Kate Hardy is a great writer. Her style is easy to read but deceptively clever, so you don’t notice it until you think, “Hey, that’s good.” She brings her characters to life, and they’re not cut out of cardboard. They have characteristics and traits that make them determinedly individual. I always know I’m in for a great read when I pick up a Kate Hardy book.
A Moment on the Lips is no different. In this, Carenza has taken over the family ice-cream business in Naples, after her grandfather fell ill. Before this, she was a party girl, mainly in London, with little thought to anything else. But her grandparents brought her up, so she owes them. A shame she doesn’t have the experience to go with the job, but she is smart enough to know she needs a mentor. So she goes to Dante.
Dante owns a chain of restaurants, and although Carenza doesn’t know it, he owes her grandfather. Their businesses overlap, but aren’t in direct competition, so he sees her when she asks, do-me shoes and all. That’s where the story starts, with him cynically noticing her shoes. He remembers her from before, and he hates that he still wants her.
So follows one of the steamiest scenes I’ve ever read in a Presents, even though they don’t get to fourth base. They reconnect, and how!
The following story becomes inevitable, but they won’t consider anything permanent. Once the misunderstandings of the first part of the book are swiftly cleared up, and glory be, they actually sit down and talk about it – Dante agrees to mentor Carenza and they set out on the wild journey that will lead to their happy ending.
All Kate Hardy’s efforts are concentrated on the two main characters. That means that the supporting cast is often thinly drawn, although there are a few memorable cameos, such as Dante’s PA, that I enjoyed. And the plot isn’t her main forte. The two main characters enjoy each other very much, and most of the problems come from the outside, forcing them apart. The story of the problems with the ice cream business will be familiar to many Presents readers, and the conclusion won’t come as a surprise, since the villain is clearly telegraphed from the get-go. In fact, there is little tension in the book, but a delightful story of two people getting over their initial doubts about each other and falling in love.
Naples is nicely described, but Hardy ignores the terrible part of the city that any visitor can’t help but notice. The huge piles of garbage, for instance. And as the owner of ice cream parlors, Carenza would definitely be paying protection money. So this is an imaginary, idealized Naples. Perhaps putting in some of the real place might have added some interesting shades to the book. But I wouldn’t have sacrificed any of the luscious love scenes for that.
Read this for a charming love story that hits the spots well. Perhaps one day Kate Hardy will get her teeth into a full-length romance. I’ll be in the queue to buy it.
Dante Romano may be dark and delectable, but Carenza Tonielli will never sell him her family’s ice cream empire. Only she needs him—to help her learn how to run it! And when Dante looks at her as if she’s the next decadent sundae on the menu, even wary Carenza just can’t resist mixing business with a bowlful of pleasure.…Cue one red-hot fling that’s blowing her mind! But, unlike Carenza, her ice-cool Italian is adept at keeping his emotions well under wraps, so she decides to turn the tables on Dante and prove that sometimes living in the moment is sinfully good for you!
Read an excerpt.