Officer Daddy

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Safe Harbor obstetrician Nora Kendall had always planned to have kids. But a recent divorce, and a recent birthday, point to Nora's window of opportunity getting smaller and smaller. She's looking for a man who will give her a baby—not a tall, dark and handsome younger man who isn't interested in the long term.

Leo Franco is bowled over when Nora informs him their one night of passion has resulted in a pregnancy. She's not trying to rope him ...

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Officer Daddy

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Overview

Safe Harbor obstetrician Nora Kendall had always planned to have kids. But a recent divorce, and a recent birthday, point to Nora's window of opportunity getting smaller and smaller. She's looking for a man who will give her a baby—not a tall, dark and handsome younger man who isn't interested in the long term.

Leo Franco is bowled over when Nora informs him their one night of passion has resulted in a pregnancy. She's not trying to rope him in, that's for sure. It seems like she's actually pushing him away…because of his age?

Now Leo's out to show Nora he's the man she needs. He's a responsible cop, and he would be a great father. But how can Leo convince the good doctor that he's ready to give up his bachelor status for diaper detail?

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780373753482
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Publication date: 2/1/2011
  • Series: Harlequin American Romance Series , #1344
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 218
  • Product dimensions: 4.20 (w) x 6.50 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Comedy, suspense and romance characterize USA Today-bestselling author Jacqueline Diamond’s 80-plus books for Harlequin. A former Associated Press reporter and TV columnist, Jackie has lived in Texas, Tennessee, Italy and France, and now Southern California. You can get her latest news at www.jacquelinediamond.com and contact her at jdiamondfriends@yahoo.com

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Read an Excerpt

Dr. Nora Kendall was in no mood for a wedding. Not for mentally reliving her own and not for pasting a smile on her face as she sat through somebody else's, even though she truly wished them well.

Her wedding, which lay five years in the past, had been a stunning ceremony at a hilltop mansion with a couture gown and custom everything. That magical event had been followed by bouquets filling every room on Valentine's Day and diamond jewelry each year as her birthdays advanced toward the mid-thirties. For the holidays, she could always count on tickets to a surprise destination—Paris, Montreal, Fiji, Shanghai.

Talk about your surprise destination. She hadn't seen the divorce coming.

Today's wedding was far simpler than hers. And, in retrospect, probably a lot more heartfelt. Nora had been committed enough, but Reese—well, she still couldn't figure out how she'd failed to see what a louse he was.

She supposed that, given the unhappy memories being stirred up, she should have declined today's invitation. Still, she truly was glad to witness the simple church ceremony between Tony Franco, the staff attorney at Safe Harbor Medical Center where she worked, and Kate Evans.

They gazed deeply into each other's eyes while speaking their vows. They couldn't stop smiling at each other. They chuckled when Kate's five-year-old son, Brady, dropped the ring as he tried to hand it to his new father, and they kept sneaking loving glances at their baby daughter, cradled in the arms of the best man.

That was Tony's brother, Leo. A police officer, Nora had heard. Or maybe this wasn't really Leo at all, and they'd hired the guy from some casting office in Hollywood, an hour's drive up the freeway. Thick light brown hair, intense gray eyes, the athletic stance of a man who felt completely comfortable in his own body. The best part was the loving way he rocked his infant niece.

The minister broke into her thoughts. Beaming at the gathering, he announced, "It is my honor to present to you Mr. and Mrs. Tony Franco." The guests cheered. Kate and Tony glowed as they nearly skipped down the aisle on their way to a well-deserved happy ending.

Nora might have pretty much given up on expecting one of those for herself, but she still took pleasure in her friends' happiness. At least, she tried to. But did the best man have to pass inches away from her, with the adorable infant gurgling in the crook of his arm? The sweet scent of baby powder twisted Nora's heart with longing.

She must be nuts. She held newborns every day, gently assisting them into the world, reassuring their mothers, sometimes performing life-saving surgery. That was her job and her passion. But there was something about a wedding and a baby that awoke longings she'd tried hard to suppress.

Nora ducked her head to hide her tears.

The kids made it all worthwhile for Leo—the uncomfortable suit, the endless posing for photographs and the job of coordinating the bridal party's transportation to the reception at Tony's house.

Brady was a cute little guy, and as for three-month-old Tara, she'd won Leo's adoration from the moment he first saw his niece. He'd been honored when his brother and new sister-in-law asked him to supervise the kids today. Under other circumstances, Kate's sister, Mary Beth, who was matron of honor, would have done kid duty, but she was pregnant and tired easily.

