The Vineyard at Painted Moon by Susan Mallery
Mackenzie Dienes, winemaker at her mother-in-law’s winery, Bel Après, has an enviable quality of life. She and Rhys have a lovely house on the family compound, and his sisters Stephanie and Four have been her good friends for over 16 years. The extended family shares a personal chef, and Mackenzie has an office at home as well as at the winery, and her own bedroom suite. It’s true that she and Rhys have been friends rather than lovers for several years, but shouldn’t that be enough? Her wines are highly valued, her nieces and nephews live nearby, there are regular family dinners, impromptu gatherings when someone bakes cookies, and weekly Girls’ Night. When matriarch Barbara gets engaged, Mackenzie and Rhys see their marriage in a new light, and she decides it’s time to start over, perhaps with her own winery. I enjoyed the rural Washington vineyard setting, the camaraderie of Mackenzie and her friends, and the theme of starting over, along with a hint of romance. I did find the story rather predictable, and the character of family matriarch Barbara was over-the-top unlikeable. This is a quick, compelling read, perfect for a long weekend. Readalikes include Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Davie, The Promise and New Hope by Robyn Carr, The Future She Left Behind by Marin Thomas, and the forthcoming Blush, by Jamie Brenner.