Series: Vineyard Pleasures Series #2
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Release Date: October 31, 2017
Publisher: Hearts and Flowers Publishing
Purchase at: Amazon
***Can be read as a STANDALONE novel***
SPRINKLE an emotionally unavailable woman, a lovelorn man, and some delicious chemistry into the middle of the holidays then candy coat it with a whole lotta passion when a friends-with-benefits arrangement turns a vacation into an unexpected journey.
Blanca Grazia, queen of calm, has it all under control. Headstrong. Self-reliant. Determined. She thrives on an intriguing challenge.
So, when Blanca's bestie, Maxine Novaline, begs her to distract Maxie's boyfriend's cousin while he's visiting them in Napa Valley, California, Blanca is all about stepping it up for her BFF. Hot French guy? Yes, please.
All Blanca plans on doing is the--ehem--favor. Then she'll just friend-zone Julien L'Angevin's butt all the way back home to France where he belongs.
... Until that wrecking ball of a man decides to cash in on a favor of his own.
All Julien wants is another opportunity to see what this wild, pint-sized, fireball of independence is actually made of. Sugar? Spice? Everything nice?
Counting on Blanca's wanderlust for worldly adventures, Julien invites her to his home in Champagne for Christmas. A traveling opportunity the American beauty can't resist.
So what if they decide to add a little pinch of friends-with-benefits to the mix after they come face to face once more and realize that their physical chemistry can't be denied?
Besides, their arrangement is only for one week. Then they'll be continents apart again, and life will go on. Right?
Love the Wine You’re With is the second book in the Vineyard Pleasures series and it absolutely can be read as a standalone book. There is enough explanation of what took place in the previous book that you are not left feeling like you’re missing the bigger picture, which is actually quite lovely. In this story, when Julien showed up to his cousin’s party the last thing he was expecting was to get sidelined with Maxine’s best friend Blanca. Julien and his cousin Chase have had a turbulent past, one in which Julien felt that sabotaging Chase’s relationships was fair game and he had his eyes set on Maxine. Maxine and Chase knew that there was a strong possibility that Julien was going to be up to some tricks and since they had just committed to a full-time relationship they wanted nothing to come in-between them.
Since Blanca was Maxine’s best friend and roommate she knew all about the Julien and was all in on creating the buffer than Maxine and Chase felt that they needed. It certainly did not hurt that Julien was easy on the eyes and that he was not going to be in town for long. Blanca was more of a love them and leave them kind of girl. Short-term relationships were her niche and by short-term we are talking hours to maybe sometimes a couple of weeks. Blanca had previously had her heart torn out by her ex-finance and ever since then she had played it fast and loose. Blanca was definitely jaded and unfortunately that was going to be something that created friction in her relationship with Maxine later on.
For Julien though, Blanca was more like a slight irritation, however beautiful she may be. He had a plan that involved Maxine but Blanca was not giving him a single opportunity to follow that plan through. Once he realized that there was no getting away from Blanca, he accepted defeat and turned his interest to that vexing little vixen. Julien and Blanca found that they easily developed a camaraderie of sorts and that they even enjoyed each other’s company. After they parted ways and Julien returned to France, Blanca figured that the friendship they started would fade and fizzle out but sometimes thing don’t happen as we plan them. When tragedy stuck the family of Chase and Julien, Julien called in a favor that he was owed by Blanca and she was compelled to follow through on her debt.
Julien didn’t know what he truly wanted but he knew what he needed and what he needed was to see Blanca again. He needed just to see what she was all about and on his home turf. He was going to get beneath the facade that everyone else sees and uncover who Blanca really was. When Blanca flew to France the last thing that she expected was her emotional reaction at seeing Julien again. It was everything she never wanted but she couldn’t help the feelings and longing that Julien stirred inside of her. Both Julien and Blanca had been casualties of love gone wrong before and they both had their reservations about any future relationship but what they couldn’t ignore was their feeling that what was between them deserved a “yes.”
Love the Wine You’re With was a very dense read that gave you all the details. It is spread out over time and you are privy to every thought and feeling that the characters are experiencing. Also, the story is not just about Blanca and Julien but Maxine and Chase as well. Maxine and Blanca’s lives are very intertwined and a portion of this story deals with the relationship between these two characters. There is a lot going on and for me I would have preferred a simpler take to the romance itself. I liked that Julien and Blanca were upfront about what their end game was from the start, there was a lot of transparency for what the characters were “bringing” to the table. The conflicts that arose during this story were due to fear of intimacy and a whole host of other feelings and concerns. That was so nice, none of the angsty drama that drives me mad. Overall, I thought that Love the Wine You’re With was a cute rom-com with all the feels!