Hotly Bedded, Conveniently Wedded

Available in stores

A Waldenbooks top 10 series romance bestseller

Mills & Boon Modern Heat

September 2008

ISBN: 9780263863840

 

Harlequin Presents

Jan 2009

ISBN: 9780373127931

enriched ebook eISBN: 9781426830556

From best friends. . .
Isobel's friend Alex Richardson has the ultimate playboy lifestyle, flitting from one long-legged woman to the next - why would he want short, curvaceous Bel?

To red-hot lovers!
Now, though, Alex needs a convenient wife - and Bel is his first-choice bride! Shocked at his proposal, Bel has doubts about his crazy plan. Then Alex gives her a taste of just how hot they can be together, leaving Bel begging him to finish what he started - on their wedding night!

Also released in Australia in paperback (November 2008, ISBN: 9780733588655).

 


Behind the Book

It's well known that I have a weakness for clever men - and I think archaeologists are incredibly sexy. Michael Wood, Harrison Ford (as Indiana Jones) and Brendan Forster (in The Mummy) - QED. So I was very self-indulgent with this book and my hero, Alex, is a gorgeous archaeologist.

My heroine, Bel, has a job which is also wish fulfilment on my part: she's a museum curator who does hands-on stuff with children. In this case, Roman cookery. This was sparked off by a visit to Norwich Castle - one of the curators there was doing a Roman cookery demonstration, and it struck me what a fabulous job it would be for one of my heroines. And so I started researching; I had so much fun! I spent a lot of time in certain museums looking at Roman exhibitions (in Wales, in the British Museum, and in my beloved Norwich Castle). I also enjoyed researching Roman marriage rites; my dear friend Michelle Styles - who writes fabulous Roman historical romances - was a great help there.

It's a marriage of convenience/best friends fall in love story (i.e. one of my favourites). And the setting is fairly special to me, too: Bath is where my son took some of his first steps unaided. Plus I've always had a bit of a thing about Roman Britain, right back from when I was small and used to dig up bits of pottery from the garden and I was desperate to find a Roman villa. (I have since been vindicated in my beliefs while I was researching a different book, as a 200-year-old map shows there was a Roman station about five minutes' walk from the house where I grew up.)

Oh, and it's one of my weepies. You need a box of tissues with this one.

It's dedicated to my aunt and uncle, Chrissy and Rich - who are the best family anyone could ever ask for.

I liked Alex's wedding gift to Bel so much that I ended up treating myself to the same thing (albeit not in the same price bracket - mine aren't Tahitian!). They're known now as my 'lucky black pearls' as I bought them when I was shortlisted for the RNA Romance Prize 2008 - and I was wearing them when the chair of judges announced that Breakfast at Giovanni's was the winner.

The book's recipe - I was toying with the idea of Roman food for this one. However, liquamen - aka Roman fish sauce - smells absolutely vile, so I decided to stick to something contemporary. Alex takes Bel out to a Moroccan restaurant where they have chicken tagine, albeit this version isn't the one with preserved lemons..

The Book's Soundtrack

I was listening to a lot of chamber music while writing this one (mainly Mozart and Vivaldi). But the big song in here is Jim Croce's 'Time in a Bottle'; I discovered the circumstances behind this song while I was writing the book, and it's truly heartbreaking. But still a very beautiful song and with sentiments I echo.

Read a Bit

CHAPTER ONE

'Run that by me again.' No way could Isobel have heard him correctly. She was used to Alex asking if he could sleep on her sofa while he was in London between digs or on a flying visit - his own flat in London was let out to tenants - but this request. . .

She must've been hearing things.

'Will you marry me?' Alex repeated.

Exactly what Isobel thought he'd said.

Was this some kind of joke?

Unlikely, because he looked serious. Besides, Alex didn't make that kind of joke. She frowned. 'I don't understand. Have you gone temporarily insane, or something?'

'No. I just need to get married. And I think you'd be the perfect wife.'

Oh, no, she wouldn't. She'd already failed spectacularly with Gary. 'You get women posting their knickers to you. You could get married to any woman you wanted.'

He laughed. 'They don't post their knickers to me, Bel. That's a vicious rumour started by Saskia.'

Saskia was Alex's baby sister and had been Isobel's best friend since they were toddlers. Though Isobel wasn't so sure the comment was just sibling teasing. 'I know for a fact you get asked out by more women than most men even dream about.'

'Women who fantasise about The Hunter - not about me.'

'You're one and the same, in their eyes.' In hers, too: Alex had presented three series of a popular television archaeology programme, based on a series of articles he'd written for a leading Sunday newspaper, and when Isobel had curled up to watch the programmes she'd thought he came across just as he was in real life. Clever and extremely well-read, but with a bit of flamboyance that had women dropping at his feet and the kind of easy charm that meant he made friends effortlessly and couldn't go anywhere without half a dozen people hailing him by name. It had been like that even before he'd been catapulted to fame as 'The Hunter', an explorer who delved in ancient places and found treasure; but nowadays, with national television exposure, he was recognised by people he'd never even met.

'Just let it slip to one of your gossip-column friends that you're looking for a wife and there'll be queues for miles,' she suggested.

'Gossip-column journos aren't anybody's friends except their own,' he corrected. 'And none of those women would be like you - sensible and settled.'

She coughed. 'You're digging yourself deeper into that hole, Alex.' He wanted to marry her because she was sensible? Give her a break. That wasn't why people got married.

Then again, marrying for love hadn't exactly worked for her, had it? Her marriage hadn't survived its final crisis.

'Why do you need to get married anyway?' she asked.

'Because I need to get a job.'

'This is beginning to feel like Alice Through the Looking Glass. The harder I try to understand this, the weirder it seems.' She shook her head. 'Apart from the fact that you don't need to get married to get a job, why do you even need a job in the first place? You're loaded.'