No sooner had they reached Tony and Kate's sprawling, Mediterranean-style house overlooking the harbor than Brady and a couple of cousins dashed to the playroom upstairs. As Leo had hoped, there proved to be plenty of willing volunteers to hold Tara.

That left him free to enjoy the buffet. Being a bachelor uncle gave him the best of both worlds.

All the same, he wished the best man didn't have to stick around to the end. Socializing in a tuxedo wasn't Leo's style. While the guest list included some down-to-earth friends from Kate's days as a hairdresser, there were also far too many smooth-talking doctors, attorneys and city movers and shakers. Exactly the kind of self-centered friends his parents used to cultivate.

Leo was finishing a crab cake when a strong hand clapped him on the back. Good thing he'd emptied his plate or he'd have spilled seafood down a nearby woman's dress.

"Congratulations!" boomed a masculine voice.

"Thanks." Setting the plate aside, he took in the older man's heavy jowls and designer suit, and a name clicked into place. Roy Hightower, real-estate broker and city-council member. His first term many years ago had briefly overlapped Leo's dad's tenure as mayor.

"Your brother has a beautiful home," added Mrs. High-tower, a slender woman he guessed to be in her early fifties but who'd been surgically rejuvenated to a perpetual thirty-something.

"Yes, he does." Leo riffled through his mental catalog for her name. Gina? Jenna? He strove to keep track of such details. In police work you never knew what information might come in handy.

"Are you a lawyer like your brother?" asked Mrs. Hightower.

Leo preferred not to disclose his occupation to people he didn't know well. But then, they were friends of the family. "Police officer."

As the Hightowers absorbed the information, Leo hoped he wouldn't have to field the usual complaints about traffic tickets. A city-council member ought to know that the police didn't make the rules.

Roy cleared his throat. "Here in Safe Harbor?"

Leo gave a nod, but turned that into a head shake at a waiter offering champagne. He limited his alcohol consumption whenever he planned to be driving.

The Hightowers each accepted a glass, and Roy raised his. "Here's to our men and women in blue. The rest of us rely on you to protect our lives and property." It sounded like a campaign speech. Still, Leo appreciated the sentiment.

"What does that mean, exactly—police officer?" asked Gina/Jenna. "Is that like a sergeant or a lieutenant?"

The inexact comparison to military ranks confused a lot of people, Leo had learned. "All sworn policemen and women are officers of the law. We're supervised by sergeants, lieutenants and captains. Some large departments have the rank of commander, as well."

"No majors or generals?" Roy joked.

"In Safe Harbor, the only person above a captain is the police chief, as I'm sure you're aware, sir." There. Leo hoped they'd finished with that subject. Although he'd been studying for the department's promotional exam to become a detective, he saw no reason to mention his ambitions.

"If you aren't one of those higher ranks, does that mean you're like a private in the army?" asked Mrs. Hightower, her shrill voice carrying above the chatter of the other guests.

People glanced their way. A couple of eyebrows lifted. He could have sworn one woman's nostrils flared in distaste, but that might have been his imagination.

"Sometimes it feels like it," Leo said. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm neglecting my responsibilities as best man." With what he hoped passed for a polite smile, he escaped into the throng.

From the dining room, he made his way through other large, open rooms, trying to catch sight of his brother. It was time for the obligatory toasts, and Leo meant to do the family proud. He'd practiced his short speech on his patrol partner, not that she'd been much help. Patty's idea of a major social event was eating bratwurst with her buddies while cheering a football game on TV.

Near the foot of a curving staircase, he saw the blonde he'd noticed at the ceremony. With long hair draped across her shoulders and her green eyes wide, she looked lost and vulnerable, as if she'd wandered into the wrong house, except it seemed unlikely she'd also wandered into the wrong church. Leo was admiring the curves beneath her silky, deep rose dress when her gaze met his.

He caught his breath. She was unbelievably gorgeous. Some rich older guy's trophy wife? But no ring, he noted.

Then she flicked him a mischievous grin, and suddenly she seemed like the girl next door. "Are you sure you aren't from Central Casting?"

"Excuse me?" He strolled closer.

She made a face at her champagne glass. "I think I've had too many of these."

"I'm not a waiter, if that's what you were thinking." In the tux he was wearing, it would be an understandable mistake.

"No, you're the best man. I'm Nora. I work at the medical center."

Obviously, she'd seen him at the wedding, too. Leo didn't usually make slips like that, except around striking, very feminine blondes who seemed in need of a strong shoulder to lean on.

