Ripe grapes, warm weather and elegant restaurants pairing scrumptious delicacies with local California wines: yes, wine country is all it’s cracked up to be.

Author Cortney Roudebush explores one woman’s journey from a boring life of finance in Los Angeles, to finding peace in the vineyards of Northern California. In Where I Want to Be, Roudebush takes readers on Olivia’s journey to find happiness among unlikely friends and a new career in the tasting rooms of Napa Valley.

Roudebush’s first attempt at a novel is endearing. Her lifelong dream of becoming an author came true as she self-published the first in her new Wine Country Series. Olivia, our main heroine, grows as a person and develops through critical life lessons as any character should. The settings are romantic, the wine descriptions tantalizing and the restaurants make me crave going out the minute my eyes leave the page.

Unfortunately, the appeal ends at the surface. Olivia’s struggles simply don’t ring true. From self-confidence problems to general life anxiety, she’s as relatable as a cast-off character from Sex and the City. She lands somewhere between Charlotte’s shyness and Miranda’s self-loathing. Olivia is convinced she’s not attractive, forcing her new friends to constantly encourage her to see herself in a new light. This banter is grating and unrealistic. Her dates with men from online are as cheesy as they are predictable. Of course none of them work out and each has a quirky problem, akin to Kismetology by Jaimie Admans. Of course she happens hit it off with  Napa’s most eligible bachelor the minute they literally bump into each other.

I look forward to upcoming novels in the series with stories in Napa from the vantage point of each of Olivia’s new friends. Hopefully this first novel is simply Roudebush getting her feet wet, and the real adventures are yet to come.

Pair Where I Want to Be with Sonoma-Cutrer Sonoma Coast Chardonnay. This rich white with hints of white peach and honesuckle will let you hang on to the summer months just a little longer. With light floral hints and a butterscotch background, this balanced white will whisk you away to wine country as you join Olivia on her travels.

xx,

Syrah