I know that it has been quite a while, my lovely readers, since I have posted a book review, however in atonement for my sins, I am posting a review of this charmingly refreshing, holiday and wine themed (for all you wine enthusiasts out there) romantic comedy You Had Me at Merlot by Lisa Dickenson.
My review is an amalgamation of all the parts of this story and I do recommend to the reader to read all the parts of this series to truly enjoy the story with its colourful characters and various anecdotes and depictions of the lifestyle and the charms of an Italian winery.
The story follows workaholic heroine Elle and her image obsessed friend Laurie on as they embark on a wine and romance themed ‘You Had Me at Merlot’ holiday to an Italian winery Belle Notre. Elle is very happily single and prefers working at unsociable hours rather than going out to meet the love of her life. She is persuaded by her equally single friend Laurie to accompany her to this holiday so that she can help Laurie meet that special someone.
Once at the Bella Notre, Elle and Laurie encounter some interesting characters including an old, loaded but flirtatious American, some Italian lotharios, one of Elle’s company directors and even a love rival! Added to this, Jamie, the handsome but the ever so slightly unapproachable son of Sebastian and Sophie (the winery owners) stirs long dormant feelings in the very single Elle that she does not want to admit to. When it is revealed to Elle that the vineyard may be in financial trouble, Elle cannot help but want to use her substantial skills as a marketeer to help the business out of its slump as she may be falling in love with the owner’s son….
In all honesty, I enjoyed this book a lot. I loved the descriptions of the Italian countryside, the various foods and wine, the references to Vespas (a preferred mode of transport in Italy), the grape squashing exercise that is a feature of all vineyard trips and the ever present account of Michaelangelo’s David without which this book would have been incomplete. Elle and Laurie are hugely entertaining is well, the reader will enjoy the disastrous Botox episode, the eavesdropping by the windows and toilet cubicles (don’t ask, just read), the chilli wine and dark chocolate tasting and last but not the least the nearly disastrous trip on the Vespas.
Jamie, as the hero of the novel is quite likeable, (although admittedly not my most favourite chick lit hero). Elle, our heroine is feisty, independent and wholly relate able as is her friend Laurie and her company director boss Donna, who appears to be as hard as nails in the beginning but is actually quite a normal, fun loving person who has a heart of gold. Elle and Jamie’s relationship forms slowly and steadily and the pace of their romance is believable and realistic as is their chemistry and compatibility as a couple.
The only part of the story that I could not relate to was the inclusion of a love rival at the end, I could also not comprehend why the hero acted the way that he did, as I felt the whole ‘misunderstanding at the end’ bit could have been avoided and the story would have still been as complete and appealing. However, no spoilers here, you must read all four parts of this amazing tale for yourself.
So go ahead, lose yourself into the pleasures and joys of a beautiful Italian wine yard, some lovely summer sunshine and a bevy of entertaining characters in this humorous tale of wino, Italian food, romance and happy endings. A well deserved four stars to this talented author and I do hope to read more of her books soon!
You Had Me At Merlot (Parts 1 to 4) is out now and is published by Sphere.