The author of the Baker’s Treat (Flourless to Stop Him, 2015, etc.) and Perfect Proposals (Newlywed Dead, 2016, etc.) series adds booze to her mix of food and love to kick off her Wine Country series.
Having left a lucrative advertising job in San Francisco to care for her ailing Aunt Jemma, who owns Sookie’s Vineyard in Sonoma, Taylor O’Brian hopes to build her own brand, marketing “Off the Beaten Path” Wine Country Tours to travelers who want a splash of adventure with their zinfandel. Unfortunately, her very first outing is cut short when Laura Scott, yoga instructor and guru to a host of acolyte instructors, is found dead on a trail at Quarryhill Botanical Gardens with one of Taylor’s corkscrews plunged into her neck. Taylor can’t believe that any of the mistresses of serenity on the tour offed bossy Laura. And Laura’s husband, Dan, seems distraught. Still, as Sheriff Hennessey zeros in on Taylor as a person of interest, the tour guide systematically confronts each of the attendees in hopes of providing the handsome lawman an alternate suspect. Hennessey and Taylor’s equally attractive defense attorney, Patrick Aimes, both warn her repeatedly to leave investigating to the professionals. But because—like most plucky heroines trying to flee the secure but boring corporate world to pursue their own offbeat business visions—Taylor doesn’t have the sense God gave a goose, she makes repeated fact-finding forays into the field of suspects, with results as predictable as they are exasperating.
Here’s hoping any future Wine Country outings uncork the heroine’s wit and downplay her grit. A trip from Get Advice to Ignore Advice to Now I’m in Trouble is no one’s favorite itinerary.