a novel by James Russell Lingerfelt
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about the novel
Dr. Ryan Lockwood is known as a professor who deeply cares for his students. Having grown up as an orphan, he now serves as a literature professor at Pepperdine University, his old alma mater. Located in Malibu, California, Pepperdine holds some of his most treasured memories. It's where he dated and married his first love, and it's where he met his two best friends, Clayton "Finn" Fincannon (The Mason Jar) and Brian "Oz" Bailey (Alabama Irish).
Now, Ryan's on track to become the department Chair, a position he’s dreamed of since graduate school. At just thirty–two years old, life couldn't be better. But when his wife passes away unexpectedly, and his grandmother follows soon after, Ryan falls into a deep depression.
His grandmother leaves him her vineyard in Tennessee, where Ryan spent his childhood summers. Since the estate hosts sell-out jazz concerts and the best wine in the southeast, Ryan plans to sell the estate to the highest bidder. But when he visits the vineyard, he meets Rachel Young, the twenty–five year old daughter of the vine dresser. Rachel is good–sensed, hard–working, and she's one of the prettiest women Ryan’s ever encountered.
Ryan has sworn to never fall in love again, the vineyard is auctioned at three times it's value, and Pepperdine offers him his dream. Now, Ryan must make a decision: Return to his career and friends in California, or begin a new chapter in life with a young love in Tennessee.
A love story set among the beaches of Malibu, and the lakes and pastures of Tennessee, Young Vines teaches us that sometimes we must let go of old dreams to embrace new ones.
"On the weekends, Ryan and Joanna would drive up the Pacific Coast Highway with Finn and Eden, and Oz and Shannon. The road weaved through the army green hills that evolved into cliffs, and dropped off into the azure–blue ocean. The sun was always shining in the only way the So Cal sun knows. The easy breeze was always breezing, and the happy sea gulls were always hovering, like kites.
The gang would stop and take photos at the lighthouses, and taste the coffees and chocolates in the tiny shops in the quaint little towns along the way. And at night, sometimes they’d head into Santa Monica to the British and Irish pubs. But most of their weekends were spent at the beach by a fire.
Finn knew a family who owned property near Point Dume, which allowed a panoramic view of the coast. They’d build their fire there, and huddle around it against the chilly coastal wind. They roasted marshmallows under a navy blue sky filled by a billion stars, with the moon’s milky trail shimmering across the tops of the ocean’s black waters. The aroma of sea salt and scorched timber filled their noses, and they felt like they’d be young and alive forever.
Ryan would often look at the firelight pulsating on the faces of his friends, all of them laughing, carrying on, and he’d see the wind curl Joanna’s hair. He wondered if that’s what heaven was like, to be surrounded by loved ones before an eternal backdrop of beauty and grandeur.
After lunch, they’d often ride over to the bluffs at Westward Beach, an area only the locals knew of. They’d sit on the ledges and drink the wine they bought in Napa Valley, while watching the sailboats rock their way to Marina Del Rey.
Joanna would lean into Ryan and he would kiss the top of her head and breathe in the scent of her hair. Sometimes, she stuck a buttercup behind her ear, just to be silly. But she looked beautiful when she did it, and Ryan always felt that hard, aching pulse in his throat. Her beauty moved him, and he was grateful for it."