“Either give me more wine or leave me alone.” ― Rumi
This story begins by introducing us to Royce, the owner of a wine store named All Corked Up. He started the store from scratch with money he inherited from his grandfather. The same grandfather that taught him most of what he knows about wine. Royce lives in the apartment above the store with his two cats that love to entertain the customers and employees by playing in the wine bottles. He runs All Corked Up with the help of his best friend Clint, who has been with Royce since he started the store.
Royce is contemplating closing early on Christmas Eve due to the bad weather when one of the most handsome men he has ever seen wanders in his store looking for wine for Christmas dinner. Shawn is trying to impress his family by picking great wines since his sister doesn’t believe he can. After learning more than he thought was possible about a stranger’s family Royce recommends a few wines for Shawn and he ends up a tad smitten.
A week later Shawn works up the nerve to see Royce again and lucky for him he needs wine for the New Year’s celebration with his family. Shawn is let down when Clint is behind the counter, he was looking forward to some more flirting with the handsome owner. Luckily for him Clint gets Royce, and Shawn realizes, happily, that Royce has been talking about him. At this time flirting ensues, but Shawn isn’t quite secure enough to ask Royce out, and Royce is wondering whether it is a good idea to ask out a customer.
Shawn finally works up the nerve to ask Royce out but when he shows up at the shop, he realizes it’s crowded due to a wine tasting Shawn didn’t sign up for. Tired of watching the back and forth between the two men, Clint tells Shawn to get in there and ask Royce out or basically Clint will do it for him. After some wine and some heavy flirting, Shawn works up the nerve and asks Royce out.
The two men have a wonderful date and it seems they have a great connection that could lead to so much more. Riding on that high Shawn gets to work the next morning to find his boss, Henry, waiting for him in the parking lot. Now Shawn has been saving for years to buy Delicto, the local pub he manages. Henry is the owner of Delicto and he has been waiting for Shawn to have the money for a down payment so he can sell the place to him. Shawn knows if Henry is at work before him it can’t be good news, that only happens when Henry has a burr in his saddle. It turns out this burr is the fact that Shawn was seen out on his date with Royce. Henry is from an older generation and he believes homosexuality is a sickness. He basically tells Shawn no dating men or he won’t sell the pub.
Stuck between a rock and a hard place Shawn chooses his dream of owning Delicto over a possible future with Royce. This decision doesn’t do anything but make both Shawn and Royce miserable. Thankfully, Shawn’s best friend Anastasia is back in town after an extended deployment. She and Clint team up to get Royce and Shawn to realize they can still date, but maybe just keep it to themselves so Henry doesn’t find out. The two men finally get together, and they realize they could have something really great together.
Eventually Shawn gets tired of having to hide his feelings for Royce, and he wants to have a real and honest relationship with him. He decides if Henry won’t sell to him just because of who he loves maybe he needs to find a new dream. Ironically that new dream comes along when Royce and Clint let Shawn in on the plans Royce has to add a restaurant onto All Corked Up.
Shawn has a major decision to make, does he tell Henry where to go and team up with Royce, or does he stick with his original dream? Well, you are going to have to read it to find out.
I am definitely not a wine expert, but the way the author explains the wines is interesting and doesn’t sound like a lecture. I found myself wanting to go to a wine tasting to experience what I was reading about. I liked Shawn and Royce and it was a joy to watch their relationship grow. Clint and Anastasia were wonderful secondary characters and I hope Clint gets his own story, he seems to be lonely and I would love to see him happy.
I would happily read more books from this author, this was my first experience with Nessa Warin’s books and I hope to have many more.
Reviewed by: Jackie