Release Date: Dec 12, 2017
Series: A Wine Country Mystery
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Taylor O’Brian is excited to begin a new chapter in her life. She has moved in with her Aunt Jemma at her small winery and will be leading tours through the Sonoma wine country. She has so many plans for her new business and is nervous, but excited about her first tour, leading a group of yoga instructors through an outdoor garden. The leader who arranged the tour is demanding, but Taylor feels she is up for the challenge and is eager to get going. However, when the difficult client is found murdered during the tour and the murder weapon is one of Taylor’s corkscrews. Taylor becomes the prime suspect. After all her hard work, it looks like her first tour could be her last. Since Taylor’s tours have been put on hold, she uses the time to conduct her own investigation to find the real murderer. Unfortunately, every move Taylor makes seems to put her more in the spotlight of law enforcement and a killer.
I love the author’s Perfect Proposals series and was eager to read the debut of a new series set in California wine country, a perfect backdrop for a series. The setting and the premise of leading tours get the book off to a good start, but because of the main character, I ended up a little disappointed after finishing the book. If cozy heroines listened every time they were told to back away from investigations, there wouldn’t be much to the stories! However, Taylor takes ignoring advice to new levels. She doesn’t listen to the sheriff because she doesn’t think he believes in her innocence, which has some logic. However, Taylor goes through the trouble and spends money she doesn’t have to hire a lawyer, and then doesn’t listen to a word he says. She continually puts herself into physical danger and bumbles around to gather evidence that keeps making her case look worse and worse. After a while, I had a hard time feeling sympathy for Taylor. Sheriff Hennessey and her attorney, Patrick, feel differently, though, and it looks like a love triangle could be brewing in future books. I found the best part of the book to be how well Taylor her aunt, and Taylor’s best friend, Holly, all get along and support each other in difficult and even dangerous situations and I enjoyed these characters’ interactions.
Identity theft plays a large role in the book and the author includes some informative facts about this growing crime. The subject is relevant, but the presentation is awkward and reads like a news report instead of a natural discussion between the characters. The solution to the investigation gets a little far-fetched, but does answer all outstanding questions. After the story concludes, I enjoyed the information the author includes about recommended foods to pair with Syrah wine and thought that was a clever way to end the book. With the interesting setting and tour business premise, the series has potential if the main character learns from her experiences and acts more cautiously in the future.