The Memory of You – Catherine West – Thomas Nelson – Published 28 March 2017
Thirteen years ago, Natalie lost a part of herself when her twin sister died. Will traveling back to the family winery finally put the memory to rest, or will it completely destroy her?
When Natalie Mitchell learns her beloved grandfather has had a heart attack, she’s forced to return to their family-owned winery in Sonoma, something she never intended to do. She’s avoided her grandparents’ sprawling home and all its memories since the summer her sister died—the awful summer Natalie’s nightmares began. But the winery is failing, and Natalie’s father wants her to shut it down. As the majority shareholder, she has the power to do so. And Natalie never says no to her father.
Tanner Collins, the vintner on Maoilios, is trying to salvage a bad season and put the Mitchell family’s winery back in business. When Natalie Mitchell shows up, Tanner sees his future about to be crushed. Natalie intends to close the gates, unless he can convince her otherwise. But the Natalie he remembers from childhood is long gone, and he’s not so sure he likes the woman she’s become. Still, the haunted look she wears hints at secrets he wants to unearth. He soon discovers that on the night her sister died, the real Natalie died too. And Tanner must do whatever it takes to resurrect her.
The Memory of You is a delightful story. The setting truly comes alive and creates the perfect backdrop for this story of hidden secrets, guilt, and finding peace by facing the past.
Natalie is haunted by memories of her time at her grandparents’ vineyard. She hasn’t returned since that tragic night thirteen years ago and has tried to bury her memories and the truth of how her twin sister Nicole died. But her nightmares have returned and her symptoms are spiralling out of her control. So when her parents suggest she return to the vineyard she thinks it might be a good time to finally find peace. But the head vintner, Tanner Collins, Natalie’s childhood friend (and crush), suspects the real reason Natalie’s father has sent her to Maoilios – to shut them down – and he isn’t happy to see her.
I love a romance that starts off with the characters fighting. Sparks fly, tempers get lost. You can feel the passion, the chemistry, the possibility. I also liked that Tanner and Natalie had history. A tentative teenage friendship that got lost through the tumultuous fallout of Nicole’s death. As they confront each other about the past and challenge each other about the future, especially the future of the vineyard, they slowly (and with a few bumps along the way) rekindle their friendship and learn to trust each other.
All the characters shine in this story. I love Natalie and her desperation for peace. She carries so much guilt but also has courage to reach out to people. And of course Tanner is totally loveable, even if he is at first gruff and harsh and unwelcoming. He too has so much going on in his life, so much hurt and unforgiveness. Natalie’s grandfather, uncle, and Tanner’s family are all wonderful additions to the book, each with their stories and journeys, in which the reader is privileged to share. Vibrant and relatable.
You get so much more than a simple romance with Catherine West’s writing. The story is layered and complicated in an easy sort of way. It was a pleasure to sink into this story and get lost amongst the vines and setting Californian sun.
I highly recommend this story for readers who love contemporary novels, fans of Johnnie Alexander, Irene Hannon and Liz Johnson. And for those who enjoy just a touch of mystery added to a story of family and romance and faith.
The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Genre: Christian contemporary.
Themes: Family, grief, vineyards, romance, wine, California, mental health, PTSD, forgiveness.
Published: 28 March 2017 by Thomas Nelson.
Format: Paperback, ebook. 320 pages.