Title: Pink Fizz
Author: Thom Lane
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Rating: 4.25 out of 5 rating stars
A Guest Review by Feliz
Summary Review: Sweet, romantic, written with a light hand–this was actually a summer read, set before the gorgeous backdrop of the French Provence.
The Blurb: Greg never lets himself have more than a one-night stand. That’s his cardinal rule. He’s been hurt so badly in the past, he won’t let anyone close again. He gets plenty of sex—he’s a pick-up artist of high renown—but nobody gets to play family with him any more.
Until he meets Juliette, and her entourage of young gay men. She whisks him away to the family chateau in the wine-region of Provence, and does her very best to set him up with this guy or with that. It’s sheer self-defence that drives him into the arms of Robin, the man he finds for himself – but will he ever let himself settle there, in a happiness he doesn’t trust to endure? Or is this just a holiday romance, fleeting and insubstantial and meaningless?
He has the power to change both their lives, but the choice is his; he needs to make a leap of faith, and he has no faith in anyone, least of all himself…
My sweet tooth got quite a lot of fodder lately, Pink Fizz being its most recent delicious treat.
This is the third installment in this author’s “French Wine” series, the other two being Red Light (reviewed by Wave here) and White Flag. All three books are loosely connected and set before the background of a winery in a French Château in the Provence. Though the previous two book’s protagonists make guest appearances here, Pink Fizz can be well read as a standalone.
Whether you enjoy Pink Fizz as much as I did will depend on if you
a) like travelogue- type books where the hero goes on a vacation to a beautiful and/or exotic location and consequently has his life turned around by the people, foods, customs, or way of life he encounters there, and
b) whether or not you can deal with interfering females in your m/m romance.
As for a), this is pretty much stated in the blurb already (the other two books in the series are plotted similarly, by the way): Englishman and software engineer Greg has been chasing pretty faces and bodies for years now and over time finds himself tired of this habit. Meeting Juliette and her entourage of gay men (the two couples from the two previous books) grants Greg a glimpse at what a bliss togetherness can be. Once Greg, invited by Juliette, goes on vacation at Juliette’s family’s chateau, he finds himself enchanted by the smells, tastes, and sights of the country and by its inhabitants–most of all by one of them in particular, former chef Robin who renovates dilapidated houses for a living and sells home-grown produce on the local market for fun–or vice versa.
The attraction between Greg and Robin is immediate, and their affair proceeds quickly under the hot Provence sun and among the pleasures of life Greg gets to know during his vacation. And everybody around is more than okay with them being together, even cheering them on, particularly Juliette, who takes an active interest in making Robin and Greg as happy a couple as the other two pairs are.
And this is where b) comes into play, because even though Juliette is charming, sweet and certainly means well, she’s also an obnoxious, all but impudent busybody who could be justifiably called a fag-hag. In addition, it’s not only Juliette who attempts to meddle in Greg’s and Robin’s affairs, Juliette’s mother and grandmother threw in their respective two cents too. But Juliette certainly is the worst. This might sound like I detested Juliette, and I did at times, as did Greg; it would take a saint not to grow impatient with her time and again. But she had her reasons, she was the proverbial poor little rich girl, and it was this that Greg saw and everybody else apparently missed. The rest of the supportive cast were less elaborated, but just as likable. And Robin–we only get to see him through Greg’s eyes, who tells the story from his 1st person POV, but for me, it was easy to connect to Robin, too. The chemistry between him and Greg was palpable; they complemented each other beautifully and made a great couple.
Initially bemused and indulging her much like he would a pesky puppy, Greg grows more and more annoyed with Juliette. But unlike the other men she’s been bugging for years, Greg doesn’t simply dismiss her as a spoiled princes and pleasant annoyance, Greg takes a closer look at her–and proceeds to turn the tables on her. And suddenly it’s Greg interfering in Juliette’s life, to make her happy for the benefit of all. I liked this very much, it said so much about Greg and made me confident about his ability to do right by Robin and, in extension, to make their not entirely unproblematic relationship last.
As you can see by how much space she took in my review, Juliette plays a big role in this book; her machinations are even crucial (if not the reason) in bringing Greg and Robin together in the first place. Hence my cautioning about b); this story is pure unadultered Interfering Female Trope–if you’re bothered by this, you might want to reconsider reading this book.
Which would be a pity though, since you’d miss out on a light, sweet, delightful romance with just the right amount of both humor and eroticism and pleasantly little conflict.