Rating – 4/5
Set among the vineyards in Southern France and Central California, Crush: A Tale of Two Vineyards by Joye Emmens is an enchanting novel that celebrates the resilience of human spirit and the blossoming of love.
Olivia found her calling in winemaking after spending summers in her grandparents’ vineyard in California, Clos de Harmonie. She eventually pursues a degree in Viticulture and Enology and decides to complete her Master’s degree project at a Frenchman’s biodynamic vineyard in France that has been tended to by his family for the last five generations. It’s love at first sight for Olivia and Luke, the Frenchman. As she spends her time in Luke’s family vineyard, she is constantly racked by the guilt that she is neglecting Clos de Harmonie.
A tragic turn of events leads Olivia to return to California. She decides to get Clos de Harmonie certified as a biodynamic vineyard. No one thinks she can do it. Can Olivia prove herself? Can she turn around a decrepit vineyard and not lose Luke in the process?
Emmens has created a colorful cast of characters in Crush: A Tale of Two Vineyards. Olivia is my favorite character due to her sheer tenacity, courage and determination to succeed. Not a day in Olivia’s life is bereft of activity.
After making up her mind to get Clos de Harmonie certified, Olivia doesn’t waste any time moping around, discouraged by the challenges. She meets them head-on, going through the process step-by-step, and enlisting help from her friends. I truly admired her rational approach to surmounting adversities. Despite the tough times, she doesn’t let bitterness creep in and tries to cheer up her friends and workers working in the vineyard.
She is ably supported by the rest of the characters. Luke was the gentlemanly, handsome lover a girl can only dream of. I liked the bonhomie between Olivia’s friends. Further, Emmens has captured the complex family dynamics well. Leroy, as the secretive, grouchy, mean neighbor was the perfect foil to Olivia’s plans.
I was floored by the mesmerizing descriptions of the vineyards, which fueled the wanderlust in me. The author’s vivid descriptions transported me to the idyllic French countryside where Luke and Olivia courted each other. Further, Emmens’ research on wine-making shines through, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading the winemaking process.
However, at certain points, the language was prosaic. I would have liked a more inspired language in tune with the theme of this book. Nevertheless, the overall setting, description of the winemaking process, the wonderful ensemble of characters, and the climax more than compensate for this.
Crush: A Tale of Two Vineyards is recommended for lovers of romance and contemporary fiction who don’t mind being bitten by wanderlust and being captivated by the enchanting process of winemaking.
I reviewed this book for Readers’ Favorite for which I received a nominal payment that doesn’t affect my opinion of the book.
Kindle Edition, 301 pages Published May 31st 2019 by Heart Rock Press