6 March 2008

Book Review: Vintage by Olivia Darling

"They were three women who dared to make it in a man’s world.

Madeleine Arsenault has prepared for this moment all her life. Grief for her father is second only to her determination to rescue the beloved family Chateau, and prove to her sworn childhood enemy Axel Delaflote that she’s got what it takes to run the most successful champagne house in France.

Former supermodel Christina Morgan knows she hasn't got what it takes. But she’s sure as hell not going to show it. And with the help of her assistant Sam, she’ll turn her ex-husband’s hobby Californian vineyard into a major player.

Kelly Elson would rather drink vodka and coke than champagne. Then she inherits a vineyard and suddenly she’s not a chambermaid any more.Swept into a world of feuds, back-stabbing, sabotage and seduction, have they got what it takes to survive? There’s more than their reputations at stake ..."

The three female lead characters are all incredibly different, yet all have the same aims despite their different backgrounds and initial attitudes to their situations. Written in the third person, the book flicks easily between the characters in a comfortable reading style which transports you into the glamorous lives of the women. By the end, you are left feeling real empathy for all the women, and are completely absorbed in the story, feeling every emotion along with them. My favourite was certainly Madeleine, with her steely determination to succeed against the odds. However, all were likeable (although not at first in my opinion!) and even though they are all so different, worked well inside the story together.

I must admit it took me quite a while to get into this book. The start wasn't overly captivating, and left me a bit cold, so much so that I was able to put it down and not be desperate to pick it up again. However when I got past the first quarter of the book, it took a turn and drew me in - I just didn't want to put it down! You were suddenly thrown deep into the lives of the women - almost as if the author suddenly grabbed hold of what she was writing and took it on a complete u-turn from average to amazing!

The book does contain some quite graphic sex scenes as well, which don't seem out of place in the book. They aren't overly gratuitous and manage to fit in perfectly where they are written, so it doesn't seem like they are there purely for the sake of it. There is some coarse language used, but that seems to be commonplace in novels these days, so nothing too unusual there. Despite these scenes, romance isn't actually a main theme through the book, more a sub-theme, but it fits in well with the book and adds a different angle to the story as well as the wine-making side. Luckily, the author doesn't go into too much detail about wine-making, giving us just enough knowledge that we can understand the very basic processes without boring us!

Overall, once I got past the shaky start, I was thoroughly gripped by the book and really enjoyed what I was reading. The story was easy to follow, despite quite a lot of characters appearing throughout the book, and I think this is a credit to the author Olivia Darling. A very sexy fun read, not to be taken too seriously, but makes for very pleasant reading! I really enjoyed it and I was actually quite sad to turn the final page!

Rating: 5/5