Welcome to Cozy Wednesday!
I am excited to welcome Carleen O’Neil (Penny Lively) to Escape With Dollycas today!
A Visit with Penny by Carlene O’Neil
(Post provided by publicist)
Penny Lively here, taking time out from ploughing on my California winery. Yes, I did say ploughing, because in its early stages wine is a field of grapes, just like any other crop. It’s freezing out today but the work needs to be done. These are the times you don’t talk about in the cozy tasting room, when I frequently hear from a visitor, “Oh, running a winery must be a wonderful way to live.” It can be, but today isn’t one of those days. The last of winter is holding out in early March and there’s a raw wind coming in off the Pacific. My hair is tucked into a ski cap. I’m wearing two sweaters, a fleece and the warmest coat I could find. Hardly highbrow, and yet that’s often one of the things that keeps people from really enjoying wine…the feeling that unless you really know what you’re talking about you should, well, be drinking beer.
I’m just going to come out and say it: Wine can be intimidating. I know it shouldn’t be, and as a winery owner I don’t want it to be, but it happens. Unfortunately, some people in the wine business foster that sense of mystique, and that’s a mistake. It keeps people from enjoying what they drink. Afraid of selecting the “wrong” wine for a meal, they will stick to the same two or three varietals they know, or decide they just don’t like wine.
Then there are some of the terms, and heaven forbid if you’re caught with a wine snob and don’t know what something means. For example, take the term terroir. In some areas of the world this is no laughing matter. Classifications of various grape growing regions in France are utterly strict and closely controlled. Very serious stuff. At least to some of the Châteaux in this area that have had the classifications of First Cru and Premier Cru for hundreds of years. Literally. Now, simply translated, terroir can refer to the terrain the grapes are grown in. It can also mean the slope, rainfall, drainage and how much sun the vines receive, along with a hundred other things, but honestly, do you really care? Of course not, and why should you? If you like something, drink it. Experiment with something new, like a Malbec. Smell it before you taste and see if you can recognize the fruits. Roll it around in your mouth. Is there a bite to it? That could be the oak. It might be smooth, and soft, something good with mild foods. First and foremost, remember that wine should be fun. Just ask the Romans and Greeks. They figured it out thousands of years ago.
Ripe for Murder: A Cypress Cove Mystery
2nd Book in Series
Setting – California
Release Date – March 1, 2016
A Berkley Prime Crime Mystery
The Berkley Publishing Group
Published by The Penguin Group
Cover Illustration by Robert Crawford
Cover Design by Danielle Abbiate
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
E-Book ASIN: B00Z8VT7W8
Penny Lively loves running her family’s winery, but to keep business growing, she needs to find a way to attract more guests. When she’s approached to invest in a new train line through wine country, Penny and her intoxicating winery manager, Connor, hightail it to a lavish resort to hear the details. Unfortunately, her neighbor’s daughter, Chantal, is also there, swirling up trouble by flirting with the married investors—and with Connor too.
When one of the investors’ wives is murdered, Chantal, who was seen fighting with the woman, is the prime suspect. Chantal may be a sour grape, but she’s no killer. So Penny, who’s become a sleuthing connoisseur, starts sniffing out the real suspect—and discovers that her fellow potential investors have been savoring more than their share of deadly secrets…
The author takes a new approach for this second book in the series following One Foot in the Grape. She gives us a version of a locked room mystery, on a moving train.
Penny Lively and her neighbor and fellow winery owner, Antonia Martinelli have been asked to invest some land into a project that would have a train traveling through wine country and right pass their vineyards. They along with Chantal, Antonia’s daughter, and Connor, Penny’s winery manager, travel to Monterey County to meet with other investors and get more details about the plan. Penny cringes at the idea of Chantal accompanying them on the trip. It’s not enough that she blatantly flirts with Connor, but she will probably flirt with any man she meets. The pairs decide to travel separately but when they arrive they are forced to spend time together and just as expected Chantal causes trouble almost immediately – A Knock Down Fight – with an investor’s wife. O.K. maybe it was totally her fault but not long after the train leaves the station, it comes to a screeching halt and that investor’s wife is found dead. You guessed it, Chantal, is suspect numero uno. While Penny may not like Chantal she knows Chantal didn’t kill this woman. With Antonia’s gentle shove Penny starts her own little investigation. Someone on that train is a murderer and she needs to figure out who before her caboose it cooked.
This mystery was ripe for the picking and a pure pleasure to read. We leave Cypress Cove behind and arrive at the spectacular Silverado Mission Inn and Spa where we meet the other investors. They are quite a bunch. Bill, the chief engineer for the line, a car dealer and his wife, Big Dave and Tara, from Tennessee, and Jim and Kim from Chicago, in California for the first time. Later we meet Vance Dupont, Big Dave son, Olympio Berninni, owner of one of the local vineyards and a friend of Antonia, and Barb and Seth, who work for both the train line and Berninni. A wonderful mix of personalities and all but Olympio were on the train at the time of the murder along with our group from Cypress Cove.
My favorite character this time was Antonia. I liked the way her relationship with Penny has grown, but Penny still has the secret from the first story. I wonder if she will ever be able to tell Antonia what she knows.
This story moves along at a nice pace as the characters travel the area on train and on foot. In addition to the spa we visit the Berninni Winery. It is much bigger than Antonia’s or Penny’s winery and built in an extraordinary way.
Every chance Penny gets she is asking questions and trying to put the clues together. The story was perfectly plotted because I didn’t have a clue whodunit until the final reveal. The twists and turns along the way were so good. I loved the risk Penny took to bring the case to a conclusion.
After reading this I wish I could really visit the places in this book. I would check in to the Silverado Mission Inn and Spa and probably never leave, I would have to be rich of course, 🙂 and be friends with all the vineyard owners.
Pour yourself a glass of wine and enjoy your trip to the California wine country.
Thanks to the people at Penguin I have 2 copies to give away!
Contest is open to anyone over 18 years old
with a US or Canadian mailing address.
Duplicate entries will be deleted. Void where prohibited.
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Contest Will End April 6, 2016 at 11:59 PM CST
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and Will Be Posted Here In The Sidebar.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”