Review: Sugar’s Twice as Sweet by Marina Adair

sugars twice as sweetReviewed by Shelly

I decided to read this because I’ve really enjoyed this author’s work in the past. Her St. Helena Vineyard Series was quite good overall. It took me a while to get into this book and I’m not sure that I ever did, because I never really ended up caring about any of the characters. I certainly never cared about either the hero or heroine. I don’t normally read about women with perfect lives because they usually turn out to be just spoiled rich women. I shouldn’t have started now but then again, hind sight is 20/20. [Read more…]

Review: Be Mine Forever by Marina Adair

be mine foreverReviewed by Shelly

I’ve been waiting on Trey’s story for a while now. Color me happy, folks, because that was some good reading. This is book 4 in the St. Helena Vineyard series and I’m not sure how many more stories Adair will be writing about this town and/or the DeLucas; I’m expecting at least one more – Abigail and her nemesis, former NFL player Jack Tanner. But before I get carried away about how much I’m looking forward to that, back to Trey. I’m hoping that you, dear readers, have read the first books in the series because even though this one is a standalone, it would be so much more enjoyable if read sequentially. Trey started getting under my skin in the second book, he was so… almost anti-commitment, didn’t believe in settling down and certainly not in St. Helena. I gleefully looked forward to his fall from bachelorhood. So glad I waited. [Read more…]

Review: Autumn in the Vineyard

autumnReviewed by Shelly

I’ve not been disappointed in any book in this series and I’m enjoying each of the DeLuca family stories. One of the many things that I like in this series is that each new book picks up relatively quickly after the previous. After reading the last one, I was really hoping that Nate and Frankie would get their story and did they ever! We finally get to see more of the dynamics of the DeLuca – Baudouin feud. In typical writing style, Adair doesn’t give it to you all at once. She makes you squirm for a little bit then she’ll start giving you a little bit at a time, no rush –no force– all good. [Read more…]

Review: Summer in Napa

Reviewed by Shelly

This is what I would consider a slow burn, there’s nothing that jumps off at you. Instead it’s a nice, well-paced story. Picking up a few months after Kissing Under the Mistletoe –which is Gabe DeLuca, the oldest brother’s story– this continues with another DeLuca brother. If you’ve not read KUM (get your minds out of the gutter) you’ll be okay reading this one because Adair didn’t write this as being dependent on that storyline; however I would definitely recommend Gabe’s story – it’s good.

Talk about getting your hand caught in the cookie jar, it seems that Lexi Moreau’s husband didn’t get the memo that you don’t diddle with your staff when your wife is in the next room – What a tool! After finding said tool in flagrante delicto, Lexi has finally reached the point of no return. After a quick amicable divorce, Lexi returns to her beloved hometown of St. Helena, where she hopes to restore her dream and turn her grandmother Pricilla’s patisserie into a bistro. Eligible bachelor and town playboy Marco DeLuca has always had a thing for his best friend’s (afore mentioned tool’s) girl. Although he’s been pretty good in the fifteen years since meeting Lexi, the gloves are off and it’s time to set some things right.

Let me just say that Lexi is a complete and total likeable girl. She kinda tall and she can’t seem to stop eating the cream puffs, but then again, Marco likes her just the way she is – gotta love that. There were moments where I laughed with Lexi and Abby’s antics – they’re such good friends that there’s no such thing as personal space — they get all in the each other’s business. The progression of Lexi from being the victim of her own good deeds to finally seeing herself as someone who deserves better was awesome to see. There were moments where I wished she would beat down that loser of an ex, including a scene where I could swear I felt the air leave the room. (I might have shed a tear or ten.)

Marco underwent the bigger change, though. If you read the first book, the impression he left me with was one of ‘I can’t wait ‘til he gets his’ and does he ever deliver. Usually these roles are reversed in romance novels where the heroine seems to be angst filled, but this time Marco was the nail biter. His friendship with his best friend, Lexi’s ex, guided so many of his decisions that ended up hurting Lexi that it was sometimes painful to read.

Did I like these two together? Yes, I definitely did. Did the chemistry work? It sure did, like I said earlier theirs is a slow burn so don’t expect wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am. There’s is a true romance relationship where they get to know each other as they are today, not as they were in high school and definitely not through the rose colored lenses. Well done, Adair.

