Title: Tasting Notes
Author: Cate Ashwood
Narrator: Michael Pauley
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Run Time: 6 hours and 12 minutes
Category: Contemporary Romance
At a Glance: There is a lot of good story here, but the narration weighs it down unfairly.
Reviewed By: Mike
Blurb: There’s nothing that can’t be solved over a glass of excellent wine.
Joseph “West” Weston has paid for his wealth and success with long hours at the office and no personal life to speak of. Meetings, conference calls, and paperwork dominate his waking hours and have kept him from honoring the promise he made to his late grandfather years before.
After leaving the Marines, Robert “Rush” Coeman returns to his hometown and settles in as a Christmas tree farmer. His life is quiet and simple, and he likes it that way. When West arrives in town and buys Rush’s parents’ vineyard on a whim, that simple life is turned upside down. The animosity between them is palpable, but Rush shelves his preconceived notions in order to protect his parents’ legacy. He agrees to help West learn how to run the vineyard, and Rush soon realizes that love doesn’t necessarily come in the package he expected.
Review: Joseph “West” Weston is a young, self-made venture capitalist who enjoys his life of power and wealth, but isn’t really living life. Robert “Rush” Coeman is a man who survived a series of Middle East deployments, trying to make sense out of the loss and sameness of his life in a small town. West begins to take stock of his empty but wealthy life and decides it is time for him to fulfill a promise made to his dead grandfather, and heads out of his comfortable life in Chicago for the west coast. As he nears his destination, he comes across the small town of Canyon Creek. Home of Rush and a host of small town personalities and eccentrics who, at turns, drive him crazy and take hold of his heart.
One of those people is Rush, who hates the obviously wealthy West on sight. When West unknowingly buys Rush’s parents winery, Rush explodes into a fit of rage. That rage turns to lust, and lust to much deeper feelings. Time passes and West needs Rush’s help with the winery. Rush reluctantly agrees to help West keep the winery afloat out of a sense of loyalty to both his family and the town he loves. The feelings both are fighting become hard to deny as each begins to feel they have found the other half they have been looking for.
West would be happy to remain in the blissful peace of the small town he finds feels more like home than home in Chicago ever did. Rush can no longer deny his love for West. West fulfills the promise to his grandfather and Rush admits his love after West’s grandest gesture possible. But the realities of the cutthroat world that West comes from breaks into their newfound love and pulls West back to Chicago.
Rush feels the loss of completeness he had come to depend on with West. West tries to get out from under his high pressure world, but it keeps him away from Rush far too long. They reunite for one last attempt to be together. The results change their lives.
Even though this story has one of my pet peeves in it, a billionaire with nothing but time and money to spend, the story is well told and believable throughout.
Michael Pauley as the narrator seems a bit rushed with his delivery; it’s almost breathless but not in the way you’d expect with a romance novel. At times the narration detracts from the story and one is tempted to rewind the audio to make sure all of the rushed words have been heard. Sometimes a slower paced delivery would be better. The narration is serviceable but it could have been a lot better. The average listener will enjoy this story and its delivery, but those who expect more from a narrator may be a little disappointed. If I had to choose a word to describe this narration, it would be, hurried. There is a lot of good story here, but the narration weighs it down unfairly.
I really enjoyed the story but not the storytelling as much. As an avid listener of audiobooks, I expect a certain level of narration. Pauley has done other books a good turn by giving his full voice to them. This book seems to have not gotten his full attention. I would call it an average read at best. Buy it if you like Cate Ashwood, because this is one of her better stories. The narration doesn’t ruin the story, but I wish it had been given more attention.
You can buy Tasting Notes here: