The Vineyard at Painted Moon by Susan Mallery, Tanya Eby (Narrator)
Published February 9th 2021 by HQN, Harlequin Audio
Genre: Fiction / Family Life / Women
About the Book: MacKenzie Dienes’s life isn’t perfect, but it’s as close as she could ever hope to get. Her marriage to Rhys, her best friend’s brother, is more friendship than true love. But passion is highly overrated, right? And she loves her job as the winemaker at Bel Apres, her in-laws’ vineyard. So what if it’s a family business and, even after decades of marriage and incredible professional success, she’s still barred from the family business meetings? It’s all enough…until one last night spent together leads to an incredibly honest—and painful—conversation. Rhys suggests that they divorce. They haven’t had a marriage in a long time and, while he wants her to keep her job at Bel Apres, he doesn’t think they should be married any longer. Shocked, MacKenzie reels at the prospect of losing the only family she’s ever really known…even though she knows deep in her heart that Rhys is right.
But when MacKenzie discovers she’s pregnant, walking away to begin a new life isn’t so easy. She never could have anticipated the changes it would bring to the relationships she cherishes most: her relationship with Barbara, her mother-in-law and partner at Bel Apres, Stephanie, her sister-in-law and best friend, and Bel Apres, the company she’s worked so hard to put on the map.
MacKenzie has always dreamed of creating a vineyard of her own, a chance to leave a legacy for her unborn child. So when the opportunity arises, she jumps at it and builds the Vineyard at Painted Moon. But following her dreams will come at a high price—one that MacKenzie isn’t so sure she’s willing to pay…
5 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
I love reading Susan Mallery’s women’s fiction. It deals with friendship, family, finding your place, new beginnings, and following your dreams. Mackenzie is an orphan, who loses her only family member, her grandfather just before college. When she gets to college, she is rooming with Stephanie Dienes and they become fast friends. Eventually, Mackenzie marries Stephanie’s brother Rhys and begins working at the family winery. After 16 years, Mackenzie feels she has found her place and her family. When Rhys tells her he wants a divorce, suddenly she is not sure of anything anymore. Barbara, the matriarch of the family is like her mother, and Rhys’ sisters have become her sisters. Will she still be part of the family if she and Rhys get divorced?
Mackenzie has to start life anew and she is one strong woman. She does not realize it, but she has the intellect, the talent and the cojones to do what she needs to do to follow her dream and do what she has always wanted to do in her life. She has some help along the way. Two of her sisters-in-law, support her and encourage her as well. Barbara, is a piece of work. That is all I am going to say about her, you will have to read the book to find out more. This story was just what I needed right now. Many of the characters have a happily ever after, but not all. The ones that don’t deserve what they get. I loved the story and the several off-shooting storylines. It is well written and flows very well. The characters were well-developed and I felt like I knew people just like them. I was sorry to say good-bye to Mackenzie, Stephanie and the others. The audiobook was narrated by Tanya Eby. She is one of those narrators that has a wonderful voice to listen to, great expression, pacing and inflection. I thoroughly enjoyed my read/listen of this story. I definitely recommend this story to those who enjoy women’s fiction, strong characters, following your dreams and new beginnings. A great story. I was gifted a copy of this book upon request. The rating and opinions shared are my own.
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.
Q and A with Susan Mallery on The Vineyard at Painted Moon
- Where did inspiration for the book come from?
The Vineyard at Painted Moon was really inspired by the gorgeous wine country of Washington State. My readers have told me that they love when my books have wish-you-were-there settings, like the tulip farms in Secrets of the Tulip Sisters and the monastery-turned-mansion of The Summer of Sunshine and Margot. So I knew I wanted to set my next hardcover somewhere that would give readers a beautiful, scenic escape—and this was well before I knew the book would come out during a pandemic, when we’re all trapped at home a lot more than usual. So I started daydreaming about beautiful settings, and I landed on Washington wine country. Breathtaking. Seriously, look it up.
Every evening before dinner, Mr. Mallery and I have a glass of wine together and tell one another about our day. This daily ritual makes us feel close and connected even when life gets hectic, and it has led us to learn more about how wine is made. I thought it could be really interesting to write about a female winemaker, because this is still very much a male-dominated field. I asked myself, “What is the worst thing that could happen to a winemaker?”
“What if,” I thought, “she lost the land she loved?”
And not because of fire or natural disaster, but because of an emotional earthquake—Mackenzie Dienes is the winemaker at a family winery. But it’s her husband’s family. . . and their marriage is in trouble. She could stay if she’s willing to be nothing more than an employee for the rest of her life. But if she wants something more, something of her own, she’ll have to be brave.
The Vineyard at Painted Moon is the story of Mackenzie’s search for happiness and self-fulfillment after divorce. With some pretty spectacular scenery thrown in. Oh, and wine. Lots and lots of wine.
- What are your favourite scenes? Why?
This is a tricky question for me to answer without spoilers, because my favorite scenes are the emotional turning points of the story. I don’t really want to reveal them here, as I think readers will want to experience them on their own. I will answer, but it’s going to be vague and somewhat frustrating. Teasers, rather than spoilers.
I love the scene where Mackenzie and Rhys realize that their marriage is over. (That doesn’t count as a spoiler, since it’s revealed on the back cover of the book.) The way they come to the realization and move through the scene is completely unexpected and unlike any breakup scene I’ve ever written—or read, for that matter. It’s heartbreaking and poignant and beautiful and even a little funny. If you have a heart, it’ll make you cry. I think readers are going to fall in love with Rhys even as Mackenzie is accepting that she’s not in love with him anymore.
One of my other favorite scenes is one that I’m not sure will stand out as much in readers’ minds. It’s a scene in which Mackenzie finds out just how highly she is esteemed by her colleagues in the wine world. She never knew. She never thought of working anywhere but the family winery—she was just so grateful to have a family through her husband, since she had none of her own. In this scene, nothing really changes but her perception—of herself, and of how people perceive her—but perception is reality. Suddenly, Mackenzie realizes that she has options. She can dare to dream.
And that changes everything.
- Where did the idea for the title come from? It’s so original.
Thank you! I almost never come up with the titles for my own books. My file names are just the first name of the main character, so the working title on this book was Mackenzie. When it’s time to title the book, the whole team makes suggestions—my editor, agent, assistant, the marketing department. It’s trickier now than it’s ever been because I’ve written a lot of books, and we don’t want the titles to be too similar. And yet they have to appeal to the same audience.
All that said, I was the one to suggest The Vineyard at Painted Moon. I thought it would be appropriate to feature the beautiful setting in the title, since it plays such an important role in the book. I’m glad you like it!
- Who is your favorite character and why?
I love Stephanie and Four, Rhys’s sisters and Mackenzie’s best friends. They’re the kind of friend that every woman should have—and that every woman should be. Close female friendships are a hallmark of my books. In The Vineyard at Painted Moon, the friendships were especially complex because they were also sisters-in-law. . . soon to be exes. But at the end of the day, this truly is Mackenzie’s story, so she would be the favorite.