MtSnow reviews ‘Tasting Notes’ by Cate Ashwood. Audiobook released June 30, 2016 by Dreamspinner Press. Narrated by Michael Pauley. Length: 6 hrs 12 min.
Why Mtsnow listened to this story: This week’s RGR theme was ‘friends to lovers’ or ‘enemies to lovers’ and I was trying to limit myself to something I had not read yet. This one fit the bill, and I actually already owned it in my audio library. And, I have to admit, the cover illustration as well as the former Marine MC sealed the deal *smiles*
A copy of this audiobook was purchased by the reviewer at own expense.
There’s nothing that can’t be solved over a glass of excellent wine.
Joseph “West” Weston has paid for his wealth and success with long hours at the office and no personal life to speak of. Meetings, conference calls, and paperwork dominate his waking hours and have kept him from honoring the promise he made to his late grandfather years before.
After leaving the Marines, Robert “Rush” Coeman returns to his hometown and settles in as a Christmas tree farmer. His life is quiet and simple, and he likes it that way. When West arrives in town and buys Rush’s parents’ vineyard on a whim, that simple life is turned upside down. The animosity between them is palpable, but Rush shelves his preconceived notions in order to protect his parents’ legacy. He agrees to help West learn how to run the vineyard, and Rush soon realizes that love doesn’t necessarily come in the package he expected.
I dove right into this story with very high hopes, especially with the lovely outdoor setting, the former Marine, and the idea of a Christmas tree farmer getting together with a business tycoon turned winery-owner. And it turned out okay, but I will say in the beginning I did not think it would. The narrator did kind of throw me off. He was fairly monotone to start with. But I got into the story after a bit, and he ended up blending into the background as I became interested in the characters.
Let me explain. First off, ‘Rush’ is a downright opinionated jerk. I almost wanted to stop reading when I realized he was painting every guy who drives a nice car and dresses well with such a vindictive brush. I did NOT expect that from someone who had been in the military, and who just wanted to settle down on a Christmas tree farm.
THEN I find out that the winery, that ‘West’ purchases is actually right next door to Rush’s farm, and guess what? We find out the winery belongs to Rush’s parents. Admittedly, they didn’t seem like it was even on their radar to sell. But Rush had shown no interest either. So they were perfectly happy selling to West so they could retire and move to sunny Southern California.
Honestly. I really liked West much more than Rush in this story. It took a long time for me to forgive Rush for being so biased. And so blind to others around him. He was very self-centered through much of thus story. It took a conversation with his mother and father, who had finally gotten the opportunity to retire, for him to finally stop acting like the world revolved around him.
Realistically, I would’ve expected us to observe that self-centered quality with West, as he had so much money and privilege, but the author did a good job relaying his emptiness and yearning for something that was missing in his life. And it wasn’t just a person to love. West was a very kind person, as his relationship with his administrative assistant and the townspeople show. He was raised right by his grandfather.
I don’t know that I’d say that about Rush. His self-centered behavior made him very hard to like. And the way he treated ‘friends’ left a little bit to be desired. I will say there were plenty of sparks and sexual intensity between Rush and West, but the antagonism was mostly one-sided. Poor West didn’t have a chance! It’s so great when he throws things back at Rush and proves he can do perfectly fine on his own.
Anyway, West’s instincts tell him he can have a place for himself, even if he knows nothing about winemaking or small town living, and he goes into the deal with such humility and can-do attitude that it was easy to see why he was successful in business. I just had to admire him. He just longed for a place where he could feel more connected to people, and the friendly and beautiful small town gave him just that.
After a bumpy ride, these two do end up with an HEA, but it took growth on both their part to actually see where compromises can work. And the author did a very nice job of relaying the beautiful surroundings in the region. Recommended for those that enjoy little angst, but growth in character, and a fairly light read.
7.5 of 10 pots of gold = 75% out of a 100% or equal to 3.75 of 5 stars
Cate Ashwood wrote her very first story in a hot pink binder when she was in the second grade and found her passion for writing. Her first successful foray into romance writing came five years later when she wrote her best friend, who was experiencing a case of unrequited love, her own happily ever after.
Cate’s life has taken a number of different and adventurous roads. She now lives a stone’s throw from the ocean, just outside of Vancouver, British Columbia with her husband, son, and two cats. Her life is filled with family and friends, travel, and, of course, books.