Series: St. Helena Vineyard #2
Format Read: eGalley
Source: From the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Release Date: May 14, 2013
Buying Links: Amazon Barnes & Noble The Book Depository
Blurb from goodreads:
Six months ago, New York restaurant owner Alexis “Lexi” Moreau walked in on her husband, Jeff, and their sous chef mixing business with pleasure. Now, Lexi is back in her hometown of St. Helena, California, rebuilding her life and hoping to turn her grandmother’s patisserie into the bistro of her dreams. All she needs is luck, lots of hard work, and a way to avoid the thirty blind dates her matchmaking grandmother arranged. Enter Marco DeLuca — Jeff’s handsome, commitment-phobe best friend who has always had his sights set on Lexi. In high school, Marco convinced himself that Lexi was off-limits. And she still is, especially since Marco’s family’s wine business all depends on a deal with Jeff. But a fake summer romance is the perfect way for Lexi to distract the would-be suitors her grandmother has set up for her. A perfect way for Marco to realize she’s the only one that ever mattered. And a perfect way to fall deliciously in love.
I have mixed thoughts about this book. It was a quick read and I enjoyed parts of it but there were some things that were just cliched or overdone and parts I flat out disliked (the "locked" pantry was both cliched and stupid, plus insulting).
The ink on Lexi's divorce decree isn't even dry yet when she arrives back in her hometown to start over. Her grandmother, who apparently fails to understand that Lexi needs time to recover from the divorce, figure out where her marriage went wrong and that she needs to time heal, has opened an account in Lexi's name on an online dating service and set up a month's worth of dates. Lexi, we're meant to believe, is too shy and too honorable to cancel but feels obligated to honor her grandmother's fraudulent behavior. I think we're meant to think of Lexi as honorable and her grandmother as quirky but I just wanted to smack the both of them.
Then Lexi gets stuck, literally stuck in a window, and our "here" Marco has several good laughs at her expense before condescending to help her. Again, what was meant to be cute and humorous was just stupid and annoying. They spar and flirt and soon he's knocking on her door. Marco has been attracted to Lexi for years, since they were teens, but she only had eyes for his best friend, Jeff. Now that Jeff and Lexi are divorced, Marco won't act on his attraction, not because Lexi needs time to get back on her feet but because there's some sort of man code that says he can't touch his friend's ex; apparently that's poaching. Really? I understand not poaching when Lexi and Jeff were married but they are divorced now and Jeff has already re-married. Is this really a guy thing or just a stupid plot device?
Lexi and Mark end up in a "fake" relationship *eye roll* Yeah, like we can't see how that's going to work out. Mark is still valiantly trying to hold to the code while also finding it difficult to stay away from Lexi. Lexi is attracted but doesn't believe that he could ever be attracted to her or make a commitment. Mark is also hesitant to tell Lexi about a business deal he's arranging with her ex that involves using her recipes, recipes she needs for the bistro she's trying to open. He knows he should tell her but he waits and of course she finds out in the worst possible way. Hey, it's a romance, there has to be a big misunderstanding! Because, you know, it's not enough that she's freshly divorced and insecure or that he has never been in a serious relationship. Oh, and naturally the ex is a total jerk with no redeeming value.
So, did I like anything? Yes. While some of the humor didn't appeal to me, there was some that did. While Marco first comes off as an arrogant, playboy jerk, when we get inside his head, we see he's really not so bad. He's trying to prove himself to his family who can't see him as the responsible, business-savvy man he's become; he loves his goofy dog; he tries to be a good friend to Jeff until he finally sees him for the jerk that he really is; he goes out of his way to help both Lexi and her grandmother. He's a decent guy with some flaws, a normal person. Lexi is also likable; she loves her grandmother; once past the initial hurt, she realizes her own part in the failure of her marriage; she's loyal to her family and friends; she learns to take risks. I also liked Adair's portrayal of the small town Lexi lives in; unlike many authors she gets it right and doesn't sugarcoat it. The sex scenes are hot; the romance, despite my complaints, is sweet, and reading the story was a pleasant way to spend several hours.
I didn't love "Summer in Napa" but it was pleasant and it did make smile as well as roll my eyes and grumble. If the blurb appeals to you, then I say read it. Although it's the second book in a series, I had no trouble reading it as a stand alone.