by Riona Kelly
When Philip Claremont, the heir to the family vineyards in Northern California, is killed in an accident, his sister Martinique returns home for the funeral. A journalist in San Francisco, Marti returns in shock and grief to find her father reclusive, her estranged half-sister in residence, and a mysterious person skulking around the property. Learning more about her brother’s death, she grows suspicious of the accident, convinced there is more to the story.
At the funeral, she encounters her brother’s best friend, Lee Kellog, and is reminded of how close her own friendship with him was while they were growing up. Lee makes it clear he still has a deep affection for her. He also has questions about Philip’s death, knowing things about the accident that don’t sit well with him.
Determined to get to the truth, Marti decides to stay and investigate; convincing her boss, Paul Thorpe, at the magazine where she works that she is on the trail of a good story. Although reluctant, he agrees to the extended stay and approves the story. But his relationship with Marti is more than just boss and employee and he is anxious for her to return.
As Marti begins trying to piece the information together, a story she never expected unfolds that places her in a dangerous position.
“Bitter Vintage” brings the suspense of treachery, greed and ambition along with romance and betrayal as the story unfolds against the California vineyards of the Napa-Sonoma region and the migrant workers’ struggle for fair wages in 1964. This retro-styled story of intrigue is comparable to Mary Stewart’s suspense romance novels.
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