Audiobook Review: Tasting Notes by Cate Ashwood

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 loved the setup for Tasting Notes, the blurb is delicious and it’s been on my TBR since it came out. I was all grabby hands when the audio version came up in the clubhouse and I’m so glad I got to finally get the story of West and Rush.

This is the first time I’ve heard this narrator and I liked his voice very much. He has a cadence however that didn’t match well once the actual romance got started. His sentences are clipped short and it sounds very Joe Friday from Dragnet. The voice and tone ended up working well for Rush, it kind of fit his personality, but not so much for the tender moments and the rest of the characters. There were two distinct parts that really stuck with me. They had both characters opening up and those brief exchanges were exactly what I wanted for the rest of the book. The narrator let go of ‘narrating’, his voice softened considerably and he emoted perfectly. I wanted so much more of that. The fact that I noticed those parts so distinctly tells me how much it was missing the rest of the time.

For the first part of the book, Rush is a real dick. I honestly did not like the man at all and his animosity towards West was borderline assaultive. I have a hard time overcoming that in a story, enemies to lovers is not a theme I’m overly find of as it can be hard to let that go unless there is a distinct and believable reason for the hate. We don’t find out until well into the story where Rush is coming from, and while I got it, I still didn’t forgive him completely. It was just a little too much hate in the beginning and if it had been dialed back I would have been more on board with the transition to the “something more”.

Once the two got together though, the story was so much better for me. Rush is lucky that West is so forgiving and mature in his views on relationships and people in general otherwise he probably would have been shit out of luck with a future with West. I liked West a lot and probably was feeling overly protective of him because he is a likable guy and I wanted better for him than the attitude that Rush threw his way.

But, like I said, the story greatly improved and I liked how the author had Rush evolve from a secluded selfish bastard into a loving and giving partner. He had help and a swift kick in the ass from his mother which was good since he is kind of clueless in the relationship department. Once he pulled it together though it was very sweet. Subtle, but still sweet. It was at this point the narrator gave me those two moments and I was a happy listener.

This is a relatively low angst listen and I’d give the narrator another go to see if he might be a better match with a different story. The story itself is engaging and it’s worth the frustration in the beginning to get to the HEA for Rush and West.

For more information on Tasting Notes, visit Dreamspinner Press.

**A copy of this audiobook was provided for an honest review**

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