Wine. A fuss free marriage. Family drama she can handle.
Until she can’t.
Mackenzie Diene knows wine and it is that gift that makes her an indispensable member of the Bel Apres team and family. Her security vanishes when her husband of 16-years decides the life they built together may be fuss-free but it isn’t a marriage he wants. Mackenzie thrown into the unchartered territory of untangling her life with the only family she has finds herself fighting with the very people she once considered closer than blood.
A family drama set in the wine country of Washington State. Mallery is at her best when she writes setting and this book is no different.
Mackenzie is a well-written character. There is a lot more to her than her marriage. I couldn’t put down the book when she was doing her wine magic and as she dreamed and built a life of her own I cheered her on the whole way. As a reader I knew where her hurts were and how they impacted her present. Her reactions made sense.
I wish that were true for the matriarch of the family, Barbara. She was so one-sided and unloveable. Not that I won’t read unlikeable characters. They are the soul of a book, but when the story doesn’t go deep enough and the reader can’t grasp why Barbara turns so hard on Mackenzie, she turned unloveable into despicable. The rest of the family reads flat as well. Is it telling I can’t even remember Mackenzie’s husband’s name? Four is a fun character, but is a little too woo-woo at times. Stephanie is fun and the only one in the family besides Mackenzie who has any sort of an arc. The last sister Lori, really could have been left out of the book because she really only parrots her mother.
We never really saw Barbara’s insecurities, which made it confusing when she responded the way she did. I do wonder why Mallery decided that the dignified matriarch had to continually call Mackenzie a b#$*@$ I don’t mind profanity in my books, but there is something about a woman calling another woman a bitch that really rankles me.
Barbara’s fat-shaming of Lori also got under my skin. How could Mackenzie have ever been close to a woman who is so horrible to her own daughter? We understand she is a selfish and terrible mother, but to find such ridiculous “flaws” in her daughters as their biggest disappointments to her. It didn’t jive with who she seemed to be when we first see her.
Mallery shines when she writes about the wine country of Washington and the progressing partnership and perhaps– love between Mackenzie and Bruno. Their relationship was well paced, a little chaste, but they each knew where they stood with each other. A fresh breath I imagine for Mackenzie after escaping the hot/cold toxic relationship with Barbara. I almost wish the whole Barbara storyline had been excluded because I would have loved a story about a growing partnership and love between two people.
I did drink a lot of wine and dream about a tour of vineyards and wine countries when I can leave my house…..
I miss vacations.
Despite my reservations, I do think many people will enjoy the book. For me, the author hit two sensitive places, fat-shaming and demonizing women who aren’t afraid to go after what they want. There were less harmful ways to show a character is so broken that they will stop at nothing to hurt the people around them.
But, that is just my opinion. Have you read The Vineyard at Painted Moon? Tell me what you think in the comments. If you want to see what others think, there is a blog tour running from February 8-26th.
I want to thank NetGalley and the publisher HarperCollins for an ARC of the book. I was not paid for my review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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About the Author:
#1 NYT bestselling author Susan Mallery writes heartwarming, humorous novels about the relationships that define our lives―family, friendship, romance. She’s known for putting nuanced characters in emotional situations that surprise readers to laughter. Beloved by millions, her books have been translated into 28 languages. Susan lives in Washington with her husband, two cats, and a small poodle with delusions of grandeur. Visit her at SusanMallery.com.
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