And who, unfortunately, no doubt expected to be showered with gifts and entertained at expensive restaurants. Such had been his experience in a series of disappointing relationships, as Patty was fond of reminding him, usually with an elbow poke to the ribs and raucous laughter at Leo's expense.

Well, his partner wasn't here today. Lucky for him.

"You look beautiful in that dress," he blurted. "I suppose you know that." Great pickup line, Leo.

"Oh, I'm not nearly as pretty as people think I am." She blinked. "That didn't come out right."

If she imagined she was anything less than stunning, Leo felt obliged to correct the error. But he didn't get the chance, because a couple in their thirties walked up. A quick mental check turned up the names Kirk and Rosemary Peterson. Rosemary and Kate had met at the obstetrician's office, he recalled. Her husband, who'd been swapping new-father stories with Tony when Leo met him a few weeks ago, was an architect.

"Beautiful wedding," Rosemary told Leo. "You did a fantastic job of keeping the baby quiet during the ceremony."

"My niece has a sweet nature," he replied. "Also, I drugged her."

A free, open laugh burst out of Nora. No giggling behind her hand, Leo was glad to see.

"I've been tempted to do that a few nights myself," Kirk admitted. To Nora, he explained, "We have a three-month-old son. By the way, I'm Kirk Peterson and this is my wife, Rosemary."

His wife shifted uncomfortably. "Kirk, you remember Dr. Kendall. She's Reese's…"

Dr. Kendall. Well, she had said she worked at the hospital.

"Oh, right." Kirk snapped his fingers. "Congratulations. You and Reese must be thrilled."

Nora frowned. "I'm not sure thrilled is the word I'd use."

"Hey, we're experts on morning sickness and backaches and all that stuff, but it's worth it," Kirk enthused. "I beg your pardon?"

Rosemary grabbed her husband's arm. "Honey, Nora is Reese's ex-wife. She's not the one who's pregnant."

Understanding dawned on his face. "Oops. Guess I'm a little off base there. Sorry."

Nora didn't answer. Her jaw had dropped. Clearly, she'd had no idea her former husband and his new wife were expecting. Tension snapped through the air like live wires.

Attractive as he found this lady, Leo didn't need a woman still torn up over her divorce. "I'm about to propose a toast. I'll catch you folks later." He seized the chance to make his getaway. The Petersons beat a hasty retreat, as well.

As for Dr. Nora Kendall, she stood stone-still by the stairs, lips quivering. She looked more in need than ever of a shoulder to cry on, Leo thought, and wished he weren't so tempted to offer his.

What a time and place to learn about the ultimate betrayal.

"Babies are great, honey, but don't you see enough of them in the delivery room?" That had been one of Reese's typical answers whenever Nora had reminded him of their longstanding agreement to have a child. Or, "I'd hate to lose the romance in our marriage. Don't you like being able to make love whenever we want? And simply be best friends?"

Best friends didn't cheat and break each other's hearts. Had she been naive, foolish or simply stupid to think a smashingly handsome man with a taste for power could also be faithful and tender till death did them part?

Now Persia was pregnant. An exotic woman with the figure of a fashion model, a face worthy of a magazine cover and a birthday cake with a third fewer candles on it than Nora's, she'd not only stolen her husband but her dreams of a baby, too.

Envy was corrosive, Nora reminded herself. The same went for furious resentment and nasty sarcasm. What did that leave?

She considered a platter of petits fours, chocolate-dipped strawberries and miniature pastries arrayed on an end table. Gluttony, that's what it left.

She had barely reached for a strawberry, though, when the bride, clad in a cocktail dress and clutching baby Tara, whisked down the stairs. "Dr. Kendall! Would you do me a huge favor?" Without waiting for a response, she transferred the infant into Nora's arms. "I was breastfeeding when Tony called to say they're starting the toasts and…Oh, thank you!" Off she rushed.

"Happy to," Nora told the retreating figure. Gingerly, she lifted the infant to her shoulder and inhaled that precious baby scent. It reminded her, strangely, of Leo.

She pictured his leashed power as he'd strolled up the aisle, holding the infant. No wonder she'd felt a spark when he approached a few minutes ago. Too bad the Petersons had interrupted…Good heavens, he'd witnessed that whole awkward scene about Reese. Wouldn't you know it? She'd melted down in front of the first man who'd aroused even a speck of interest since her divorce.

Not much chance of correcting that bad impression. The guy must consider her a basket case.

