I’ve been waiting for a new book from Ashlyn Kane from pretty the moment I finished American Love Songs a couple of years ago. I loved the book and her writing style, so when I saw the blurb for this I jumped on the getting an ARC. Wine, food, and a” second chance at love” story?! It’s like she wrote the damn thing for me! Luke and Mal were amazing, such a great love story. Luke and Mal’s have a history. A summer eight years earlier they worked together at Mal’s vineyard. Mal had lost his wife to cancer a year before, and Luke was trying to outrun a bad family situation. Luke was 19, Mal was 28. Things could not work THEN…But now eight years have passed, and they are right back where they started. Things could be different now.
For this lovely story I had to make something yummy, and homemade vegan pizza seemed like a clear option. It was a meal served in the book, and since my mouth pretty much watered reading about it, I thought I’d go with it. For the wine, the only choice was a California Syrah (you will know why when you read the book!), so I went with a 2011 Petit Syrah from Concannon Winery in the Livermore Valley. The Petit Syrah (or Durif) is a forgiving grape, and is almost always a very nice choice of wine, it is so flavorful. This one specifically, is the total package. After a couple minutes breathing time this wine is a full flavored, deep red, that is sweet, but not too much and has tremendous body. Lot of spice to it, without anything standing out too much to steal the show. Lots of balance here, and for $9.99 a bottle. A fool proof wine choice.
Now back to Luke and Mal...This story has an interesting format where we get quick flashbacks in between each present time chapter…I am usually not a big fan of the flashbacks, but in this story they served as quick snapshots of information. They broadened my sense of the situation, and allowed me to get some sense of where either Mal and/or Luke were coming from. It was a VERY useful device, and because the author kept them short they didn’t get tedious.
Luke has been unlucky in love for awhile, he seems to be going from bad to worse when it comes to partners. Men or women, they just all end up disappointing him…The last breakup left him wrung out, and feeling like this time he really needed to think about the choices he was making. His brother took him in for a little bit, and then rented him a cottage at a B&B winery in Napa Valley for a few weeks, so that he could thing about things for a bit. Napa Valley, brought back memories. That summer working with Mal and the things he experienced, they way he left, the thought that it had been the last time he had felt truly happy. Mal had been a revelation, a scary one, but absolute. He fell in love with the man, and when his father came knocking, once again disturbing his life and his plans, so he left. That’s were things ended back then.
Luke gone to pursue his professional goals. Mal with no real explanation of what happened, went on with his life, and for him that meant a life that put his vineyard at the top of the list, and romance at the bottom…That is until Luke walked into the picnic dinner of the B&B his brother had booked for him, and realized he had stepped right into a place of his past. Mal’s place, his brother’s intentions were not so innocent after all…So there they were, eight years older, a little wiser, and a bit more weathered, but with that feeling of rightness at the center of everything. Luke had his insecurities. Mal had his. They had baggage, and a lot to work out, there were secrets and a past that could ruin whatever future they might hope for with each other.
I liked these guys a lot, and their difficulties made their story all the more genuine. I liked that it was rough for them, that just because they had something strong, it didn’t mean they could get away with not thinking. That they could bypass how they could gowrong or what were the things they could do better. These guys earned their happy ending and they did it with a lot of courage. They just kept moving forward even if they were scared to death the whole time. The chemistry was NUCLEAR, I love them together, in bed, immersed in their passion, even with that they took their time. The secondary characters brought all kinds of flavors to the story, some levity, some angst, some clarity, some humor and even a little added drama, they well worked as a supporting cast.
Highly enjoyed this one and absolutely recommend it. I look forward to more from Ashlyn Kane in the near future.
A Good Vintage will be released on December 6th on by Dreamspinner Press, you can pre-order a copy here.
Check back this Friday, because I will have Ashlyn for a visit, answering a few questions about her book, her plans and her favorite wine and pizza!
Homemade Vegan Pizza with a Italian Style Veggies and Basil Pesto Topping
For the dough: (Makes 2 large pizzas)
2 cup. warm water
3 Tablespoon yeast
2 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoon salt
¼ cup oil
2 cup whole wheat flour
4 cup white flour
In mixer place 2 cups warm water, add 3 scant T yeast, 2 scant t sugar. Mix. Add 2 t. salt, ¼ cup oil. Mix. Add 2 cups whole wheat flour, then 4 cuts while flour. Use immediately. That is, don’t bother letting it rise. It will rise enough in the oven.
For the pizza:
1/2 cup of Basil Pesto (see recipe here)
2 cups of Marinara Sauce (I bought it fresh at my local grocery store, but any organic pizza sauce will work)
2 bags of Go Veggie! Mozarella Flavored Rice Shreds (If you are not Vegan, fresh Mozarrella sliced thinly would work great too)
1 cup of sliced mushrooms ( I used Baby Bellas)
1 sliced yellow bell pepper
1/2 sweet onion sliced thinly
1/2 cup of marinated baby artichokes chopped coarsely.
Directions (makes two pizzas):
Pre-heat oven at 425F. Spray pizza pans or cookie sheet with oil, and stretch your dough, until it covers most of the pan. Then spoon one cup of the marinara on each of the crusts, make sure it is evenly distributed. Use one bag of cheese for each pizza, and then top with your veggies. Spoon small amounts of the pesto on top of the pizza and bake for 18-20 or until crust is golden brown.
I hope you give the recipe and wine a try, with this book, it is really a trifecta that cannot lose.
Cheers and Happy Reading!