Cover & Excerpt Reveal
Wine Country Romance Book One
Isabella DaSilva, a fiery grad student from Cornell's wine program is eager to leave her past behind her and forge a future in the vineyards of the West as an apprentice at Chateau Sauvage, a winery seeking to produce wine like no other California wineries had so far -- Rhone varietals.
She arrives at Chateau Sauvage to find that wine might not be her only interest. The winemaker, Jonathan Sauvage, is tall, dark, and handsome, and clearly in need of help. Together, they work to make a pioneering wine in an effort to keep the struggling winery afloat. Each struggles with their demons -- hers in the form of a painful and mysterious past; his created by memories of what once might have been. In the process, they find that the pain of their shattered pasts fit together perfectly, making their union as perfect as the wine it produces.
A Rare Vintage features an intense and commanding hero who isn’t afraid to ask for help, and a woman who knows that while she might technically be the apprentice, she has plenty to teach Jonathan Sauvage.
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: May 31, 2013
Publisher: Delancey Stewart
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Though Jonathan seemed difficult, Isabella thought that she would be able to make an impact here, once he got used to sharing responsibility. She hoped that there were things he had picked up from his father that she could learn from him. She closed her eyes for a moment as she thought about Jonathan, replaying the way his body moved as he climbed down the ladder; walked through the vineyard ahead of her. A warm pulling sensation began in her stomach, and she tried to push it away.
I don't have time for lust, she reminded herself. I'm here to learn and to help. That's all.
With a nod, she rose, grabbed her toiletry bag and headed across the hall to the bathroom.
She pushed the door shut and leaned into the tub to turn on the water, flicking on the overhead fan. She stripped her dusty clothes off while she waited for the water to heat, leaning over to stick her fingers into the steady stream coming from the spigot now and then. When it was finally warm, Isabella searched for the lever that would divert the flow to the shower. It was not in its usual place, and after a few minutes of searching, she was becoming frustrated.
"All I want is a shower. Why does that have to be so complicated?" she wondered aloud.
The day threatened to catch up with her, and Isabella felt her frustration building toward tears as she searched in vain.
"This is ridiculous," she finally said. "I'll just go ask Vicki."
She turned off the water, grabbed one of the towels hanging on the rack and tucked it around her. She'd never been particularly modest, and she didn't think twice about marching out toward the kitchen in search of her hostess.
"Vicki?" she called as she entered the kitchen.
"Yep?" came the answer, and Vicki walked into the living room, Jonathan at her side, his eyes full of surprise.
"Oh, jeez," Isabella said, staring at the floor and seeing only her bare feet and red toenails. "I'm sorry," she began, carefully avoiding Jonathan's face. She aimed her words directly at Vicki, ignoring the winemaker, though she could feel his dark eyes on her. "I'm, ah, having some trouble figuring out how to turn on the shower," she said.
"Oh!" Vicki laughed. "Yeah, it's tricky. Sorry. Here, I'll show you."
Isabella pulled the towel more tightly around herself, conscious that it barely covered the tops of her thighs. With a jolt of embarrassment, she hoped she hadn't left her underwear just lying on the floor on top of her pile of clothes. She entered the small room behind Vicki and was happy to see the jumbled mess of clothing on the tile, her shirt on top.
"It's up here," Vicki said, turning the water on again and then pulling a lever on the opposite side of the showerhead. She turned with a smile. “Old plumbing,” she said. With a shrug, she headed to the door. "Come on out for dinner when you're ready," she said, pulling the door closed behind her.
Isabella let the towel drop and climbed into the shower, trying not to think about how handsome Jonathan Sauvage had turned out to be.
When her shower was done, Isabella double-checked to make sure the hallway was empty of tall muscular winemakers before dashing to her bedroom and closing the door firmly behind her. She was still unsettled, feeling as though she'd exposed herself, both literally and emotionally. I'm not here for romance, she reminded herself, trying not to feel the searing dark gaze on her skin as she replayed his look in the kitchen doorway in her mind. That's the last thing I need.
She dressed quickly, braiding the curly mass of dark hair over one shoulder, and then heading out to the kitchen to see if she could help with dinner.
Vicki was just pulling silverware from a drawer.
"Can I set the table?" Isabella asked, gazing over to the rustic farmhouse table near the sliding glass doors on the other side of the room.
"Sure," Vicki said. "We just eat in here usually, but we could use the dining room since we have a guest."
"Nah, that's not necessary," Isabella told her. "I'm hardly a proper guest," she said.
"Okay," Vicki said, with a smile.
Isabella watched her while she set the table. She envied the open and inviting aura that surrounded the smaller woman. She seemed so happy and vibrant. Isabella knew she didn't project the same air.
"Have you always lived here, Vicki?" she asked, sitting on one of the low benches when she'd finished her task.
"No, not here. We grew up in Northern California," she said. "In the farm country north of Sonoma. That's where Dad learned to make wine." Vicki stirred something in a big pot as she spoke, then pulled on an oven mitt and disappeared beneath the line of the counter between them, popping back up with a tray of rolls in her hand.
"Dad grew up in France, in the vineyards there, but he had been a laborer and a cellar hand for most of his life. His grandmother gave him a chance to come to the states, and he took it, bringing my mother along." Vicki looked thoughtful. "When Mom died, my dad kind of turned into a different man, retreated into himself." She gave Isabella a meaningful gaze, pausing her busy hands. "That seems to be the norm with the men of my family."
Isabella wondered what exactly had happened here. She had a feeling she might soon find out.
Vicki pulled a salad from the refrigerator and walked to the table, setting it in the center. When she returned to the kitchen, she began putting the rolls into a basket. "So Dad found this patch of land down here, where the winemaker had failed and was giving up. And he decided to try making wine on his own."
Isabella knew the rest. Their father had tried to revitalize the land, which had been planted with a strange mix of grapes for California. Where others were growing Cabernet and Chardonnay, Zinfandel and Pinot Noir, parts of Paso Robles had been planted in Grenache and Syrah, grapes that did well in a similar climate in France's Rhône Valley. But no one had managed to make wine that could compete with the Rhône wines yet. Vicki and Jonathan’s father, Joseph Sauvage, had won a couple wine competitions before his death just a few years prior. But not before sinking every last penny he had into his attempt to revive the failing winery. When he died in 1982, all that was left for his children was his reputation and his debts.
"He did quite well, all things considered," Isabella said, thinking about the research she had done before arriving here. It wasn't their finances she was interested in. It was making wine in the Rhône style. It was Jonathan Sauvage and his intent to re-create one of the most incredible and storied wines in the world—Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
"He did…" Vicki poured a deep red wine into the sturdy glasses on the table as she spoke. "And now Jonathan has big shoes to fill. And I'm just glad you're here to help him do it."
"I'm sure he's doing fine on his own," Isabella said.
"But I think your being here might help him move past some of the other obstacles he's been facing," Vicki said.
"Telling her the family secrets?" Jonathan said, striding into the kitchen in a pair of dark jeans and a faded t-shirt that clung to his chest and arms.
Isabella tried not to stare, but the man before her—tanned and chiseled—was hard to ignore, especially now, with his hair still gleaming with water and the dust scrubbed from his handsome face.
"Nothing like it," Vicki said, putting stew in front of each of them. "Just letting her know what she's up against."
A dark look passed over Jonathan's face, and Isabella shivered. She watched him silently sit, and wondered what it was about this man that had her so distracted.
Purchase links: Amazon
Delancey Stewart Amazon author page
Be on the lookout for Delancey Stewart's upcoming releases: Redemption Red coming Sept 2013 and Men and Martinis coming Fall 2013
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