Christmas and another Re-Read Review

Posted on December 29, 2009

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Christmas has come and gone so quickly! I hope everyone got to enjoy some quality time the past three-day weekend. I don’t really celebrate the holidays but I look forward to it for the time I get off from work. Time away from work always breeze by though!

My brothers, their significant others, and my niece and nephew came to spend Christmas day at my house. It’s rare that my brothers and I spend quality time together; the past few years, it’s only once a year at Christmas that we get to see each other. We started meeting for Christmas mostly for the kids. But it got to be a nice tradition. We would spend the day eating and playing games. Then onto opening the presents! At my house, it’s not just the children but the grown-ups as well who tear into their gifts. Lol. As always, it was a madhouse for at least an hour as everyone oohed and aahed over their gifts. I love seeing my nephew’s expression when he sees a toy. He’s two years old and despite that he already has dozens of toys at home, each new toy is still a surprise to him.

My reading slump is still lingering around so I’ve been re-reading quite a few books. Re-reading an old goody always comfort me and always better than picking up and discarding a new book after reading only a few pages. I really hate to put down a book unfinished!

I first read The Villa by Nora Roberts a year and half ago, and adored it. Re-reading the book a second time around was just like the first time, giving me hours of enjoyment and chuckles. As with most of Nora Roberts’ books, she manages to teach me about the world she created. In The Villa, NR explains about wine-making, from growing grapes, harvesting, to producing the wine, marketing and selling them. There’s so much knowledge to garner from her writing. The book is pretty lengthy at 421 pages (my copy is in hard-back) so a fair warning that I have a lot to say about this book! 😉

Series: None

Hero: Tyler MacMillan

Heroine: Sophia Giambelli

Sophia Giambelli has never worried about competition. For three generations, the Giambelli wines have been renowned for their quality throughout the world. The pride of the Giambelli family and a top PR executive, Sophia loves her job—and excels at it. But things are about to change at Villa Giambelli. And when acts of sabotage threaten both the family business and the family itself, Sophia’s quest will be not only for dominance, but also for survival.

Sophia Giambelli runs the marketing department of the Giambelli / MacMillan operation based in San Francisco. Sophia is the only child of Pilar and Tony Avano, and Pilar is the only child of Tereza Giambelli – the matriarch of the Giambelli family and business. Sophia is the only grandchild who has the flair and loyalty for the business. Marketing the wines is what Sophia loves to do and she kick ass at her job.

Tyler MacMillan loves working in the vineyard. He’s at his best when he gets to delve in dirt and soil and see the creation of his work grow beautifully and successfully. His love of the vineyard was started by Tereza when she and his grandfather, Eli, married. Both grandparents are more mother and father figures than his own ever were to him.

Sophia and Tyler have known each other for most of their lives but while friendly, have always maintained their distances from the other. When Tereza calls the family for a big announcement, the two are told that they are going to take over the family business when Tereza and Eli retire. But before they could take over, they needed to learn each other jobs for the next year. An outside person, the new COO, was assigned to evaluate their performances.

David Cutter is the new COO and he brought with him two teenage children who liven up the Giambelli household with more than just laughter. David accepted Tereza’s offer to be COO to the Giambelli operations because he was desperate to save his family. He needed a fresh start where his family could get to know each other over again. His children were growing up and away from him, and he felt the move from New York to California – driving across the country – would give them all the chance to get to know each other again. His love for his children was always first and foremost in his mind, and I started to fall for David before I did for Ty.

David didn’t have love in his mind but as soon as he met Pilar, he falls in love with her. Pilar is a newly divorced woman who was learning to be single again even though she and Tony had been living separately for more years than anyone can count. David’s children, Theo and Maddy, are delightful and their conversations with their father elicit many chuckles from me.

A dinner conversation between Maddy, Theo, David, and Pilar one night.

“Dad played baseball in college,” Maddy told Pilar.

“Really? Another hidden talent. Were you any good?”

“I was great. First base.”

“Yeah, and he was so worried about his batting average, he never got past first base with the girls.” Theo snickered, and easily ducked David’s swing.

