How much do you know about wine? My expertise consists of recognizing a white or red wine or a rose Zimpfandel. Yes, I know my colors. Two weeks ago we visited Napa Valley and I listened with fascination as wine experts explained the properties of their wines and allowed us to taste samples. I usually don’t drink. One can of beer or a glass of wine greatly improves my mood. More would make me tipsy. Imagine, by 11:00 am I already drank three glasses, by 1:00 pm I added four more, and by 4:00 pm I totaled ten glasses of delicious wines. Yes, I was giggling, kissing my husband and loving every bit of the beautiful Napa Valley. In spite of the daze shrouding my brain, I learned a few things about vines, grapes and wines: The smaller the grape, the more concentrated the flavor. Skin color and thickness give wine (red and rose) its color and its aromatic qualities. Acid and sugar level in the fruit determine the wine’s sweetness and percentage of alcohol. An average temperature of 57-59o F is ideal and good vineyards need very well drained soils. Slopes which have concentrated sunlight and better drainage are more suited to vines than flat lands.

PRESCRIPTION IN RUSSIAN available in print at the Wild Rose Press.

Excerpt: Fyodor handed Jillian her shot glass and raised his. “Welcome to Belarus. I’m sure we will have a great working relationship.”

Jillian considered her shot glass without touching it. A deep scowl furrowed between her eyes.

“What’s wrong? Is there a bug floating in it?”

“You expect me to drink this, straight? No ice, no water, no orange juice?”

“Why would you spoil the taste of vodka? We always drink it straight. Try it.” He clicked his glass against hers. “Nazhtrovia.”

She sighed, stared at the clear liquid in her glass, and slowly raised her drink.

“It’s not a medicine. Believe me, you will like it. Nazhtrovia.”

“Cheers. I mean Nazhtrovia.” At first, she sipped it slowly, then took a good swallow, choked, coughed, and cleared her throat. “Not too bad.”

Fyodor laughed. “You will get used to it.” With time, she would get used to their vodka and hopefully to their food and traditions. Maybe she could get used to him and his children. Bozha moy, Good God, what was he thinking?

Cursing himself, Fyodor grabbed his shot glass and emptied it. She’d just arrived in his country and had acted as the conscientious delegate, dedicated doctor, and perfect guest, but otherwise she’d been assertive, poised, reserved, and somewhat aloof. Da, but she had lovely eyes and fabulous assets. And he was hard-put to deny his attraction.

An American Pediatrician

A Russian Surgeon

A woman who lost a son and frantically avoids marriage and family

A man with four adorable sons who badly need a mother

Can attraction and love overcome guilt, duty, and a clash of cultures?

“Mona Risk writes heroes with heart, heroines with spunk in stories and settings that are simply unforgettable!" -- Roxanne St. Claire, Killer Curves, National Bestseller.


  1. Mary Marvella // April 5, 2011 at 2:01 PM  

    Hey, lovely post! I prefer the sissy pink stuff/blush wines. Our winery north of Atlanta isn't nearly as large as the one you visited.

    Our critique group of four goes there for our plotting get-away most years.

  2. Patrice // April 5, 2011 at 2:54 PM  

    Mona, sounds like you had a great time, and I hope you can remember most of it - lol.
    I like Mary M's idea of using the Napa as a plotting get away. Works for me.

  3. Mona Risk // April 5, 2011 at 3:13 PM  

    Mary, I wish we had a winery around Fort Lauderdale. Great place to meet. critique and enjoy it.

  4. Mona Risk // April 5, 2011 at 3:14 PM  

    Patrice, I am not going to fool you. After ine glasses of wine, I didn't remember much, but I had pictures and notes.

  5. Mary Marvella // April 5, 2011 at 3:36 PM  

    Patrice, our little winery is in Georgia, but a visit to the Napa valley sounds good!

  6. Mary Ricksen // April 5, 2011 at 4:29 PM  

    Mona you look as if you are having a very happy time! I can't imagine you standing up after all that wine.
    You remember it well considering...

  7. Beth Trissel // April 5, 2011 at 6:37 PM  

    Beautiful post, Mona, and wonderful pics. Sounds fabulous.

  8. Autumn Jordon // April 5, 2011 at 7:47 PM  

    LOL, Mona. You're trip to Napa sounds like my visit to the Finger Lakes in NY last summer. I had such a great time and would love to go back there again.

    Thanks for sharing your pictures and bringing back a happy memory.

  9. Barbara Monajem // April 5, 2011 at 9:50 PM  

    I don't know anything about wine, but your trip sounds like such fun! We saw many vineyards in southern British Columbia a few years ago, on sloping well-drained land just as you described.

  10. Mona Risk // April 5, 2011 at 10:46 PM  

    Mary R, I was not only standing but taking notes and snapping pictures. See, we can develop amazing resilience when needed. LOL

  11. Mona Risk // April 5, 2011 at 10:47 PM  

    Beth, I am glad you enjoyed the post.

  12. Mona Risk // April 5, 2011 at 10:48 PM  

    Hi Autumn, Fingers Lake in NY? I better keep that in mind. My husband had a blast with wine tasting.

  13. Mona Risk // April 5, 2011 at 10:49 PM  

    Barbara, if you have a chance to visit Napa Valley don't miss it.

