by Marina Adair
Series: St. Helena Vineyard #2
Published by: Montlake Romance
Genres: Contemporary Romance
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.
Last winter I read and enjoyed Kissing Under the Mistletoe the first book in the St. Helena Vineyard and was excited to read Summer in Napa. Adair delivers another DeLuca brother’s story and I enjoyed it. The tale is filled with lovable characters, humor and romantic moments.
Lexi Moreau left St. Helen years ago with her high school boyfriend Jeff and together they opened a successful New York restaurant but that all came crashing to an end when she found her husband and sous chef cooking in the kitchen. She’s back home to rebuild herself and hopes to turn her grandmother’s patisserie into the bistro she has always dreamed of owning. Her meddlesome grandma does not plan on giving Lexi time to lick her wounds and sets her up on a series of blind dates with St. Helena’s most eligible bachelors. Marco DeLuca, Jeff’s deliciously handsome best friend and hotel owner cannot help but notice that sexy, little Lexi is back. Since high school, he has convinced himself Lexi was off limits as his best friend’s girl but all that’s about to change when he pretends to be Lexi’s boyfriend for the summer. The tale that unfolds had me giggling, snorting and rooting for Lexi all while craving chocolate éclairs and cream puffs.
Poor Lexi has taken a beating emotionally and her grandmother knows she’s too polite to say no to the dates arranged for her. I immediately connected with Lexi and her éclair cravings. She is newly divorced and is a passionate cook but her ex-has her doubting herself on so many levels. The DeLuca brothers are back and I really loved getting to know Marcus. Townsfolk will tell you he is commitment shy and his off-limit rules with Lexi leave him thinking about her all the time. I loved the chemistry and banter between these two. Since they were high school friends it felt genuine and I loved watching them become aware of each other. The romance developed slowly as they built trust and reminisced about the past. The DeLuca brothers are a hoot when they get together and the way they razz each other made me laugh. You cannot help but love this family. While they may bicker and tease amongst themselves I totally recommend you never cross one of them. Their motto is no one messes with a DeLuca, their wine or their woman and boy-howdy do they mean it. The grandmothers are of course up to their usual tricks and I love this meddlesome group. Abby was Lexi’s best friend throughout high school and it was fun getting to learn more about her and their friendship. As the only DeLuca sister, I am hoping we get her story soon.
I love small-town romance series where you get to know the town and its dynamics. St. Helena is in wine country and the DeLuca’s make wine and have such strong ties to the community. I fell in love with some of the quirky characters in the first book and was delighted to see them in action again. Adair’s characters are flawed, earthy, goofy and could easily be your neighbor. She doesn’t make them perfect and allows them to grow and transform. Some of the things they did make me cover my eyes. No not naughty things get your mind out of the gutter! It was embarrassing things, awkward things that made me cringe and giggle. Watching Lexi transform and find herself was funny, even if it felt a bit cliche at times. The romance with Marcus delivered just enough heat and honestly, I will never look at éclairs and cream puffs the same way again! Do not read this book hungry as the food descriptions are out of this world. Better yet, read this with a glass of wine and a box of chocolate éclairs. *yes I am obsessed with them!* I want all the recipes Lexi created. How about a St. Helena’s cookbook Ms. Adair!! As in any small town, there are politics, drama and old disputes. The DeLuca-Baudouin dispute heated up and watching it all unfold around this year’s wine tasting kept me reading late into the night to ensure a happy resolution for all. While at times predictable and quirky I found myself entertained. This is a quick, easy read perfect for the beach.
Summer in Napa and the St. Helena Vineyard series is filled with realistic, quirky characters living in small town USA. Autumn at the Vineyard is the third book and will release in October 2013. There is a sneak-peak in the back of the book and the tale will feature Nathaniel DeLuca and Francesca Baudouin. Ooh, and there is an alpaca that has already stolen my heart.
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