39-year-old Evangeline James , the freshly divorced ex-wife of a tech billionaire, is headed to the idyllic town of Sugar Valley to re-open an abandoned winery with her own two hands. On her first day in town meets helicopter pilot Luke Freeman, the grandson of the winery’s founder. He’s been away in the Air Force and wasn’t able to purchase his family’s winery but now that he is back in town he wants it back.
I know what you’re thinking. Enemies to lovers ? I did too, but that’s not where this goes. It’s more of a friends-to-lovers plot as Eva invites Luke to join her in bringing back his grandmother’s legacy and together they bring the property back to life.
I enjoyed the romance in this book, Jones is a born storyteller. She is so good at developing unique characters and building relationships—both platonic and romantic. I liked everything about this story except for the main point of conflict.
It’s revealed at about 40% that Eva has been diagnosed with breast cancer and has decided not to seek treatment. Eva’s big motivation for opening the winery so quickly is so she can have one growing season before she dies—which to me implies her diagnosis is terminal although the book never says that explicitly. Most of the tension in this book is Eva revealing her plants to her friends and Luke and the different ways they deal with it.
On a genre level, terminal illness presented like this in romance doesn’t work for me because you know they will cured by the end. In this case, I knew Eva would change her mind about treatment so most of the book is just waiting for that. And while Jones doesn’t do the whole finding-a-man-cured-me thing, Eva is made better by an Applied Phlebetonoum in the epilogue.
While this book is on KU, I did a majority of it on audio. Wesleigh Sioban is a go to for me and does an amazing job as the determined Eva. She is joined by Sean Crisden…who I used to not like that but I am coming around him. I think I like him best when he is doing Black romance.