Thursday, August 19, 2010

What are you reading Thursday by Kate Hardy

This week, PHS columnist Kate Hardy talks about her best reads this summer.

I have to admit to a huge TBR pile. As in three shelves on a bookcase – oops. However, it’s the school summer holidays in the UK (and my work hours are very strange indeed, to fit round the kids), so reading is a bit of a luxury at the moment. It has to be fitted in between writing, doing the usual publicity things (I have a nonfiction book out tomorrow as well as my new Modern Heat, so this week has been full of interviews and talks), and doing things for the M&B New Voices … so time is a bit tight! Worst still for a writer, I’ve probably spent more time watching films than reading, this last four weeks (and yes, I did only take them to Shrek because of Antonio). Best film this summer: Inception. Utterly brilliant. Romantic elements, and the kind of film that sets off lightbulbs in writers’ heads.

Anyway, before I talk about my best reads this summer, I’d be failing in my duty if I didn’t mention M&B's New Voices – if you’re unpublished and haven’t yet entered the competition, do check out And the editors at M&B are fast-tracking Medical Romance submissions this month, so if you're interested it’s worth checking out the Harlequin blog. Good luck to all who give it a go!

Righty – so what have I been reading?

Robert Harris’s Pompeii isn’t officially a romance (though the hero was definitely category romance material, and there was a love story going on underneath the worries about work), but is a very compelling story about the events leading up to the eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79. And as we were in the shadow of Vesuvius for the first week this summer (it’s very visible from the whole of the Sorrentine peninsula) and visited both the volcano and the ruins of Pompeii, it was a very appropriate place to read it! Great characterisation, fast pace, good plot (though the eel scene is a little on the gory side, so be warned) and I enjoyed it thoroughly. (Recommended by my agent, and her recommendations are always spot on.)

I’ve also indulged in some category romance – Liz Fielding’s SOS: Convenient Husband Required was a great read. Excellent characterisation (Liz always writes wonderful heroines, and May is no exception), a strong hero we can understand and sympathise with, dialogue I wish I’d written, and a good twist on the ‘marriage of convenience’ theme. As always, with Liz, it’s the deft and subtle details that hook you in. Watch out for the rose petals. Very enjoyable. I also loved the intensity of Lynn Raye Harris’s The Devil’s Heart – really drew me in to the characters’ world, and I particularly liked the heroine.

Best book of the summer for me: Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall. Again, it’s not officially a romance, though there are certainly love stories going on within it. It’s a very strong portrayal of one man’s psychology, set against a very turbulent political period. It’s beautifully written with superb characterisation; I actually found myself sympathising with Thomas Cromwell (despite the fact that thinking about the sheer destruction of the Reformation – the loss of books and architecture in particular – tends to send me into a major rant). I’ll be looking out for Hilary Mantel’s backlist now because I enjoyed this so much, and I really hope there’s going to be a follow-up.

In the UK, Kate’s Modern Heat Red Wine and Her Sexy Ex (aka the first of the French duo) is out on the shelves tomorrow (out December in the US and Australia). In Australia, Kate’s Medical Romance Neurosurgeon…and Mum! is on the shelves, and you can also find it at the eHarlequin website in the US. (And if you like spooky tales - especially of castles and monasteries - you might like her new nonfic, Essex Ghosts and Legends, written as Pamela Brooks for Halsgrove.)

You can find out more about these books, and Kate, on her website ( and her blog (


  1. Umm, am definitely intrigued by Wolf Hall, will have to add it to my towering TBR pile,

    Loved Inception too, but Toy Story 3 had the edge for me (made me feel like a kid again, which is no small feat these days).

    Am currently enjoying your Red Wine and Her Sexy Ex, Kate and can see it's gonna be one of my top category reads of the summer.... Not much better than a warm glass of vin rouge and a smouldering hot Frenchman IMHO?

  2. Pompeii is a great read. Right now, I'm loving Raymond Blanc's autobiography 'A Taste Of My Life'. This was a birthday present, which sent it straight to the top of my TBR pile.

  3. Heidi - Wolf Hall is really good. And I did enjoy TS3, too (as you know!).

    Thanks for the compliment re the book - glad you're enjoying it!

  4. Christina - Raymond Blanc comes across as one of the nice guys in cooking, so I bet that's an interesting read. I'm a huge Nigel Slater fan (love his writing as well as his recipes) - would you say RB has a similar style?

  5. There will be a sequel to Wolf Hall called The Mirror & the Light. It takes the story through the next five years of Cromwell's rise and rise through the court system until his rapid decline and eventual execution for treason.

  6. Anonymous - thank you. I will REALLY look forward to that. I do like Mantel's style :)

  7. Just finished reading Firefly Lance by Kristin Hannah while flying across country last Friday. On a lighter note, I'd read Kristin Higgins Fools Rush In, just before that. Now, must rush off to get Liz Fielding's and your book. Love the title!
    Found a Tess Gerritson book at curves today, hmm, so many books, so little time!

  8. Kate - I heard one extract from Nigel Slater's autobiography on the radio and found it too sad (pillow-kiss-you'll know the bit!)
    Raymond Blanc is robust and driven, but you're right. He's lovely (and I've met him, twice!)