Full-time English Teacher and part-time Mills & Boons fanatic, Katy Carter, thinks she almost has it all. There’s her fiancé James St Ellis, the epitome of a romantic hero, a banker in the city, practically perfect in every way. If it wasn’t for Katy’s future mother-in-law, Cordelia, who makes even Cruella de Ville look tame. Her teaching job isn’t great but fellow teacher and good pal Ollie Burrows certainly help the days at the Sir Bob Geldof Community School go quicker. And when Katy isn’t teaching – and even when she is – she has her own romantic novel, Heart of the Highwayman, to keep her mind well and truly occupied.
But past experience has taught Katy that life isn’t always straight out of Mills & Boon where the girl meets her hero and lives happily ever after. As if to prove it fate deals Katy a nasty hand of cards in the shape of a dinner party James throws to impress his boss and gain promotion. The only flaw in the plan is Katy’s culinary skills, or lack thereof. Enter Ollie to save the day, who is a dab hand in the kitchen thanks to on-off girlfriend ‘Vile Nina’. What Katy doesn’t bank on is Ollie turning up with a live lobster which Katy cannot bear to see eaten and in a valiant gesture preserves in the bath and christens ‘Pinchy’. Without giving too much away, the dinner party goes disastrously wrong in a scene which had me clutching my stomach from the pain of laughing whilst tears rolled down my cheeks.
No fiancé and a breast cancer scare to boot make Katy seriously re-evaluate her life. Best friend Mads has just moved to Cornwall with her husband ‘Reverend Rich’ and suggests Katy should come and stay for a while, find her real Romantic Hero and get the headspace she needs to finally complete her ongoing novel. A financial nudge in the right direction from Auntie Jewell – who I can’t do justice in one sentence but is the most glamorous, dotty, eccentric septuagenarian character I have ever come across – sets Katy on her way to a salty breath of fresh air. Or so she thinks. What Katy hadn’t imagined was to find her best friend, the Vicar’s wife, moonlighting as an ‘Anna Spring’ representative, secretly selling sex-aids to housewives the length and breadth of Cornwall. Neither did she expect to be moving to the seaside town where Gabriel Winters, the nation’s new favourite actor – just stepped out of the pages of a Bronte Novel – is living on the doorstep. And in her quest to find the ultimate romantic hero is Katy overlooking something, or someone, all along?
Ruth Saberton’s witty yet compassionate debut novel is pure genius. I loved the concept of interweaving snippets of Heart of the Highwayman succinctly with Katy’s own life, thought process and day-to-day dramas. My review cannot do justice to all the fantastic characters within this book which come to life through such vibrant descriptions and hilarious actions.
Katy Carter Wants a Hero made me laugh, made me cry but most importantly completely absorbed me from cover to cover. If this is Ruth Saberton’s first offering I certainly look forward to her next novel very soon. My only slight worry is how much of a Katy Carter I am myself. Perhaps it’s time to take the huge framed photo of Sean Bean down from the living room wall…