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.
©2015 Cate Ashwood (P)2016 Dreamspinner Press
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
Lily reads, writes, and reviews m/m romance.
I have mixed feelings about this story. Yes, I know it’s fiction, but there were some elements that made parts of the story implausible.
What I found difficult to grasp:
Rush’s first response to West because of his car and clothes and why he was no vehement in his reaction even when a reason was given later in the story.
The mind and ways of the billionaire businessman confused me: West leaving his company in the hands of a few trusted assistants for six months without giving much thought to it, instantly buying a vineyard on a whim, without investigating the property or what was required to run it and all the legal bumf that goes with it, and then trying to do so almost single-handedly, later returning to his company in Chicago for two months and not getting a break. He was a billionaire for goodness sake. Why not hire people to do all this work and take the stress away?
Also I didn’t really see the point of Seb’s storyline. It sort of fizzled out, although there were hints to more going on with him. But at least he was available to look after Rush’s dog when he went away. Perhaps Seb’s story will follow in the Canyon Creek series.
Having said all that (and there were other issues I haven’t listed), I actually liked the love story and the characters, despite their weird and unrealistic decisions. I’m a fan of enemies-to-lovers stories and this sort of fitted that trope. The build-up of Rush and West’s relationship was lovely. I liked the writing style, and the times Rush and Wesh spent together, including their steamy scenes. I loved their trip to Eureka. Very poignant and also their stay in the hotel was amusing.
It took me a while to adjust to the narrator’s rather robotic style of speaking. This was my first time listening to Michael. However, the intimate scenes and when Rush and West were saying “I love you” were romantic and beautifully narrated with such emotion. The narrator gave Rush a distinctive deeper voice which made dialogue easy to follow. In fact, all the characters were portrayed well.
So, if you can overlook some of the unbelievable elements of this plot, the story is well worth a listen.
I'm an unabashed fiction fan: mostly M/M, Romance, Erotica, Suspense, Thrillers, Action, NA/YA genres.
When billionaire venture capitalist, Joseph “West” Weston drops everything and goes on an impromptu road trip to scatter his beloved Grandfather’s ashes he winds up in Canyon Creek, a small town in California where he spontaneously decides to buy a winery.
Robert “Rush” Coeman has left the Marines and, instead of running his parent’s winery, he’s bought his own Christmas Tree farm. When his parents sell the winery to West, they suggest West tap Rush as a resource in how to run the small operation. However, Rush is antagonistic to West from the start. Belligerent and downright rude, he barely lets the guy get two words in before ripping his head off.
Of course, all that hostility soon segues into sexual heat between the two which finally bubbles over and they have hot, angry sex. Which is hot, I won’t lie, but I like it more when the anger and heat morphs into real feelings and their romance begins. I far prefer the story once they become lovers and start behaving well toward each other.
There’s still plenty of obstacles, the main one being that West’s life and company is in Chicago, and when problems happen at home he’s forced to leave Rush and Canyon Creek behind….or will he?
Fans of the enemies to lovers trope will probably love this one. Personally, while I enjoyed the story overall, especially when the two really become romantically involved, I didn’t really think Rush’s whole early animosity toward West was warranted, even with the backstory we’re finally given.
There is some suspension of disbelief that’s needed for several plot points, but Ashwood makes it all work and it all leads up to a mostly satisfying HEA.
I’m not really sure what happened here for me with the narration. Overall it’s okay and while I really liked Michael Pauley’s character voices and his pacing is good, it really took me some time to get past the almost staccato rhythm of speaking. His tone and rhythm really threw me at first.
The bottom line is that I enjoyed it overall, even if I didn’t love it, and I really liked that this seemed to be the setup to a new series. I’m looking forward to Sebastian’s story.
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