected it to be, so I was not disappointed. If I wanted to read a book with a more accurate crime story I’d read a crime drama written by someone with that knowledge or experience. This sub-plot was wrapped up nicely and we get the outcome we wanted. I’m not going to complain about that.
I liked this book for nothing more than the conquering of demons past by both Erin and Owen. I’m not sure what was worse for Owen, the physical scars his dad left of the emotional ones from his mom. The thought of not being able to seek salvation in music is unbearable to me; to have your only means of escape so cruelly stripped from you by someone you trusted, someone who should have protected and loved you made me shake with fury. I connected with Erin on such a personal level. His description of his memories of childhood…if the author got nothing else correct, she got that correct.
“I don’t know. I don’t remember much of being at home or school when I was younger than thirteen. Everything is grayed out, only these vague concepts and fragments. I’m not saying I can’t remember what happened to me. It feels as if it’s a film reel from the 1970’s, run too fast with poor sound quality. It doesn’t feel threatening, but it also doesn’t have much detail.”
Erin and Owen are good at protecting each other and battling both internal and external demons together. They are perfectly imperfect characters who will be hard to beat in this series. I loved Owen’s patience with Erin’s sexual inexperience and orientation (which was not spoken outright but made obvious).
Next up is, I assume, Jared and Nick. This book will be hard to top for me personally but I’ll read it because I’m curious for their story.
Read Book 1 – The Doctor’s Secret
Pre-Order Book 3 – The Doctor’s Orders
About the Author
Author of over thirty novels, Midwest-native Heidi Cullinan writes positive-outcome romances for LGBT characters struggling against insurmountable odds because she believes there’s no such thing as too much happy ever after. Heidi is a two-time RITA® finalist and her books have been recommended by Library Journal, USA Today, RT Magazine, and Publisher’s Weekly. When Heidi isn’t writing, she enjoys cooking, reading novels and manga, playing with her cats, and watching too much anime. Find out more at heidicullinan.com.
Author Guest Post
Thanks for having me today. I’m here to talk about my new book The Doctor’s Date, available in ebook, trade paper, and mass market from Dreamspinner Press. It’s book two in the Copper Point: Medical series, and it’s the story of Erin Andreas, no-nonsense hospital administrator, and Dr. Owen Gagnon, the cantankerous anesthesiologist.
Today I want to talk a little more about Erin and his big romantic gesture.
The Doctor’s Date opens with a hospital bachelor auction fundraiser, and Owen is a reluctant participant. He arranges for his friends to bid on him and keep him from any coworkers who might want revenge for his overbearing attitude. So Owen is upset when Erin overpowers the bidding and secures Owen for himself.
Erin didn’t simply win the bid, though. He bids an obscene amount of money for Owen, trying to get his attention while also attempting to ensure he doesn’t lose. In Erin’s mind, this is a romantic gesture. In Owen’s mind, it’s an attempt to control him.
These two have a pattern of mistaking what the other person means, down to Erin’s longing to reach out in high school. Both of them have good reason to fear rejection, so they make a lot of mistakes, and they both have a tendency to overplay their hand. When Owen perceives Erin could use rescuing, he doesn’t simply ask if Erin needs help, he railroads him into moving in with him. He buys Erin’s favorite things and dotes on him even before he himself is aware of how much he cares for the other man.
Though Erin and Owen fumble before they figure out what they mean to one another—and fumble afterward too—they do know how to make grand romantic gestures. And once they realize they belong together, their efforts to charm and please the other only get more intense.
I hope you enjoy meeting Erin and Owen and watching their romance bloom in The Doctor’s Date, and I hope you enjoy all of the books in the Copper Point series!