Title: Love the Wine You’re With by Kim Gruenenfelder
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction, Romantic Elements
Length: 384 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher
Three best friends decide to open a wine bar in Echo Park LA, where they encounter the trials and tribulations of dating, love, and life in Kim Gruenenfelder’s Love the Wine You’re With.
Jessie is finally about to realize her life-long goal of owning her own house, the first step to a wonderful marriage, kids, and life with her boyfriend of three years, Kevin; except after they find the perfect place, Kevin suddenly gets cold feet.
Nat is having a passionate affair with her gorgeous British boss Marc—unfortunately, he’s married. Now what?
Holly is an actress who still waits tables to pay the bills, and who is coping with the recent loss of her father. A particularly bad audition, where she snaps and tells off a big director, leads her to wonder what to do when you stop loving what you do. (And also what to do about her hot neighbor. Because, you know, hot neighbor.)
After each girl finishes a particularly awful workday, the three friends meet at their favorite wine bar, which has been sold by its owner for a huge profit and will close that night. In a moment of tipsy brazenness, Jessie suggests that the three of them open their own wine bar in the gentrifying Echo Park area of Los Angeles. An unapologetically girly place for good wine and good friends—which leads to a challenge for each woman: how do you fix a life that’s not actually broken, but needs an upgrade?
Love the Wine You’re With by Kim Gruenenfelder is a heartwarming novel of friendship, new beginnings and love.
Best friends Jessie, Nat and Holly are each at a crossroad when they take the plunge and open a wine bar that caters to women. Jessie is an accountant whose three year relationship with boyfriend Kevin is in a holding pattern. Nat is a writer for a popular game show but her two year affair with her married boss Marc is starting to wear thin. Holly is an actress who is growing weary of her endless rounds of auditions that, more often than not now she is in her early thirties, end in disappointment. Tired of putting her future on hold, Jessie convinces Nat and Holly to join her in a new venture which brings many exciting changes into their lives.
Jessie is dissatisfied with both her professional and personal lives. So when Kevin changes his mind about a house they are planning to purchase, she decides it is time to seize control of her life. However, her decisiveness is limited to her new venture and she continues to waver on whether or not she should continue her relationship with Kevin. Her attraction to the bar’s wine rep Giovanni is unexpected but since she is still officially involved with Kevin, she instead introduces him to Nat. However, Jessie wonders if she is making a mistake when she is unexpectedly beset with jealousy.
Nat knows that sleeping with a married man is completely wrong but her resolve to end the relationship never seems to last long. However, this time, she is committed to her decision and she impulsively quits her job at the same time she sends Marc packing. Concentrating on getting the wine bar ready to open, Nat is not looking for a new man but when Jessie introduces her to Giovanni, she really has no reason to not date him. Nat is especially grateful for her decision when she remains tempted by Marc and a long ago love re-enters her life.
In addition to her career frustrations, Holly is also struggling with her lingering grief over her father’s unexpected death several months earlier. She has also decided to discontinue her long use of anti-depressants so her behavior is wee bit unpredictable as she attempts to silence her overly critical thoughts. Giving up her acting career is not a hardship and she is reveling in the freedom that comes with not having to worry so much about her appearance. An unanticipated introduction to much admired producer Joe Chavez leads to a surprising friendship after Holly declares a moratorium on dating.
Love the Wine You’re With by Kim Gruenenfelder is an entertaining novel with a charming cast of colorful characters and an engaging storyline. Holly is the most personable and relatable of the women while Nat is the most irritating as she continues to make questionable decisions. Jessie is a little too risk averse and willing to settle when it comes to her love life. The wine descriptions are quite interesting and educational, but I have to confess they are a little wasted (pun intended 🙂 ) on me since I am not an oenophile. The romantic elements are rather understated but quite enjoyable. An absolutely divine novel of friendship, new beginnings and unexpected love that readers of contemporary women’s fiction are sure to love!