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'Wine and Roses'(Other Paths Book 1) by August Li

Wine and Roses (Other Paths Book 1) - August Li
“Wine and Roses is defined in the Urban Dictionary as: “An expression of love for that special guy (girl) in your life. When every time he (she) smiles it clears out every cloud and when you see him (her) happy it makes living worthwhile...”

Although a lovely sentiment, life is not that simple for Alain of 'Wine and Roses' by Augusta Li. His opinion that he' is unnatural keeps him from enjoying a loving relationship with another man, although that's what he wants almost as much as his vineyards, which have been in his family for over five hundred years. When Breeze, a wounded mercenary, comes along, Alain feels himself falling in love with the man even though they are worlds apart, in almost every way. Breeze finds himself falling in love with Alain too, which causes a conundrum for both of them. Alain won't leave his winery and Breeze won't give up fighting. Even when logic says something is impossible, love always seems to find another way.

In these days, Alain would be considered socially awkward; yet, he's kind, gentle, industrious, loving, and of unquestionably strong moral fiber. Alain loves his land and the people who live and work on it, but he simply thinks too much. He puts everyone and everything before his own happiness. He ties himself up in a Gordian knot of massive proportions when it comes to his feelings. He favors men but is extremely cautious and guilt-ridden over acting upon his desires.Even in his relationship with his brother-in-law, Boyce, after Alain's twin sister dies he can't completely give in to it. When Boyce is killed in a fire, Alain is lost; but he never gives up. He knows that there are many people looking to him for leadership and, although he doesn't feel up to it, he know he has to keep going regardless In a twist of fate, the same fire that killed Boyce, also brings Breeze, a wounded soldier, into his world. Alain can't, in good conscience, leave a wounded man to die, so, against his better judgment, he takes the soldier to his house and cares for him until he recovers. When Breeze gets well enough to ask him why he would help a man with nothing to gain from it, Alain plainly says: “Because it's the right thing to do.”

Although Breeze thinks that Alain's life is boring at first, he soon begins to see the appeal; but is still anxious to get back to his own world. When he is well enough to help out on the farm, Breeze begins to appreciate how hard work can be quite satisfying and the idea of healing the land, and promoting life rather than destroying it, stirs his soul. Breeze enjoys the work a lot more than he wants to admit. As he becomes more involved with Alain and his niece and nephew, it grows increasingly harder to let go, but Breeze doesn't feel worthy of Alain's love; he thinks he deserves someone better. He's in love with Alain; there's no denying it, yet he' is still determined to leave. When the time comes for him to go, it's with a heavy heart, but Breeze goes back to where he came from. When he arrives at Rosecairn, the mercenary fortress, his commander, Octavian, notices a change in Breeze and asks him about it. Breeze tries to brush it off, put Alain and everything else behind him, but he's having trouble doing so.He isn't the man he was before he left for battle, and he never will be again. Breeze has to acknowledge this and make a decision about his future. Whichever option he chooses, he can't do it halfway; he has to put his entire being into it.

Although this is different from many of Gus's stories, it's just as intense and awesome. Written in a lyrical style which enhances the feeling of it being in an alternate universe, in a different time. Gus's descriptions of the land and weather help create the mood and support the emotions of the people involved better than actual words could do. The intensity and strength of the love between Alain and Breeze is beautifully displayed in phrasing like this: “If his love for Boyce had been the comfort of a hearth fire, his passion for the exotic mercenary—the capable but kind man, the man who loved his children, who couldn’t resist risking Alain’s ire to tease him—made Yarroway L’Estrella’s fire look like a fleeting flicker.” Although this is part of the Blessed Epoch Series, it can be read alone.The pertinent information is clearly alluded to within. This is a very romantic, sensual romance which combines the passion and grittiness that Gus always adds to his stories. It's beautiful in it's simplicity and charming in the way it presents the strengths and frailties of life and love. I can't recommend it highly enough to fans of the Blessed Epoch series and to those who like fantasy, swords, vineyards, and amazing characters who quickly endear themselves to you. Thanks, Gus, for expanding the horizons of your Blessed Epoch world; allowing me to experience another dimension of this awesome saga.



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