Kyle Davis is a powerful CEO, who lost his entire family in the Boxing Day tsunami. He was sleeping off a bender and blames himself for their deaths.
Jordan Hastings is a vintner, who recently broke off her engagement, when her fiance stole her credit for an award-winning wine.
This particular Christmas, they are forced by circumstance to spend a week together in Kyle’s secluded property in Margaret River (for non-West Australians, “Margs” used to be cheap and populated by hippies and surfers, but is now posh and populated by foodies and wine lovers).
Beautiful setting? Check.
Damaged hero and wounded heroine? Check.
Forced to spend live together? Check. (One of my favourite tropes.)
Tangled Vines checks so many boxes and should be a fantastic romance – and it is an easy, enjoyable read.
But it is also incredibly frustrating because it could have been so much more!
Kyle vacillates between drunkenness, anger, depression – and acute physical desire for Jordan. Jordan is obsessed with producing a small-batch wine to win awards and claim back her reputation – unless Kyle is nearby, in which case her clothes and all her issues disappear. Jordan was wronged by her ex-fiance, but his name is never mentioned and he amounts to nothing more than a footnote. Instead of a breezy story about two unfairly attractive people finding comfort in each other’s bodies, we could have had Kyle using his business acumen to help Jordan start a small winery or discredit for former fiance. We could have had Jordan teaching Kyle to appreciate wine, or helping him memorialise his family. We could have had vengeance and love and honour. Instead we got fairly vanilla sex, cheap scotch, and impractical work clothes.
At least the cover’s pretty.