Breakfast at Giovanni's

Available in stores

Winner of the RNA Romance Prize 2008

A Waldenbooks top 10 series romance bestseller

 

Mills & Boon Modern Extra

July 2007

ISBN: 9780263853926

 

Harlequin Presents Extra as In Bed With Her Italian Boss

April 2008

ISBN: 9780373820764

Her new Italian boss is the sexiest man alive!

Having just been fired, Francesca has three immediate requirements: a coffee, an extremely calorific pastry and a new hob. Stopping off at her favourite café, Giovanni's, she manages to pick up all three!

Fran's new job working for darkly handsome Giovanni Mazetti is fantastic - except she soon discovers it comes with a tantalising caveat: pretending to be his adoring girlfriend! It's all to get Gio's interfering grandmother off his back, not to mention his parents, sisters, aunts... It's a tough life, but someoneís got to kiss the oh-so-sexy Gio, and it might as well be her... if only it could be for real! But when the kisses start happening in private, Fran discovers that breakfast at Giovanni's has a whole new meaning...

Also released in Australia in paperback (November 2007, ISBN: 9780733582554).

 


Behind the Book

One of my bad habits is lattes. (Skinny lattes... so maybe it's not that bad...) I love lattes. If I take the kids out, we always end up in a café, and they could probably order for me! Being the nerd I am, I had to find out exactly how a barista makes lattes. (This involved much research, which my husband said was sitting around in a café with the kids or friends - but to be authentic you have to do your research properly.)

And that's when it hit me. I could do a book set in a café. With a barista hero. Except Gio didn't really want to be a barista - he's given up his dreams of being a musician, for the sake of his family. He loves his family, but he's tired of them trying to run his life and get him to settle down.

Add Fran, a heroine who really wants to be part of a big, loving family but her past makes her think she's unloveable. And the fact that Gio's family believe she's his girlfriend, no matter what he says (and he adores his grandmother, so he persuades Fran to go along with it just while his grandmother's over from Milan). And a neighbour from hell. And the fact that the hero shares something with actor Rufus Sewell... (No, of course Iím not telling you what. It's a crucial scene in the book. Let's just say I really, really enjoyed writing that scene.)

It's dedicated to to Jim Knight, my guitar teacher. Jim's taught me to play some of the pieces that Gio plays to Fran in the book (notably the Bach and the Beethoven) Ė and he's played some of the other pieces to me (the ones that are way beyond my skill level!). My husband also helped here - although it's not part of the book, I talked him into playing Peter Green and Nick Drake to me. And that set the tone for some of the scenes between Fran and Gio, so I should credit him with being my research assistant . . .

Fran cooks Gio chicken arrabbiata. I love Italian food, so I enjoyed coming up with my own version.

And I'm absolutely thrilled that the judges of the RNA Romance Prize 2008 chose this book as the winner, calling it warm and believeable with a realistic ending.

The book's soundtrack

The hero is a musician, so there's a lot of classical music in this one. Plus a couple of rather offbeat but beautiful tracks from my collection. Although some of them are more familiar as piano pieces, they sound wonderful played on the classical guitar.

  • Bach - Air on a G String
  • Beethoven - Pathetique Sonata (second movement)
  • Piazolla - Verano Porteno
  • Albéniz - Asturias (Leyenda)
  • Van Morrison - Moondance
  • Lindsey Buckingham - This Nearly Was Mine
  • Mozart - Divertimenti

Read a Bit

CHAPTER ONE

She looked as if the world had ended: hunched over an empty coffee cup, staring out of the plate-glass window but not seeing anything.

Gio couldn't leave her sitting there in such obvious misery. So even though he should've locked up ten minutes ago, he did exactly what his father would've done. He made a cappuccino and slid it onto the table in front of her. 'Here,' he said softly.

She looked up, her eyes widening in surprise. 'I...' She'd obviously been about to protest that she hadn't ordered the coffee. But then she smiled ruefully and cupped both hands round the mug, clearly taking comfort from its warmth. 'Thanks.'

'No problem.' He handed her a chocolate dipper. 'You look as if you need this.'

'I do,' she admitted. 'Thanks. I appreciate this.' She rummaged in her handbag for her purse. 'How much do I owe you?'

He waved a dismissive hand. 'Nothing.'

She frowned. 'Won't you get into trouble with your boss?'

'Doubt it.' He smiled. 'Anyway, you're a regular, so call it a refill.'

Those beautiful blue eyes - the same blue as the sky on a summer evening, he saw, now that he was this close to her - narrowed slightly. 'Regular?'

He shrugged. 'On Wednesday mornings, you order a cappuccino and an almond croissant to go at ten past nine.'

The suspicion on her face morphed into nervousness. 'How do you know that?'

Oh, lord. Obviously she thought he was some kind of weirdo - that he'd been watching her or stalking her. He shouldn't have mentioned the time. 'Work here long enough and you get to know the customers,' he said lightly, hoping it reassured her. 'I'm out of croissants or I would've brought you one - hence the chocolate.' He spread his hands. 'Because that's what women need when things get tough, right? Or so my sisters always tell me.'

