I was going to review a gritty suspense novel this week, but the rainy weather and isolation made me set it aside to pick up some lighter fare. This week, I review Gemma Halliday’s first book in her Wine and Dine series, A Sip Before Dying.

I am so happy I changed my tune and picked up this book to read. I knew it was a good choice to lift my spirits with this line in Chapter One. “We were both about a size eight, though Ava was on the lithe, athletic side of eight, and I was on the generous, enjoys-her-chocolate side of eight.” This made me laugh and encouraged me to continue reading.

Emmeline “Emmy” Oak operates her family’s winery, Oak Valley Vineyard. When her father died and then her mother showed signs of dementia, Emmy gave up her dreams of being an all-star chef to return home to Sonoma County, California, to run her family’s winery. Unfortunately, the winery’s finances are more red than black, so Emmy is counting on her Spanish-themed dinner with wine tasting to entice new and influential clients. One of her primary targets is Vivienne Price-Pennington, a software mogul. Vivienne arrives with her entourage of family followed by her much younger with a chiseled chin and body like a Greek god husband, Chas Pennington.

Emmy counts the evening as a success. The guests have left and Emmy is cleaning up when she notices a broken wineglass in the wine cave. What she discovers is not only a broken glass, but a very dead Chas. To make matters worse, the police discover he was poisoned from a glass of wine from Emmy’s winery. Emmy’s hopes of reviving the winery are squashed like the proverbial wine grape with this discovery.

The suspects are plenty. Vivienne may have had Rosé-colored glasses on when it came to her husband, Chas, Emmy’s discovers very few others did. When police arrest Chas’s half-sister and Emmy’s former high school friend, Jenny, Emmy is even more motivated to solve the crime. With her best friend, Ava, by her side, Emmy follows the clues to unmask who killed Chas with a glass of deadly Petite Sirah.

A bonus with this book is the recipes in the back. End this quarantine so I can make the Baked Brie Fettuccini. She also gives wine pairings for all of her recipes.

A quick read on a rainy Sunday morning, I thoroughly enjoyed this first book in the series. Since the clouds threaten to stay put, I think I’ll read the next book in the series, Chocolate Covered Death. Is it too early for a glass of wine?

Happy reading, mystery lovers!

P.S. Catherine Bruns first book in the Cookies & Chance series is on sale!

One Reply to “A Sip Before Dying by Gemma Halliday”

  1. Rosie Shomaker

    I should have seen it coming, but I was beginning to get attached to Chas Pennington from your review. Sad that he’s the victim! Now even I want justice for Chas! Sounds like an entertaining book.

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