Monday, October 20, 2014

Sotto Voce by Erin Finnegan: Review, One Question & More!

Sotto Voce
by Erin Finnegan

Genre: Contemporary M/M Romance
Expected publication: October 21st 2014

New York-based wine critic Thomas Baldwin can make or break careers with his column for Taste Magazine. But when his publisher orders him to spend a year profiling rising stars of California’s wine country and organizing a competition between the big name wineries of Napa and the smaller artisan wineries of Sonoma, his world gets turned upside-down by an enigmatic young winemaker who puts art before business.

Sotto Voce is the story of love and wine, and how both require patience, passion, an acceptance of change—and an understanding that sometimes, you have to let nature take its course.
Carly: Wine and love. They go hand in hand. Both can be dry and bitter or full bodied and rich. What are your thoughts on this comparison and how does it play into your story?
Erin: I fear that I'm going to end up sounding like a pretentious wine snob if I'm not careful, but I'm going to do my level best to answer this. 
Here's the thing about wine, especially so-called "big" wines, the reds that are designed to be opened after they have some age on them: they change. They grow. They evolve. They become something they don't start out as. 
So do relationships, or at least the ones that are destined to last. 
Think of a bright white wine as being like a summer romance. It's light and lovely, full of grass and flowers—but it's short-lived. Sauvignon Blancs, Roussannes, Viogniers and the like are meant to be enjoyed young. You make them. You bottle them. You drink them. They don't age well. They are bright, joyous, summery flings that you enjoy for one season, and then move on to the next vintage. 
But a big red—a Syrah, a Cabernet, a Malbec, a Meritage blend? These wines are meant to last, to age, to develop over time. Try to drink them right after bottling and you'll have a wine that may be drinkable, but feels tight, wound up, uncomfortable in the glass and on the palate. But let it rest for a while, let nature do its thing with that wine, and in time, the wine's edgy corners will smooth out. It will mellow. It will gain subtleties and nuance that it may have only hinted at in its youth. 
To savor the wine at its peak, you have to pay attention to it, and make sure to time its opening well. Left too long in the bottle, wine can be compromised by outside influences and spoil, turning the wine to vinegar. 
In Sotto Voce, Greg and Tom start out feeling a bit like one of those summery white wines. There's an undeniable spark—and a date stamp on the time they have together. 
And though I prefer to compare their relationship to the growing seasons in the vineyard, they are much like that big, complex red wine that's meant to improve with time. Outside influences could have soured their relationship, but it becomes clear that they have something that's meant to reveal itself over time, rather than simply unravel. 
The moment they begin to pay attention to the complexities and the potential of what they have together, it becomes clear they have a relationship that's meant to get better with time.
Tom set down the drink and found his way to Greg, locking eyes with him until they stood face to face. Without a word, he took Greg’s hand, entwined their fingers and led him down the hall and away from the noisy crowd.

“We might need another bottle or two,” Greg said, his voice shaky.

A hint of a smile crested Tom’s face. He nodded, just slightly, just enough for Greg to see. He backed down the hall, leading Greg by his fingertips. They reached the cellar door, and Tom rotated, turning Greg like a partner in a waltz so that he stood alongside the door.

Greg tried to lean into him, as if to embrace him, but Tom stepped back slightly and shook his head as if to say not here.

Greg reached into his pocket, pulled out the cellar key and opened the door. Then he reversed roles, taking Tom’s hand to lead him down the narrow staircase.

He flicked a wall switch to light the stairs, casting the rest of the space in soft shades of amber. Each step down revealed more of the stone-walled room, more utilitarian than decorative and lined, floor-to-ceiling, with racked bottles of wine. An alcove built into one wall doubled as a bar, and in the center stood a wine barrel table and two chairs.

Tom took both of Greg’s hands in his and guided him across the room in their own private dance until Greg’s back rested against the wall. He stopped, eased in close and let his face bloom into a full smile.

“I just wanted to stop by and say congratulations,” he said. And then he leaned forward, tilted his head and pressed their lips together.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
It doesn't take very long to discover that I'm passionate about books. There are few things I enjoy more than settling down with a new story and a glass of wine; quite often one that I have brewed myself.

It is equally obvious that Erin Finnegan is passionate about storytelling. I love to spotlight new and upcoming authors on my blog, and it is especially thrilling to feature one that is as talented as Erin.

Thomas and Gregory's first meeting is an unmitigated disaster... and their second encounter isn't looking very promising either. It isn't until they let go of preconceived expectations and reveal the truth hidden behind their veneers that Tom and Greg are able to connect. Their attraction and subsequent friendship seem to flourish effortlessly, but the circumstances surrounding them are complicated at best. Some relationships are meant to last forever, while others are simply sparks that fade with the passage of time.

SOTTO VOCE essentially swept me away. Bringing California's wine country and its inhabitants to life with each turn of the page; the descriptive writing, consistently paced story line and well developed plot are perfectly blended to yield an emotional harvest of the highest quality.

I recommend SOTTO VOCE to both newcomers and connoisseurs of the contemporary romance genre. I promise you, this is a delicious story you will want to savor.
View all my reviews
Erin Finnegan is a former journalist and editor. She was born and raised in Southern California, where she lives with two sheep dogs and grows, ferments and drinks Syrah and Zinfandel in the foothills outside Los Angeles.

Sotto Voce is her first novel.

Connect with Erin on TwitterTumblr, and her Website.
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  1. Thanks for hosting and for that lovely review! You've highlighted an important theme for Greg and Tom—veneers, and how public persona doesn't always match public reality. Thank you! —Erin

    1. It was my pleasure. Thank you for stopping by!

  2. What a great review. I can't wait to read it.

  3. Wow what an amazing review!!! And here I was just in love with the cover.

  4. great excerpt.cant wait to read more

  5. I liked the review best about today's post. SOTTO VOCE sounds like a winner.

    Erin, what is your favorite scene in the book?

  6. It's a bit difficult to describe without giving away a pivotal moment, but I'll say that it's about mike-way through the book. There is a lot of back-and-forth between a just-finished wine competition and an event that follows it. There's a good deal of build up to it, and it is all about pacing, rhythm and an inevitable release. Thanks!

    1. That would be "half-way". Thanks, autocorrect!

  7. Great review! Now I want to read this book no matter what! The cover was what caught my attention first, nice one. Thanks for the chance to win this. =)

  8. Replies
    1. Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it!

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. I enjoyed the review!