In the Gardener's Bed

Available in stores

Waldenbooks top 10 bestseller

 

Mills & Boon Modern Extra

March 2007

ISBN: 9780263853841

 

Harlequin Promotional Presents as The Pregnancy Ultimatum

January 2008

ISBN: 9780373820641

Pregnant with the bachelor's baby

When wealthy garden designer Will Daynes and uptight city girl Amanda Neave agree to swap lives for a TV show, they soon discover they're chalk and cheese. Certainly neither expects the intense attraction that sparks between them, and Amanda just can't resist the temptations of the ruggedly handsome renowned bachelor.

But will this hot affair between polar opposites still sizzle when Amanda realizes she's having Will's baby?

Also released in Australia in paperback (July 2007, ISBN: 9780733579318).

 


Behind the Book

This thing about opposites attracting - it crops up in so many of my books. And I also wanted to have a bit of fun. There's a TV series in the UK called 'Wifeswap' where two women with completely opposite lives swap families for two weeks and try to improve each other's lives. And I had this mad idea of doing the same sort of thing with my hero and heroine. . . Luckily, my editor loved the idea - though I didn't get to keep my original title, 'Lifeswap'.

So we have Amanda the city chick (high-flying accountant) and Will the country boy (garden centre manager), both helping out a mutual friend who wants to pitch a reality TV show called Lifeswap. Except. . . Will isn't quite a country boy - he's exaggerating it for the sake of the project. (And Cambridge is a vibrant city, not a little hamlet in the middle of nowhere!) They're complete opposites: Amanda's organised, tidy and a stickler for time - oh, and she lives on takeaways and ready meals from the supermarket. Will's incredibly laid-back and he's a fabulous cook - with organic produce from his own garden. They're absolute opposites. They'll loathe each other.

Or will they? And can they make this lifeswap thing work - for real?

It's dedicated to Julie Cohen, a fellow Modern Heat author, and Diane Parkin, a fellow journalist, for technical help - Julie for talking me through how MP3 players work, and Diane for teaching me about birdsong. (They're both important in the book.)

Will cooks Amanda Barley 'risotto' - something I guinea-pigged one weekend on my friends Cathy and Steve (after fiddling about with the recipe). This is a veggie version, though it also works rather well with crisp bacon added on top.

The Book's Soundtrack

Will's MP3 playlists are organised by the gardens he designs - it's all mood music. And he also has playlists for the car. So these are some of the tracks that I was playing on my hero's behalf:

  • Chopin - Raindrop prelude
  • Mozart's piano quartet in E flat (second movement)
  • Tarrega - Recuerdos de la Alhambra
  • Katrina and the Waves - Walking on Sunshine
  • Norah Jones - Sunrise
  • Nick Drake - Northern Sky
  • David Gilmour - On an Island
  • Keith Urban - Making Memories of Us

Read a Bit

CHAPTER ONE

So much for the paperless office, Amanda thought as she hefted the two enormous briefcases off the tube. But this was probably giving her arms as much of a workout as she'd have got at the gym. And she didn't have time for the gym tonight anyway: if she wanted to get these schedules signed off, she needed to get home, grab a ready meal from the freezer, and eat it while she worked on the files.

The moment she walked in to the flat and sniffed the air, she knew she didn't stand much chance. Dee was clearly entertaining tonight. And her flatmate's friends, being an arty lot, were loud. With the amount of red wine that was bound to be consumed tonight, she'd need to add another item to her mental to-do list: insert earplugs.

'Hey, Mand! I was beginning to wonder if you were planning to sleep at the office, tonight,' Dee teased, coming out of the kitchen.

'No.' Though perhaps she should've done - at least then she could've avoided having to be nice to people she knew didn't really like her. Dee was a sweetheart, but Amanda knew only too well that she didn't fit in with the rest of Dee's crowd. She was too quiet, too serious, not someone who made the room sparkle with her witty conversation. 'Sorry, I didn't realise you had people round tonight.' She gave Dee an apologetic smile. 'Let me nuke something in the microwave and I'll be out of your way in less than ten minutes.'

'No, no and no,' Dee said.

Amanda frowned. 'What?'

'No, I don't have anyone coming round. No, you're not eating your usual rubbish - you're having a decent meal, for once. And no, you're not holing up in your room all evening with a pile of work.' Dee ticked the points off on her fingers. 'Especially not on a Friday night.'