Before I go, I have to say something about the secondary characters. Gabe and Reagan do make appearances. Is it greedy of me to have wanted to see more of Reagan interacting with other people than Gabe? That might a slight yes. The grandmothers are back – ChiChi is still commanding the room; Pricilla and her wardrobe are still stuck in leisure suites and concert T-shirts, you can try to picture that in your head but don’t do it too long, your brain might stay that way. Remember Abby? She’s the DeLuca sister who married another winner by the name of Richard. There’s nothing funnier than when she has to post the newspaper notices for Richard before she can divorce him. Oh my goodness, I almost cracked a rib when I read them. The other two DeLucas, Nate and Trey make their presence known and the testosterone that’s running rampant as those two try set their own stamp in the family business is very high. I think (and hope) that Nate’s story is next – go get ‘im Frankie.

Happy Reading Folks!

Rating: B

*ARC provided by publisher for review 

Click to purchase: Amazon
Summer in Napa
by Marina Adair
Release Date: May 14, 2013
Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review: Kissing Under the Mistletoe

Reviewed by Shelly

This is a first from both publisher and author for me so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but oh, what a pleasant surprise! I can’t remember when I’ve cried so much reading a story.

Looking for a fresh start for herself and her daughter Holly, Regan Martin moves to the wine country of Napa Valley. A long time coming, she’s finally getting back on her feet with a good job and a place to call home when she runs into Gabe DeLuca, the man who for the last six years, has stopped her from financially supporting her daughter. What a jerk right? And that’s exactly what I thought.

Regan is a third generation single mom. She got pregnant during a relationship with who she thought was a single man. She was raised without her father and until she found out that her child’s father was a married, cheating, bastard (too harsh? – nah) she didn’t think that would happen to her. By 19, she had already been through a lot – teenage pregnancy and her Mom’s death. While not letting any of her past mistakes define her future, Regan proves herself to be a good mother and provider to her daughter. She’s put everything that her mother taught her about survival into action.

When she meets Gabe for the second time in six years, Regan is just floored and knows that he’s going to do what he’s done in the past: either get her fired or make it so that every interview she has turns bad. He’s got her so wound up that she unconsciously sabotages her own interviews. But after getting fired yet again, Regan lands a job at Gabe’s younger brother Marco’s hotel as a cleaning lady. There’s a connection here between Regan and her mom that just tore me up and along with the that, the reason why she gets the job is pretty underhanded.

While she’s in town, Regan meets a few of the town folks including Gabe’s grandmother ChiChi and a few of her friends better known as the Mrs. Clauses. These ladies were meddlesome, nurturing and became true friends to Regan; fun stuff there. There are others including Jordan, Gabe’s slightly-crazy-right-hand woman who’s got her hands full keeping her teenage daughter from Mr. Sex with Wheels – totally hilarious and laugh-out-loud moments. Then there’s Isabel, you know that one person in town who think she’s the sh*t – I couldn’t stand her. I can’t leave out Gabe’s brothers, Nathaniel and Trey, can’t wait for their and Marco’s stories (at least I hope so); and of course Abigail. The innocent and vulnerable Abigail – after six years it’s time to grow up, Abigail. But I digress.

Regan and Gabe really light up the pages. There were moments I’m crying because Regan has convinced herself that she can’t have a life outside of being a mother and my heart just goes out to her because of her background and what she’s willing to sacrifice so her daughter had both a good childhood and a good home. There were moments I wanted to reach out and snatch Gabe bald because of what he’s done to both Regan by conscious thoughts and actions and what he’s taken away from Holly by those same actions. But in the end, I just wanted these two to be together and talk about what they each wanted from the other and work it out. The ending was a little rushed for me but that did not in any way take away from the good time I had reading this book.

I really liked this story. It was filled with heartache, broken dreams, lost love, forgiveness and redemption that completely tugged my heartstrings. I thought Adair did a fabulous job and I’ll definitely read more of her work (the sooner the better – I might have mentioned that already).

Happy reading folks!

Rating: B+

*Book provided by author for review

Click to purchase: Amazon
Kissing Under the Mistletoe
by Marina Adair
Release Date: October 16, 2012
Publisher: Montlake Romance

Series Reading Order: St. Helena Vineyard

This is the reading order for the St. Helena Vineyard series by Marina Adair:

Author Marina Chappie seen outside her Santa Cruz, Calif. home, Friday February 17, 2012. (Photo by Tosh Tanaka)

Author Marina Chappie seen outside her Santa Cruz, Calif. home, Friday February 17, 2012. (Photo by Tosh Tanaka)