About the book: (from the publisher) Thirteen years ago, Natalie lost a part of herself when her twin sister died. Will traveling back to the family winery finally put the memory to rest, or will it completely destroy her?
When Natalie Mitchell learns her beloved grandfather has had a heart attack, she’s forced to return to their family-owned winery in Sonoma, something she never intended to do. She’s avoided her grandparents’ sprawling home and all its memories since the summer her sister died—the awful summer Natalie’s nightmares began. But the winery is failing, and Natalie’s father wants her to shut it down. As the majority shareholder, she has the power to do so.
And Natalie never says no to her father.
Tanner Collins, the vintner on Maoilios, is trying to salvage a bad season and put the Mitchell family’s winery back in business. When Natalie Mitchell shows up, Tanner sees his future about to be crushed. Natalie intends to close the gates, unless he can convince her otherwise. But the Natalie he remembers from childhood is long gone, and he’s not so sure he likes the woman she’s become. Still, the haunted look she wears hints at secrets he wants to unearth. He soon discovers that on the night her sister died, the real Natalie died too. And Tanner must do whatever it takes to resurrect her.
But finding freedom from the past means facing it.
About the author: Catherine West writes stories of hope and healing from her island home in Bermuda. When she’s not at the computer working on her next story, you can find her taking her Border collie for long walks on the beach or tending to her roses and orchids. She and her husband have two grown children.
My take: I was ready to love this novel. It has, at first glance, so many of the things that usually earn my enjoyment and approbation. A female protagonist with a troubled history. Secrets. The promise of a love interest. Family dysfunction ripe for redemption. An idyllic setting captivatingly depicted in a lovely cover.
I’m bummed to say this book just didn’t capture me. It’s hard to pinpoint where exactly it missed my mark. The characters were developed, but I felt I’d seen them before. Dialogue carried intensity but often lacked a certain authenticity. And then there was tone, that most elusive ingredient of all, so difficult to define and highly subjective — one of those things you know when you see it. And this time I didn’t see it.
While I believe this book delivers what West is known for — complex characters grappling with realistic struggles — the whole of it simply did not resonate with me. It is, nonetheless, a wholesome story about facing the past in order to move forward, and readers who enjoy this kind of story may find more to appreciate than I did.
Thanks to Thomas Nelson and BookLook Bloggers for providing me this book free of charge. All opinions are mine.
After words: Have you read any of Catherine West’s other novels?