  14. Judy // April 6, 2011 at 7:19 AM  

    Mona, I love learning about wines and wine and food pairings. I drink red wine almost exclusively and my favorite is a good pinot noir, which was reasonable until that movie came out! (Sideways)

  15. P.L. Parker // April 6, 2011 at 8:54 AM  

    Hi Mona - isn't Napa Valley just fun! Tried the wine-tasting tour myself one year and got pretty happy.

  16. liana laverentz // April 6, 2011 at 9:40 AM  

    Mona, you look very relaxed and happy. I'm glad you had a good time!

  17. LK Hunsaker // April 6, 2011 at 9:48 AM  

    Great photos, Mona! I'm like you with wine. I enjoy a very little bit at a time. ;-)

  18. Celia Yeary // April 6, 2011 at 10:19 AM  

    MONA--I see you had a grand time. We've been to Napa's gorgeous. We've also been to a very old winery in France, and the wooden casks were underground in a grotto. Very spooky, but our guide stopped us in a round with a big round table in the middle. There were wine glasses lined up. A lovely girl from the winery, with her lovely French accent said, as the looked around the group of tourist--"I need the help of a very handsome man, and I choose you." Her choice was my husband--probably because he stoo taller than everyone else, oh, and of course, he is handsome. Oh, he got the big head over that--everyone teased him all day. Me? Man, could that girl flirt.
    Texas has many wineries, now--weird, I know, but parts of the state has perfect weather and conditions for wineries.
    Vodka--I've only tasted it once--in Poland--a Polish Vodka. A very small glass and you drink it all at once. It was nice--
    You have such intriguing international stories...I do admire you. Good luck with sales! Celia

  19. Mona Risk // April 6, 2011 at 11:05 AM  

    Judy, wow you are a real expert, knowing a pinot noir by name!

  20. Mona Risk // April 6, 2011 at 11:06 AM  

    Hi PL, so you know exactly what I am talking about. I bet you had as much fun as I had...and stayed very sober.

  21. Mona Risk // April 6, 2011 at 11:08 AM  

    Liana, try wine tasting if you have the opportunity. It really helps with life balance and seeing the bright side.LOL.

  22. Mona Risk // April 6, 2011 at 11:09 AM  

    Yes Loaraine, very very little from every wine makes things look nice and helps forget stress.

  23. Mona Risk // April 6, 2011 at 11:13 AM  

    Hi Celia-- Wait till I tell my husband about the French wineries and the pretty guide. I bet he'll schedule a trip for next summer. I've tried Belarusian, Russian, Ukrainian and Kazakhstany [?} vodkas but not polish. To be honest they all taste the same to me. Alcohol and fire poured in my stomach.

  24. Keena Kincaid // April 6, 2011 at 11:23 AM  

    I love Napa Valley. My ideal day job would be marketing communications for a vineyard.

    Oh, and there's a saying one of my Napa-vineyard working, wine enthusiastic friends shared with me: "Friends don't let friends drink pink Zinfindel."

  25. Mona Risk // April 6, 2011 at 12:56 PM  

    Why not Keena? I love pink Zindindel.

  26. Nightingale // April 6, 2011 at 2:35 PM  

    Mona, you do go to the most fun places! This is yet another trip I would love to have taken with you.

  27. Mona Risk // April 6, 2011 at 3:05 PM  

    Anytime, Linda. I'd love to take you.

  28. Debra St. John // April 6, 2011 at 3:19 PM  

    Napa Valley is a beautiful trip. Thanks for telling us about yours.

  29. Scarlet Pumpernickel // April 6, 2011 at 8:54 PM  

    Mona, what an amazing trip. I've always wanted to visit the Napa Valley. It sounds like you had a jolly good time. The information on the wines and vines will turn up in a book, I'm sure. Thanks for sharing. The pictures are great.

  30. Pamela Varnado // April 6, 2011 at 10:17 PM  

    My critique group usually has a plotting weekend at least annually. We often go to Chateau Elan. It's a winery in Georgia. Our first stop is usually the wine tasting event. I'm not much of a wine drinker, I prefer harder spirits like whiskey or scotch, but I always find something I love. Dry white wine is my choice. Red is usually much too sweet for my taste. And Napa valley sounds heavenly whether I'm a wine drinker or not!

  31. Mary Marvella // April 6, 2011 at 10:55 PM  

    Don't let Pam fool you, she can drink us under the table.

  32. Maggie Toussaint // April 7, 2011 at 9:22 AM  

    What fun, Mona! I hope you don't have a headache today. I like a glass of wine occassionally myself, but, like you, moderation is the key for me.

    I enjoyed your excerpt very much.

    Thanks for sharing a view of the wine industry with me!


  33. Mona Risk // April 7, 2011 at 1:38 PM  

    Debra, thank you for stopping by. Glad you enjoy this post.

  34. Mona Risk // April 7, 2011 at 1:40 PM  

    Scarlet, you double-guessed me. The wine information is already in a book, my current wip, that I just finished polishing. It takes place in France and there is a lovely scene about pretty girls pressing the grapes.

  35. Mona Risk // April 7, 2011 at 1:42 PM  

    No kidding Pam, you taste wine and then critique? What a fun critique session.

  36. Mona Risk // April 7, 2011 at 1:43 PM  

    Maggie-- thanks for stopping by. In Napa, I discovered that a glass of wine, or two or three, takes care of all headaches.

  37. Josie // April 7, 2011 at 6:23 PM  

    Such fun! My knowledge of wines equals yours. I subscribed to the magazine, Wine Spectator, for free of course. It's a great magazine and I've learned a lot.