She was drowning her sorrow in chocolate—not easy while juggling a baby—when she heard Leo's voice echo through the house. "My brother and I haven't always been as close as we are now. It took this wonderful woman, my new sister-in-law, Kate, to bring us together."

Unable to resist seeing him again, Nora followed his mellow baritone into the living room and joined a cheerful throng of the newlyweds' family and friends. By the fireplace stood two tall men, both clad in black-and-white formal wear that put her in mind of a classic James Bond movie. Leo wore a tux with more panache than his brother, in her opinion. Something about him seemed especially sexy to Nora. At least, it did after three glasses of champagne.

"I wasn't too crazy about my first sister-in-law," Leo went on, draping one arm around his brother. "But we won't talk about her today."

Good choice. While Nora had only met Esther a few times, the whole hospital had buzzed when she dumped her husband and her job as a county prosecutor for a high-powered career in the U.S. Attorney's office in Washington, D.C. Not only had Esther refused to take her husband along to share her new life, she'd also abandoned the baby they'd conceived with the help of a surrogate mother. Kate had been only a few months from delivering Tara, who was in fact her own biological child.

Speaking of Tara, she'd just produced a loud burp. Nearby, several guests smiled, while another glared, apparently under the impression that this was some rude visiting baby.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2012

    EYZUSGCTDKXTDHFTFOFVH CHFTCCDDGFSTJVDYFRTDTDTDTXUTXT

    XGSRDRRSJXGFJCKFHHDUEBDHMDYHGDDDBDGDDBBFDUGDTDGDNXMTDDHSDTTZIIYTEASHLBFGBFGGGGDRCFYBXYBCRYDFDTDDTXGZHFHFYTDDTTYYBCIHDYFHYDGDGBXSGSHMXBHXDGDEGDDFJHEDGJJJGFSFGGGWJGDWNJJJJHAYSUSVACFSSGGSSGGSFSS LOVED IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  • Posted January 27, 2011

    This is an emotional, loving story.

    Officer Daddy -- Harlequin American Romance # 1344 -- February 2011 -- Jacqueline Diamond -- The 4th book of "Safe Harbor Medical" series. -- Dr. Nora Kendall was attending Tony Franco and Kate Evans wedding, when she saw a man holding Tony and Kate's infant daughter. Nora thought that this man had to be an actor instead of Tony's brother, Officer Leo Franco. Nora, who was divorced, was drawn to the younger man. After everyone had left, Nora asked Leo if he could call her a cab, because she didn't think she should be driving. Leo offers to take her home. The attraction between them became a flaming fire. The next morning Nora tells Leo that it was a onetime thing; he would get tired of her soon and looked for someone new, like her ex-husband had done. They both would go their own way. -- Leo and his partner Patty were up for a promotion to detective. They were two of the final three officers being offered the job. Over the next weeks they would be evaluated to see who would be the best for the job? Leo was having trouble forgetting the night he had spent with Nora. When he accidently runs into Nora, he finds out that they would have a reminder of that night for years to come. -- Jacqueline Diamond next addition of "Safe Harbor Medical" series bring an emotional, loving story. Nora had been handed a raw deal with her ex-husband and was not in the market to have it happen to her again. Leo had met a woman who had left a lasting impression on him and one he didn't want to forget. Officer Daddy is a story you don't want to miss.

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  • Posted December 29, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    This is an engaging Safe Harbor Medical contemporary romance

    In Safe Harbor, divorced Dr. Nora Kendall and police officer Leo Franco meet at his brother's wedding. He assumes she is high maintenance, which he loathes in a woman, and she has doubts about any man even the best man after her ratty ex Reese dumped her for a younger model. Still they share a great night after the ceremony.

    However, she concludes he would be a keeper except he is not ready for a long term relationship. Nora files Leo away as a wonderful one night. However, the obstetrician is pregnant carrying Leo's child. He admits he is attracted to her, but not ready to commit to a family. Besides, he spends all his energy on obtaining a promotion at work. Nora goes back to her first assessment of Leo that he rejects commitment; yet he wants to be a responsible daddy.

    This is an engaging Safe Harbor Medical contemporary romance (His Hired Baby and The Holiday Triplets) starring a wonderful doctor and a respectable ambitious cop. Although the story line contains too many subplots with some not needed, the prime theme is a charmer as he goes from commitment phobia to desperate to get his beloved to commit. Even with a too quick sudden wrap up, fans will enjoy this fun tale.

    Harriet Klausner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 26, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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