Author ~ Cate Ashwood
Publisher ~ Dreamspinner Press
Published ~ 26th October 2015
Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Romance
West, a venture capitalist, 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, Rush returns to his hometown and settled 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 parent’s 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.
Tasting Notes by Cate Ashwood is the first book in a new MM romance series which can certainly be read as a stand-alone.
Joseph “West” Weston is a thirty-five year old venture capitalist. He puts his everything into his company, Forge West Ventures, and essentially has no time for anything outside of business meetings, telephone conference calls and hours spent at his desk. In fact, because West is so wrapped up in such a busy lifestyle, he has made no time to honor his late grandfather who meant the world to him and whose ashes he still has in an urn at his home. West makes a spur of the moment decision that has him driving from Chicago to Eureka so he can finally fulfill his grandfather’s wishes. However, when West stops in the small town of Canyon Creek he feels this pull and the compulsion to stay which leads him to make another impulsive decision. One that makes him the proud new owner of Lennox Hill Winery…. a business he knows nothing about.
When West approaches the son of the people who he bought the winery from and requests his help to teach him the ropes about owning a winery, he is met with hostility. In fact, Robert “Rush” Coeman is downright mean to him and refuses to even entertain the idea of helping West out. To Rush, West epitomizes everything he hates. He believes that West is this stuck up rich snob who has nothing better to do that spend daddy’s money on inconsequential purchases such as wineries. Rush is an ex-Marine who returned to his hometown and took on Black Mountain Farms. He leads a quiet and simple life as a Christmas tree farmer. The last thing he wants to do is take time out of his day to assist someone he hated at first sight.
The idea that West might destroy what his parents worked so hard to build has him agreeing to help West learn all there is to owning a winery. As the men spend more and more time together Rush discovers that his preconceived notions about West were inaccurate. Not to mention that the there is this undeniable sizzling attraction between the pair that both men are finding hard to ignore. As Rush and West go from a fragile friendship to something more can they open up enough to allow the other in and show their vulnerabilities? Further, what is West going to do about his life in Chicago that he must return to at some point?
This was definitely an enjoyable enemies-to-lovers tale. The pairing of two men, one a workaholic who has no time for life and one who is embracing a quiet and simple life, made for an entertaining story. I loved the fact that this author gave us such a wonderful mix of romance and steam with a seamless and flowing writing style. I really did love West. He was hard-working and intelligent but was letting life pass him by with all the hours he spent at work. There was such a sweet vulnerability to him that was hard to resist. I also loved the fact that he was strong enough to stand up to Rush, particularly in the beginning when Rush was being quite the ass-hat towards him. As West and Rush begin to spend more time with one another and their relationship deepens, both men struggle to make sense of how the other makes them feel and what this means for their futures. Even though I did feel a little detached at times while reading, it was nice to see this love story come to fruition and see just how West and Rush fit into each other’s lives.
I did enjoy reading this novel; however, I did have some points of contention that prevented me from giving a higher rating. Firstly, I felt like Rush was such a jerk at the beginning…for absolutely no reason. When we are finally given the “why” as to why Rush acted the way he did with West at first, I thought it was such a weak excuse. In my mind Rush’s behaviour at the beginning was in no way justified by his perceptions and his actions. Because of my utter dislike for Rush at the beginning and the fact that I believe he never really made up for his attitude when he first meets West, I did not become as emotionally invested in the budding relationship between our two protagonists. I did want to see them get a happy forever, obviously, but the depth of emotion was simply not there for me.
All in all, I did enjoy reading Tasting Notes. It was a great and satisfying read even though it did not blow my socks off. This was my first venture into a Cate Ashwood novel and it will not be my last.