Review: Ashes and Wine by Taryn Elliott

Tuesday, July 31

Title:  Ashes and Wine*
Author: Taryn Elliott
Series: n/a
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Format: E-book
Date/Year:  June 2012
Reviewed by:  Andrea

*This book was provided to the reviewer by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Summary from the publisher:

Before Tessa met Royal Andreas, her bookstore was on the verge of sinking. And before Tessa met Royal Andreas, she didn't mind being single. But Royal brings in business with monthly wine tastings featuring his family's signature vintages--and brings Tessa's heart to a standstill with intense gray eyes that look on her with nothing but cool indifference.

Yet one searing kiss between the stacks gives Tessa a glimpse of the passion smoldering beneath--and a secret pain further revealed when Royal fills in as the musician at a tasting event. Every note of Spanish guitar tells a story of family tragedy, loss, and ongoing suffering that's made Royal afraid to lean on anyone...even if he needs Tessa's sweet flavor more than the richest wine. Only her strength can save him when his world crumbles to ashes. But has Royal learned trust too late to claim Tessa as his own?

My Musings:

I have to warn you that I believe my opinion of this book will be out of the ordinary.  A major part of this book deals with one of the main characters watching and waiting as his father slowly dies of cancer.  I lived that a couple years ago and it’s not a subject I ever willingly read about.  To make matters worse, the type of cancer as well as the main character’s age and family role are the same as my experience.  It was too similar to my life and I checked out emotionally very early on just to get through the book.

Royal runs the family winery.  Once a month he takes a break from the strain of his daily life at the winery by going to a local book store, As You Wish, and running a wine tasting.  The bookstore is owned by the one woman Royal knows he is meant to be with.  Unfortunately, being in a romantic relationship is impossible for him right now.  Royal is the oldest child and it’s his responsibility to keep his brothers in line and the family winery running.  He is also dealing with the strain of watching his father’s agonizingly slow decline from cancer. 

Tessa is the owner of the bookstore.  She and Royal have a history.  They met a few years ago when she visited his winery.  There was a lot of flirting and a definite connection for both of them but nothing became of it.  Now she has to see him once a month.  She approaches the monthly wine tasting with a mixture of expectation and dread.  She’s still very interested in Royal and can’t wait to see him, but he always keeps his distance from her and it’s disappointing every month.

I liked Royal and Tessa, but I had trouble connecting with them.  I think it was the dying father that stopped me from taking a vested interest in them.  I say this because at one point Tessa goes to visit her friend Mercy.  They spend the night drinking a bottle of tequila and drunk dialing Mercy’s moody and overbearing neighbor, Alaric.  I suddenly got really into the story when Mercy and Alaric were part of it.  I could see the spark between Alaric and Mercy and I wanted to stay with them and see where their relationship was heading. 

Sadly, Tessa left the next morning and that’s the last I saw of Mercy and Alaric.  I was once again left with Royal, Tessa, the dying father, and the family trying to deal with it.  The father takes a sharp decline and is a major focus of the story for a while.  Royal’s family is breaking down and fighting amongst themselves and Royal himself is barely holding together.  It should be a very emotional part of the book, and I think most people would react to it, but I felt nothing.  Royal and Tessa were also having lots of sex which I couldn’t even take an interest in because it was the deeply emotional, strong connection type of sex.  I wasn’t feeling the connection or the emotion so it was just a bunch of words and body parts for me.

My complete lack of connection with the main characters made this just an OK book for me.  It’s well written and my connection with the supporting characters, Alaric and Mercy, leads me to believe it was the subject matter I had a problem with rather than the book itself.  Ashes and Wine is a book about support, love, loss and the intense emotions they bring with them.  My lack of emotion made me miss out on the major aspects of the book.  I’m sure my experience will not be a normal reaction and most readers will be deeply moved by it.


Overall:  3.0 stars
Sensuality level: 3.5

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Taryn Elliott July 31, 2012 at 9:51 PM  

I'm terribly sorry that you know exactly where I'm coming from with this terrible disease. And I totally understand that.

Thanks for continuing to read the book despite your feelings on the subject matter.

I'm hoping to continue writing in this little world I put together and Mercy and Alaric are on tap as the next book. I'm glad you liked my zany artist. ;)

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