Friday, May 8, 2015

Book Review: One Foot in the Grape by Carlene O'Neil (Cypress Cover Mysteries #1)

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Strong characters in a twisty plot
Cons: Timeline issues early on, but don’t affect story
The Bottom Line:
Some sabotaged wine
Are the prelude to murder
Page turning debut

A Grape Debut

It’s confession time.  Even though I grew up in the heart of the Sonoma/Napa wine country, I do not like wine.  Go figure, right?  But when I met author Charlene O’Neal at Bouchercon last November, I knew I had to give her new series a try.  Having just finished One Foot in the Grape, I can say that you are in for a grape ride when you pick it up.

Penny Lively has returned to the coastal town of Cyprus Cove, California, to run the winery she has inherited from the great-aunt who raised her.  She is handling the business side of things while her niece, Hayley, and her winery manager, Connor, are handling growing the grapes and the wines themselves.

Trouble arrives in the form of Antonia Martinelli, a distant relative who runs the largest winery in the area.  Someone has been sabotaging the wines that Martinelli Winery produces, however, and Antonia is afraid if the culprit isn’t caught the damage will ruin the family name.  Despite Antonia’s difficult and prickly reputation, Penny agrees to investigate only to find a dead body before she can gather any clues.  Is the murder connected to the sabotage?  Can Penny find the killer without any harm coming to her?

Let’s just start by getting my complaint out of the way, okay?  The days of the week and the timeline seemed to be all over the place in the first few chapters.  It felt like the days of the early events in the story changed, and not everything was blended into the revision correctly.  However, as the book progressed, that issue went away, and it never had any impact on the story.

And the story here is great.  There are many viable suspects with great motives, and the twists and turns kept me guessing until the very end, yet everything made sense.  A few scenes had me turning pages as fast as I could to find out how Penny would escape the danger she was facing.

I always like it when the suspects are strong because it makes the conflict feel real and it keeps me confused.  The suspects here were awesome.  I could feel the tension in a few of the early scenes, and once the murder happens, that tension continued to build.  The rest of the characters were fine as well, and I’m looking forward to seeing them developed more in future books.

In fact, I’m looking forward to seeing more of Penny’s family tree explained in future books as well.  I’m a bit curious about family relationships based on what little we do learn here.  However, none of that background is needed to enjoy this book, and I actually appreciate the fact that the author didn’t slow down the story for a back story data dump.  I’m sure we will get the answers in future books.

And I will be back for future books.  Overall, One Foot in the Grape is a strong debut that promises many more fun mysteries to come.

NOTE: I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


Thanks to the publisher, I have one copy of this book to give away.  Because it is a physical book, the contest is limited to residence of the US.

Leave me a comment with your e-mail address so I can get in touch with you.  I will pick the winner next Friday, May 15th, so please leave your comment before 12:01AM on 5/15.


  1. This sounds like a terrific read even though it brings the movie FARGO to mind.....!


  2. I'll be adding this one to my list!
    afarage (at) earthlink. net

  3. Have this one on my want to read list. It sounds like a great first book in a series. :)

    brookeb811 at gmail dot com

  4. Like you, I am not a particular fan of wine. While I like the idea of wine, and have toured many a winery and vineyard (there are a surprising amount of such places here in Missouri -- at least I was surprised), I am just not a wine drinker. I do enjoy reading about wine country, so am sure I would enjoy this book.

  5. This sounds like a fun new cozy mystery series. i'd love to win a copy. thanks for the chance.

    pennyt at hotmail dot com

  6. I'm not much of a wine drinker, but I did have a great time picking grapes a couple of times at a vineyard in Wisconsin a couple of years in a row. Beautiful fall days hanging out in the vineyards picking ripe grapes. I would love to read this book!

    ElaineE246 at msn dot com

  7. Looks like a fun new series to read with some wine

    gibsonbk at hiwaay dot net

  8. This sounds like an interesting new series, one I'm looking forward to reading. Thanks for the chance to win.


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