Drunk on Love
Jasmine Guillory has been called, “The Queen of the Modern Day Romance” (Vogue) and I would agree that she’s more than earned that title. Drunk on Love, her latest novel, takes us to Napa Valley, where a winery owner and her tech-savvy employee find amor amid the vines.
Margot Noble and her brother Elliot always got along great – until their uncle left his winery to both of them. Working together has put an unexpected strain on their relationship, so when Margot comes home from a business trip and Elliot uses some passive-agressive language to make her feel bad, she gets a bit cranky. In her mind, there are only a few solutions for the cranks and all of them can be found at her best friend’s pub. Margot’s just planning to eat a good meal, mellow out with some wine and enjoy quality time with her bestie but then he walks in, the proverbial Mr. Tall, Dark and Handsome. He’s funny, friendly, a total stranger and willing to keep it to first names and some (extraordinary) impersonal generic conversation. Margot is completely surprised by how easy it is to bond with someone while discussing trivialities. There’s no work talk, which turns out to be a mistake. Because after an amazing night together, Margot goes to Noble Family Vineyards and finds that her new employee is non-other than her fantastic one night stand.
Luke Williams is the quintessential success story. From school nerd to being employed in one of the most coveted positions in the tech industry, he’s been a shooting star with all the wealth and career prestige one could hope for. But a new boss has made Luke’s dream job toxic and after a particularly bad few days, Luke turns in his resignation and comes home to Napa Valley. Only, when he walks in the door at the winery he planned to temp at Luke realizes he may have just managed to make a mess of his new position. What are the odds that the incredible lover of the night before would be his boss this morning? Both he and Margot agree to keep it professional and to never, ever repeat that terrific night. But their best laid plans just may be no match for the burning hot chemistry which sparks every time they are together.
Full disclosure: While I do occasionally drink wine, I am by no means an expert on imbibin and nor do I know anything about its production, wine tours or even wine tastings. So I am rating Drunk on Love strictly as a romance. I won’t be able to speak to the quality of research on the industry end of things.
For those who might find a workplace romance and the imbalance of power between the two characters off-putting, rest assured that issue is well-handled. I won’t go into the details but the hero and heroine are mindful of the awkwardness of the situation and manage it gracefully and successfully.
Fans of the author will recognize a lot of the elements of this story. Luke and Margot are the kind of characters she likes to write – strong, driven people who excel at their jobs and know who they are and what they want from life. This is especially true of Margot, who pretty much devotes herself to the winery. Ms. Guillory fantastically captures the details of actually holding down a job, showing how emails, phone calls, working the front room and putting out fires whether with employees or customers takes time. Margot is constantly on the go, and there is always something for her to do. I’ve found those CEOs with tons of free time that so often people romance rather laughable; this story shows what owning a company actually entails.
Luke is several years younger than Margot but he’s already experienced a lot of success. He’s questioning whether it has been worth some of the sacrfifices he has made, though. Being home reminds him of all the things he loves about a slower pace, helps him to think of all the things he hasn’t had time for (like romance) and working at the Black-owned winery enables him to really see the racism he’d been dealing with at his old firm on a regular basis.
The author does a nice job of building the relationship. I loved how Margot and Luke have a wonderful conversational connection from the start; there is plenty of chemistry and lots of sexy times but these two also really like each other, as opposed to just having the hots for each other which is what so many of the ‘met-via-one-night-stand’ books rely on. I could see why both of them want more than just the one off they originally planned on.
I also really appreciated how connected the characters are to the other people in their lives. Luke is extremely close to his mom and to his best friend Avery and he has a good relationship with his mom’s partner and with his mentor from his old firm. He makes friends easily with the people he works with at the winery. Margot has her brother and her best friend and the folks at the winery. The author writes everyone as more than just stock characters while still keeping her focus on the primary couple.
I did have a few quibbles with the novel, though. Luke makes a stupid mistake, lying to his mother about two important factors in his life and letting those lies go on way, way too long. It was dumb and lazy to lie to begin with, continuing it for the bulk of the novel just to give us a conflict between our characters at the end makes him look immature and irresponsible. That may have contributed to my second quibble with the story – I thought Luke and Margot were at different places in their lives in terms of relationship commitment. Margot is clearly looking for long-term, total devotion while Luke seems to be in a place where he loves her but is still exploring exactly what that means for him. As a result of that maturity imbalance, I felt a bit uncomfortable with the demands she put upon him only a month into their coupledom.
Those are genuinely just quibbles, though. Drunk on Love is a wonderful contemporary romance that I am happy to recommend to fans of that genre.
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I've been an avid reader since 2nd grade and discovered romance when my cousin lent me Lord of La Pampa by Kay Thorpe in 7th grade. I currently read approximately 150 books a year, comprised of a mix of Young Adult, romance, mystery, women's fiction, and science fiction/fantasy.