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Authors: Olivia Darling

Vintage

BOOK: Vintage
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Praise for
VINTAGE

“A wonderful, intelligent blockbuster … I lapped it up!”

—Sophie Kinsella,
New York Times
bestselling author of
Remember Me?

“A dazzling tale following three women and their insatiable need for glamour, power and survival. Prepare for lust, betrayal and strictly no moral fibre.”

—Heat,
Top Ten Chart (UK)

“A return to the sex-and-shopping bonkbusters Jackie Collins is famous for and to be honest with you, this book’s a lot steamier than anything Collins wrote. Even though I know next to nothing about wine and champagne I still found this to be an enjoyable read.”

—Paper Cuts

“With three super-bitches slugging it out in the world of champagne production, this 21st-century bonkbuster is a great excuse to hole up with a glass of bubbly.”

—Eve
magazine, “Must Reads” (UK)

“A clever homage to the ‘80s Jackie Collins-style bonk-buster … A sophisticatedly rendered novel—[Darling] makes much of the dirt necessary to make champagne fizz and there you have a metaphor for human imperfection. Great fun. Great sex.”

—Teletext.co.uk

“We hope Posh and Becks, who recently bought a vineyard, know what they’re in for, especially if running a winery has anything like the sabotage the three grape-growing glamours in this juicy read have to deal with.”

—OK!
magazine

“As bubbly as a glass of champers.”

—Closer Magazine
(UK)

“I was thoroughly gripped by the book … A very sexy fun read … I really enjoyed it and I was actually quite sad to turn the final page!”

—TheBookbag.co.uk

“Champagne, shenanigans, skullduggery and grand cru sex… 
Vintage
has three heroines you genuinely care about, love-to-hate villains, and a parade of gossipy detail. Don’t wait for the beach to enjoy this fantastic beach read; open up a chilled bottle of sparkling wine and enjoy it now!”

—Hester Browne,
New York Times
bestselling author of
The Little Lady Agency

“A terrific debut from Olivia Darling. The sex pops like champagne corks, the action races along. Pure vintage fantasy. I loved it.”

—Tilly Bagshawe,
New York Times
bestselling author of
Adored
and
Showdown

VINTAGE
A Dell Book / June 2009

Published by
Bantam Dell
A Division of Random House, Inc.
New York, New York

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either
are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or
locales is entirely coincidental.

All rights reserved
Copyright © 2008 by Olivia Darling

Dell is a registered trademark of Random House, Inc., and the colophon is a trademark of Random House, Inc.

eISBN: 978-0-307-76837-7

Published simultaneously in Canada

www.bantamdell.com

v3.1

To the man who inspired all my love scenes…
No, not you, dear. Him.

AUTHOR’S NOTE

In Champagne the term
“grand cru,”
French for “great growth,” designates those vineyards considered to have the greatest potential for producing the very best wine. There are seventeen grand cru villages in the Champagne region. Le Vezy is my imaginary eighteenth.

CONTENTS
PROLOGUE

Champagne, France, twenty years ago…

W
ithout dirt, there would be no champagne. As you hold your glass to the light and admire the pale golden fizz inside, consider this: a perfectly clean flute and your bubbly would not bubble. There would be no sparkle to your sparkling wine. Each glittering chain that rises to the surface originates from an imperfection, a minute blemish on the crystal, a fiber from a tea towel or a tiny speck of dust … 

One last long string of bubbles escaped the girl’s mouth as she drifted gently to the bottom of the river. Her silky brown hair shimmered around her face like water-weed, veiling those lips whose last kiss still lingered in Chanel rouge on the rim of a tulip-shaped glass. Her eyes were closed; her lashes perfect as they rested upon her smooth white cheeks. As she settled onto the riverbed, the current moved the girl’s bare arms across her body, covering her beautiful breasts. Now she was a nymph, lulled to sleep by the waters of the Marne as it flowed south through the night toward Paris, opaque with the famous chalky sediment that made wine critics rave when they tasted it in a glass.

Nobody missed her yet. At the party in the house by the river, the wine was still flowing. The music was still
playing. Young girls in tight dresses still laughed at jokes they didn’t entirely understand, to please older guys who might find them the rent on an apartment in the sixteenth arrondissement. A waiter opened a bottle of vintage champagne—Salon—the proper way, turning the bottle and not the cork. Not a pop. Just a sigh and a wisp of vapor. No drop wasted. With one hand behind his back and the thumb of his other hand in the punt—the dimple at the bottom of the bottle—he poured out two glasses for a pair of expensively dressed revelers. One glassful barely effervesced.

“Oh,” said the woman. “No bubbles. Is there something wrong with it?”

“Your glass must be too clean,” her companion informed her. “You need dust to trap the tiny pockets of air that catalyze the fizzing action.”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.” She really did have no idea. This was her sixth glass of champagne that night and her schoolgirl French was somewhat rusty. Though her accent improved with alcohol, her comprehension didn’t.

Her handsome companion looked deep into his own glass, considering the liquid inside as though examining the facets of a diamond.

“What are you thinking about?” the woman asked him.

She hoped that he was thinking about her naked. She wanted him to touch her. She wanted to run her fingers through his silver hair as he made love to her. Violently.

“I’m thinking that people are like champagne,” he said eventually. “Our flaws are what make us sparkle.”

“I think I know what you mean,” she said.

She touched the rim of her glass to his. He raised it in a toast.

BOOK: Vintage
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