TBR Day. The Villa / Nora Roberts. 2001
I've been working my way through Nora Roberts' single-title back list. There are some real classics there that I have thoroughly enjoyed (especially Public Secrets). So for this month's theme of "Kickin' it Old School," The Villa seemed a good choice.
The Villa tells the story of the Giambelli family and their wine-making empire. Presiding over the family is Tereza, grandmother of the heroine, Sophia. Tereza's second husband is Eli MacMillan, a neighboring wine-maker. Together, the two of them decide to merge their empires, throwing Eli's grandson Tyler into closer contact with Sophia. Tyler is the farmer, nurturing the vines. Sophia is the business-woman and public face of the company. The merger brings all sorts of drama into their lives as an outsider is brought in to become the COO and Sophia's cousin Don resents being pushed aside. Naturally, because it's La Nora after all, this leads to murder and acts of sabotage. Sophia and Tyler have to work side-by-side to preserve the company's reputation and stop the person behind the attempts to bring the Giambelli family to its knees.
For a contemporary that's 16 years old, it holds up pretty well. There is a lot of faxing of documents, and not everyone carries a cell phone yet, but it the book doesn't feel antiquated in our current smartphone era.
I did enjoy this book quite a lot. I like how it takes place over the course of 10 months. There's time for relationships to grow and develop. While there is incidental stuff about wine-making, it doesn't take over the story. The focus really is on the Giambelli and MacMillan families, their friends, and their intertwined relationships. There's a big reveal at the end involving one of the murders that I thought came totally out of left field and was not quite believable. So I won't rank in my top 5 of Roberts' single-titles, it was still a solid, enjoyable read.