An Intoxicating Crush
Title : An Intoxicating Crush
Author : E.M. Lynley
Series : Delectable, Book #3
Publisher : Dreamspinner Press (BUY HERE)
Genre : M/M, Contemporary
Length : 234 pages (e-book)
Published : July 10, 2013
Simon Ford’s success is hard-won. He grew up in Napa and resents the rich people who have moved into the valley, changing the culture by opening boutique wineries and pricing the locals out of the market.
Austin Kelvin runs an award-winning winery his father started after making a fortune on Wall Street. He lives the posh lifestyle Simon resents but secretly longs to attain. However, Austin’s world isn’t as luxurious and privileged as it seems: he didn’t inherit his father’s business savvy, and his winery is going under.
When Simon’s boss sends him to covertly scope out Kelvin Cellars for a possible takeover bid, Simon sees it as a step toward attaining his financial dreams. Until he falls hard for Austin. The feeling is mutual, but when Austin learns the real reason for Simon’s initial interest, he suspects Simon’s seduction is merely a means to procure the winery at a bargain price. If there’s any hope of winning Austin’s heart, Simon will have to risk it all to prove Austin is more than just an intoxicating crush.
Like all Delectable novels, this book includes the recipes used in the story.
This was an enjoyable, sexy – and savory 😉 – story set in the lushness that is Napa Valley. I really like how the author utilized her knowledge of vineyards and the wine industry to help weave Simon and Austin’s story. Having been to Napa, I could picture the setting perfectly. Her skillful writing absolutely brought the vineyards, charismatic wine cellars, and rolling hills to life as beautifully as the human characters.
Kelvin Cellars started as sort of a plaything for Austin Kelvin’s Wall Street magnate father. It fell to Austin to tend to and make a go of the business when his father and brother abandoned it for other pursuits. To Austin, the vineyard was never just a hobby or a passing fancy. He lives and breathes the grapes, the land, the dance with nature and the art of mixing flavors to blend exquisite wines. It’s a passion for him and his talent for it has even won the vineyard some medals. Unfortunately he also has to deal with the marketing, the bookkeeping, the maintenance, the bank loans, and basically… making ends meet. His dedication and long hours of work make for a lonely life.
Austin has a loyal staff and a very supportive friend in Penny, his business manager. Austin’s brother Logan does come around to participate on occasion, but no longer has a real interest in the vineyard and wonders at Austin’s devotion. Austin hides the fact from Logan that the vineyard is in some potential financial trouble, and he has had a buy-out offer from a firm called Galaxy. It’s not what he wants at all, but he knows others will try to force his hand. He hopes that an upcoming wine tasting /dinner event will help turn things around, and help the vineyard make it to crush, the time of year when the grapes are harvested. The success of the event, and of crush, will give Austin a better idea of future revenue.
Simon Ford is a Napa Valley native. His mom scraped and worked hard to raise him as a single mother. He takes issue with fancy well-to-do outsiders who have come into the valley and are seemingly taking over from the locals. He is actually envious of their wealth, and would like to attain his own. Simon goes to clubs, very much enjoys various hooks ups, but has nobody serious in his life, which is how he prefers things. He takes care of his mother by providing her a nice house to live in and he is seemingly on the fast track for success, working as an assessor at Vintage Partners, an acquisition firm. Simon’s boss sends him out to the wine tasting at Kelvin Cellars to scope out the operation for a potential buy out – Galaxy is interested…should Vintage Partners be?
When Simon arrives at Kelvin Cellars, it is swiftly apparent to both Simon and Austin that there are sparks flying between them. But what to do about it? Simon is miffed, he had had no idea going in that Austin was gay, but he sure suspects his boss did and set him up to meet Austin on purpose. Simon wonders if it was assumed he would try to play Austin and glean information by getting close to him – “in his pants” close. Fact is, Simon find himself quite genuinely attracted to Austin and the feeling is mutual. Austin actually finds the fortitude – after some goading by Logan and Penny – to pursue a relationship with Simon, albeit a casual, mutually satisfying, sex-based relationship. Mmm hmm, yeah –right! It starts out that way, and the two are indeed very hot together,
The sex is amazing from the get go, but eventually they find themselves investing much more time and emotion on each other than either originally intended.
I really liked Austin right away, and was cheering him on to be successful with sustaining the vineyard, and in finding a lover. He seemed so utterly alone. Simon had
me clenching my gut. I was really worried that he was going to scheme, use and manipulate….then be all remorseful and try to vindicate himself. I really have a problem with overt manipulation by main characters in a story. As it turns out, Simon took the high road. Oh, his actions led to a fall out between he and Austin, and some major explaining had to be done, but his lies by omission meant to protect Austin worked very well to create some of the conflict in the story.
Again, the author deftly used her familiarity with wine, wine making and food throughout this story. Personally, I found the details about wine and vineyards to be extremely intriguing, and of course vital to the story. Many of the scenes involving food and wine, along with the implicit details of Simon and Austin indulging in them, were damn provocative and smoking hot sexy. Yeah, the guys had some awesome chemistry together – both in and out of the bedroom. They really worked well as a team when it came to working to save the vineyard. I love how they both came to realize that their pre-conceived judgments about the other were way off base. One thing I would have liked to have seen more clearly portrayed during their sex scenes would be the evolution of their emotions toward each other – the journey from casual sex to making love.
It was great to see some unexpected plot twists and turns. I love how characters who initially seemed to be in the background, but actually kind of ticked me off, turned out to have some backbone and redeeming qualities. I do believe Austin was surprised as well!
EM includes many recipes at the back of the book that are used throughout the story. I personally recommend the Gruyere Grilled Cheese and plan on trying out more of them.
Thanks EM for another tasty treat. More Simon and Austin would go down really well, in a manner of speaking! 😀
Rated 4 stars by Dianne