From the publisher:
Step into the vineyard with Susan Mallery’s most irresistible novel yet, as one woman searches for the perfect blend of love, family and wine.
Mackenzie Dienes seems to have it all—a beautiful home, close friends and a successful career as an elite winemaker with the family winery. There’s just one problem—it’s not her family, it’s her husband’s. In fact, everything in her life is tied to him—his mother is the closest thing to a mom that she’s ever had, their home is on the family compound, his sister is her best friend. So when she and her husband admit their marriage is over, her pain goes beyond heartbreak. She’s on the brink of losing everything. Her job, her home, her friends and, worst of all, her family.
Staying is an option. She can continue to work at the winery, be friends with her mother-in-law, hug her nieces and nephews—but as an employee, nothing more. Or she can surrender every piece of her heart in order to build a legacy of her own. If she can dare to let go of the life she thought she wanted, she might discover something even more beautiful waiting for her beneath a painted moon.
I love wine, so anything set in a winery automatically gets a second look from me. And since this is Susan Mallery, it gets a first look as well. I love her books, and this is another great addition – she never disappoints.
Mackenzie has had a lot of heartache in her life. Losing her parents when she was young, raised by a grandfather who passed away as she started college, she was left very much alone. Until her college roommate, Stephanie took her under her wing. They became best friends so when Stephanie insisted she come home with her for the Christmas break, Mackenzie went, not realizing it would change her life forever.
There she met and fell in love with Stephanie’s brother, Rhys, and after college, she married him and started working at his family’s winery. Turns out that Mackenzie is a gifted winemaker, and her place at the winery is set. All the family members have homes there, and her mother-in-law Barbara becomes her surrogate mother. Mackenzie is happy, yet we get an inkling that not all is perfect in paradise with the mention of her own bedroom. Soon enough we learn that this couple hasn’t had sex in five years and have been sleeping apart. They are the best of friends, though, but Rhys realizes before Mackenzie does that there should be more. He seduces her, but there are no fireworks and both realize that it is over. He asks for a divorce but insists that she can remain living and working at the winery.
As they try and work their way through, a few unexpected complications pop up. For one, Barbara goes bonkers on her, and ends up firing her and going full “monster-in-law”. Mackenzie realizes that she wants something of her own, to own a winery, not just be an employee of one. She sets out to reimagine what her life could be, and everything eventually falls into place – but not without a lot of drama along the way.
This was a one night read for me. I loved the friendships that sustained her. These characters all really came to life on the page and I felt I knew them. Of course, I couldn’t wait to see Mackenzie get her happily ever after, so the romance aspect is there. But at the forefront is a woman learning who she is and who she wants to be. An excellent read. Bonus: wine pairing suggestions and a recipe!
3/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch
THE VINEYARD AT PAINTED MOON by Susan Mallery. HQN; Original edition (February 9, 2021). ISBN: 978-1335912794. 400 pages.