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Blush  By  cover art

Blush

By: Jamie Brenner
Narrated by: Julia Whelan
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Publisher's Summary

From acclaimed author Jamie Brenner comes a stunning new novel about three generations of women who discover that the scandalous books of their past may just be the key to saving their family's future. 

For decades, the Hollander Estates winery has been the premier destination for lavish parties and romantic day trips on the North Fork of Long Island. But behind the lush vineyards and majestic estate house, the Hollander family fortunes have suffered and the threat of a sale brings old wounds to the surface. For matriarch Vivian, she fears that this summer season could be their last - and that selling their winery to strangers could expose a dark secret she's harbored for decades. Meanwhile, her daughter, Leah, who was turned away from the business years ago, finds her marriage at a crossroads and returns home for a sorely needed escape. And granddaughter Sadie, grappling with a crisis of her own, runs to the vineyard looking for inspiration. 

But when Sadie uncovers journals from Vivian's old book club dedicated to scandalous novels of decades past, she realizes that this might be the distraction they all need. Reviving the "trashy" book club, the Hollander women find that the stories hold the key to their fight not only for the vineyard, but for the life and love they've wanted all along. 

Blush is a bighearted story of love, family, and second chances, and an ode to the blockbuster novels that have shaped generations of women.

©2021 Jamie Brenner (P)2021 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

One of:

People's Best New Books

USA Today's 5 Books Not to Miss 

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Good Morning America’s 27 Books for June

Veranda’s 32 New Books You Don’t Want to Miss This Summer

Frolic’s 25 Best Books of Summer 2021 

“Jam-packed with outrageous drama, sexy passion, and dysfunctional family dynamics, Brenner’s delectable soap opera is the epitome of escapist reading pleasure. [Blush] is also a homage to the glitz-and-glam novels of the 1980s, a brilliantly conceived and expertly executed tale that provides a welcome reassessment of the often underestimated but in their own way fiercely feminist works of Jackie Collins, Judith Krantz, Shirley Conran, and the other big-shoulder-padded popular fiction stars of the time. Brenner starts with the clever concept of women bonding in a book group dedicated to ‘trashy’ novels and spins it into beach-reading gold.” (Booklist)

“Brenner’s lovely latest begs to be read with a view and a glass of wine.... Brenner tackles complex issues including gender equality and the devaluation of women’s interests with a light hand, balancing heavy topics with copious descriptions of wine, cheese, and classic romances. [Blush] is sure to please.” (Publishers Weekly)

“Brenner deftly pulls from the canon for steamy encounters and dramatic confrontations - some worthy of a Dynasty reboot. A perfect beach read about a family crisis resolved by women.” (Kirkus Reviews)

What listeners say about Blush

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
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    4 out of 5 stars

If you loved Judith Krantz....

If you don't know the beginning of Lace, who Jackie Collins's Lucky is, or have strong memories of Judith Krantz's Scandals, this may not be the book for you. If you do remember those treasures of the '80s however, or if you're open to discovering them, there's a lot of fun in Blush.

This is a multi-generational family tale of the best sort for those of us who prefer a good story to "well-reviewed literature." And the subtext is the decisions smart women make and why - always a favorite undercurrent for me in novels.

The reason it gets four rather than five stars is the existence of that stupid romance trope where people don't tell each other something relatively unimportant for DECADES. That's just annoying. Additionally, the alpha male in the story is incomprehensible. The story is told from the perspective of the women, which is great, but you never get a true feel for why our alpha is SUCH a jerk, even though he is generally beloved.

Those are the couple of bad things. The GOOD things are the reminders of how great those trashy books were, the emotions and feelings of women of three different generations, and the setting. You just want to be there, reading these books with these women in this fantastic home in this wonderful vineyard.

The thing we've forgotten about these sagas that we are wont to roll our eyes at now is how strong the heroines were, and how they truly turned around their circumstances in order to achieve their dreams. Yes, the novels are sex-soaked and drenched in clothes and money, but they're also, in a very real way, feminist stories - tales of women who shouldn't be able to get what they want, and yet do.

Blush takes these lessons and applies them in a contemporary setting, sometimes in a similarly overwrought way, but in a way that's really true to women and to the original stories.

Plus, quite exceptionally, Julia Whelan gives each character - female AND male - a clear voice without going overboard in any particular way. She really is at the top of her craft.

So get dressed up, have a glass of wine with some excellent cheese, and enjoy Blush. Anybody want to start an 80s-sagas book club?



7 people found this helpful

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Couldn’t Get Into It

This was just okay. I love Julia’s narration, in fact she’s why I chose this book. But I found this a little bit boring and I had to remember to keep listening. Additionally I found it difficult to figure out who’s perspective I was listening to at any given time. There’s no way to tell until you listen for enough time in each chapter to figure it out by context. I wish the author had titled the chapters. The story was good, but drawn out I think. There was no real gripping portion of the story to me and I was never rooting for any character nor did I really feel any where particularly interesting. It wasn’t bad by any means, it was just okay for me.

6 people found this helpful

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Good Read

I love Julie’s narration. There are many books I listen to only because of her. This book held my attention, was fun as it flashed back for some of the books I read as a teen and young adult and had a fantastic ending! This hit home with some aspects of my life and now really want to learn more about vineyards and cheeses….thank you!

4 people found this helpful

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Loved every minute

This book grabbed hold of me and sucked me down a deep hole of wine, cheese, book clubs, “trashy” romance novels, and strong women. I loved it. Leonard drove me bananas but he finally redeemed himself. Loved the relationships in the story, especially between Leah and Sadie. Of course, Julia Whelan completely nails the narration. Her accents were spot on. She has such a way of being you into a story which makes you feel like you are there. Fantasist narration!

4 people found this helpful

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So good!

Loved it! My favorite things; wine and books (just needed to add a dog to the winery)! Great story of saving the winery, female heroines and a secret from the past. A favorite author and a favorite narrator! Pure enjoyment!

4 people found this helpful

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Three generations of women trying to find a voice

This was such a good book, that through the novels of ‘80’s authors, show not only the strides that women have made in becoming respected in their relationships, but also in business. It also shows the lack of progress as well. Grandmother, daughter and granddaughter all bring well-developed clear voices to engrossing characters. I really enjoyed this book. The narrator did a wonderful job.

3 people found this helpful

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Marvelous!

Great story. I wasn’t able to stop listening to it.
Julia Whelan does a wonderful job; making the story even more enjoyable!

3 people found this helpful

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Interesting story but with well developed characters

First - I loved the references to the 70/80s early romance novels. While I do recall reading these books way back then (much like Leah- borrowing them from my mom!) - I don’t really remember anything about them and it wasn’t necessary to understand the book. I thought the female characters were pretty well written, not insipid or too abrasive, and they felt real. The male characters were a little more one dimensional and harder to figure out. To the very end, I found Leonard dislikable. Even his “softer” moments were tempered with a “but…”. Literally couldn’t stand him.
I loved the backdrop of the winery and winemaking - it felt like a very complete story. Maybe a little too
“Fairy tail-ish” in the ending but still an enjoyable listen.

3 people found this helpful

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Julia Whelan strikes again

I swear that Julia whelan could read ingredients and it would be a masterpiece

2 people found this helpful

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Definitely worth the credit

I love this story and the narrator ! This is a sweet story of past mistakes, love for family and forgiveness! I love that there are books in this book that the characters read and learn about! These books remind me of my childhood and secretly looking at my moms sexy books when she wasn’t looking! Now I want to listen to Those authors!

2 people found this helpful