Red Wine and Her Sexy Ex

Available in stores

Mills & Boon Modern Heat

September 2010

ISBN: 9780263877458

 

Harlequin Presents Extra

December 2010

ISBN:9780373527953

Her head says no!

Yes, Xavier Lefèvre was still the most gorgeous guy Allegra had ever met. If it were possible, he'd got even tastier with age! But everything has changed since that long, hot summer affair years ago. This time it's strictly business - like it or not they both own the vineyard, and she isn't going to see Xavier her piece of the label!

But her body screams yes!

Now she has two months to prove to him she'll make a great partner, and to persuade herself she doesn't need him in her bed. Yet who is she kidding? Even the thought is far too tempting, far too delicious...

Also released as:

  • UK hardback (Sept 2010, ISBN: 9780263214154)
  • Australian paperback (Dec 2010, ISBN: 9780263877458).

 


Behind the Book

The South of France. Sensuality, sunshine, perfume and red wine...

I'd fancied setting a book in a vineyard for ages. And when I decided I was going to go for it, immediately two brothers walked into my head. One was the vigneron - and the other, his brother, informed me that he wasn't a vigneron, he was a parfumier. And so the French duo was born.

I spent a few days thinking about it, drinking French wine (well, hey, never let anyone say I don't take my research seriously), and I was going to set it in the south of France until I discovered this really nice bottle of rosé from the Ardèche. I was doing some idle research on the area... and then I sat up straight and paid attention. This was exactly where I wanted to set the book. France's best-kept secret, and more to the point it was near enough to Grasse (for book 2).

So we have Xavier Lefèvre, gorgeous brooding vigneron, who discovers that his late business partner has left his share of their vineyard to his great-niece and marketing expert, Allegra Beauchamp. Who just happens to be Xav's ex.

Xav thinks that Allie dumped him. Allie thinks that Xav was the one who ended it. There's an awful lot of pride in the way. They agree to a trial period for their business to work... and it ends up being much more than business.

The book's recipe - I know I'm not the only author who does this: but I tend to cook dishes from the area in which my book is set. And so we have poulet provencal for this book. (It's my low fat version. And I used this in the Valentine's feature I did with the local paper in Feb 2010, putting together a romantic Valentine's meal from my books. I had a ball on the photo shoot. And if a publisher is reading this and thinks, 'ooh, yes, what a great idea to have a romantic novelist write a cookbook', please talk to my agent, Dot Lumley. I'd love to!)

It's dedicated to my friend and fellow Medical author, Maggie Kingsley, who listened to me when the book went pear-shaped and I was very grumpy about it, and helped me to see the wood for the trees. (Romantic novelists really are the nicest people in the world.)

The book's soundtrack

This is probably where I should admit that I have an ENORMOUS crush on Joe Elliott of Def Leppard (this goes right back to my very early teens. Thirty years. Oh, my). And Xav might just be a dark-haired version of how Joe looked at the Wapentake Club in Sheffield, doing an acoustic set back in 1995. Sadly, no, I wasn't there. But I've watched it a lot on YouTube. Given that, the soundtrack isn't so surprising...

  • Def Leppard - When Love and Hate Collide (this is the big song of the book - sums up Allie and Xav's relationship perfectly)
  • The Kinks - Waterloo Sunset (now the guilty secret: Def Leppard's version. I love Joe's voice)
  • Liszt - Liebestraum (Allie plays the piano - I can play a simplified version of this, on both piano and guitar - it's very pretty)
  • Chopin - Raindrop Prelude (ditto)
  • Satie - Gymnopedie no 1
  • Debussy - Claire de Lune
  • Eva Cassidy - Time after Time (this is the black moment song and made me cry!)

Read a Bit

CHAPTER ONE

CHAPTER ONE

She was back.

Xavier's heart beat just that little bit faster as he put down the phone to his lawyer.

This was ridiculous. He was completely over Allegra Beauchamp. He'd been over her for years. So of course it wasn't nerves making his pulse race like this. It was anger - anger that she was planning to walk in after all this time and interfere. He'd put his heart and soul into the vineyard for the last ten years, and he was damn sure he wasn't going to let her flounce in and ruin all his hard work.

He didn't trust her a single millimetre. Not any more. Quite apart from the way she'd broken his heart, dumping him when he'd needed her most, she hadn't come back to support her great-uncle - the man who'd given her a home every summer while she was growing up - when he'd been old and frail and needed her. She hadn't even made it back to France for Harry's funeral; but she'd come straight back to claim her inheritance of fifteen hectares of top-quality vines and a big stone mas.

Her actions spoke volumes.

But in some ways it made things easier. If Allegra was only interested in the money, then she'd be happy to sell her half of the vineyard to him, despite what she'd claimed to his lawyer this afternoon. Right now, she might have some romantic idea of what it was like to run a vineyard, but Xavier knew that as soon as she had a taste of the real thing she'd run straight back to London. Just as she had ten years ago - except this time she'd be taking his money with her, not his heart. And this time he'd have no regrets.

He grabbed his car keys from his desk drawer, locked his office door and strode off towards his car. The sooner he faced her, the better.

Allegra sipped her coffee, but the dark, bitter liquid did nothing to clear her head.

She'd been a fool to come back, after all this time. She should've just agreed with the lawyer's suggestion of selling Harry's half of the vineyard to his business partner, stopped off briefly at the tiny church in the village to lay some flowers on her great-uncle's grave and pay her respects, and then gone straight back to London.

