The Secret Vineyard…
A sparkling romantic comedy about trust after betrayal, hope after regret, and falling in love after vowing never ever to do it again . . .
Single mum Grace has no plans – and no spare time – to fall in love again. Until she moves to her ex-husband’s secret vineyard . . .
Grace Middleton knew that her ex-husband Jake was a lying, cheating, wife-abandoning bastard.
What she didn’t know – until his untimely death – was that he was also the owner of a secret vineyard in the heart of the Margaret River wine region. And, much to the chagrin of his new wife, he’s left the property to Grace’s three young sons.
With the intention of putting it up for sale, Grace takes the boys to view Gum Leaf Grove. And immediately finds herself embroiled in mysteries from Jake’s past and the accidental target of the resident ‘ghost’.
Nowadays Grace believes in love even less than she believes in ghosts. So no one is more surprised than her when she finds herself caught between two very different men – with secrets of their own . . .
This novel, The Secret Vineyard, would have to be one of the most delightful reads I’ve had in a long time. For me, everything worked. I both laughed out loud and had the occasional tear; I couldn’t wait to get back to it each time I had to put it down.
Grace is a highly relatable character. A single mum with three boys, dumped by her shallow husband for her *best* friend, working as much as she can while trying to balance mothering; I liked Grace right from the get-go. An unexpected windfall comes her way via her ex-husband’s will, and this is where the novel sets in for its duration. Grace heads to the ‘secret vineyard’ her boys have inherited in order to check it out before selling. What ensues is a delightful adventure in a dilapidated/haunted house that ends in some surprising results.
Along the way she meets some great people, some not so great people, solves a family mystery, falls in love, resolves some unfinished family business, and sets herself and her boys up for a new future. This novel is popping with the type of laughs you can expect from a house with three boys tumbling around it. There were several instances where I had to pause in my reading because I was laughing so hard. A bit of background on this snippet (which had me in stitches): Ryan, Alfie and Charlie are Grace’s children while Scott and Mitch are the two men who have popped up in her life.
“He pays rent with labour. It’s strictly a business arrangement. We don’t really get much into each other’s space…at all.”
“Except that one time,” says Ryan, just when I think the kids are too absorbed in their donuts to be listening. “When you saw him naked.”……
…… “She screamed ‘cause she saw his penis,” Alfie tells Scott, as if he didn’t have enough information already.
“It’s a big, big one,” Charlie reveals, stretching his arms wide to demonstrate, which would be more accurate for a whale.
“He might be exaggerating…slightly,” Mitch murmurs, a mischievous smile twisting the corners of his mouth, though he doesn’t look up from preparation of the coffee.
A tidal wave of mortification rolls through me. What must Scott be thinking right now? This is a disaster!
“Guys,” I hiss. “That’s enough!”
The hilarity continues throughout the novel but has such authenticity; I have two boys myself and a daughter so suffice to say, I could see it all panning out exactly as it did on the page.
While some might find Grace’s ignorance about a certain situation a tad unbelievable, for me, it was incredibly relatable. I almost never know who is who in the celebrity world and could literally run into someone famous and have no idea. My time, like Grace’s, is limited, and when I do have some of it free, I don’t spend it reading tabloids or catching up on celebrity gossip. I found this part of the storyline quaint and touching, and entirely romantic, and could see clearly why Mitch had set himself up so incognito, even if it did mean he was digging a hole for himself that would be impossible to get out of unscathed.
At the heart of The Secret Vineyard is a clear and solid message about love, forgiveness, trust, and family, although in terms of family, it’s all about who you choose to surround yourself with rather than family for family’s sake, and I loved this. The Secret Vineyard has been squashed into a space on my all time favourites shelf and I will definitely be buying more copies in the future as gifts. It’s a delightful read, romantic and funny with a touch of whimsy and a dash of mystery.
Thanks is extended to Penguin Random House Australia for providing me with a copy of The Secret Vineyard for review.
For her bestselling novels The Girl in Steel-Capped Boots, The Girl in the Hard Hat and The Girl in the Yellow Vest, Loretta Hill drew upon her own outback engineering experiences of larrikins, red dust and steel-capped boots. She is also the author of The Maxwell Sisters and The Grass is Greener, and the ebook novellas Operation Valentine and One Little White Lie, which was a no.1 bestseller on iTunes.
Loretta always wanted to be a writer. As a kid she filled pages of exercise books with stories to amuse her friends. Her father, who never wasted his time on fiction, didn’t see much worth in this pass time and pushed her to pursue a ‘sensible’ career. Fortunately, she had inherited some of his talent for numbers and decided to give it a go. She graduated from the University of Western Australia as structural engineer and took her first job with a major West Australian engineering company.
A few years later she met a lawyer at a Black Friday party hosted by a friend. She was dressed as the devil and he just came as himself. They are now happily married and living in Perth with their four children.
Despite her career in engineering, her interest in law and her journey into motherhood, Loretta continued to write. Not because she had a lot of time but because it was and always had been an addiction she couldn’t ignore.