The next sparkling romantic comedy by New York Times bestselling author Jasmine Guillory. A fun and flirty novel for fans of Emily Henry, Christina Lauren and Tessa Bailey.
It's no wonder Oprah Winfrey and Reese Witherspoon are fans of Jasmine Guillory - she writes the sexiest and smartest romances. This tale . . . ticks all the romcom boxes' Red Magazine
Have you discovered New York Times bestseller and Reese's Book Club pick Jasmine Guillory yet?
'The queen of contemporary romance' OprahMag.com
Nothing goes to your head as fast as a taste of love . . .
Margot Noble needs some relief from the stress of running her family winery. Enter Luke: sexy, charming, and best of all in the too-small world of Napa, a stranger, promising to be the perfect one-night stand she'll never have to see again. That is, until Luke walks in the next morning as their newest hire. And with the attraction still bubbling between them, Margot is finding it a challenge to keep things purely professional.
Luke Williams had it all, but when burnout causes him to quit his high-salary tech job in Silicon Valley and move back to Napa, he doesn't want to tell the world - or his mom, who loves bragging about her successful son - why he's now working at a winery. The only thing Luke knows for certain is that he wants more with his smart and sexy new boss. But even if they can find a way to be together that wouldn't be an ethical nightmare, would such a successful woman really want a tech-world dropout?
PERFECT FOR FANS OF EMILY HENRY, CHRISTINA LAUREN AND TESSA BAILEY!
'A charming, warm, sexy gem' ROXANE GAY
'The undisputed queen of the modern-day romance' Vogue
'Juicy yet meaningful, like every Guillory classic' Elle
'Steamy and swoonworthy' PopSugar
'When Jasmine Guillory comes out with a book, buy it' Refinery29
If you love this, be sure to check out all of Jasmine's smart and sexy rom-coms: The Wedding Date The Proposal The Wedding Party Royal Holiday Party of Two While We Were Dating Drunk on Love
(P)2022 Random House Audio
September 20, 2022
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"I know that Uncle Stan never had parties here," she said to her brother, as calmly as she could. "But I'm suggesting that we do something different this year. Shake it up a little. It's the twenty-fifth anniversary of Noble Family Vineyards, and I think it's worthy of celebration. A party for our wine club members and other guests seems like a perfect way to do it."
By the look on Elliot's face it was like she'd suggested turning the vineyard into a corn maze.
"This sounds like a huge amount of hassle, Margot," Elliot said. "You want to have this party here? Why would we do something like that?"
She'd known Elliot would hate this idea.
"First, like I said, it's the anniversary-I know we've never really celebrated it, but it seems like a great year to do it. Second, a number of our wine club members and other visitors to the winery have asked why we don't have parties here, especially since we have such a great space, so I think people would be excited to come. Third, it's excellent marketing for us and our wines-it'll sell wine, give us some great publicity, get people here who haven't been to the tasting room before, and keep them coming back. And it'll add members to our wine club." She hoped. "And fourth, it might earn us some money-we'll charge a fee for the party, and parties like this tend to sell a bunch of wine anyway, so it'll be a win-win."
Elliot's face closed up. She knew what he was thinking. She kept using "we" and "our," like the first person plural encompassed her, too. But she knew he thought of the winery as his, and his alone. He'd been the one who had worked here for ten years, not her. Well, they'd owned the winery together since their uncle had died and left it to the two of them, almost three years ago. It felt like Elliot would never get used to that.
"Stan didn't want to have parties," Elliot said. "He didn't want us to become one of those wineries where people would go there just to get drunk and make scenes. That's not who Noble is."
Margot made herself take a deep breath.
"It's not going to be that kind of party," she said. "Just a time for people to come, see what we've done here, taste the wines, bring their friends along, celebrate with us. It will give us a publicity boost, it'll sell some wine, it'll drive more visits to the winery, all good things."
Do you remember what a shaky financial situation this place was in when I came on board? she wanted to-but did not-say. Do you see how much better we're doing now, with all of the changes I've instituted? Can you, just once, not argue with me about my ideas? Maybe even trust me?
Instead she took another deep breath. "Plus, it's a great opportunity to do some of that landscaping I've been wanting to do."
They had a lot of outdoor space at the winery, but it was kind of bare. The lawn between the winery building and the barn needed work, and she wanted to add more flowers, herbs, and greenery to the grounds. Maybe even a little garden. She'd mentioned all of this to Elliot before, but he'd mostly ignored her.
