Title: Spritzer: A Sparkling Gay Romance
Author: Jon McDonald
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: March 27
Heat Level: 1 – No Sex
Genre: Romance, LGBT, gay, bisexual, contemporary, enemies to lovers, humorous, romance
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Spritzer Vallier is the manager of a large commercial jug winery in Northern California. The new owner, Spritzer’s great-aunt Del, wants to make a quality champagne as well as the cheap wine that is the bedrock of their business. Being a down-to-earth, no-nonsense guy, Spritzer resists Del’s fantastic idea. However, she insists and hires Michel, a French champagne master, to direct the setup of the new venture for four years until Spritzer can take over the running of the winery by himself.
Spritzer and Michel must work closely together and right from the beginning it is clear there will be fireworks. Michel tends towards arrogance and control. Spritzer resents Michel’s authority and demands, and is a bit of a stubborn hot-head.
Keeping the two in check is Del—steady, caring, and wise, she directs the two toward the accomplishment of her dream.
Storms, accidents, and money problems plague the progress of the new winery, but eventually Michel and Spritzer work their way towards a successful conclusion to their efforts. But fate seems to have another destination for them as well, as they begin to fall in love with each other.
Spritzer: A Sparkling Gay Romance
Jon McDonald © 2017
All Rights Reserved
Spritzer Vallier stood in contemplation, gazing at the strange sight before him—a couple of dozen or more folks, dressed mostly in black, standing at the crest of a hill overlooking a Sonoma vineyard. It stretched out below them as far as one could see in every direction; rows and rows of cultivated grape vines, marching neatly in their straight lines. The early morning mists slowly evaporated in the warmth of the climbing morning sun.
Spritzer ran a hand through his dark, curly, unkempt hair, distracted from the immediacy of the memorial service for his recently departed great-uncle Tom, as his mind wandered to the urgent need to be harvesting the glowing, ripe grapes spread out before him. There is a moment when the grapes’ sugars are at their peak, and any delay might harm a season’s harvest. Spritzer had checked the sugar levels in the grapes just yesterday afternoon and decided that they should start the harvest today. But Aunt Del, Tom’s sister, had already arranged for the memorial service to be held this very morning.
He shook himself free from those thoughts, and turned his attention back to the droning priest. Spritzer was standing between his great-aunt Del—short for Deloris—and his childhood buddy, and occasional girlfriend, Kan. He turned to his aunt and squeezed her arm, as the priest extolled her brother’s many virtues.
“Are you holding up all right?” Spritzer asked gently.
Del looked over and smiled. “It’s still hard to believe he’s gone.”
Kan—blonde, lean, and tomboyish—leaned into Spritzer and whispered, “Nice service, don’t you think?”
Spritzer turned to her and said, “Yeah, yeah. But look at all those fuckin’ grapes. The old man would kick off just when I need to start the harvest, right?”
Just then, a biplane approached from behind the gathering, flew low over the heads of the crowd, and began to spray the vineyard.
Kan looked puzzled. “Isn’t this an odd time to be spraying insecticide, for Christ’s sake?”
“That’s not insecticide, that’s Uncle Tom,” Spritzer answered, with a flash of his quirky grin. Kan looked at him questioningly. “Some people want their ashes at sea. Uncle Tom…” He gestured toward the vineyard.
“Yuck. It’s going all over the grapes. What’s that going to do to the wine?”
Spritzer thought about that for a moment, then answered. “Probably make the horrid supermarket plonk we produce a hell of a lot better than it was when he was alive.”
Kan laughed and turned back to the service.
♡ EXCLUSIVE Excerpt
Spritzer: A Sparkling Gay Romance
Jon McDonald © 2017
All Rights Reserved
This a particular favorite section of mine from the book Spritzer. It captures the wistful end of day—end of life nature of growing older.
The physical therapist had just left Del’s bedroom. Del was sitting on the side of her bed, pulling on a sweater. Clara came into the room with a load of folded laundry.
“How did the therapy go?” Clara asked.
“Oh, you know…repetitive, boring, and painful.”
“But necessary. You want to get back into your studio, don’t you?”
“Hum. I don’t know. I think it might be time to wind down the ceramics. Haven’t I done enough?” She continued to sit on the bed as Clara put the laundry away in Del’s chest of drawers and closet.
“Well, that depends…” Clara answered. “Do you want to stop? Or do you need to stop?”
“Bit of both, I expect. I feel torn.”
