Good Girl or Gold Digger?

Available in stores

Mills & Boon Modern Heat

March 2010

ISBN: 9780263877335

 

Harlequin Presents Extra

May 2010

ISBN: 9780373527687

Good girl by day...

Businesswoman and chief mechanic Daisy Bell needs cash - and fast - to keep her failing family company alive. But when Daisy meets her mystery investor she knows she is in a dilemma... she can save her business, but risk her heart!

But by night...

Felix Gisbourne thinks Daisy's the hottest thing he's ever seen - in or out of overalls! And it's easy to mix business with pleasure! But Felix can't be sure... Does daisy want him in her bed, or his money in her bank account?

Also released as:

  • Australian paperback (date tbc, ISBN: tbc).

Winner of Cataromance Reviewers' Choice Award 2010 – best Modern Heat

 


Behind the Book

I was meant to be writing a book about a Venetian count and a stained glass restorer. I was even tinkering with it on the train, on the way to meet my agent for lunch. Except... I was early, and ended up walking round Notting Hill, and deciding that maybe this should be a duo and I should write another book instead.

The characters immediately leaped into my head and took advantage of this - to the point where I'd fleshed out the entire outline on the steps of Olympia (this was at the London Book Fair). And the setting appeared, too. Oops. One of my really 'different' ones, so I didn't confess to either my ed or my agent. I was incredibly naughty and said it was an office romance. I just didn't, um, explain where the office was.

Eventually the guilt overcame me and I confessed. I was writing a book about a steam fairground. I'd dragged my husband and children to various steam fairgrounds because I wanted to try out the rides. (Husband: 'Why do you want to go to Bressingham?' Children: 'Dad, it's so obvious - it's research for her new book.')

I did get my comeuppance with big revisions. So my original proposal scene (which was on an antique Venetian gondola, with 'Hushabye Mountain' being played on the steam organ) changed just a tad.

And I have to admit that Felix's big issue stems from a conversation I overheard. A conversation that really shocked me at the time, but - well, writers are notorious for squirrelling things away, and this one was a really emotional conflict.

So we have our fairground mechanic, Daisy Bell; our very wary financial specialist hero, Felix Gisbourne (and yes, of course I used the surname from a character played by a particularly gorgeous English actor), and a cat who thinks he's a dog.

The book's recipe - again, this one came from real life. Most of the time when we go out for dinner, we take the kids with us. But occasionally we go out for dinner to a place where the menu is a little more posh, and DH's best friend's daughter babysits for us. This particular evening, I couldn't resist the starter. And DH and our friends all looked at me and said, 'You're going to use that in a book, aren't you?' (Well, hey. It was gorgeous.)

It's dedicated to my husband, because he has to put up with an awful lot - as I think most writers' partners do. Someone whose mind is elsewhere half the time, who talks to invisible people (aka hero and heroine), and who cannot keep her office tidy for more than 5 minutes...

The book's soundtrack

Not fairground music, exactly - I spent a lot of time on a certain website listening to snippets of 18-note clockwork mechanisms. Though I admit I did drag my husband and children off to the fairground organ museum at Thursford and took tons of notes while we were there. And then there's the fact that Daisy sings lots of show tunes. (This meant I had to buy a big book of sheet music so daughter and I could have fun on the piano. Husband and son were also forced to sit through show-tunes CDs...

  • Hushabye Mountain (Julian Lloyd Webber's version)
  • I'd Do Anything (from Oliver)
  • I Can See Clearly Now (this was one of my daughter's pieces for choir, so we sang this a lot in the car)

Read a Bit

CHAPTER ONE

This had to be some horribly realistic nightmare. It couldn't be happening. It couldn't.

Daisy closed her eyes and pinched her arm.

When it hurt, the sick feeling in her stomach intensified, and she opened her eyes again to face the facts.

Someone really had broken into the fairground museum. Several people - and pretty drunk, too, judging by the number of smashed bottles around the gallopers and the vomit sprayed nearby. Yobs who'd thought it would be a laugh to cut off the horses' tails and spray-paint obscene graffiti along their sides. And they'd used the café as a coconut shy and lobbed stones through the plate glass, wrecking it.

She'd always been practical and could fix almost anything, but she couldn't fix this - at least, not fast enough. No way could she open the fairground today. It would take days to sort out this mess and make it safe for children and families again.

