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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
With the release of The Villa, the latest romantic saga from Nora Roberts, it's easy to understand how this prolific writer hits the top of the New York Times bestseller list time and time again. Roberts's writing skills -- like a fine wine -- have improved with age. For this latest effort, she combines intimacy and intrigue in an intoxicating tale of one family's struggle to find peace, happiness, and love amid mounting scandals that involve both the family name and the family winery.
There have been Giambelli vineyards in both California and Italy for centuries, and when the steel-willed matriarch of the family, Tereza, was widowed at a young age, she merged her life and her vineyards with those of her neighbor, Eli MacMillan. Their combined vineyards have produced some of the highest-quality wine to be found worldwide. Now that Eli and Tereza are in the twilight of their lives, they are looking to hand off their legacy to their descendants, a task that proves exasperating when they discover that some of the family members are philanderers, embezzlers, and gold diggers. Tereza offers to hand over her control to her granddaughter, Sophia, who is already in charge of marketing, while Eli offers to do the same for his grandson, Tyler, who for years has lovingly worked the fields. But first Sophia and Tyler must learn each other's jobs and deal with the acrimony created when Tereza brings in an outsider to serve as CEO.
Sparks fly whenever Sophia and Tyler are together, their opposing personalities clashing even as their libidinous sides are meshing. When Sophia's father is murdered, the family becomes divided, a split that only grows when more killings follow. When someone dies after drinking a bottle of poisoned Giambelli wine, it triggers a scandal of international proportions that leaves both the business and the family teetering on the edge. Forced to look deep within their own ranks, the Giambellis discover not just incompetence but betrayal and sabotage. But they also discover some surprising strengths and learn that the true definition of family goes way beyond mere blood ties.
Roberts's characters are as fascinating as they are diverse, and the business-savvy women in the matriarchal Giambelli family are delightfully strong, ambitious, and determined. Roberts's keen sense of pacing pulls it all together, and, as a final bonus, she treats her readers to an intriguing insider's look at the ins and outs of the winemaking business. (Beth Amos) Contributing Editor Beth Amos is the author of three novels, including Cold White Fury and Second Sight.