This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Erin will be awarding a Multi-format Sotto Voce eBook to 10 randomly drawn winners and a Grand Prize of a $25 B&N gift card will be awarded to one randomly drawn winner, all via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.
When I first started to draft Sotto Voce in the fan community, there was a lot of talk about the Greg Kennedy character, and how he was "dark, brooding and hot."
Dark. Brooding. Hot.
Two of those three make perfect sense when we're trying to sort out what we find attractive in a hero. But what is it about brooding men that we find so hot?
In concept, that shouldn't be an attractive character trait, not really. Because "brooding" is really just another word for "grumpy".
But here we are, time and time again, talking about "brooding heroes". And I won't lie—I fall for them like everyone else.
So what gives? How is it that a brooding man is hot, while a grumpy man is just annoying?
I suspect that a brooding hero suggests that there is something underneath that grumpy external layer—that there is depth to his concerns. And if it's a "brooding hero," it's likely that those layers will reveal something in his back story or in his priorities that make him complex, relatable and maybe even a bit vulnerable in ways we did not first suspect.
That's certainly the case with Greg Kennedy, the winemaker in Sotto Voce. When we first meet Greg, we know him to be smart, hard-working and a bit reclusive. We also discover that he is moody, somewhat volatile, and stand-offish. But we also discover that he is generous with his colleagues, protective of the people he cares about, and yes, a bit lonely.
"That day in the vineyard, when you asked about Rhapsody being isolated?...It is. It was, especially when I was first getting my footing here. I just really felt alone," Greg tells Tom, the wine critic to whom he is drawn, confessing a long-ago fling that haunts him. "He was someone I knew, someone familiar."
And eventually, we find that there are reasons why he has isolated himself from the world, and that vulnerability is what ultimately opens him up to love.
Ah. There it is. Peel back the layers, and underneath than moodiness we find a man we can love.
So for me, at least, it isn't necessarily a brooding nature that makes this character hot, but the suggestion created by his moodiness that there is something more to him that makes me want to know him more.
That, and maybe I have a thing for denim shirts, open-top trucks and dark aviator sunglasses.
New York-based wine critic Thomas Baldwin can make or break careers with his column for Taste Magazine. But when his publisher orders him to spend a year profiling rising stars of California’s wine country and organizing a competition between the big name wineries of Napa and the smaller artisan wineries of Sonoma, his world gets turned upside-down by an enigmatic young winemaker who puts art before business.
Sotto Voce is the story of love and wine, and how both require patience, passion, an acceptance of change—and an understanding that sometimes, you have to let nature take its course.
Enjoy an excerpt:
Firing up the grill to feed family, friends and crew at the end of the harvest had become a tradition at Rhapsody. It had started as a simple dinner to feed and thank the people who had helped harvest the crop. Then it morphed into a casual, annual party with the closest of Greg’s friends, a break from the backbreaking work with food, wine, music and a traditional grape stomp.
Greg always held back a bushel of grapes that didn’t quite make the cut for the year’s vintage and, in a discarded old oak half-barrel, set up a stomp that let everyone work out their stress by smashing the slippery mass into grape pulp. It was messy, slightly feral and dizzyingly fun.
After the party settled into a comfortable groove, Greg lifted Tom into the cask, jumped in behind him and held him around the waist as they stomped in time to an up-tempo R&B classic on the stereo.
Their stomp became a dance, their feet synchronized and their legs aligned, Greg holding Tom’s hips and leaning into his shoulder.
“I’m sorry,” he whispered in Tom’s ear.
“You know why.”
“For getting grape juice all over my pants?” Tom teased. This drew a smile, and a squeeze.
“For ignoring you. I’m sorry, and I won’t—”
“Don’t. I get it. This is your deadline.”
“It’s going to get worse before it gets better, you know. I pretty much live in the barn during primary fermentation.”
“Then we’ll set up an extra cot, or I’ll make you coffee, or we’ll take shifts punching the caps while you get some sleep,” Tom offered. “But I want to help, and I want to be with you.”
About the Author: Erin Finnegan is a former journalist and editor. She was born and raised in Southern California, where she lives with two sheep dogs and grows, ferments and drinks Syrah and Zinfandel in the foothills outside Los Angeles.
Sotto Voce is her first novel.
Connect with Erin at erin-finnegan.com, on Facebook at facebook.com/ErinGoFinnegan, on Goodreads at Goodreads.com/ErinFinnegan and on Twitter at @eringofinnegan.
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