As a writer for Taste Magazine, wine critic Thomas Baldwin is an expert in his field. When his boss sends him to California for a year, it’s a fairly easy move as Tom has limited ties to his NYC home. In charge of organizing a competition between the well-known wineries of Napa and the boutique vineyards of Sonoma, Tom is tasked with profiling wine makers and deciding on the finalists for the competition.
What he wasn’t expecting was good looking, but slightly angry, Greg Kennedy, owner of Rhapsody Vineyards. Owning a small vineyard in Sonoma, Greg elevates wine making to an art form and wants nothing to do with the competition. Although their attraction is instant, it can go no further as it is a huge conflict of interest to Tom’s job. Greg is afraid to open himself up and Tom’s time in the wine country is temporary. This is a story of wine, passion, the right moment, and the courage to change for love.
What drew me to this book was the wine country and the promise of romance within that setting. Sotto Voce is foremost a story about wine and less about romance. The book is well written and clearly researched by an author that is well versed in the area and the subject. But, the majority of the book is about wine making, wine tasting, wine marketing, wine articles, wine judges, vine growing, pruning, and one demanding boss added to the mix. There is not much romance or even the start of a relationship until well into the story. There is minimal tension between Tom and Greg because they avoid each other for a portion of the book due to the competition. Then, there is finally a little time for the men to be together, and then right away we get crop maintenance, then a tantrum, oh, and don’t forget about harvest. By this time I am feeling a bit deflated as there are other wine sources I would have turned to.
We are then trying to navigate a relationship between two men we barely know and have limited connection to, which is a tragedy because both men have a lot to offer. The beginning of their relationship should be the happiest of times, but they have no communication, have lots of issues and mood swings, and then the holidays. Tom, really? There is a side story of two secondary characters that is added in that took valuable time away from the men and then we are only told of that resolution almost as an afterthought.
The ending is predictable, which can be okay at times, but the journey in between has to be worth it. So, I received a wine refresher, which hey, I like wine and have a reasonable working knowledge of the subject, but it took over what is being called a story of romance. The rating is for the writing. The story is visual, informative, and the presentation is easy to read. It was lacking for me in character development, relationship, and connection. If you are not a fan of wine or the wine country, this may not be the book for you. But, it can be an educational read with a splash of romance added in.