Alexis Le Blanc enjoys her simple life in Crystal Cove, Maine. After taking a chance on romance and getting rejected, she has given up on love. Now she devotes all her time to running her family’s winery, Coastal Vines. She wants to keep it small and traditional, but her parents have other ideas—hence why they hire some big-shot marketing executive from Napa Valley to rev up business.

When Benito Martelli shows up in her family’s tasting room, she’s more than stunned to discover he’s the man who wined and dined her the night before. Alexis is beyond peeved at his deception in trying to get into her good graces for the sake of making money on her winery. At first, she wants nothing to do with him or his big business ideas, but she’s pleasantly surprised when they come to a compromise, and even more surprised when she gives in to the sparks between them. 

Unfortunately, things don’t go quite as planned and Alexis is faced with complications she never could have predicted. Promises and secrets unravel, and she must decide if love and wine are as well paired as she hoped.

Titles in the Well Paired series include — At First Blush – Where There’s Hope – What Makes Us Stronger – Here With You –

Title:  At First Blush
Series:  Well Paired #1
Author:  Marianne Rice
Published:  January 23, 2018
My Rating:  4.5 stars

AT FIRST BLUSH begins Marianne Rice’s Well Paired series with a poignant story of a woman who is as stubborn as she is mistrustful of any male and one man who has had life challenges thrown at him recently and isn’t entirely sure where he’s going to land.  Their common ground is Alexis’ family winery where she’d love for everything surrounding her to stand still, but the rest of her family and Ben want to see it become the best possible winery which may mean changes.  Alexis is not onboard with that.  And that is actually an understatement.

I was easily caught up in Alexis’ and Ben’s story.  Two equally stubborn people for far different reasons – now that’s a match made in heaven.  (grin)  I understood Alexis and her fears, yes they are fears of not being “enough” either for Ben or for keeping the winery as her grandfather had wanted.  The sparks between them soon turn into sizzles that complicate everything, and yet, in some ways make falling for each other even easier.  Ben has… complications in his life that he has to sort out before committing to Alexis.  And she’s not going to make that easy with her mistrust sprouting up at any given moment.  Their relationship is complex, down to earth, and hard to resist.

There were moments when I understood Alexis, others where I just wanted to sit her down for a stern talking to, and even more, where her pain and fears were so real they seeped through the pages.  She’s complicated but she’s worth it.  Ben is close to that ideal man but he has his flaws as well which only make him human.  Together they worked, together they could accomplish anything – even falling and staying in love.

There is some world building for the small town of Crystal Cove and its residents, there has to be, yet it all flowed naturally as part of the story and never overwhelmed.  I enjoyed being in this world, Marianne Rice has captured the small-town feel and the constant internal battles that we all face.  I would not hesitate to recommend AT FIRST BLUSH, and I’m definitely heading to download the next story in this series.  Yep, I’m hooked and not a bit surprised.

I read this title through my Kindle Unlimited subscription.

Available for the Kindle