Summary Review: Austin and Jeff are attracted to each other but they want different things out of life. Then Jeff tries to force Austin’s hand to get him to change his mind and Austin feels betrayed. It will take more than an apology to make this right.
Message in a bottle.
Somewhere in the cobwebbed cellar of the decrepit antebellum mansion known as Ballineen are the legendary Lee bottles — and Austin Gillespie is there to find them. The last thing on his mind is hot and heavy romance with handsome bad boy Jeff Brady. But Jeff has other ideas and, after one intoxicating night, so does Austin.
The only problem is they have different ideas. Jeff doesn’t believe in love at first sight, and even if he did, he’s buried more deeply in the closet than those famous missing bottles of vintage Madeira. Popping a cork or two is one thing. Popping the question? No way. No how.
Unless Austin is ready to give up on another dream, he’s going to have to figure out how to make sure the lights go on — and stay on — in Georgia.
Austin Gillespie at 29 years old has been auction director for one of the oldest wine shops in North America for some time, but his job is in jeopardy because one of the owners wants to replace him with his fiancee´ even though she is not qualified for the job. Austin’s latest assignment came just in the nick of time and he welcomed leaving Washington D.C. for Georgia to authenticate the extensive cellar of Dermot Cashel and make his heirs happy and rich. The job turned out to be a lot more exciting than he ever dreamed, in more ways than one.
On his first day on the new job at Ballineen (houses in the South had names apparently), he met the family and what a treat that was. The Cashels were the picture most northerners had of their brethren from one of the southern states, with all the usual idiosyncrasies and trappings, almost a parody but not in an unkind way. The daughter of the house, Carson, was a southern belle and she loved to exaggerate her roots when it suited her. Her twin brother Cormac was strange and crazy like a fox, and the rest of the family, patriarch Roark and gentle Aunt Eudie, were just as true to their heritage. Also, let’s not forget the old family retainer Faulkner who seemed to be laughing at his charges’ antics when he wasn’t looking after them. Carson’s brand new boyfriend Jeff Brady rounded out this wonderful cast of characters. But the good times came to a screeching halt when Austin found a dead body among the bottles of vintage wine on day 1, who appeared to have been there for more than 24 hours, going by the wonderful aroma emanating from him.
Austin, who had broken up with his boyfriend of 2 years just a few months earlier, felt an immediate attraction to Jeff which seemed to be returned, but Jeff was an enigma. He kept insisting that of course he was not gay, but if Austin wanted to play he would be happy to oblige since he dispensed sexual favours to both men and women indiscriminately, because sex was sex.
Matters soon came to a head between Jeff and Austin when Jeff suggested that they go out to dinner later that evening. After the meal they had dessert in Austin’s hotel room where Jeff demonstrated his considerable skill in oral sex which he said he learned while at university where he apparently “majored in criminal justice and minored in blow jobs.” 🙂 However, he reiterated, much as he enjoyed being with Austin that it was only sex and he had no interest in pursuing anything else. Austin, who was falling for Jeff, was devastated, but he realized that Jeff was so far in the closet it would be impossible to pry open the door.
A storm caused Austin to stay overnight at Ballineen a couple of nights later and the events which took place that evening had an indelible emotional impact on me, and not in a positive way. I suppose it’s a testament to Josh Lanyon’s skill as a writer that I felt so deeply for one of his characters but really hated another whose actions I abhorred. Austin was played in the worst possible way and I felt he was manipulated and violated by Jeff who did what he did merely to make a point, although his actions were consistent with his character. Unfortunately Jeff was not sensitive enough to realize, until it was too late, that Austin was really in love with him and therefore was extremely vulnerable, and he only went along with Jeff’s plan because he wanted him badly enough to take him any way he could get him. This author’s writing is among the best in the business, but the way this aspect of the story went down left me cold because on an emotional level Austin clearly didn’t want what took place; and in the end he felt alone in his bed even though there were others there. Luckily or unluckily for Austin, he was called home because of a family emergency so he was able to leave everyone he had met in Georgia behind.
A Vintage Affair, Josh Lanyon’s first book with a graphic menage scene, is a departure for this author and a shocker for me because it was totally unexpected since I read this book before it was released and I had no idea that there was a M/F/M scene in the book. Of course Vintage is much more than one menage scene but I suspect that other readers will remember it, if only because of Austin’s emotional reaction during and after the sex. I definitely will for reasons other than the scene being titillating. One last point, as many of you who visit this site know, I’m not a fanatic about condoms and can pretty well take them or leave them in these stories, but I felt that there was a definite need for a condom or two in the sex scenes in A Vintage Affair given the sexual history of the participants.
I love the background of the wine industry and how much of its history was integrated into the story. I could smell the aroma and taste the Chardonnay, Merlot or even a vintage Madeira and wanted to sit in a comfortable chair with a glass of my favourite red while reading this book because the ambience was so seductive.
This book is not really a murder mystery, although there was a murder; the protagonist, Austin, was not a detective (although Jeff was a PI) and the murder was solved off page. A Vintage Affair is a romance with crime and mystery elements so you mystery buffs won’t find a lot of detecting to do in this book. All of the characters were well drawn but one of them who endeared himself to me, apart from Austin, was his nine year old stepbrother, the boy genius who hated being sent to boarding school so much he contemplated suing his parents for this affront. 🙂 You will fall in love with him just like I did.
If you enjoy wine this would be an excellent book to pick up. A Vintage Affair is on my list of recommended reads as Josh Lanyon’s excellent prose brings the story and characters to vibrant three dimensional life. In case you’re wondering, there definitely is a HEA in the book so all of the romance readers will love the ending.