Title: The Vineyard at Painted Moon by Susan Mallery
Publisher: HQN Books
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: 361 pages
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.
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Stephanie Barcellona wanted to state—for the record—that ex-husbands were a very bad idea. Especially good-looking ones with easy smiles and knowing glances. She’d spent the past hour ducking and weaving to avoid Kyle, but no matter how she busied herself with the party, he kept circling closer.
If only her mother hadn’t insisted he be invited. Perhaps more to the point, if only Stephanie had the backbone of a goldfish, she would walk up to him, look him in the eye and say that it was over. O. V. E. R. She was done being his booty call whenever he found himself in Walla Walla with a few hours to spare. They had been divorced over a decade. Nearly twice as long as they’d been married. They needed to be finished with each other for good. Having sex a couple of times a year didn’t help either one of them. Though she was pretty sure it didn’t faze him at all and only she was left feeling like an idiot.
It had been eighteen months since her last, um, encounter with Kyle. She’d gotten through last year’s party and the holidays without giving in to his whispered “Hey, beautiful, let’s go somewhere quiet.” She told herself that if she could stay strong for the rest of the night, she would have broken free of him. She was determined, she had a plan. Unfortunately, she was also horny.
Betrayed by my hormones, she thought glumly as she circulated around the guests, making sure all was well. While she checked the flow of food and double-checked there was plenty of wine at the bar, her girl parts began to ache. Kyle always knew exactly how to make her come in, like, eighteen seconds. Humiliating but true.
She spotted him out of the corner of her eye, headed in her direction, and quickly walked the opposite way. If he got within touching distance, he would do that shoulder-to-wrist strokey thing with his fingers. The one that made her all shivery. Then he would lean in and tell her she had a great ass, because Kyle was just that much of a romantic. Then he would corner her so he could lightly brush against her nipples and she would be lost.
“Not happening,” she breathed. “I can’t do this anymore.”
She continued the duck-and-weave dance, feeling like a character in a very badly written play, when she saw Giorgio nod at her. It was time.
All thoughts of Kyle fled as she checked her pocket for the small cloth bag tucked there, before walking directly to the DJ.
“Stephanie,” Kyle said, his tone low and suggestive, as he closed in behind her. She didn’t bother looking at him as she said, “Not now.”
When she reached the stage, she smiled at the DJ. “Ready.”
He gradually lowered the volume of the music, then handed her the microphone. All the guests turned toward the small platform.
“If I can have your attention for just another moment,” she said, looking at Giorgio, who appeared incredibly calm, despite the momentousness of the occasion. “A certain gentleman would like to have a word with his very special lady.”
She passed both the microphone and small cloth bag to him, then stepped back into the crowd that had gathered.
Avery, her sixteen-year-old daughter, slid in beside her. “What’s going on?”
“Watch. It’s going to be epic.”
Avery sighed. “Mom, I’ve talked to you about trying to use slang. It’s not a good look.”
“I just do it to annoy you.”
They linked arms and leaned in to each other. Stephanie didn’t care if the word was too young for her. It was perfect—because this was going to be 100 percent epic. She could feel it in her gut.
#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.
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