Amanda stared at her flatmate. 'You've cooked for me?' They'd agreed the ground rules ages ago: they shared all the chores except cooking. Half the time, Amanda ate out, and she was a hopeless cook, so she didn't think it fair to subject her flatmate to burnt offerings.

Then she had a nasty thought. 'Dee, is this your way of telling me that you're going to move out with Josh and I'm going to need a new flatmate?'

'Don't be so paranoid!' Dee smiled. 'It's nothing.'

It didn't feel like 'nothing'. It didn't look like it, either, from the expression on Dee's face.

'I just thought you deserved a treat. You've had a rubbish couple of weeks and you work too hard,' Dee said.

That was a sore point. Amanda was still stinging from last week's appraisal, and right now she could do without the work-life balance lecture she normally got from Dee.

'So I'm cooking you dinner tonight to give you a break. A girly chat'll do you good.'

Amanda wasn't so sure about that. She'd never been much good at girly chats. Numbers and percentages were so much easier to deal with than people were.

'I've made us Cajun chicken with sweet potato mash, green beans and roasted peppers,' Dee tempted.

It sounded almost as good as it smelled, and Amanda knew from experience that it would taste even better - Dee's cooking was legendary.

'Oh, and panna cotta with raspberries. Home made.'

Pudding to die for - Amanda's big weakness. 'OK, I'm sold,' she said with a smile. 'But you've gone to a lot of trouble, Dee. It hasn't made you late with a deadline or anything, has it?'

'No-o.'

Was it her imagination, or did Dee sound slightly guilty?

She found out, the second after she'd taken the first delectable bite.

'I, um, need a favour,' Dee said, wriggling on her seat. 'The thing is, you know I want to work in TV, produce programmes?'

Amanda nodded.

'You know my friend is a PA to a TV producer - well, she talked to her boss about one of my ideas. He says if I can give him some kind of pilot tape to back up my treatment, he might be able to get me a break of some sort.'

'That's brilliant news.' Though Amanda still didn't see why Dee needed her to do a favour. 'So what's it all about?'

Dee filled their wine glasses. 'I'm pitching a series called Lifeswap. About two people with opposite lifestyles spending a week with each other and learning from each other's lives.'

Reality TV. Just the kind of thing Amanda loathed. 'Sounds interesting,' she said politely, not wanting to hurt her friend.

'And you'd be perfect for the pilot.'

'Me?' Amanda frowned. 'How do you make that out?'

'City girl, works hard in high finance, never gets time to smell the roses.' Dee spread her hands. 'You're an extreme case.'

'Case?' She wasn't anyone's case, thank you very much!

Dee ignored Amanda's indignation. 'You'd be great to pair with someone else who does actually take time to smell the roses.'

'I don't need to smell the roses.' Amanda folded her arms. So this was the favour: Dee wanted her to be in the pilot. Swap lives with someone who was her complete opposite. 'You can't seriously want me to swap places with someone who spends all day in a beauty salon or messing about on a games console.'

Dee laughed. 'You'd go bananas in seconds! No, it's sort of. . .' She frowned, as if thinking about the best way to put it. 'Think of it as job enrichment. What different businesses can learn from each other.'

'It's a great idea, Dee - for someone else,' Amanda said. 'I don't need job enrichment. I'm perfectly happy as I am.'

'No, you're not. It's been over a week since your appraisal and you're still brooding about it.'

'Of course I'm not,' Amanda lied.

'You said your boss told you they want you to be more flexible. Doing this pilot would prove just how flexible you are,' Dee said, 'because you'll be able to show that you can do someone else's job for a week. A job in a totally different area than yours. Which means you can bring your skills to it to improve the other person's life, and learn some new ones that you can take back to your job and wave in your boss's face.'

'Maybe.' Right now, Amanda wasn't sure anything would convince her boss. Her face didn't fit - it was as simple as that.

'I think this'd work really well. You're photogenic, you have a clear voice with no obvious accent, and you're a complete professional at everything you do. That's why I'm asking you.'

'Flannelling me, more like.' Amanda laughed wryly. 'I'm no supermodel. And I've never done any acting in my life. I wouldn't know where to start.'

'This isn't acting. It's reality TV, so all you have to do is be yourself,' Dee reminded her. 'This could be good for both of us, Mand. You get to showcase your talents and prove to your boss that you're ready for promotion to the next level. And I make a superb pilot and get my chance to prove I can do the job. We both win. You're doing me a favour, yes - but you'd get something back from it, too.' She gave Amanda a mischievous smile. 'And I could make sure that whoever you swap lives with is a great cook and would make you panna cotta or some kind of lemony pudding every single day.'

