The Opal Octopus

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Review: Between the Vines by Tricia Stringer

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Between the Vines
by Tricia Stringer

Published by Harlequin Enterprises (Australia) Pty, Limited, Harlequin MIRA Australia
on November 23rd 2015
Genres: Australian Rural Romance, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 432
four-half-stars
Review: Between the Vines by Tricia Stringer
She's given up everything for love: it could be the biggest mistake of her life...Taylor Rourke wants to change her impulsive ways when it comes to romance and not fall for any man on a whim, but then on a hen party trip to a Coonawarra vineyard, she meets Edward Starr. Gorgeous and charismatic, Edward is enough to make any girl give up her flat and job in Adelaide and move to the country.So it's something of a shock that when she gets there, Edward is nowhere to be seen. Not wanting to admit she may have made a mistake and return home in disgrace, Taylor accepts the job that Edward's younger brother Pete offers her and throws herself into her work, keen to learn as much as she can about the wine trade.Taylor is thrilled when Ed returns, but she quickly discovers he may not be the man she thought he was.  Her growing friendship with Pete causes tension between the brothers who have fallen out over a woman in the past.  That's not the only source of conflict: Pete has a dream to save the family vines, Edward's dreams lie elsewhere.As the lies and deceit grow, matters come to a head in the vibrant and demanding vintage season. Will Taylor's dream of a new life and love between the vines come true? Or is there only heartbreak ahead?Set in the beautiful Coonawarra vineyards, a wonderful feel-good rural romance from best-selling Australian author, Tricia Stringer

I don’t know how much I’d even call this a straight-up Romance – but it is a somewhat unconventional contemporary Australian domestic drama, set in a vineyard, with a romantic plotline. We see through the eyes of all three main characters: two orphaned brothers who own a Coonwarra vineyard but are on the verge of sliding into a feud, and the woman who strays into their lives.

I loved the competence porn; Taylor might be a bit of a stray at the start of the book, but she works hard and is good at the bits of winemaking and administration that she picks up. I liked the winemaking details and the sense of place. The Coonawarra reminds me of my beloved Margaret River region (which is where my next read is coming from, The Grass is Greener).

The romance didn’t carry a lot in the way of surprises for me, but it was sweet and it rang true. I liked that the brothers’ impending feud was drawn realistically, without one being a cartoonish villain and one an unblemished hero. Peter and Edward had different ideas about the direction the vineyard should be going, with credible motivations and actions. This dynamic is the main driver of the action of the book.

This is a strong book, especially for those who dream of a vine change to an Australian vineyard. (OK, ok, I can’t think of a good vineyard-related word that rhymes with “sea” and “tree”. Apologies. “Chablis change”?) Lastly, if a series was being contemplated, I would love a M/M romance from Antoine’s point of view!

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