Tasting Notes (Lily G’s Audio Review)

Title: Tasting Notes (Canyon Creek #1)
Author: Cate Ashwood and Michael Pauley (Narrator)
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press LLC
Release Date: June 30th 2016
Genre(s): M/M Contemporary Romance
Length: 6 hrs and 12 mins
Reviewed by: Lily G Blunt
Heat Level: 3.5 flames out of 5
Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

There’s nothing that can’t be solved over a glass of excellent wine.

Joseph “West” Weston has paid for his wealth and success with long hours at the office and no personal life to speak of. Meetings, conference calls, and paperwork dominate his waking hours and have kept him from honoring the promise he made to his late grandfather years before.

After leaving the Marines, Robert “Rush” Coeman returns to his hometown and settles in as a Christmas tree farmer. His life is quiet and simple, and he likes it that way. When West arrives in town and buys Rush’s parents’ vineyard on a whim, that simple life is turned upside down. The animosity between them is palpable, but Rush shelves his preconceived notions in order to protect his parents’ legacy. He agrees to help West learn how to run the vineyard, and Rush soon realizes that love doesn’t necessarily come in the package he expected.


I have mixed feelings about this story. Yes, I know it’s fiction, but there were some elements that made parts of the story implausible.

What I found difficult to grasp:

Rush’s first response to West because of his car and clothes and why he was no vehement in his reaction even when a reason was given later in the story.

The mind and ways of the billionaire businessman confused me: West leaving his company in the hands of a few trusted assistants for six months without giving much thought to it, instantly buying a vineyard on a whim, without investigating the property or what was required to run it and all the legal bumf that goes with it, and then trying to do so almost single-handedly,  later returning to his company in Chicago for two months and not getting a break. He was a billionaire for goodness sake. Why not hire people to do all this work and take the stress away?

Also I didn’t really see the point of Seb’s storyline. It sort of fizzled out, although there were hints to more going on with him. But at least he was available to look after Rush’s dog when he went away. Perhaps Seb’s story will follow in the Canyon Creek series.

Having said all that (and there were other issues I haven’t listed), I actually liked the love story and the characters, despite their weird and unrealistic decisions. I’m a fan of enemies-to-lovers stories and this sort of fitted that trope. The build-up of Rush and West’s relationship was lovely. I liked the writing style, and the times Rush and Wesh spent together, including their steamy scenes. I loved their trip to Eureka. Very poignant and also their stay in the hotel was amusing.

It took me a while to adjust to the narrator’s rather robotic style of speaking. This was my first time listening to Michael. However, the intimate scenes and when Rush and West were saying “I love you” were romantic and beautifully narrated with such emotion. The narrator gave Rush a distinctive deeper voice which made dialogue easy to follow. In fact, all the characters were portrayed well.

So, if you can overlook some of the unbelievable elements of this plot, the story is well worth a listen.

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Advanced Review Copy

Audio copy of Tasting Notes provided by the publisher in exchange of an honest review.


Lily G. Blunt writes contemporary gay romance. She loves to explore the relationship between two men and the intensity of their physical and emotional attraction. Angst often features in her stories as she feels this demonstrates the depth of the men’s feelings for each other. Lily is forever writing imaginary scenes and plots in her head, but only a few ever make it to the page. There never seems to be enough hours in the day despite having left the teaching profession to concentrate on her writing!

Lily discovered the wonderful world of m/m romance novels five years ago via fan fiction and went on to write stories in her spare time. With the encouragement of her friends and readers she decided to publish some of her work. Lily subsequently self-published several stories via Amazon and later published short stories with Torquere Press, Wayward Ink Publishing, and Pride Publishing.

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