"Seems like you've made up your mind to do this, whether I like it or not," he said. "When will this party be?"
She wasn't going to let herself react to that.
"I wanted to talk to you about it before I decided that." Well, she also wanted to talk to other people in the area first, see when other wineries had scheduled their parties, check to see when she could get the landscaping done, and catering, and all of those details that Elliot wouldn't care about.
"Okay," he said. "Thanks for letting me know."
That sounded irritable, but she wouldn't take the bait. She looked down at her notepad.
"That's it on my agenda. Anything else we need to go over?"
She'd pulled her brother into an impromptu Sunday-night meeting to go over winery business. She'd been out of town for the past week, and Elliot had been in charge of the winery, so they needed to catch each other up. She already knew a lot of what had been going on at the winery in her absence; she handled all of the social media, so she'd seen all of the posts and tags over the past week, all of them good, thankfully. She'd been down in San Francisco and the East Bay, visiting restaurants and wine stores. Some of her visits had been to sell them on the Noble Family Vineyards wines, some had been to schmooze with people at the places that already sold their wines, so they'd sell more of them. Her trip had been very successful-not that Elliot had congratulated her on that.
She shook her head at herself. That was unfair. Elliot just didn't think about things like that. That's what she was here for. She took care of the business side of things; he handled the wine side.
He stood up.
"I don't have anything." He stopped, right when he got to her office door. "Oh, wait. I hired someone on Friday. For the tasting room job. I told him to come in tomorrow at ten. William something. Isn't the other new person starting tomorrow, too?"
Margot stared at her brother.
"You hired someone? Without me here?"
He had the grace to at least look ashamed.
"I know, I'm sorry. But he came by on Friday and I interviewed him on the spot. I liked him a lot, and I think you will, too."
Margot knew she shouldn't have left her brother in charge at the winery for a whole week.
"You keep saying we're short-staffed," Elliot said, "and I know you wanted to get someone in before summer. And I need plenty of time to train staff on our wines, so when I found a good person, I thought we should hire him right away."
Margot took a deep breath. Just as she'd told herself she'd been unfair to Elliot, this happened.
"I wish you'd waited," she said. "I'm the one who works closely with the tasting room staff, not you. We aren't in that much of a rush."
They were short-staffed and they did need to get someone hired and trained up quickly. But the wrong person would make her life more difficult, not his.
Elliot let out a huff.
"I have his résumé somewhere," Elliot said. "I can call him, tell him it's not final, that he has to interview with you tomorrow."
Margot sighed. That would just make them look unprofessional.
"No, that's okay. I'll deal with it."
Elliot nodded on his way out the door. He'd probably known she would say that.
"Okay. See you tomorrow."
Margot looked around at her office after her brother walked out. She had mail to open and file, messages to listen to, and all sorts of notes from the past few days that she needed to put into a spreadsheet. She'd planned to do all of that tonight. But her irritation was high, like it often was after dealing with her brother. She needed to get out of here, vent, see a friendly face. She'd deal with all of this in the morning.
She drove home, to her little house in Napa, and fumed the whole way. She'd known-of course she'd known-that her brother wouldn't be excited about having a party (for the public!) at the winery. But somehow, she'd still hoped that he'd tell her it was a good idea, that it would be good for the winery, compliment her on her initiative, say something about how proud he was that they'd brought this winery back from the brink together. Of course he hadn't.
Noble Family Vineyards had been tiny for the first fifteen or so years; a winery that barely anyone had ever heard of, except for a few connoisseurs. Uncle Stan had bought more land and increased production about ten years before, soon after he'd hired Elliot as his assistant. She'd spent the past three years trying to make his-and Elliot's-hard work succeed. And now they were almost there. That's why she'd wanted to have a party in the first place.
All she could do now was to make this party as great as possible. She parked in her driveway and, without even going inside her house, walked the few blocks to the Barrel.
"Hey," she said when she sat down at the bar.
"Hey yourself," her friend Sydney said from behind the bar. "Welcome back. I thought you'd be working late tonight." Sydney owned the restaurant and was often either at the bar or at the front door on a busy night.
"I should still be working, but I had to leave the winery so I didn't yell at my brother, and I thought I'd come yell here instead."
Sydney grinned. She knew all about Margot's brother.