Who on earth would do something like this? It was completely beyond her. Why would anyone want to wreck such a beautiful piece of machinery, an important piece of heritage, just for kicks?

With shaking hands, Daisy grabbed her mobile phone and called the police to report the damage.

When she'd finished, she called her uncle. She hated having to call him on his day off – the day when she was supposed to be in charge and opening up – but this had stopped being a normal Sunday. And she wasn't the only one who had a huge stake in the museum; Bill had given it half a lifetime.

'Bill, it's Daisy. I'm so sorry to ring you at this time on a Sunday morning, but. . .' She swallowed hard, not knowing what to say, how to tell him such awful news.

'Daisy, are you all right? What's happened?'

'Vandals must've got in last night. I don't know how.' Daisy knew beyond all doubt that she'd locked up properly, the night before '– but there's a lot of broken glass and they've damaged the gallopers.' She bit her lip. 'The police are on their way. We'll have to stay closed for at least today, probably tomorrow as well.'

This would have to happen so early in the season. As they ran the museum on a shoestring, this was going to put a major hole in their budget. It could all be fixed, but it would take time, and they'd have to pay the insurance excess, which wouldn't be small. Not to mention the missed takings until the fairground was back in action. Disappointed tourists might be put off ever coming back to the museum – and they'd tell their friends, too, who would then shelve their own planned visit. And that would hit future takings.

Without a decent amount of visitors through the gates, that meant there wouldn't be money for their planned restoration programme. The ride she'd managed to rescue last autumn would have another year for rust to creep through it. Another year that might mean it was too late to save it. So instead of having a working set of vintage chair-o-planes that would absolutely thrill their visitors they'd be left with a heap of useless scrap metal. All that money wasted, and she'd been the one who'd stuck her neck out and persuaded Bill to buy it in the first place. So much for proving that she could take over when Bill retired in a couple of years. She'd spent money they should've kept as reserves in case of situations like this.

'The police want statements from me, obviously, as I'm the one who discovered it. But they said they'd like to talk to you as well. I'm sorry, Bill.'

'All right, love. I'm on my way,' Bill reassured her. 'I'll be there in twenty minutes.'

'Thanks. I'll put up some signs saying we're closed today and then start ringing round the staff. See you in a bit.' Daisy slid the phone back into her pocket and stared at the gallopers, the Victorian roundabout that her great-grandfather had built, complete with its original fairground organ. Part of her wanted to go over to each of the mutilated horses in turn and hug them, tell them that everything was going to be OK. Stupid, she knew. Apart from anything else, it might damage any evidence the yobs had left behind. And the horses were wooden, had no feelings. But she'd grown up with them, could remember riding them as a toddler, and it felt as if someone just had smashed something from her childhood and trampled on it.

She'd spent ten years of her life helping to build this place up: ten years when she'd taken a tough course in mechanical engineering, having to justify herself to her parents, to her tutors, to the other students on the course. Ten years when she'd had to persuade people that she was doing the right thing for her. Half the time they thought they knew better, and Stuart had even made her choose between the fairground and him.

Not that it had been much of an ultimatum. Any man who wanted to change her and stop her doing what she loved wasn't the right man for her. She knew she'd made the right choice, turning him down. The right choice for both of them: he was married with small children, now, children that he actually brought to the fairground.

Funny how he could see what she saw in it, now.

But it was too late. Even if Stu wasn't married, she wasn't interested any more. When her next two boyfriends had turned out to be from the same mould as him - wanting her to change and be a 'girly' girl instead of a skilled mechanic - she'd decided to cut her losses and concentrate on her work. At least here she was accepted for who she was - once she'd persuaded the older volunteers that she was a chip off her grandmother's block. She'd proved that she could listen and work hard, and she was good at her job.

She fixed the notice to the gates stating that the fairground was closed due to unavoidable circumstances, and was sitting at her desk, working her way through the list of volunteers, when Bill and Nancy walked in. Bill was grim-faced.

'I can't believe this,' he said when she put the phone down. 'I'd like to get my hands on whoever did it and give them a bloody good hiding.'

'I'd rather stake them out, smear them in jam and leave them to the wasps,' Daisy said. 'Or maybe use the road-roller and squish them. How could they do it? I mean, what did they get out of it?' Her fists balled in anger and frustration. 'I just don't understand why anyone would do something like that.'

'I know, love.' Bill hugged her. 'All that work everyone's put in, wrecked.'