'Right. And thank you.' She looked very close to tears.

'Want to talk about it?'

She looked around, as if suddenly realising she was the only customer. 'Oh, lord. Sorry. I'm holding you up.'

'Not at all. Though would you mind if I put up the closed sign and put the bolt on the door, so I don't get a sudden rush and end up staying open a lot later than usual?'

***

Fran thought about it. He'd actually asked her first, to make sure she didn't feel threatened. And a man who'd brought her a coffee and a chocolate dipper couldn't be all bad, could he? OK, so he knew her Wednesday morning order - but, as he'd said, you got to know your regulars in business. Just as she did: she recognised voices on the phone and knew even before they asked which ones would be asking for a last-minute panic job and which ones would be booking slots for weeks ahead.

'Sure,' she said.

He bolted the door, turned the sign over to read 'closed' from the outside, turned off one of the banks of lights, and came to sit opposite her. 'Gio Mazetti,' he said, holding out his hand.

She took it, and was surprised at the sudden tingle in her fingertips when her skin touched his. 'Fran Marsden. And thank you for the coffee, Joe.'

'Gio,' he corrected with a smile.

Now she was listening properly, she heard it. The soft G, the I and O sliding together almost after a pause.

'Short for Giovanni,' he added helpfully.

And then the penny dropped. Of course he wouldn't get into trouble for making her a coffee for no charge. Because the café was called Giovanni's. 'You own the place.'

He lifted one shoulder. 'It's a family concern - but, yeah, I'm in charge.'

'I, um. . .' She shifted in her seat, embarrassed at her naivety. 'Sorry.'

He laughed. 'Don't apologise. I'm glad I come across as one of the baristas - there's nothing worse than having the boss supposedly doing a shift and just throwing his weight around instead of doing something useful.'

He had a nice laugh. Good teeth, even and white - no fillings, either, she noticed. A guy who took care of small details. But he also didn't look like the type who went in for cosmetic dentistry. She'd put money on him not going to the gym, either - she had a feeling that Gio Mazetti was in perfect shape from hard work, not from pumping iron. He was good-looking, but far from being vain about it.

'So. Want to tell me about it?' When she said nothing, he added softly, 'My nonna - my Italian grandmother - always says that a problem shared is a problem halved.'

Homespun wisdom. Just the sort of thing her mother would come out with.

Her mother. . .

Fran's smile faded before it had had a chance to start. She was going to have to call her parents tonight and admit to them that she was a failure. Not only was she the only one of their children not to get a degree, now she was the only one who didn't have a decent job. And it went right with the territory of not being their real child, anyway - the only one of the four Marsden children who was adopted.

She sighed. 'I lost my job today.'

'I'm sorry. That's tough.'

It wasn't his fault. And he was right: it felt good to unburden herself. Lose some of the sick feeling of failure. 'My boss decided he wanted a new challenge, so he sold the business to go travelling for a year and work out what he wanted to do with his life.' She shrugged. 'A competitor bought the business. And you really don't need two office managers when you're merging two companies and need to cut your running costs. So one of them has to be made redundant.'

'So you're an office manager?'

'Was.' She pulled a face. 'Ah, ignore me. I'm whining.' She waved a dismissive hand. 'I'll find something else. It's just that I really loved my job - and there aren't that many opportunities in the market because there aren't many voiceover studios around.'

He looked interested. 'What does a voiceover studio do?'

'Record jingles for radio stations, produce radio advertising and audio books, and do audio special effects - you know, like horses' hooves or fireworks going off on bonfire night, that kind of thing.'

'So you get all the famous actors and actresses coming in?'

She smiled. 'They're not always household names - but, yeah, I've booked a few in my time.'

'You were in charge of booking?'

'I didn't make the final decisions on who we booked for each job,' Fran said, 'but I made suggestions and I did the organising. I made sure everyone knew what they were supposed to be doing and when.' And she'd fitted in, right smack in the middle of things. She'd belonged. And that, to her, had been way more important than her admittedly good salary. 'We had a sales guy handling the sales side of things, a sound manager to do the technical stuff, and my boss did the copywriting and most of schmoozing.' She bit her lip. 'I'm going to miss it. Horribly. But, hey, life moves on. I'll get over it. Find something else.' She glanced at her watch. 'Sorry. I'm making you really late.'

Gio shook his head. 'It's really not a problem, Fran. My evening's my own. Though I do need to clean the machines so they're ready for tomorrow morning - so if you don't mind me sorting that out while we're talking, come and sit by the bar.'

Fran looked at him properly for the first time. Gio Mazetti would get a definite ten on the scale of gorgeousness. Olive skin, dark straight hair that flopped across his forehead and he'd obviously pushed it back with one hand at various times during the day because it stuck up in places, a sensual mouth - and the most stunning eyes. With his colouring and his Italian name, she'd expected them to be dark brown. Instead, they were blue.

