Monday, December 17, 2012

Christmas in Wine Country *Contains Mild Spoilers* *Edited To Add...*

Christmas in Wine CountryTitle: Christmas In Wine Country
Author: Addison Westlake
Publisher: Self Published
Published: November 18, 2012
Format: Kindle
Pages: 390
Source: Received from the author
in exchange for an honest review
Read: December 10-11, 2012
In  A Few Words: Sweet, Romantic,
My Rating: 4 Stars

Goodreads Synopsis:
It's Lila's big debut as an event planner and the company holiday party is going to be her chance to shine. At a Tuscan-style vineyard near the Northern California coast in the perfect little black dress she's sure to impress commitment-phobe Phillip. What could go wrong?

Seventy-two hours later with no job and no boyfriend, Lila finds herself with all kinds of answers to that question. Like mistaking the glowering Jake Endicott of Endicott Vineyards for the groundskeeper. Or a new video on YouTube featuring Lila pawing her way through drunken karaoke of "Hungry Like the Wolf."

Solo on the romantic holiday getaway she'd booked for her and Phillip near the vineyard, Lila at least gets to visit with her old friend Annie who lives nearby in the coastal town of Redwood Cove. Drawn into the local bookstore with gleaming wooden floors and welcoming armchairs, Lila chats with the owner and impulsively accepts a job offer.

Sleepy, misty Redwood Cove is the perfect place for Lila to take a break from her horrible track record with guys. The only one she finds even remotely attractive knows her as the holiday party crazy lady. Ranked in Bay Area magazine's 10 hottest bachelors, Jake Endicott is just the type Old Lila would have wasted years pining after.

Join Lila on her year of comedy, adventure and self-discovery on the Northern California coast, with all kinds of ups, downs and misadventures and a full cast of small-town wine country characters. Thankfully, even the greatest misunderstandings can all be worked out with a little Frank Sinatra and mistletoe.

Melissa's Musings:

*EDITED: All profits for Addison Westlake's book sales this month will go to charity to help the victims of the CT school shooting**

Christmas in Wine Country is wonderfully funny, sweet, always brimming with one kind of adventure or another.

Lila is a 28 year old woman who is stuck in a job that she doesn't like, dating a man that barely even acknowledges her presence,  and barely living life outside of her job. Then in one drunken, karoke filled evening, she loses her job, her semi-relationship and is forced to finally make some real choices about what she wants to do with herself and her life.

She drags herself to a B&B that she had reserved for her and her boyfriend's holiday getaway. While there she wanders into a charming book shop named Cover to Cover. After talking with the owner, she is hired on the spot, and with that she leaves big city life for small town life.

I admired Lila's guts in making the move to Redwood Cove. I think everyone wishes they could make moves like this, completely transform themselves, start over somewhere new. It has to be fun to do, and Lila really seems to enjoy herself.

She embraces being single for a while, giving herself time to get over Phillip. He's a huge jerk, and easily the least likeable character in the story. He tells Lila that they were never really dating and that he and a woman named Axcell are ready to take things to a new level. I laughed every time I read the name because I kept thinking about the computer program.

The surrounding characters in this story are so much fun. There's Lila's loving, patient, wise Gram, who always knows just what to say. Then there's Annie, Lila's college roomate, who supports her, but also gives her healthy doses of reality when she needs it. There's also Zoe, whose a lot of fun. She's a yoga teacher in Red Cove, who's very into naturalistic thought and ways of life.  And there's also Godfrey, a somewhat dramatic, (but well meaning) co-worker from the bookstore.

I think Zoe is actually my favorite of the characters because she's got this double persona. You mainly read about her as hippie-ish, vegan, yoga teacher Zoe. But about halfway through you learn that she grew up in the privileged lifestyle and used to be a debutante. It just goes to to show that not everyone is what they seem and they don't always keep the same path that they start life out on.

The same is true for Lila's love interest in the story, Jake. She assumes that he grew up in the hills of wine country, when in reality he grew up with a single mother who died of breast cancer when he was a teenager and a father who sent him to boarding school.

The romance between he and Lila is perfect. Definitely not insta-love, (their first meeting definitely does not go smoothly) the tension throughout their relationship is the perfect balance of nice moments and awkward ones, as they start the complicated dance of trying to figure out just what they are to each other. They definitely have their work cut out for them with interfering presences like Vanessa (I'll just let you discover her for yourselves) and some serious misunderstandings.

In addition to the great characters, there's also great food. Lila learns to cook and goes through periods of making soups and desserts, most of which sound delicious. I'm always a sucker for books with food. A book about food and a bookstore? Even better.

The overall message of the book is about embracing life, and doing what makes you happy. It's also about following your dreams, sticking up for yourself, and letting yourself be comfortable with who you are and what you want out of life. It teaches the reader that you don't have to let other people's perception of you or what you do for a living make you feel any less worthy. As long as you love what you're doing (and isn't that what we all really want anyway) then the title really doesn't matter, and who cares if you don't fit in to the cookie cutter world of fancy job titles or marketing?

I'd rather be passionate about what I do than a person who's only in their job for the money any day and Lila becomes just that. Passionate, happy, and sure of herself.

This is the perfect holiday comfort read.

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