DNF ARC – Root Cause by Steven Laine

Posted February 4, 2019 by Jess C. in book reviews / 2 Comments

DNF ARC – Root Cause by Steven LaineRoot Cause by Steven Laine
Published by Turner Publishing ISBN: 1684422590
Source: Turner Publishing

This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.


Can you imagine a world without wine?

Corvina Guerra is a flying winemaker who dreams of one day settling down in her native Italy on her family's vineyard. On a visit to a vineyard in Italy, Corvina makes a startling discovery: Phylloxera, a menacing plant louse that devastated vineyards in Europe more than a hundred years ago, has infested the vines.

After reporting her findings to her company, Universal Wines, Corvina is charged with investigating the spread of the bug. Nicknamed Philomena by the media, the aphid is soon discovered in vineyards around the world. To aid in her investigation, Corvina recruits a wine expert in London, Brian Lawless. In pursuit of its origins, Corvina and Brian embark on a thrilling globetrot on which they uncover that Philomena is a genetically modified strain of Phylloxera and is being intentionally spread.

The deeper Corvina and Brian search, the more they become convinced that Universal Wines holds the answer to everything, and the harder they pursue their investigation the more surprises pile up for both of them.

In spite of devastating consequences, Corvina and Brian vow to continue their investigation and do what they can to contain the spread of the infestation - but time is running short and they always seem to be a step behind. Unless they can find a way to stop the Philomena - vineyards around the world will be ruined for decades; potentially causing the collapse of the wine industry. Can Corvina and Brian get to the root cause and save the international wine industry from ruin?

I received this book for free from Turner Publishing. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Buy on Amazon

My Thoughts on Root Cause:

I want to be incredibly clear before I go on to talk about this book – I did not finish it. So my thoughts are only on the first 109 pages of the 358 pages that comprise Root Cause.

What made me want this book in the first place?

There are a few different ways book bloggers acquire the books we review. A lot of it is dependent on where we live in the world, and how accessible books are, in general. For me, the books I review normally come from requests I’ve received directly from authors and publicists and if a book sounds like something I’d definitely enjoy (and I’ve got the time), then I’ll accept it for review. On rare occasions, I’ll reach out to a publisher and request a book.

Root Cause was one of those rare times when I wanted to read the book so badly that I contacted the publisher directly to request a review copy.

I mean, read the summary! What’s not to love about this book? It’s a mystery\thriller where the world’s wine is at stake! I’ve always wanted to go to Italy (and you remember the box of wine story) so I felt like there was No Way I couldn’t connect with this book!

So What went wrong?

I actually enjoyed the main characters, Corvina and Brian. Corvina is smart and relatable in a lot of ways. Brian is funny and does a great job of balancing out Corvina’s seriousness.

But too much of the story itself just wasn’t believable enough for me and turned me off.

For one thing, the entire wine industry – not just local, but GLOBALLY – is in danger, but not a single person outside of Corvina and Brian are worried about it?? I mean, if you have a billion dollar industry and there’s even a chance that it could go bye-bye, you’re probably going to want to take steps to prevent that!

Also, the way that Corvina and Brian get teamed up together made me cringe. Corvina has never heard of Brian before, she’s just talking to her friend about needing help and her friend Googles “tall, dark, and handsome wine expert” and Brian’s name pops up. Corvina calls him, but he doesn’t answer. She leaves a message and he doesn’t call back, he sends her a text with a place (a bar??) and time to meet IN ANOTHER COUNTRY and she goes!


Not only is it completely ridiculous that a woman would actually travel to another country to meet a man she’s never met before, knows nothing about, and has never even had a conversation withbut it was completely out of character! I couldn’t see Corvina actually going to meet this guy! The whole book gets started with her obsessive worry over something NO ONE else is worried about… does that seem like someone who doesn’t bat an eye at going to meet a stranger alone in a bar in another country???

There’s also a lot of wine jargon and description of every wine they drink, taste, see, etc. While questioning a vineyard owner, they ask maybe three questions about the bugs destroying the vineyards and there are about three pages describing the wines they are drinking with little about the actual problem central to the book.

So I guess the real reason I couldn’t finish Root Cause is that I just never bought into the story, which was super disappointing since I was SO excited to read it! It might appeal to people who love wine much more than I do, but I just couldn’t do it.

I’d love to hear what you think! Have you read Root Cause?

Have you been excited for a book and it disappointed you? What was the book? What about it turned you off?

About Jess C.

Tags: , , , , , ,

2 responses to “DNF ARC – Root Cause by Steven Laine

  1. Hi Jess Combs, thank you for reaching out to Turner Publishing for an advance reader copy of Root Cause. I’m so glad they were able to send you one.

    I was dismayed of course to hear that you didn’t finish reading the book but I can’t say I blame you, I do the same when I start a new novel. If it doesn’t grab me in the first 100 pages, I put it down and find something new. I’m sorry Root Cause didn’t resonate with you as you hoped it would.

    Of course my writing and the story won’t appeal to everyone but I’m glad you liked the characters Corvina and Bryan. They get up to a lot more on their global adventure including getting mixed up in an ongoing Interpol investigation into the spread of Phylloxera ☺

    I really appreciate your feedback and highlighting what specifically turned you off about the story, it’s helpful as a writer to get concrete feedback and not just generalisations.

    If you do pick it back up and suspend your disbelief just long enough to finish reading Root Cause, I would love to know what you think of the rest of the story. You can reach out to me on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Email. I would love to hear more from you.

    Thank you Jess Combs and have a great weekend!


    Steven Laine

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.