I’m the heroine saving farms from financial ruin and racism.
Who will save me from my loneliness?
I’m Too Busy.
I’m Too Hurt.
But it’s homecoming weekend and I really want to WINE Down.
Except now, my family’s farm is on the chopping block.
My best friend Riddick vows to fix it.
I’m the object of his affection.
And money is no object.
He wants me. But I don’t want anyone.
I’m too fractured to put the pieces back together again.
But it’s fun to feel Riddick try…
I’m the wealthy Restauranteur all the ladies love…
But I’m in love with my best friend.
Brandi doesn’t want my love, but she does need my help.
She will get more than she asks for.
I’ll destroy the past that’s haunting her.
I’ll own the present by pleasuring her.
I’ll design our future; healing her.
She will be mine, and her heart will no longer hide…
Will Brandi Wine Down long enough to let love rule?
Can Riddick save Brandi’s farm without killing their friendship?
Find out in this hot friends-to-lovers romance from Louise Lennox!
The Wine Down is a standalone, Friend to Lovers romance that is part of the multi-author series, Meet Cute Book Club series. Escape with this swoon-worthy collection of romances where meet-cutes don’t only happen between the pages of romance novels and members find their own happily ever after.
I fell in love with this story from the first page. Young love can feel so real and when it blows up it can be devastating. For Brandi, it changed the way she felt about dating and love in general.
Brandi grew from that experience, becoming a powerful attorney working to save black farm owners from being pushed off their property. Her inspiration to do this work comes from her grandparents struggle through so many difficult times. Her best friend Riddick has been her support from the moment they met in college.
Riddick has been Brandi’s best friend since college, their meet cute involves kittens. They’ve done a lot of things together and have their own traditions. One of those is New Year’s Eve, this past one Riddick didn’t kiss her, he wants more. He promises the next time he kisses her it will be the start of something.
Brandi has been fighting her own attraction to Riddick, she doesn’t want to lose her best friend if things go further. This becomes even more apparent as she’s preparing for the Meet Cute Book Club’s annual retreat that occurs during Homecoming at Abbott Ridge College, her Alma Mater. Seems everyone sees them together as a couple, well everyone but her.
Riddick on the other hand is having a meeting with his frat brother Byron at which he learns two things that throw him for a loop. First is that Byron was the man Brandi was getting over when they met and the second, is Brandi’s grandfather’s farm is in danger of falling to the man’s schemes.
The conversation he has with Brandi, is what changes his mind about coming to homecoming.
This is a favorite scene, but only part of that conversation.
My day just got better.
I slide into the driver’s seat and Riddick’s name flashes across my electric Audi Q5’ s LCD Dash. It’s crazy. Daphne and I were just talking about him and now he’s calling. I answer and slowly back out of the Ministry of Ink’s parking lot.
“And to what do I owe this honor, Mr. Kruger? I haven’t heard from you in over a week! You must need something.”
He laughs and my insides melt. No one laughs like Riddick Kruger. His sexy chuckle is a deep baritone filled rumble, and it holds a hint of danger and lust. The latter has a lot to do with his South African Accent. He sounds like a mix of Liam Hemsworth, Prince Harry, and Idris Elba. It’s the hottest sound on earth, “I always need you, Kitten. Did you miss me?”
I always miss you.
Riddick has called me kitten for as long as I’ve known him. It started as a joke. When we met, I kept two illegal kittens in my dorm room and the Resident Hall Director tried to make me get rid of them. But I lived with animals my entire life and I would not stop because of some stupid college dorm rules. I was coming out of my disaster of a relationship with Byron, and the kittens were my emotional support animals.
Riddick stuck up for me at the dorm council meeting. He was on the housing panel because he was an RA. Just when I thought I’d lost my case, this man with a delicious accent stood up and defended me like I was his. He went on about the right to mental health support and mentioned that he ran my floor and has had no complaints.
After the meeting, I went to thank him, and he gave me tips on how to continue to keep the kittens unheard and unseen. He’s called me kitten ever since. How he’s turned such a simple word into the sexiest one on earth, I’ll never know. He pulls me apart piece by piece whenever he uses it.
“No! I didn’t miss you.” I answer too quickly.
Get it together Brandi!
“Hmmm,” Riddick hums. “It sounds like you did.”
I search for a witty comeback. “How can I miss a bugaboo that only calls when he needs something?”
Riddick laughs. “I see, well if you’re going to call me names, I will not tell you the information I have on your favorite foe, Byron Logan.”
Bastard. My douchebag of an ex is my sworn enemy and Riddick doesn’t even know the half of why, but I’d rather die than tell him about that stupid chapter of my life.
“OK Kruger, spill it.” I hear his sardonic smile over the phone. “Of course, he came into the restaurant talking big shit like he always does about our newest potential venture. You know Byron.”