Clara came over and sat next to Del on the bed. “Well, you don’t have to decide until you know. But I can’t imagine you not wanting to have a go at that old wheel of yours.”
Del laughed. “Maybe. We’ll see.”
“I bet you got years of fine work ahead of you.”
Del turned to Clara. “And what about you? We’ve never talked about it, but do you ever think about retiring? It can’t be getting any easier for you with your arthritis.”
“Me? Retire?” She sighed. “As long as you need me, I’ll be here.” She turned and put her hand on top of Del’s. “I got lots of gumption left in me. Don’t know what I’d do sitting around at home all day. Maybe when Francisco retires…we’ll see. Wouldn’t mind doing some traveling, you know. Always fancied a cruise around the world. Probably the only way I’d get to see most of it at my age.”
“But that’s expensive, isn’t it?”
“I’m sure it is. But what are dreams for?”
Del was thoughtful. “Feel like a game of chess?”
Clara looked at Del with some surprise. “If you like. Shall I make us some tea?”
“Yes. That would be lovely. I’ll set up while you make it.”
“Scones or cookies?”
Del went to her chess table by the window overlooking the orchard. She set up the board with the ceramic chess pieces she’d made ten years ago. Clara soon came back with the tea and a plate of zaleti—Venetian cornmeal cookies with pine nuts and dried black currants.
Del held out her closed hands to Clara. “Choose for opening.” Clara reached out and tapped Del’s left hand. She opened it, revealing a white pawn. “White. You go first.”
They played, sipped tea, and relaxed, thoroughly enjoying themselves. Then Del asked, “How’s Lorne doing?”
“Very well. He and Francisco had a great talk about him being gay, and he seems much more relaxed these days. And Lorne’s come to find out that Spritzer is now in a relationship with Michel. Did you know about that?”
“My, my, what a world it’s become.” Clara had a twinkle in her eye as she said, “You ever have a fling with a woman?”
Del looked quite surprised, but laughed. “Well…might have done. Have you?”
Clara giggled. “Oh no…no one ever asked.”
“Really. Well, would you if they did?”
“Not now. Too settled in my ways. Also, there’s Francisco…But when I was younger, who knows?”
“Ah yes, age does changes one’s perspective, does it not?”
Clara nodded. “I bet you were pretty frisky where you were younger. Living in France. A pretty woman like you. Alone. Unattached. An adventurous, free-spirited artist…”
Del smiled and nodded. “I had my time. But, to be quite honest, I’m quite glad it’s all behind me. Not that I didn’t have some thrilling romances and some quite stunning lovers along the way, but I have to say, it’s quite exhausting being constantly driven by one’s hormones. I realize now how compulsive we humans are about sex and love. It seems to dominate a major portion of our lives…not to mention books, movies, and pop music. At least now I am free to contemplate other aspects of life without all the sturm und drang of romance.”
“Well, we would hardly survive as a race for very long without it,” Clara pointed out.
“True. But you know one of my most memorable experiences of romance was with a man I met who was married and very much attached to his wife. We were passengers on a ship. I was traveling from Marseille to Istanbul on holiday, and he was a concert pianist traveling there for a concert. We were instantly and deeply attracted to each other, and we had an intense romance for three days. But we never consummated our desires—never kissed even. Our only contact was brief touching. A hand on an arm—a brush of shoulders—a placement of a strand of hair behind an ear. But it was intense beyond belief. Our senses were heightened and our spirits were totally engaged. It was one of the most thrilling romantic experiences I have ever had.”
“Did you ever see or hear from him again?”
Del was quiet and thoughtful. “No, never. It was what it was in that moment. And I wouldn’t change that for all the wealth of rubies.”
Clara thought about that, then nodded.
Del, because of their conversation, had lost interest in playing chess and sat staring out the window into the orchard. “The first buds will start appearing soon. It won’t be long before we are canning and making jams again.”
“Year after year. Cycle after cycle. Life just rolls along. There are the ups and downs of the daily dramas, but, underneath, the same repeating cycles move our inner realities into the deeper mysteries.”
Both women were now lost in their own contemplations. Silence fell over the room as they gazed out the window as the light began to fade into twilight.
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♡ Meet the Author
Jon McDonald lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He has seven published novels, a memoir, and three children’s books. His short stories have appeared in a number of prestigious publications. He considers himself a genre-bending author—he loves to take an established literary genre, play with it, and turn it on its head. He has lived abroad and traveled extensively.
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