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West is a very rich but lonely, workaholic. He loses his only family, his grandfather, a few years ago and hasn’t yet taken time to properly mourn him nor spread his ashes as he had planned. A glimpse at his own mortality (via watching another person die) spurs him into action. He drops all his obligations on his work partners and travels with his urn out to California. There he ends up in a sleepy but quaint town with a wonderful winery that he falls in love with. He ends up simply buying it (though it wasn’t originally for sale) and moving in with no firm plans on where to go next.
Rush is a cranky almost misanthropic retired Marine who now runs a Christmas tree farm in the same little town as his parent’s winery. He sees West across a crowded pub and though he can see the attractiveness in the man, he pigeon-holes his type as a rich prick and instantly dislikes him. When Rush finds out that his parents sold the “prick” their winery without even discussing it with him, he’s pissed. He takes out his anger on the unsuspecting West and the two are set up instantly as mortal enemies.
But… West needs help with the winery. He has no tools necessary to keep it running and Rush is attached to the idea that the winery shouldn’t fail just because some idiot bought it. So, very reluctantly, Rush agrees to “mentor” West in the running of a winery until he can either do it himself or find someone who can.
As can be imagined, their constant togetherness leads to a romantic entanglement. But… West still has obligations in Chicago and Rush can’t (or won’t) abandon his dreams to follow West. So their relationship is destined to fail unless someone is willing to bend.
There were parts of this story that really worked for me and parts that didn’t.
I thought Rush and West were great “yin and yang” and helped one another to be better people, thus were a great couple. Their chemistry was excellent and I thought the whole “mentorship” was a great way to get them together.
The sale of the winery and the relationship between Rush and the winery never made a lot of sense to me. Why didn’t he want to take it over himself? Since he claimed to want nothing to do with it, why did he care if someone else did? That seemed a bit contradictory.
West’s work in Chicago never quite made sense either. If the business can run so successfully that he has literally millions just waiting around to spend on anything and he doesn’t have to even be there for that to happen, why hasn’t he done something sooner? And, realistically, could such a big business be expected to run without him? When he moves back “temporarily” to Chicago to “fix things”, I wasn’t really sure what the plan was. It seemed to me he needed to have acknowledged either the end of the relationship right then or be planning on doing something extreme with the business if being with Rush was ever going to be an option.
So, as a story there were some plot holes that bothered me, but as a romance I really liked the MCs and their chemistry and found their HEA to be very sweet and satisfying.
Michael Pauley is a good narrator. He always sounds a bit “winded”, like he’s holding his breath while he narrates, but he has a really nice tenor to his voice and is good with emotions and timing. He didn’t give either MC a hugely different voice, but I always knew who was speaking. I think that this was a great way to experience the story and I highly recommend it.
4.5 of 5 stars
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
A great telling of my favourite Cate Ashwood book. Loved hanging with Rush and West again.