An Offer He Can't Refuse

Beginning With Baby

The Care & Feeding of Unmarried Men

Do Not Disturb

First Comes Love

Must Love Mistletoe

Not Another New Year’s

Wish You Were Here

Crush on You
by Christie Ridgway
(Berkley, $7.99, PG-13) ISBN 978-0425-23513-3
There are reasons why I could not relate to this heroine:

  • The heroine has spent the last five years being a martyr for her hometown.
  • The heroine is known as the “Nun of Napa Valley” and is not offended by the nickname.
  • The heroine allows a woman who would have been her mother-in-law to rule her emotions.
  • The heroine is pitied and allows her friends and family to be condescending to her and seems to think it is her due.
  • The heroine dresses up every year in her wedding gown on the anniversary of her wedding-day-that-wasn’t and tells herself she can never love again.
There are several more clues as to why I could not relate to the hero:

  • The hero has just found out he is a bastard son and he has a chip on his shoulder bigger than a boulder.
  • The hero is a TV star who throws t-shirts to anyone who yells at him to “Build it up”.
  • The hero falls in love with the heroine despite the five points about her.
There are other issues with Crush on You that I just could not get past. Alessandra Baci is the youngest of three sisters who own a winery in Napa Valley; a winery that has been in their family and is about to go under. Alessandra gets the idea to turn part of the winery into a “Wedding Destination” and get it back on the path to sustainability. Her sisters don’t think it will work and yet they acquiesce.After all, Alessandra is a woman whose childhood sweetheart got cancer and died on their wedding day, before they could get married. She has borne the weight of the entire town’s grief. People give in to her because they feel sorry for her. Her almost mother-in-law keeps bringing her letters and souvenirs of her beloved son Tommy, which just keeps Alessandra from ever moving on. She hasn’t even had a date since Tommy’s death; in fact, people seem appalled that she would even consider it.

Penn Bennett is the third son of a man who refused to acknowledge him until he died and mentioned it in his will. Now that dead man’s two legitimate sons have invited Penn to the Valley to share in the wealth of their family. None of the three are happy about it, but they are doing it - why was never really explored. There is history between the Bennett family and the Baci family. The two patriarchs were partners at one time until a woman came between them; now they are in a mini-feud even though the Bennetts are partial owners of the Baci winery.

Alessandra’s best friend Clare is about to marry a guy named Jordan and theirs is to be the premier wedding for the new business plan. Penn is conned into staying and putting his knowledge of construction to work. Penn is the host of a weekly TV series that fixes up old houses and turns them out for people in need. He is a nice guy – a sentiment he hates because he is beginning to equate niceness to gutlessness. Clare has a best friend named Gil. They have been best friends for years despite the fact that Gil was a jock and Clare was a geek. Clare also happens to be Tommy’s sister; hence her mother is also trying to ruin her life by all of her demands about the wedding…one of which is that the couple light a candle in remembrance of Tommy.  But Jordan is a snake and Gil and Clare are really in love – believe it or not, this romance was the best part of the whole book. I really rooted for their HEA.  It was much too brief, but since it was interspersed with the other story, it kept me reading long after I wanted to stop.

On the other hand, I struggled with Alessandra and Penn on many levels. And the whole family thing laid open some possible future stories about the siblings, but it just was so cursorily drawn that it was hard to care. I just cannot find enough to recommend Crush on You to a reader on any level. 

--Shirley Lyons

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