The Giambelli’s family fortune has stemmed from a hundred years of excellence in the wine world. La Signora, Tereza Giambelli, is the matriarch of the family. She is tough and resilient, and an excellent business woman. She married Eli MacMillan for love, but for the connection to his own winery as well. Their mutual decision to combine their farms, turning it into Giambelli-MacMillan, is celebrated and feared amongst competitors.
Inside the business, Tereza causes uproar when she orders her granddaughter, Sophia, and her step-grandson, Tyler, to coexist and learn each other’s respective areas of expertise. Sophie and Ty get along amicably, although they initially struggle to understand each other’s role in business. As they work together, they realize their attraction has always been there, just ignored. They learn to trust and rely on each other, but are soon bombarded with crises within the company.
The first tragedy strikes when Sophia’s father is found murdered. Tony Avano spent his life cheating on his faithful wife, Pilar, sleeping around with as many women he could find. While Pilar spent most of her time at the Giambelli Villa, Tony spent their money (mostly from Pilar’s affluent family) and his time chasing women. The one woman who finally managed to get him to divorce Pilar, Rene Foxx, a society queen interested only in his money and the privileges it opens up. She ostentatiously flashes her engagement in front of Pilar and Sophia when she forces Tony to attend the private Giambelli family meeting where Tereza lays out the company’s new business plan. What Rene does not know, is that Tony might be marrying her, but that he is far from faithful. She receives an angry call at night, and thinking it is Pilar, blames it is her jealousy over her lost husband. It is of course not Pilar, but Tony doesn’t correct his new wife. Tony is found shot in Sophia’s townhouse, and the cops start searching for the killer, but they find no clues.
David Cutter is appointed the new COO from the company. He starts to work for them, resigning from a competitor, La Coeur, to go to the Giambelli-MacMillan winery. He moves into a guest cottage at the Villa along with his two children. He meets Pilar, and falls deeply in love with her. He starts to romance her, but has to work very hard – Pilar is an honorable lady who had never strayed from her useless husband. He also has his new job to face – Ty is anything but impressed with the new order of things, and is initially difficult to manage. Sophie appears pleasant, even helpful, but David knows she is every bit her grandmother’s grandchild, and can be downright stubborn and sneaky.
When Giambelli-MacMillan gets audited, David finds a ghost account – illegally created by the now deceased Tony and Sophia’s uncle, Donato Giambelli. Donato is arrested, but before he is prosecuted, he is killed within his cell. David gets shot at while in Italy, and spends time recuperating in hospital. Even though Donato is the obvious suspect to orchestrate the shooting, he swears to Sophie before his death he had nothing to do with it.
Jeremy deMorney, who is a big gun at La Coeur, watches and enjoys the scandals that rock the Giambelli family. His hatred for the family is far more intense than just business rivalry – he hates the Giambellis because of Tony Avano. He blamed his wife’s adultery with Tony Avano on the Giambelli family, who never controlled him.
Kris Drake has a personal and professional vendetta against Sophia. She is angered by the fact that even though she is just as good in advertising as Sophia is, she is cast aside for promotion in favor of Sophia – just because she is not part of the family. Sophia tolerates her provoking nature mostly because she really is good at her job. When she finds out that Kris is behind the angry phone calls to Rene Foxx, and that she is in an affair with Sophia’s father, she tolerates her even then. The final straw comes when Sophia learns that Kris is leaking private company information to Jeremy at La Coeur, and she is fired. Immediately, Kris starts working at La Coeur.
The worst hit for the Giambelli family comes when they learn that some of their wine has been tampered with, and that contains traces of a dangerous plant extract – killing people who has a weak heart or consume too much of it. It causes the death of a loyal, old worker, and also one of the young employees in the company. The family has to recall the particular vintage, causing huge financial loss.
They finally learn that Donato and Jeremy are behind the tampering, and that Jeremy is a very dangerous man. When it is discovered that he is a mastermind in the attempted destruction of the Giambellis, he is released from his duties at La Coeur. Angered, he sets out to destroy the Giambellis for all – but will he succeed.
So many things were done right in this book. I had book hangover after it. It is that good. The story is so complex, intense and dramatic, revolving around passionate people whose professions are part of them.
One of the signs of a good book is when you feel you are personally involved in the storyline, and you know the people. This was definitely one such case.
A sign of Nora Robert’s writing is her dedication to detail – the scenes are described so perfectly that you can see it.
I would really recommend this book to anyone, and especially if you are a first time Nora Roberts reader. It is one of her best – and shows every reason why I am such a devoted reader to her books