Alex waved a dismissive hand. 'It's got nothing to do with money.'

'So what, then?'

'It's complicated,' he hedged.

She leaned back against the sofa. 'You're not getting out of it that easily, Alex. Explain. Why do you need to get married?'

'Because of this job. It's perfect, Bel - Chief Archaeological Consultant for a firm that works with all the big property developers. When the developers plan to build on a site and discover remains of some structure they hadn't even known existed, or we already know there are remains in the area that need to be conserved or recorded before any development work can start, I'd be in charge of a team of archaeologists who'd excavate the site.'

'A desk job, you mean?' She shook her head, scoffing. 'No way. You'd last five minutes before you came down with a case of terminal boredom.'

'It's not a desk job. I'll be doing the initial site visits and setting up the exploration, liaising with planning officers and talking people into giving us more time than they really want to for excavation work. Plus I'd be talking to the press, explaining the significance of the find.'

Put that way, it sounded just the sort of thing he'd enjoy doing. Alex would love the chance to be the first one in maybe hundreds of years to discover something. And the time pressure to excavate the site as thoroughly but as quickly as possible, so the builders could finish their job on schedule, would just add to the thrill for him. He thrived on being too busy.

'I still don't understand why you need a job. Aren't you going to do the Hunter stuff any more?'

'Of course I am.' He shrugged. 'But it's only for a few weeks a year.'

She understood where he was coming from. Alex was a workaholic - it was the only way to explain how Alex managed to pack more into two days than the average person did in a working week Ė and he liked it that way. 'In other words, not enough to keep you busy and out of mischief.'

He laughed. 'Exactly. I could do more TV work, I suppose, but I've talked to my agent and I agree with him that over-exposure would be a mistake. It's better to keep the series the length it is and leave people wanting more, rather than them seeing my face and thinking, Oh, no, not him again, and switching off. So I need something else to keep me occupied.'

'What about your articles?'

He shrugged. 'As you say, a desk job would drive me crazy. I need something with a lot of variety.'

'Lecturing, then? If you had tutorial groups as well, that'd give you the variety because your students would all be different.'

He wrinkled his nose. 'I've had offers, but to be honest I don't really want to teach.'

Isobel frowned. 'What's wrong with what you do now?'

'Nothing. I love freelancing. But I'm thirty-five, Bel. I need to be realistic about the future. In ten or twenty years I'm not going to want to spend hours at a time on my knees in a trench in the pouring rain. So I want to make the right career move now, while all my options are still wide open.'

It was a fair point, although Isobel thought Alex had enough strength of personality to make his own opportunities. She had a feeling there was a bit more to it than what he was telling her, but she couldn't work out what. A relationship that had gone wrong? Surely not, because Alex kept his relationships light and very casual and in all the years she'd known him she couldn't remember a girlfriend lasting more than half a dozen dates.

Maybe she was asking the wrong questions.

From the book Hotly Bedded, Conveniently Wedded by Kate Hardy.

Harlequin Mills & Boon Modern Heat Romance
Publication Date: September 2008
ISBN: 9780263863840
Copyright © 2008 by Pamela Brooks
® and ™ are trademarks of the publisher.
The edition published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.
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Reviews

From Cataromance

Award-winning author Kate Hardy sure knows how to pen an engaging romantic story that sparkles with blazing sensuality, powerful emotional development, realistic characters and heart-tugging emotion. Hotly Bedded, Conveniently Wedded is a smart, sexy, poignant, funny and totally absorbing romantic novel written by a supermely talented writer who never fails to deliver spellbinding and enthralling romantic stories that touch the heart and leave readers engrossed from start to finish!

From Amazon

This was a very heart warming romance - definitely a keeper.

What they're saying on e-Harlequin:

  • This book was the first book that I've read by this author and I thought this one was a good read.
  • I liked this one. It was light and fun. Alex is an interesting guy and Isobel (aka the girl next door is just that). I like how the parents took so much of this one out of their hands and I loved how much Alex really knew Bel. Such a romantic. Fun light reading.
  • I loved this book. Kate Hardy has become an auto buy author for me. Friends to romance is one of my favorite themes and I thought this book was excellent.
  • Ms. Hardy shows us that best friends can indeed become lovers of the everlasting kind. There are a few heartwrenching moments but our hero proves he's much more than an Indiana Jones adventurer and that he's got the heart to be the hero Bel deserves . . .I just adored Alex from the get go! He's led a playboyish lifestyle, but is very serious about wanting more in his life. I loved his determination, not only in his pursuit of Bel but in proving to himself that he was able to settle down. Bel shows the world that she's a strong independent woman but beneath that lies a fear that is slowly eating at her. The scene where she opens up to Alex is a poignant one. . . This is a lovestory that will touch your heart.
  • This is Kate's much loved sexy archeologist and I have to say he certainly lives up to his billing. Sexy as you like and a man who can plan a wedding to melt a woman's heart.
  • Alex Richardson needed a wife and who better than his longtime friend Isobel and when the parents got wind of the engagement the plans were pushed ahead before Isobel knew what hit her. I loved this story and the way Alex proposed to Isobel was great. Alex and Isobel had so many things in common they were destined to be together.
  • I really enjoyed this story that puts a little twist on the idea of a "marriage of convenience" in modern times. The main characters were very likable and easy to relate to. . . It was an interesting premise and wonderfully brought to life in the pages of this book. Based on the title alone, I didnít think I was going to like this story . . . so happy to be proven wrong.
  • This was a good sweet story about friends who conveniently wedded to help him land a job but they were in love with each other all along and eventually discovered that. They had to deal with some issues from their pasts that affected them but all in all this was a pleasant read.

 

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