A mesmerising deep, almost midnight, blue.

She followed him to the bar.

'So when do you finish?' he asked.

That was what had knocked her for six. 'It all happened today and I cleared my desk this afternoon. I'm on five months' gardening leave, as of now,' she said.

'Five months is pretty generous,' he commented, starting to strip down the coffee machine.

'I worked at the studio for five years, so I guess the terms are one month for every year I spent there,' she explained. 'But the terms of my leave also mean that I can't contact any of my former clients during those five months.'

'So if you go to a competitor, you can't take your contacts with you.'

He'd hit the nail right on the head, and Fran's spirits took another nosedive. 'In five months' time, my contacts will be out of date, because things change so quickly in advertising and radio and publishing. And that's assuming I can get another job in a voiceover studio - as I said, it's not that huge an industry, so even in London there aren't many openings.' She shrugged. 'On the plus side, my skills are transferable. I dunno. Maybe I'll try some of the advertising agencies, see if I can work on the client management side. If that doesn't break the terms of my gardening leave, that is.'

'Tell me about what your job involved,' Gio said.

'I kept the schedule for the studios so I knew which slots were free if we were doing a rush job, and which actor was working on which job. I used to talk to the radio stations and audio publishers to sort out timescales, and to the agencies so we had the right voice for the right job. Plus a bit of PA work for the boss and keeping up to date with invoicing and payments.'

'Hmm.' He finished cleaning the machines and leaned on the counter opposite her. 'So you're good at organisation and you're used to keeping track of lots of different projects at the same time, and dealing with lots of different people at lots of different levels.'

That pretty much summed it up. And there was no point in false modesty: she might as well get used to stating what her skills were. She needed the practice for interviews. 'Yes.'

'And you understand finances.'

There was a difference between being honest and sexing it up. She wasn't going to claim to be an accountancy whiz-kid. 'I can do basic book-keeping and set up spreadsheets and produce graphs,' she said.

'Can you read a P and L statement?'

'Profit and loss? Um - I might need to ask some questions, but yes, I think so.'

'And you understand how profit margins work, the difference between fixed and variable costs?'

She nodded.

He smiled. 'Excellent. In that case, I might have a proposition for you.'

From the book Breakfast at Giovanni's by Kate Hardy.

Harlequin Mills & Boon Modern Extra Romance
Publication Date: July 2007
ISBN: 9780263853926
Copyright © 2007 by Pamela Brooks
® and ™ are trademarks of the publisher.
The edition published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.
For more romance information surf to http://www.eHarlequin.com

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Reviews

From Cataromance:

a captivating Modern Romance Extra that seamlessly blends passion and poignancy. . . Sexy, funny, tender, passionate and romantic . . . Kate Hardy is a writer readers can count on in order to deliver an entertaining page-turner.

From the Pink Heart Society:

Kate Hardy delivers everything her faithful readers have come to expect - a well-researched story, a very sexy hero who is deserving of the lovely heroine, and secondary characters who don't take over the story yet are integral to the plot . . . a gorgeous story that touches the reader on all levels - it's humorous, romantic, and emotional. A delicious read on all counts.

From Amazon:

It is easy to imagine this working relationship growing and developing into a strong, lasting love as Kate Hardy creates such realistic characters. I can't say enough about Gio's family. So much warmth and love shines through his family members that it just makes the atmosphere of the entire book friendly and inviting. In fact, I really like the way Kate Hardy portrays family as a whole. She brings such joy to her story that it is hard to stop reading.

From Amazon: a charming and extremely sweet love story

This is one sweet and tender love story...an awakening of sorts for both Gio and Fran and one you definitely will not want to miss thanks to Kate Hardy's storytelling ability!

What they're saying on e-Harlequin:

  • Gio's big Italian family is great. Gio is so yummy and likable. This was a fun, sexy and sweet book.
  • Fun in all the right places and emotional in all the right places. A great read.
  • For some reason I wanted to drink and eat my way through this book! Read it. You'll love it.
  • 5 out of 5 stars. Very, very enjoyable. Funny & family support. I like the UK name of this book better, 'Breakfast At Giovanni's'.
  • I really enjoyed this story, an ordianary couple, with loving and quirky families, intensely attracted. It makes this seem like a real life romance that could happen for real.
  • I loved it. No rich guys. No rich girls, just real people who have real families. Fran and Gio are super characters and his family, especially nonna, are so real!
  • So much warmth and love shined through his family members that it just made the atmosphere of the entire book so friendly and inviting. In fact, I really liked the way Kate Hardy portrayed family as a whole. She brought such joy to her story that it was hard to stop reading.
  • Wow, I really liked this story. Fran and Gio didnít tear their clothes off and have sex right away. Both had insecurities of this being more than a business relationship. Ms. Hardy didnít write Giovanni as this arrogant, confident larger than life H. He seemed like this down to earth guy that woman could easily fall for. We read the story from both Gio and Franís point of view. So we knew they were having the same thoughts but they didnít know they were on the same wavelength.

 

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