Title: You Had Me at Merlot
Author: Marley Gibson
Year of Publication: 2014
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Romance
Rating: R for language and intimate situations
I really enjoyed You Had Me at Merlot--so much so that I read it in fewer than 24 hours. I simply couldn't put it down. The characters were quirky yet believable, and the plot realistic yet intriguing.
Poor Hale (yes, that's her name) has had a rough year: divorced by her workaholic doctor husband Curtis, Hale is adjusting to life as a single woman who is still in love with her ex-husband. Working as a copy editor at one of New York City's premiere wine magazines, within a five-minute period, she is fired for working on her novels during her lunch break on her work computer (but really to save the magazine's new owner her salary) and receives a phone call from her mother with news that her grandmother has died. So Hale quickly packs up her office and heads home to Pensacola, Florida, to her quirky Southern family. And then the plot really gets going....
I'm a huge fan of Ms. Gibson's Ghost Huntress series (please write more soon, Marley!!), but I wasn't sure if I would like her contemporary fiction without the paranormal aspects. I can now say that I most certainly did enjoy this book--and I also learned a great deal about wines!! :)
My only criticism is that I would have liked to have had another chapter (or two) between the last one and the epilogue so that the final character introduced could have been more concretely developed. I felt as I did at the end of the newest Jane Eyre movie (2011, I think): not enough time was given to the joyous reunion between Jane and Mr. Rochester. Here I felt that I was robbed of the joyous discovery of this new character and how this new character fits into the overall scheme of the story.
But overall, I thought this book was compelling. I haven't read an un-put-downable book in a long time, so You Had Me at Merlot was a lovely interlude among everything else I'm doing this summer (such as teaching a fan fiction writing class to kids ages 8-17). I'm definitely going to check out more of Marley Gibson's books while I wait, with arms folded and foot impatiently tapping, for the next Ghost Huntress book. ;)
(Hint, hint, Ms. Gibson!)
Happy summer reading,