Amanda raised an eyebrow. 'If I want panna cotta, I can buy it at the deli on the way home.'

'The deli's normally shut by the time you leave work,' Dee pointed out. 'And this would be home made.'

Home made food. . . And Dee had been talking opposites. 'You're not thinking of making me be a chef for a week, are you?' Amanda asked, horrified at the idea of being stuck in a hot kitchen with some temperamental chef who'd rant and rave at her.

Dee chuckled. 'I don't think anyone could teach you to cook in a year, let alone a week!'

'And I don't want to learn, either. Food's just fuel.' Amanda made a dismissive gesture with her hand. 'I'm not wasting time in the kitchen -'

'- that you could spend working,' Dee said, rolling her eyes. 'Yeah, yeah. I've heard that a million times and I still don't agree with you.'

'So we agree to disagree.' Amanda leaned back in her chair. 'Have you got someone in mind?'

'I'm working on him. It,' Dee corrected herself swiftly.

'Him?' Amanda felt her eyes narrowing. Oh, no. 'This isn't some elaborate set-up for a blind date, is it?'

'No, no, no.' Dee crossed her splayed hands rapidly in the air. 'I'm not fixing you up with anyone.'

Ha. That made a change. 'Good. Because I'm perfectly happy being single. If I want to be the youngest partner ever in the firm, I don't have time for distractions,' Amanda reminded her flatmate. Especially as it seemed she was going to have to work twice as hard to prove herself worthy; it still rankled that the bloke in the office who'd failed his exams when she'd got distinctions had been promoted ahead of her. His face fitted; and she had to work twice as hard to make up for the fact that hers didn't.

'I was just thinking about you swapping lives with a bloke - showing the difference between the sexes, that sort of thing.'

'And he's going to be my complete opposite.'

'Relax. You just have different lifestyles.'

It sounded as if Dee really did have someone in mind. 'What does he do?'

'Not finance.' Dee sighed. 'Look, I know you're an über-planner, and it's probably driving you mad that I'm not giving you the full details: but until I've got both of you to agree to do the pilot I can't give you a proper brief.'

Both of you. So it was definitely someone Dee knew. One of her arty mates, then. 'Musician? Painter? Photographer?' Amanda guessed.

'I'll tell you as soon as I can. Just trust me on this,' Dee said firmly. 'Think of it as an opportunity to be flexible.'

Back to her appraisal again. 'Hmm. How long are we talking about, exactly?'

'Two weeks. You shadow this person for a week, and the person shadows you. You film some of the things that happen and talk to the camera about what you've learned from each other.'

'If I do it - and I mean if - I'd have to clear the shadowing side with my boss. And there'd have to be something built in about client confidentiality,' Amanda said thoughtfully. 'I'd probably need to take some leave to do my side of the shadowing.'

'You've got loads of time in lieu stacked up that you never take - and you didn't take all your holiday entitlement last year,' Dee pointed out. 'They owe you. Mand, it'll be fun. Trust me. All you have to do is keep a video diary for a week and analyse the situation at the end, work out which bits of your life would make the other person's better and which bits of theirs would be good for you. What have you got to lose?'

Amanda didn't have an answer for that. She ate another spoonful of panna cotta and thought about it. 'I'll talk to my boss on Monday. If it's OK with work, I'll do it.'

'You,' Dee said, 'are a complete star.'

From the book In the Gardener's Bed by Kate Hardy.

Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance
Publication Date: March 2007
ISBN: 9780263853841
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: written with style, flair and plenty of heart - 4.5 stars

In The Gardenerís Bed is a spellbinding page-turner which I devoured in a single sitting! Kate Hardy is a first class storyteller who has written a riveting and absorbing tale liberally laced with intense drama, sizzling passion and potent emotion. Sparkling, emotional and romantic, In The Gardenerís Bed is a brilliantly told and wonderfully written tale which will make you laugh, cry and eagerly await the next novel by the hugely talented Kate Hardy!

What they're saying on e-harl:

  • The gardener is great
  • Will is terrific, just wish we could carbon copy him.
  • A good book about opposites trying to live each other lives.
  • I loved the concept of this Amanda was very set in her ways while Will was very easy going. There was a lot of room for compromise here.

 

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