A Taste Of Merlot is the second book in Heather Heyford's debut series, the Napa Wine Heiresses. This book follows the youngest sister Merlot 'Meri' St Pierre.
The story opens with Meri accepting the Purchase Prize at Gates College Of Art And Designs art exhibit. After her speech she heads to the ladies room. Shortly after she's in the stall she hears two classmates enter the room as they begin bashing her; saying things like she doesn't deserve to win because she doesn't have to work for a living since she's a wine princess, that she only won because her father donated money to the college and that art is only a hobby to her and she'll never be a real jeweler. Meri recognizes the voices as Rainn, a graduating senior and Chelsey, a junior like herself.
Meanwhile, Mark Newman is at Gates' at exhibit scouting new talent for Harrington's, his family's high-end jewelry conglomerate. He comes across Meri's purchase prize and is intrigued. He's disappointed that only the name 'Gilty' appears on the prize-winning piece. He decides to ask two girls passing by (Rainn and Chelsey) if they know whose work it is. of course they lie and tell him they have no idea. Mark gives Rainn his card and she is amused to find out he is from the well-known Harrington jewelers.
Meri decides not to return to Gates to finish her degree because she is humiliated by what she overheard her classmates say. Instead she decides to open an online boutique and find a place to work on her jewelry. Months go by and Mark still cannot locate who Gilty is, but once Meri gets her website up and running he finally gets in touch with her.
This is where the deceptions begin. Meri does not tell Mark her real last name because she doesn't want him knowing she's a famous wine heiress. Mark doesn't reveal he's an heir to the Harrington business. Rainn continues to intervene between Mark and Meri because she rents a space at the same co-op where their jewelry workshops are located. Without giving too much of the story away, Meri and Mark are attracted to one another and there's a lot of secrecy and mistrust between them because they are both wealthy, but don't want one another to know this.
I enjoyed this book except for the character trait of Meri being portrayed as promiscuous. The author tied this in to Meri being lonely when she was sent away at a very young age to boarding school. I just felt this wasn't a trait I necessarily wanted to see in Meri's character.
Here is Heather Heyford reading an excerpt from Book 1 in the Wine Heiress series: