Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Tuesday Review: Summer in Napa

Summer in Napa
By Marina Adair
Publisher: Montlake
Release Date: May 14, 2013

Alexis Moreau is back in St. Helena, California. Once the golden girl of her hometown, she is returning with a divorce decree so new the ink is barely dry and with her self-esteem in tatters. Her faithless ex was supposed to be her soul mate and forever love, but Lexi didn’t realize there was an expiration date on her high school romance that morphed into marriage. Now former husband Jeff is already someone else’s husband, and there is no room for Lexi in the New York restaurant she helped to make a success. She’s hoping that fulfilling an older dream of turning her grandmother’s patisserie into a bistro will give her new purpose. But first she has to cope with a string of unwanted dates her matchmaking grandmother arranges and the ambivalent feelings Marco DeLuca, he ex-husband’s best friend and perennial best man is evoking.

Marco DeLuca has always known that Lexi Moreau was off-limits for him, no matter how much she appealed to his libido and to his heart. He needs to focus on getting the old hotel he is transforming ready for the Summer Wine Showdown. Besides, even though technically Lexi is free now, Marco knows that getting involved with her would violate the man rules of romance. Or so he keeps telling himself. But although his head knows he should ignore Lexi, the rest of him is not getting the message.

When the two agree to fake a summer romance, it soon becomes clear that intentions are just tinder for the sparks that fly when this combustible twosome is together. Summer and wine and chocolate and a hero and heroine who finally have a chance to rectify the bad choices their hearts made earlier—it sounds like a perfect recipe for romance to me.

I finished Kissing Under the Mistletoe, Adair’s first book in her St. Helena’s Vineyard series giggling over the abundance of Rudolphs, and I started the second book giggling over Lexi’s window adventure. Both books mix laughter with family dynamics, small-town atmosphere, and sigh-worthy moments to produce just the kind of entertaining escape many romance readers are looking for. 

One of the things I liked best about the book is that there is a balance of fraternal support and friction among the DeLuca brothers, a blend I find more believable than the idyllic sibling relationships I sometimes see in romance. I admit I found the family’s conviction that Marcus was destined to be a player and a screw-up irritating. But I know that once a family member is cast in a role, breaking out of it is nearly impossible. So I accepted their actions as credible even when I deplored them. 

If you are a fan of light romances that are fun to read with likeable primary characters and some scene-stealing secondary characters (a child in the first book, Marco’s dog Wingman in this one), I recommend Marina Adair. I look forward to seeing more of the DeLuca family.

Romance fiction, historical and contemporary, is filled with matchmaking characters. My favorite matchmaker is probably Daniel MacGregor from the MacGregor family series by Nora Roberts. Who is your favorite fictional matchmaker?

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