Release Date: Nov 28, 2017
Series: Rose Avenue Wine Club
Annie “Halsey” Hall has left New York City after a divorce leaves her looking for a new start. She moves all the way across the country to Santa Monica, California and is soon invited to join a neighborhood group, the Rose Avenue Wine Club. Excited to join her new friends at a club meeting, she accidentally enters the wrong home and instead of a welcoming greeting and a glass of wine, she finds a woman’s dead body. Being new in town, Halsey becomes a suspect, and enlists the help of the other club members to help find the real killer. Unfortunately, she’s not sure who she can really trust.
Many cozy’s feature book clubs, sewing circles, or crafting clubs, so this debut of a new series featuring a main character who belongs to a wine club sounded unique. The series has promise, but tries too hard to fit a lot of different things into a first book. There are several side plots, but the characters, especially Halsey’s new friends, are under-developed. The other members of the wine club blur together, so I would have rather had more focus on getting to know the main characters through one strong plot instead of so much going on at the expense of having characters with which the readers can easily connect. I was impressed that the other club members, as well as a nosy neighbor, band together with Halsey to prove her innocence since they just met her. In addition, she is quick to jump into a new relationship. I like her love interest, but was surprised at how close they got so quickly.
Some of the things that occur during the investigation are funny, but sometimes it seems the author is trying too hard to make all the characters quirky and all the situations over-the-top. The book was at its best when things were more calm and realistic and unexpected, such as Hasley’s friendship with the difficult to get along with Marisol. I enjoyed those moments more than the sillier escapades in the story. To fit with the wine club theme, the author cleverly includes a list of the wines the Rose Avenue Wine club drank, along with a glossary of wine terms.