Overall Grade: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
I have to give credit where credit is due to Fiona Cole. One of the challenges of any romance writer is knowing the line between smut and romance. Some of us love to read a smutty book from time to time because, quite simply, we want to be titillated by all of the dirty. But most readers in romancelandia prefer a story with their fornication. We want the story to come first and the $exy to enhance the story. At least, that’s what I prefer. In my humble opinion, Fiona Cole has fashioned romance where the dirty and story play so well off of each other. I’ve said this before, Cole writes some of the best dirty bedroom/balcony/club scenes that I’ve ever read, and what makes that facet of her romance so intriguing is that her stories level up the bawdiness of her writing. It’s hot, heavy, and thoughtful in equal measure. I’ve personally ingested (figuratively, of course) Cole’s book list. Coming from the world of Voyeur, jumping into the pool of Blame It on the Champagne is like floating in the shallow end. That is not a criticism of Cole’s newest book. Instead, that’s a wild “yes” to this new world where women are fierce, the chemistry is fire, and the happy endings are hard-fought but the fight doesn’t have the weight of her Voyeur series. Blame It on the Champagne is lighter, likable, and lovely.
There are three aspects of Cole’s newest book that I adore: the chemistry between her hero, Nico (Nicholas) and her heroine, Verana (Vera) is complete and utter fire, the girl group of Verana, Raelynn, and Nora is the girl gang you love in your romance, and Nico’s wizened grandfather, Charlie, is the oracle that adds the gravity to a story that feels both light-hearted and earnest. This story follows Vera and Nico as one has lived a life towards revenge and the other to leave a gilded cage. As they entwine their lives together, their story builds to immense levels of combustion. What Cole does with this story is similar to the other stories on her book list. She has this capacity to craft heat and fire between two characters while instilling a depth to their attraction. Over and over again in Blame It on the Champagne, I held my breath to see if Verana and Nico could survive their combustibility. As each grows closer to the other, it feels like the story could be lit on fire, and eventually, it does. Yet, Cole deftly holds our hands through their journey as they pull apart and come together over and over again. It’s a testament to her ability to pace their story that Cole compels you into the journey of her hero and heroine.
To bring levity to the story, she crafts provocative female friends for Verana in Raelynn and Nora. When the triumvirate is on the page, it is a no-holds-barred bacchus with Raelynn as its leader. My heart was warmed throughout the story as these women support, comfort, and encourage each other as they chase their dreams. You can’t help but adore this girl gang and wish you could become an honorary member.
Honestly, I was sad to leave Cole’s Voyeur world. The audacity of that series clung to me. Yet, there was a heaviness to those stories that makes Cole’s newest series feel fresh and fun. She teases you with the next story in the series, Blame It on the Alcohol, and given that tease, I cannot wait for the next book. More of the forbidden, which seems to be Fiona Cole’s calling card, will find a place in her forthcoming book. If you LOVE grumbly, arrogant, swarthy heroes and a heroine so self-possessed that you cheer her through her journey, then run and grab Blame It on the Champagne. Fiona Cole has indeed found another series to tantalize her readers.
In love and romance,