You Had Me At Merlot by Lisa Dickenson


Elle and Laurie are the last ones standing: they’re single, they’re not having babies any time soon and their weekends aren’t filled with joyful meetings about mortgages. For Elle, this is fine. She likes her independent life, but Laurie wants love and she wants it now.
So when Laurie begs Elle to come with her on a singles holiday to a beautiful vineyard in Tuscany, Elle is reluctant. She has no intention of swapping her perfectly lovely life for someone else’s idea of her Mr Perfect, but ten days under the Italian sun with her best friend and lashings of wine? How bad could that be?


I can’t quite contain my excitement at this book. My initial thoughts were ‘I wonder if I can get away with just putting ‘BUY THIS BOOK NOW’ at size 72pt text as my review, but think I owe it to Lisa Dickenson, the publishers and, of course, you guys, my adoring public to put into words how just much I loved this book.
I read and really enjoyed Lisa’s last book ‘The Twelve Dates of Christmas’ a lot, but this one was on another level of awesomeness. I mean it has wine in the title, so it was perhaps destined to be a favourite, but actually this both excited me and made me a bit apprehensive. Let me explain, simply put I LOVE WINE, and equally I love New York (I’ve wrote articles about just how much – Wine | NY), and there has been a book in the last year that I’ve read that is set in Manhattan, and most people wouldn’t notice, but I did spot a street where somewhere lived, that simply doesn’t exist in real life, it would put you in the middle of central park, and while it may be on purpose, it niggled with me for the rest of the book. I was therefore a little nervous about this book, being about wine, where I know (probably) more than the average person  since the courses I went on with work and I certainly know more about wine than I do about NY, but Lisa’s research was pretty impeccable and the book was pretty accurate in that area, so I breathed a sigh of relief (while getting excited about future plans in getting my diploma in wine). In fact maybe I should write a book about wine, so I can research wine further, obviously.
There is only good things to say about this book. It’s absolutely hilarious. Laurie and Elle have a fantastic sense of humour both in their friendship and when socialising with other people. They are so at ease with themselves. The setting is incredibly picturesque, it had me dreaming of owning my own vineyard, or at least visiting someone who I know has just bought a tuscan villa with some vines on their land. The day trip to florence was also absolutely dreamy, both location wise and reading about Elle’s adventures there, especially the last stop of Elle’s personal tour from Jamie. The scene with David (the statue) however was pure comedy and had me laughing at Elle’s and Jamie’s plot to get the perfect photo.
Elle was a great lead. Not looking for romance made her more relaxed on her holiday and the tasks they do than she would have been had she been stressing about which suitor to pick or how not to make an idiot of herself. There are a few things that could have stressed her out (the first being at the end of part 1) but she is head strong,and generally speaking doesn’t seem to dwell on anything negative, opening her mind to make the best of any situation. It is a great quality to have, for sure. As I said, she has a great sense of humour as well. Pretty much the perfect protagonist. Sure she acts a bit hasty when upset, but who doesn’t and the trip up is so brief you can easily forget it.
Jamie is just as dreamy as the setting. Never have I wanted a bloke from a book to be real more than when reading this book, and it’s not just because he owns a vineyard, honest. I can imagine his Italian beauty, his sense of humour is also incredibly funny, there is one scene in his house that is just the funniest thing ever, but it’s also slightly teasing, in the way you are with people you like. He’s pretty much perfect, making him a great match for Elle. Mind you, I have a soft spot for Italians, they are the only people I will let call me ‘Raquel’ in their charming and sexy accent. I think it is precisely that accent that sedates my ‘kill’ instinct that normally kicks in when people call me that, though to be fair it is more to wind me up that most people do so.
The other characters at the vineyard were fantastic, Jamie’s parents, Laurie, they were all great fun to read. Especially George, he really made me laugh, and he would be a great ally to have.

Great fun from the very first page, it genuinely is hard to put down (other than occasional breaks to sip a glass (or two) of wine, naturally). Easily one of the best books I’ve read this year, I cannot recommend this book enough.

Published by: Sphere
Gratefully received from the Publisher for review
View Book on Goodreads
Order on: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Book Depository

Why I Love…Wine!

I never really liked wine before I started my job designing wine lists for a wine wholesaler. I was sent on a WSET (Wine and Spirit Education Trust) course to learn about wine and my love developed from there. I never understood how one Sauvignon Blanc could taste of Gooseberry’s and another of tropical fruits. To be honest I never got how you got grapes to taste of anything other than grapes. However, being taught about it all and having to taste a load of different varieties of grapes from different countries, really peaked my interest and after acing that test (92% getting only 4 questions wrong) and getting a merit in a more advanced course, including a blind tasting, my love for wine was born. I want to eventually work my way to getting my diploma, then another and then I will be a master of wine. That is such an awesome name, but I would love to get better in wine tasting, and maybe turn it into a profession. However, there are only about 250 masters out there so it’s obviously going to be challenging.

The Sun in Her Eyes by Paige Toon


Blinding sunshine… A bend in the road… What became of the little girl with the sun in her eyes?

Amber was three when a car crash stole her mother’s life. She doesn’t remember the accident, but a stranger at the scene has been unable to forget. Now, almost thirty years later, she’s trying to track Amber down.Amber, meanwhile, is married to Ned and living on the other side of the world in London. When her father has a stroke, she flies straight home to Australia to be with him. Away from her husband, Amber finds comfort in her oldest friends, but her feelings for Ethan, the gorgeous, green-eyed man she once fell for, have never been platonic. 

As Ethan and Amber grow closer, married life in London feels far away. Then Amber receives a letter that changes everything. ‘Before your mother died, she asked me to tell you something…’