"What did he do this time?" Sydney picked up a glass, poured some wine into it, and set it down in front of Margot.
Margot hadn't purposely rented a house within walking distance of the Barrel, but it was definitely an advantage. Especially since Sydney rarely let her pay for her drinks.
"He hired someone for the tasting room while I was gone. And you know my brother has a one-track mind when it comes to hiring-all he cares about is whether they can talk intelligently about wine in the way he wants them to. Yes, of course, people have to be passionate about wine and be able to represent our winery correctly. I care about that, too! But the tasting room jobs are customer service at their core; it's also important for tasting room staff to be engaging, not to bore people about wine, not to be condescending. But Elliot doesn't care about any of that. He didn't want me to expand our tasting room in the first place, even though it's been successful! And do you know who's going to have to deal with the fallout if this William or whoever Elliot hired sucks?"
Sydney pushed a jar of breadsticks in front of her.
"You?" she asked.
"Me!" Margot said. She took a sip of wine and picked up a breadstick. "I need people who can sell wine, not just talk about it! Make people want to stay longer, join our wine club, all of that! What good will it do us if we have to get rid of whoever this is in the midst of the busy season, or if they quit and leave us in the lurch, or . . ."
Margot stopped herself, and looked at Sydney. Then they both burst out laughing.
"I'm doing it again, aren't I?" Margot said.
"You're absolutely doing it again. I wasn't going to say it, though."
Not two weeks before, Margot had been sitting right here at the bar, and had told Sydney she was going to work on not letting the little things get to her, especially the little things about working with her brother. And now here she was, doing it again.
"You could have said it." She waved a breadstick at Sydney. "You're probably the only person who could, actually. Okay, you're right-no more work talk out of me tonight. Tomorrow, I'll tell you about my trip and what a success it was, but tonight, I'm just going to sit at the bar and keep you company and eat all of the snacks that chef of yours wants to send over to me."
Just then, a plate of arancini landed in front of Margot, and she grinned, first at the waiter, then at Sydney.
"See? A sign."
"A sign indeed. And yes, definitely, no talking about work, but did anyone tell you about the local drama over the weekend while you were gone?"
Margot's eyes widened as she picked up one of the cheese-filled fritters.
"No. This sounds juicy. Tell me."
"Well . . ." Sydney looked over Margot's shoulder. Margot saw her friend's professional smile flash on.
"Welcome to the Barrel. Would you like to sit at the bar?"
She left Margot to go serve the couple who had just walked in, but that didn't bother Margot. That's what they did, these nights that she came in when Syd was behind the bar. They had snatches of gossip and catching up and laughter, whenever Sydney could spare time from serving people and putting out fires elsewhere in the restaurant.
Margot pulled her phone out as she sipped her wine and snacked. She should deal with some of these emails that had come in over the weekend, and get responses ready to go out on Monday morning. This was especially important since she'd have to spend her Monday-and much of the upcoming week-training two new staff members. If only her brother had checked with her schedule and . . . no. No, she wasn't going to do that now, remember?
This was fine. It would be fine. She would just deal with these emails tonight and then this new person tomorrow and she would figure it all out. She hoped.
Sydney came back to take the drink order from someone who had just sat down next to Margot, and then poured more wine in Margot's glass.
"You know what you need?" Sydney said. "You need a vacation."
"I was just out of town for a week."
Sydney shook her head.
"That wasn't a vacation, you were working the whole time. You need a real sit on the beach, go out to dinner without it being a work dinner, wander around a city for fun, no checking your work emails at seven p.m. on Sunday night kind of vacation."
"That sounds incredible," Margot said. "But I don't have time-or the mental energy-to actually plan a vacation. I just want to be on vacation, without having to deal with any of the decisions that go into that. What I need is someone else to plan it for me."
"You would never let anyone else plan a vacation for you," Sydney said. "Well, other than me, and I don't have time for that, either."
Margot thought about that.
"Maybe if they knew me well enough? If I trusted them enough?"
They looked at each other and laughed.
"Right," Sydney said. "Never mind."
Someone called Sydney's name at the door, and she came out from behind the bar. Margot slid her phone into her jacket pocket and went to the bathroom. When she came out of the stall, she looked at herself in the mirror. Well, even though she was exhausted, at least her hair looked good today. That's probably why she'd managed to keep her cool with her brother-she had special powers on good-hair days, she was almost positive. She touched up her lipstick and walked out of the bathroom.
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