Title: A Good Vintage
Author: Ashlyn Kane
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: 220 pages
Rating: B List
Blurb: Luke Scherer has turned bad romance into an art. When he catches his latest deadbeat boyfriend selling Luke’s belongings—and his own body—to cover his debts, Luke decides he needs a vacation. He just doesn’t expect his Napa Valley retreat to be a step into his past.
Eight years ago Mal Kuijpers was grieving his wife while his vineyard floundered. Hiring Luke for the summer put the business back on track and a smile back on Mal’s face.
Nineteen-year-old Luke had just gotten out from under his father’s thumb and started saving for his education, his last screw-you to his old man. Then he made the mistake of falling for his boss, his dad caught up with him, and Luke panicked—and fled.
Now they have another chance. Mal has his own share of closet skeletons, including a family he doesn’t talk to and a dead wife he sometimes does, and he’s gone without romance for years. He works hard to convince Luke he’s worth more than a casual fling and asks for nothing in return, but Luke needs a relationship of equals. If Mal can believe in himself and Luke can believe in love, two hot summers might yield a lifelong reward.
Review: I enjoyed this story very much. It is not a dramatic book full of angst and misunderstanding. Rather it is a story of life, family, love, and grief. About overcoming and letting go of the past. Of honesty and courtship. Learning to accept yourself for a beautiful person who deserves love and happiness.
The story is told from both Luke and Mal’s points of view and has flashbacks that are called Interludes that are peppered throughout. I enjoyed having the full story from both men and the insight into their pasts. The interludes are clearly marked and I didn’t have a problem tracking.
Luke is such a wounded man when he comes to the B&B. Luke has been worn down by his past and unhealthy relationships and has come to believe they are all he is capable of or deserves. Not realizing right away that his brother, Val has arranged for him to return to the vineyard that was the happiest and healthiest time in his young adult life it is a shock when he sees Mal again. All of the feelings and desires come rushing back and Luke is unsure of what to do. He doesn’t feel that he deserves to be happy or that he can have a healthy relationship, but Luke has never been able to resist Mal. He doesn’t see what a kind and generous person he is and all that he has to offer.
Mal is just amazing. He is all heart, strength and steadiness. He is a good man and it shows in every aspect of his life. He wasn’t ready for Luke the first time they met, though the feelings and need were there, he was just coming out of grief over the death of his wife. When Luke shows up again Mal knows what he wants and he pursues Luke with a sweet and gentle romantic passion and dedication that Luke is unable and unwilling to resist.
These guys are great. They have lived, enduring loss, loneliness, and making mistakes. They have both pursued their dreams against all odds and opposition and made most of them come true. What they really need at this point in their lives is each other and the life that they can have if both of them will believe, trust and let go. Their journeys, both together and apart, are beautiful and felt real.
Their families play a huge part in the story. Neither man would be who and where they are without the support and love of their families and friends. Gabriela, Jo, Rudy and even brother Eli for Mal. Val and his wife, Julie and Luke’s best friend Lance. These people help to fill this world and make it genuine and enviable. I adored Luke’s relationship with Val, they are brothers in the fullest and richest sense. They went through hell together and survived stronger and wiser. Big brothers can be a great gift (and a pain in the butt).
This is a slow, sweet ride. It is worth the time and patience. I want the story of what happens next. Whatever comes, these gorgeous men deserve all of the happiness and love in the world.
Possible Spoiler in a Trigger Warning: For people who have triggers that involve abuse by alcoholic parents there are some intense scenes of violence in this story. They are told in flashback and conversation. It is a major background plot point for one of the main characters and his family. It is not gratuitous or inflammatory, and as always only you, my friend, know what you want to deal with.
Reviewed by Nina