I do know Byron. That’s why I take great pleasure whenever I knock him down a peg or two in court. He’s the most dishonorable real estate lawyer to walk the earth. But he is also Riddick’s line brother. Byron has helped Riddick secure most of the properties his six restaurants sit on. I try to respect the fact they’re friends on some level. But that doesn’t mean I have to like him. He’s a cheating creep that broke my heart. I’ve never told Riddick how we’re connected because I never wanted to expose him to my drama. It’s embarrassing. What happened between Byron, and I was the lowest point of my life. I was weak and out of control. Riddick doesn’t want to know that part of me. I knew Byron would never tell him because he was the villain in that story. Byron Logan isn’t talking about himself unless he’s bragging or showing himself in the best light. What he did to my family, and I was unforgivable.
Riddick continues, “He has his eyes on Edenton Shores. He offered me first dibs on the property, since I want to open an Abbott Ridge location. Of course, I declined, but he says your family is ready to sell.”
“The fuck they are,” I seethe. “My grandfather would never sell our land to someone as sleazy as Byron Logan. I know shit can’t be that bad on the farm.”
Can it? Work has kept me busy. I haven’t visited the farm in a while. If anything was truly wrong, I know my grandfather would call me. He’d rather die than sell to Byron. He hates him and the Logans as much as I do.
Riddick’s long pause rattles me. He always delivers bad news like I’m made of glass. One minor nervous breakdown my sophomore year and I’m forever “fragile” in his eyes.
“Kitten, he didn’t speak to your grandfather.” He sighs and pauses again. I provide the wait time he needs, trusting he’ll get there.
“He’s been speaking with your cousin Mae.”
Fuckity, fuck, fuck!
“What!” I yell into the car. This time she’s gone too far. “Is she crazy?”
She’s always up to some sneaky backhanded shit.
“Riddick, you know as well as I do that she’s been financially draining the farm dry for the past ten years. I don’t know what the hell her problem is, but this time, we’re gonna fight!”
She’s due for a meeting with my foot up her ass.
Riddick produces another sexy chuckle and for a moment, I forget why I’m mad. “Calm down Kitten. I’m sure Mae has an explanation. Plus, how do we even know what Byron said about Mae is true? He could attempt to squeeze your family on his own. There’s no need for violence.”
I want to rage at him for being so stupid and trusting. Then I remember he has no clue how low Mae really can go. Hopefully, he’ll never find out.
“Pfft. The hell there isn’t. She’s going to tell me exactly what’s going on and what she’s up to, or I’m going to beat it out of her treacherous behind. She’s not selling our family’s legacy up from under us. And if she doesn’t listen to me, I’ll send Ciara. And we both know Mae doesn’t want that drama.”
Ciara’s crazy as hell. I may have a temper. But she goes nuclear with Mae. She’s been a thorn in our side for years.
I make a U-turn in the middle of the road; knowing it’s reckless, but I don’t care. Plus, nothing handles like an Audi. Anger rips through my body like a five-alarm fire.
“I’m heading over there right now.”
“Wait… What?” Riddick barks. His sexy chuckle is gone and replaced by his high-handed friend-the bark. “Brandilyn Julene Armstrong, you can’t go over there half-cocked. It’s just going to make things worse. Look, it’s Byron you’re mad at, not Mae.”
I snort. If only he knew. “Nope, I promise you, it’s Mae. I expect Byron to be an idiot. She should know better.”
Riddick Sighs. “Brandi, she’s your grandfather’s legal and financial representative. He trusts her. She practically runs that farm. If what Byron says is true, you need her on your side. Why don’t you pause and try to see what’s going on at Edenton Shores from her point of view? Maybe the farm is having some trouble. Better yet, just wait until I can come into town and I’ll go with you. You should approach this with a level head.”
I roll my eyes. Riddick is always talking that cooler heads prevail bullshit. I haven’t seen him in person for the better part of a year, and now he wants to volunteer to come down here to keep me in line? Fuck. That. Sometimes you need to fight.
Louise Lennox. The Wine Down (Kindle Locations 504-561). AfroChant Media LLC.
From the moment Riddick sees Brandi in person their relationship is on track to more and heats up quickly.
I loved the way all of these things get twisted and tangled in half-truths and misunderstandings and then slowly work out.
5 Contented Purrs for Louise!
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Louise Lennox is a writer, rabble rouser, hopeful romantic, wife, and mother of the cutest dragons ever to walk the earth. A poet and a storyteller, she writes to give Black women a diverse presence on romance novel pages. As a voracious reader of contemporary romance, she often bemoans the lack of opportunities to see women like herself on the page. She’s here to fix that!
Her female characters are highly educated influencers always seeking to change the world around them. Her male characters are alphas committed to the responsibility of leading their homes and communities.
In a Louise Lennox novel sparks will fly; the sex will be amazing; and the characters will always leave the world better than they found it through their love. Her characters live by the lyrics: “I’m a movement by myself, But I’m a force when we’re together.”