Instead, something had made her come back to the old stone farmhouse where she'd spent so many summers as a child. Whether it was an impulse to do right by her great-uncle, or something else, she wasn't sure. But now she was here in the Ardegrave;che, she regretted the impulse. Seeing the house, smelling the sharp scent of the herbs growing in their terracotta troughs by the kitchen door, had made her feel physically sick with guilt. Guilt that she hadn't come back before. Guilt that she hadn't been there to take the call telling her that Harry had had a stroke - and he'd died in hospital before she'd even found out that he was ill. Guilt that, despite her best efforts, she hadn't made it here for the funeral.

Everyone in the village had already judged her and found her wanting. She'd been aware of the glances and mutters from people in the square as she'd put the flowers on the greening-over mound in the churchyard, next to the little wooden cross that would mark Harry's grave until the ground had settled enough for it to support a proper headstone. And the coldness with which Hortense Bouvier had received her, instead of the warm hug and good meal that the housekeeper had greeted her with all those years before, had left her in no doubt as to the older woman's disapproval.

Walking back into the kitchen had been like walking straight back into the past, ripping all Allegra's scars wide open. All she needed now was Xav to walk into the kitchen and drop into the chair opposite her, with that heart-turning smile and the sparkle in his silver-green eyes as he reached over to take her hand, and. . .

No, of course not. He'd made it quite clear, ten years before, that it was over between them. That what they'd shared had simply been a holiday romance, and he was off to start a high-flying career in Paris - a new life without her. For all she knew, he could be married with children now; once she'd taken that first step to heal the breach between herself and Harry, they'd had an unspoken agreement never to talk about Xavier. Pride had stopped her asking, and awkwardness had stopped Harry telling.

Her hands tightened round the mug of coffee. After all these years, she really should be over it. But then again, how did you stop years and years of loving someone? She'd fallen for Xavier Lefèvre the very first time she'd met him, when she was eight years old and he was eleven: he'd been the most beautiful boy she'd ever seen, like one of the Victorian angels in the stained-glass windows at school, but with dark hair and silver-green eyes. As a teen, she'd followed him round like an eager puppy, mooning over him and wondering what it would be like if he kissed her. She'd even practised kissing against the back of her hand, so she'd be ready for the moment when he finally realised she was more than just the girl next door. For summer after summer, she'd wished and hoped; even though she must have driven him crazy, he'd been kind and treated her the same way that he treated everyone else, never teasing or rejecting her outright.

But, that very last summer, it had been a kind of awakening. Xav had finally seen her as a woman instead of an annoying little urchin trailing around behind him. They'd been inseparable for a whole summer. The best summer of her life. She'd honestly believed that he loved her as much as she loved him. That it didn't matter that she was going to do her degree in London while he was starting a new job in Paris - she'd spend the holidays in Paris with him, and he'd maybe come and spend weekends with her in London when he could get the time off work, and then when she graduated they'd be together for the rest of their lives.

Granted, he hadn't actually asked her to marry him, but she'd known he felt the same way as she had. That he was as crazy about her as she was about him.

And then it had all disintegrated.

Bile filled her mouth and she swallowed hard. For pity's sake. She was an adult, now, not a dream-filled teenager. A realist. Harry's business partner was Jean-Paul Lefèvre - Xav's father, not Xav himself. Xav wouldn't be here; as far as she knew, he was still in Paris. She wouldn't have to see him again.

'Monsieur Lefèvre called,' Hortense said coolly, walking into the kitchen. 'He's on his way back from the vines. He's calling in to see you.'

Allegra frowned. Their meeting wasn't until tomorrow. Then again, the French had impeccable manners. Jean-Paul was probably calling on her out of politeness, to welcome her to Les Trois Closes.

And then the kitchen door opened abruptly and Xavier sauntered in, as if he owned the place.

From the book Red Wine and Her Sexy Ex by Kate Hardy.

Harlequin Mills & Boon Modern Heat
Publication Date: September 2010
ISBN: 9780263877458
Copyright © 2010 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 Romantic Times:

Hardy skillfully keeps the pace moving as she whisks readers to a romantic vineyard.

From Cataromance: 4.5 stars

Red Wine and Her Sexy Ex is another first class romance from the wonderful Kate Hardy! The talented award-winning storyteller writes with such flair and panache that readers will feel as if they are in the South of France falling in love with devastatingly attractive Xavier and richly nuanced Allie!

Redolent with breathtaking romance, spectacular emotional punch, a believable conflict and vivid atmospheric details, Red Wine and Her Sexy Ex is the latest gold star standard romance by Kate Hardy.

From Marilyn's Romance Reviews

What an incredible and beautiful love story set in France wine country by the very talented Kate Hardy . . . I so love a romance with a happy ending and yes, Xav and Allie get theirs but there were a few bumps in the road, enough to send her back to London and in the end, him chasing after her because she was more important to him than the vineyard, France; without her he would be lost because she not only loved him, she believed in him.

What they're saying on e-Harlequin

  • An emotional reunion and reconcilation story of two very likeable characters. Reading this book took me to wine making France. I enjoyed the ride tremendously.
  • Good story about two people who reunite after 10 years.
  • It's a lovely book full of sensual delights and with a lot of "Kate" in it. If you've read Kate's blog, you'll know she's very much into music and food and this story was chock-a-block full. Beautiful piano selections, wines I would love to taste, and al fresco lunches of bread and cheese that seemed perfect. Add in a hot hero, a determined heroine, TWO romantic settings - the countryside and Paris - she really couldn't miss.
  • I enjoy Hardy's heroes - even her HP type. He's strong without being brutish. Her heroine has a backbone and does not need a man to survive - another big plus.

 

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