Back to the 2019 Phonics Challenge:
N for nudge — Read a romance that has been in your TBR for over a year.
I believe I picked up Pamela Gibson’s A Kiss of Cabernet (2014) a few years ago at the Romantic Times Convention. It’s the first in a four book series set in Napa Valley’s wine country.
The story focuses on Paige Reynoso whose family has a long history in the Napa Valley and have worked growing grapes for generations. They don’t own their own vineyard. Paige is the manager of an up and coming property that she christened Garnet Hill. The land was once owned by her ancestors, but it’s now in the hands of an absentee businessman, who owns a biotech company based in Philadelphia and New York.
Unexpectedly, Jake Madison shows up in Napa seeking to learn more about his property, Garnet Hill. Although Jake seems pleasant and is definitely good looking, Paige is suspicious. She has roots here and wants to buy the property even though she doesn’t have enough money to afford it. She’s right, however, to be trepidatious. Jake is interested in selling the vineyard because he needs the money. One of his businesses on the east coast is in danger of being bought out from under him by a rival, putting at risk his employees and his dreams. He also has a second reason to want to keep his biotech company together. Jake’s father died of Huntington’s Disease and, it’s possible, Jake has it as well. In fact, he’s been suffering some symptoms that might be early signs of the disease, although the gene had not been detected as a baby. What makes things worst is that he finds Paige both compelling and beautiful. He’s torn over hurting her or hurting his employees at his biotech firm. But, he also knows he has no future with her if he has Huntington’s. He won’t burden any woman with taking care of a invalid nor can he risk passing along the gene to any children.
At 224 pages, Kiss of Cabernet is not a long story. I think it suffers a bit from not including more details and background on some of the other interesting characters, like Paige’s father and grandmother or Jake’s business rival. However, it’s clear that some of the story is being saved for later books in the series, the second of which focuses on Paige’s sister — at least I think that’s the case. So, as a result, I wasn’t as engaged in the story as I thought I’d be. There were sections that dragged and then, at the end, things sped up and got interesting. It’s too bad some of that compelling plot couldn’t have been brought in sooner. Furthermore, some of the details, at the end, didn’t make sense — and this is a spoiler, so don’t read further if you don’t want to know — how in hell did Paige’s neighbor not know how fruitless it would be to try and develop his property and Garnet Hill when there is such local government and community rules against it? Jake’s rival and Paige’s neighbor are supposed to be smart business people, and yet there seemed to be no plan beyond just acquiring the property.
The last thing that kind of bothered me was a writing tic of the author. I didn’t understand why she would periodically include italicized sentences signaling the thoughts of either Paige or Jake, when their other thoughts were not italicized like that. Was there something extra special about those thoughts? It didn’t make sense.
Anyway, I liked the setting of the story. I liked Paige’s competency and no nonsense attitude, and I felt sorry for Jake and his problems, as well as the fact that the author didn’t make every one of their issues disappear at the end. I’d give this book a B-/C.
The Alphabet Variation Challenge – 14 down, 5 to go (A, B, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, O, S …)
The Phonics Challenge – 6 down, 13 to go