'And all the people who were planning to come here today – they'll be so disappointed.' She dragged in a breath. 'Maybe I should ring Annie.' Her best friend was the features editor of the local newspaper. 'She'll know how to get it onto the radio news desk so it'll save some people a wasted journey.'

'Good idea, love,' Nancy said.

'I've been ringing round and telling everyone to stay at home today,' Daisy explained. 'So far, everyone's said to call them when the police say we can start clearing up, and they'll come in and help.'

'We're lucky. We've got a good crowd.' Bill sighed. 'You call Annie, and Nancy and I will keep going with the volunteers' list.'

'I'll put the kettle on first,' Nancy said. 'I know we've got milk in the office fridge; I'll go and get some more later, or when they let us back in the café, but it'll keep us going for now.'

Annie turned up in the middle of the police interviews with chocolate cake and a photographer. 'Cake because it makes everyone feel better, and photographs because this is probably going to make the front page. And you're perfect for it, Daze.'

'You want photographs of me?' Daisy asked, mystified. 'Why? I mean, doesn't the scene out there speak for itself?'

'You know what they say - a picture paints a thousand words,' Annie said. 'And you're really photogenic, Daze – plus you wear your heart on your sleeve, so everyone's going to be able to see how upset you are. Your face will get a huge sympathy vote.'

'I don't want sympathy. I want my fairground back the way it should be,' Daisy told her.

'I know, hon, and it will be,' Annie soothed. 'The local radio and television will pick up on this. You can get the word out through them and the paper that you're closed for the rest of the week, and it'll also remind people that you're here. With any luck, you'll get tons more visitors than normal next weekend because they'll want to come and rubberneck.'

Daisy grimaced. 'Annie, that's horrible.'

'It's human nature,' Annie said. 'You know, that policeman over there keeps giving you the eye. Give him a smile.'

'Annie!' Daisy looked at her best friend in disbelief. The fairground was in trouble and Annie was thinking about fixing her up with a man?

'Daze, working here, you don't exactly get to meet many single men, let alone men below the age of fifty,' Annie said, sounding completely unrepentant. 'Seize the day. He's very cute. And he's definitely interested.'

Daisy blew out a breath. 'Well, I'm not interested in him, thanks very much.'

'Mind if I go and have a chat to him?'

'Do what you like, as long as you don't try to fix me up on a blind date with him.' Daisy scowled. 'Not everyone wants a life partner, you know.'

'And you're happy with just your cat?' Annie asked, looking unconvinced.

'Yes, I am. Titan's good company and he's not demanding.'

Annie scoffed. 'Not demanding? This is the cat who has a plush bed in every room of your house and a taste for fresh poached salmon.'

'OK, but he's still not as demanding as a man would be.' Her cat didn't want her to change and be more feminine. He loved her for herself, not for who he wanted her to be.

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Reviews

What they’re saying on e-Harlequin

From Romantic Times:

a unique setting, quirky characters and a sweet romance< p>

From cataromance: 4.5 stars

I adored Kate Hardy’s latest novel, Good Girl or Gold-Digger! Her heroine, Daisy, was fantastic. She was strong, feisty, resourceful and had a heart of gold, whilst Felix was a charming, sexy and well-defined hero I doubt any romance reader will be able to resist! I also found the fairground background to this story immensely fascinating. Kate Hardy always set her stories against such fascinating backgrounds, but she never lets them overwhelm the story or overshadow the romance. Refreshing, captivating and feel-good, Good Girl or Gold Digger? is another winner from a fabulous writer whose name alone is sure-fire guarantee of high quality romantic fiction: Kate Hardy! (Read the full review here)

From Marilyn's Romance Reviews:

Good Girl or Gold Digger, was a warm, funny and very sweet romantic read. How the author tied everything together from the heroine’s name to the sweet happy ending was spectacular.

What they're saying on e-harlequin

  • No one does chemistry at first sight like Kate. It's utterly believable and just really, really sexy.
  • This was a nice story. I liked that Daisy was not your typical woman and both she and Felix had hang ups due to their past relationships. And Daisy cat Titan is a scene stealer:) Would love to have a cat like him. A quick read and no major surprises. It did make me want to visit Daisy's Fairgrounds though.
  • Daisy was cute. Her family didn't understand her much, but Felix did...I liked how KH along with Daisy Bell managed to bring the amusement park to life!
  • Good story about two people who have totally different personalities as well as backgrounds and who overcame these problems through trial and error.

 

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