Rating: 4 stars
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Austin Kelvin loves his winery. He loves working with the grapes. He loves creating the perfect balance of fruit, acidity, and tannins that go into his signature blends. But Kelvin Cellars is more than just the love of the land and the fruit to Austin. It’s a business, a business that is in financial trouble and Austin is trying everything to see that he doesn’t lose the one place he’s always called home.
Simon Ford grew up in Napa Valley. He’s always resented the “new” winemakers that have everything handed to them on a silver platter simply because he’s had to work hard for everything that he’s ever achieved. Now Simon is an accountant working in his dream field with nowhere to go but up. When Simon’s boss tasks him with scoping out Kelvin Cellars for possible purchase at an event, Simon jumps at the opportunity to have a more substantial role at Vintage Partners. Catching sight of Austin for the first time changes everything that Simon originally planned with the assignment.
The chemistry between Austin and Simon is immediate. Simon doesn’t tell Austin why he originally attended the winetasting, but he also doesn’t make a move to get to know Austin until he’s sure there’s no conflict of interest when it comes to his job. Given the all clear, Simon pursues Austin. Their physical chemistry leads to an emotional connection and trust. Simon can never seem to find a way to tell Austin why he originally attended the winetasting, and Austin has trouble focusing on anything but his failing business. Asking Simon to look over the winery’s books seems to be the next logical step. But with every step forward, Austin always seems to have to take two steps back.
Being a pawn in a powerful, manipulative, revenge-driven game was is what Simon expected. But when his secrets and mistakes come into light, threatening to destroy everything he’s built with Austin, Simon will fight to help Austin save everything that he loves, even if it means Simon will lose the man he’s come to care about.
Intoxicating Crush by E.M. Lynley is the third book in the Delectable series.
I truly enjoyed this book. It was a little slow starting, but when it picked up, it was pretty easy to read. The writing flows smoothly and the plot is planned and played out rather well. It’s one of those storylines where you see the disaster coming and you hope and cross your fingers that the character will just come clean to avoid the train wreck. And it all works out in the end, mostly tied up in a neat bow.
One of the best points of this book is the obvious knowledge and research of the subject of winemaking, winetasting, and the wine world in general. Lynley takes readers, who may or may not know anything about the subject of wine, on a journey, experiencing a new facet of the wine world in an almost tangible way. The description of the wine and the food is so decadent. I wanted more.
I like the characters in this story, although I had a few issues with them. Austin, I liked fully. He’s hard-working, full of integrity, and just a great guy all around. Even in his struggles, he thinks about the people around him – his brother, his employees, his friends, Simon – before he thinks of himself. I liked Simon okay in the beginning, but it took some time to really like him. He’s very jaded. He has issues with people who have money, yet he wants to be one of the privileged more than he wants to admit. He’s a contradiction. He wants to hate Austin for his life of privilege, yet he’s quick to start a relationship with him. He never really works that out, he just moves past a lifetime of resentment to acceptance, which I don’t find very believable. But Simon has his good characteristics. In his confusion over his job/relationship dilemma, he works out what is truly important to him. He makes his share of mistakes, but he doesn’t let them muddy who he is. He is quick to accept responsibility for his mistakes which makes him honorable. And like I said, I came to really like him by the end of the story.
I’m disappointed that the issue between Austin and his brother is never resolved. It’s a big part of this plot and I wanted Austin to man up and get things out in the open. I liked Logan at first, but once his part in the financial issue comes out, I liked him less. I thought his character could have used a little redemption if only by accepting his responsibility in the issues of the winery. And then there were some confusing statements made about Simon and not knowing his father. The unresolved issues with his mother, or at least the unasked questions, were a tad frustrating. So whereas the main plot was tied up in a nice, neat bow, there were some unresolved issues that, had they been addressed by the end of the book, would have mad the story that much more satisfying.
Even with the two small issues, I really did like this story. As always, this author has a way of making a common story into something sweet and exciting. I really liked the characters and the plot was well strategized. I love the setting as well as the obvious knowledge of the author on this subject. I’ve enjoyed this series from the beginning and look forward to what Lynley has in store in the future. I recommend Intoxicating Crush by E.M. Lynley.