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REVIEW: Champagne Kisses by Zuri Day

Dear Ms. Day:

There is an internet phrase known as TL;DR (too long;didn’t read). That’s essentially how I felt about this book. There were long long blocks of text about absolutely nothing important. It didn’t advance the story, provide atmosphere or create tension.

His target’s eyes twinkled with humor as she contemplated the remark. “You’re asking me to leave one of Southern California’s most coveted resorts—” she waved her hand around the room “—featuring award- winning vineyards, to go somewhere else for a glass of wine?” Donovan smiled. The woman sitting across from him had a point. For the fifth year in a row, an assortment of Drake Wines had placed first in several categories at the Monterey Wine Festival, the California Beer and Wine Festival, the Vancouver Playhouse Inter- national Wine Festival and the Food and Wine Classic in Aspen, Colorado. The latter had led to an unprecedented six-page spread in the prestigious Food and Wine Magazine, a fact that had delighted his sister and director of PR, Diamond, whose wedding announce- ment and subsequent celebration had placed him near this dark-chocolate morsel.

Who cares? Is this story about whether Drake Wines will continue to compete nationally? Does it somehow involve the Food and Wine magazine? Is his sister important to the romance? No, none of these things are at issue. The romantic conflict is bad boy Donovan was once hurt by a woman and now he can’t commit. Marissa is the assistant to Jackson Boss, owner of Boss Construction who has just married Donovan’s sister. The one who is the director of PR, remember?

Champagne KissesDonovan and Marissa have an aborted attempt at a flirtation wherein Marissa is driven away by a jealous ex friend before she can reach her rendezvous point and Donovan assumes she is just another faithless woman and writes her off.  They reconnect at Donovan’s sister’s wedding wherein we are given detailed discussion of the clothing of the wedding party, the flowers, the length of the train:

The female guests had been asked to wear designs in predominate shades of purple or blue, meant to comple- ment the brilliant cobalt sky of a picture-perfect summer day. The men had been told to dress in casual suits, shades of tan, beige or ivory preferred. Wanting her wedding to be visually coordinated in these hues, the color black had been highly discouraged. Okay, banned. All two hundred guests had complied, causing the people bouquet to match the appropriately tinted flowers: tie-dyed dendrobium orchids, irises, anemones, hydrangea, roses and million star baby’s breath. The brides- maids wore various shades of blue or tan while the maid of honor’s dress was a rich, deep navy, which matched the best man’s suit. The groomsmen carried on the tan/ beige/ivory theme, a nod to the mounds surrounding the golf course and the stone pathways that could be seen from the hill. Kathleen Fitzpatrick’s granddaughter was the flower girl, a redheaded bundle of fluffy baby-blue organza. The maid of honor’s ivory-suited son bore the rings. Both Diamond and Jackson wore dazzling white, and they looked not only amazing, but ridiculously in love. The tearjerker had been when three generations of Drakes—Diamond’s father, Donald; her grandfather David, Jr.; and her great-grandfather, David, Sr.— walked her down the aisle. The comic relief had come when Papa Dee nudged Jackson, tilted his head toward Diamond and said, “That’s one feisty filly. Best watch yourself.” No matter that the loudly whispered suggestion was only heard by the first two rows. It became the most repeated statement of the day. Best watch your- self. The temperature had been a forgiving seventy-two degrees; the greenery of the vineyard and surrounding lawns had wrapped all of them in nature’s flawless tranquility.

When Donovan’s assistant becomes seriously ill, Jackson, his new brother in law, offers the loan of Marissa’s services.  When placed in close proximity, Donovan can’t ignore his attraction toward Marissa and Marissa doesn’t want to, although she’s confused by Donovan’s hot and cold reactions.  The relationship Donovan has with his father is probably the best part of the story. You rarely see positive interaction between a hero and his father in a romance and it was a nice touch in this romance.

Despite the sex scenes and the occasional glimpses of humor, I found the story to be dry and plodding and not just because of the paragraphs of long descriptive text.  The characters just came off flat.  I knew more about the Drake Winery than I did about Donovan.  Marissa was depicted as the stereotypical nice girl who can’t believe she’s dropping panties with Donovan. At one point, she thinks during a love scene “Again, Marissa wondered about the wanton woman who spread her legs so freely and wondered where the woman who could take or leave sex had gone.”  I’m not sure what that line means.

Also, I found the phrase “unshaven honeypot” to be a decided mood killer, as in “Licking the sides of the triangle of fabric, he caught hints of the unshaven honeypot hidden behind it.”

The lack of action in the story didn’t help.  Perhaps the insertion of a bad ex boyfriend/stalker was supposed to liven it up, but the danger he presented was too sporadically exhibited to create any real tension.  C-

Best regards,



Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. hapax
    Sep 12, 2012 @ 08:51:51

    To be honest, I lost all interest at the phrase “dark chocolate morsel.”

  2. JacquiC
    Sep 12, 2012 @ 08:57:18

    I couldn’t get through the second block quote. And the rest of the review makes me think that I’ll give this a pass. Which is too bad. The only author from the Kimani Romance line that I’ve liked so far is Maureen Smith. I’d love to find another author or two from this line who is consistently good. Any recommendations?

  3. Jayne
    Sep 12, 2012 @ 09:04:06

    @JacquiC: I couldn’t get through it either. Had I read this book, passages like that would have me propping my eye lids open.

  4. MrsJoseph
    Sep 12, 2012 @ 09:11:11

    Unshaven honeypot? *Gag* That is NOT sexy.

  5. Jenny Lyn
    Sep 12, 2012 @ 09:33:50

    What is going on with that cover? It’s gorgeous above the word “Champagne” but then below that there’s some weird torso contortion happening and her hand is unusually large and seemingly suspended in mid-air.

  6. Jinni
    Sep 12, 2012 @ 09:40:37

    Jane, I have to ask what made you pick this one to read?

  7. Jane Litte
    Sep 12, 2012 @ 09:45:20

    @Jinni: It was offered on NetGalley and I had never read the author before. Wanted to give it a try.

  8. Jinni
    Sep 12, 2012 @ 10:26:15

    Ok, good cover blurb, not so good book. I have a love hate relationship with series romance and AA romance (I’m black). I try it from time to time, but do end up with more than a few wall bangers. I’m glad you’re there to filter some.

  9. Shelly
    Sep 12, 2012 @ 10:45:33

    @JacquiC: Have you tried Farrah Rochon? She’s on the Kimani line, very talented and I love her prose. I read her self-published “The Rebound Guy” and thought it was great.

  10. Shelly
    Sep 12, 2012 @ 10:50:36

    @Jane Litte: I’m guessing this wasn’t a good representation of Zuri Day’s work. She’s done plenty of other books for Kensington and just started to do category romance for Harlequin. She’s actually known for having plus-sized heroines at Kensington (examples are Love in Play and Body of Night), which is laudable and refreshing. Some authors kick @ss in category constraints… some, not so much. I think that was the case here.

  11. Jia
    Sep 12, 2012 @ 11:17:24

    That second blockquote is rough to read through!

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