“A lot you know. I was a home run…” He trailed off. “Any way I play that, I’m in trouble. So instead I’ll just say that was an amazing meal.”

Pilar always wanted more children but had only one with her philandering husband; with David, she not only gets a second chance at love she becomes a mother again.

Learning each others’ jobs put Sophia and Ty in very close proximity and the attraction that Ty always felt for Sophia but had suppressed easily flamed back up. The two together are like night and day. Sophia isn’t just gorgeous; she’s a highly successful businesswoman who is both feminine and strong. Sophia comes across as blunt and manipulative – and she is especially with men, but she’s not afraid that people see her that way. Ty is one of those guys who don’t speak unless directly asked and then can say much with a few words. He’s tough but doesn’t need to flex his muscle to show people how tough he can be. Quietly dependable and more comfortable in jeans than a suit, Ty is a guy a girl doesn’t have to worry about primping for because he would see her for who she is and not focused on just her looks.

I thought that Sophia and Ty really complemented each other’s personalities. I love how confident Sophia is portrayed and how relaxed Ty is with Sophia. Both seem to understand each other so well. On the other hand, I didn’t like that Sophia’s confidence and outgoing personality is associated as a woman who goes through men often. More than once, Ty referenced Sophia’s open approach to sex and how she “goes through men like a knife through cheese.” Why can’t a woman who is successful, strong, and sexy have regular relationships instead of playing the field promiscuously?

The suspense part of the story begins with Tony who loves the prestige that comes with being the son-in-law of the Giambellis’. Tony has no shame in using his wife’s family name to get what he wants even though he failed being a husband to her for 3/4 of their marriage. As a husband and father, Tony failed on both accounts and by a big margin. When Tony was murdered, I felt no remorse for him. My feelings were annoyance that the Giambelli’s family was thrown in turmoil as the cops’ casted suspicion on the family trying to figure out who killed him. Things get worse when another employee was murdered and it was discovered that the wine she had been drinking was sabotaged. Consequently, it wasn’t just the family business that was being threatened but the family as well when more sabotaged wines were discovered.

The Villa is a mix of romance and suspense. As much as I love and want equal suspense in a romantic suspense book, it was the romance and family relationships that grabbed my attention in this novel. My interest was especially on David, his children, and Pilar. The concerns between the secondary couple are very real and believable, and it was great to see Pilar rebuild her self-esteem and discover what love between two people who truly loves each other is really like.

“I love you, Pilar. One look at you. One look, and I started to believe in second chances. You’re mine.”

Maddy is David’s younger child; at fourteen years old, she is a walking encyclopedia, never running out of questions and ideas to ask anyone who comes across her way. Her inquisitiveness nature, intelligence, and love of learning was very delightful to read.

Maddy’s conversation with Ty during a car drive.

“If I were ten years older and had actual breasts, would you go for me?”

“Jesus, Maddy.”

“I don’t have a crush on you or anything. I sort of did when we first moved here, but I got over it. You’re too old for me, and I’m not ready for a serious relationship, or sex.”

“Damn right you’re not.”

“But when I am ready, I want to know if a guy would go for me. Thereotically.”

Tyler ran a hand over his face. “Theoretically, and leaving out the breasts because that’s not what a guy looks for, if you were ten years older, I’dve already gone for you. Okay?”

She smiled, slipped on her sunglasses. “Okay. But that’s bull about breasts. Guys say how they look for personality and intelligence. Some of them say how they’re leg men or whatever. But it’s the breasts.”

“And you know this because?”

“Because it’s something we have that you don’t.”

Maddy is really a precious child and her various conversations with her father and Ty made me smile each time.

While the suspense didn’t interest me as much as the romance, it wasn’t by any means weak.

***SPOILER***

(highlight to read)

I guessed who the saboteur was but had no clue that there was another murderer. And the second murderer really blew my mind out.

***END SPOILER***

The Villa is really an engaging book for me. The families and the relationship dynamics that which Nora Roberts created is very vivid, and I was immersed in my reading from beginning to end in one sitting – first and second time reading it.

Grading: B+

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