Susan Mallery’s ‘The Vineyard at Painted Moon’ [EXCERPT]

Escape into Susan Mallery’s The Vineyard at Painted Moon. (Photo courtesy Canva)

We frequently hear that we can have it all if we work hard enough. But is that always the case? For one woman, family relationships may be getting in the way of pursuing her dreams and living her best life in Susan Mallery’s thoughtful new novel, The Vineyard at Painted Moon. We hope you enjoy this excerpt from her forthcoming book. —J&H

Chapter Two

Barbara Barcellona observed her guests as they laughed and talked. The Summer Solstice Party was a ten-year-old tradition, and one she enjoyed. She liked being the generous hostess and being able to show off her glorious estate and her attractive adult children. She liked how everyone dressed up for the evening and how the invitations were highly sought after, and how those who were not invited schemed to be included the next year. She liked the music and the food and even the twinkle lights her daughter Stephanie always insisted on, even though the sun was still visible at seven thirty in the evening.

The large crowd was a tribute to her, but more important, it was a tribute to Bel Après. People came to show their respect for the winery and all it represented, and that was what Barbara enjoyed most of all.

Forty-one years ago, when she’d married her late husband, Bel Après had been struggling to stay solvent. She hadn’t known the first thing about wine or winemaking, but she’d learned as quickly as she could. She and James had grown the business together. Eventually she’d taken over as general manager. She’d been the one to find the winemakers who had created the wines that had slowly, oh so slowly, brought Bel Après back from the brink.


 Her gaze moved across the crowd until she found her daughter-in-law. Barbara watched Mackenzie talking with some of the winery owners and she smiled as she saw how they all listened attentively. Mackenzie had been a find, she thought warmly. A shy but gifted young woman who had immediately understood Barbara’s vision of what Bel Après could be. Even if Rhys hadn’t married her, Barbara would have hired her. But he had and Mackenzie had joined the family.

Barbara’s warm, happy feelings vanished as Catherine, her youngest, joined Mackenzie. That girl, Barbara thought grimly, taking in the flowing tie-dyed dress most likely created from a couple of pillowcases and a yak bladder. Catherine’s mission in life was to not be ordinary and to annoy her mother as much as possible. Happily for her, the quest for the former naturally led to the latter.

 She felt a hand on her waist, then a kiss on her bare neck. She turned and smiled at Giorgio, who pulled her close.

“You’re looking fierce about something,” he said, pressing his body to hers. “Tell me what troubles you, my love, and I will find a solution.”

“How I wish that were true.” She nodded toward Mackenzie and Catherine. “My daughter’s a mess. Can you fix that? And while you’re at it, can you make her stop being an artist and find an actual career?”

Giorgio, a tall man who, despite being sixty-five, was still vibrant and handsome, said, “She’s lovely. She’ll never have the beauty her mother possesses, but she is a sweet, caring young woman.”

“You’re too kind.” She smiled at him. “I mean that. Stop being so nice. What is she wearing? At least her husband had the good sense to put on a decent shirt, and the kids look fine.”

He took her in his arms and spun her in time with the music. “Let her be who she is, at least for tonight. Think only of me.”

She laughed as she moved with him onto the dance floor. “That’s very easy to do.”

 As they danced, Catherine once again came into view. Her daughter smiled at her and raised a glass of wine, as if in a toast. Something really had to be done about her, Barbara thought, although she had no idea what.

“May I cut in, or would that break the mood?”

Barbara smiled at Rhys, her only son. “You may.”

 Giorgio pretended distress. “Fine. A single dance, but then I must reclaim your mother.” “I’ll bring her back to you unharmed,” Rhys promised, guiding her through a series of quick steps. “Great party, Mom.”

“It is. Stephanie did an excellent job, much to my surprise. The bruschetta bar is very popular. She was right about that.” She looked at her son. “Have you seen what Catherine is wearing?”

“Mom, let it go.”

“She looks terrible.”

 “Jaguar doesn’t seem to think so.” Barbara followed his gaze and saw Catherine and her husband slow dancing, despite the fast pace of the music. Typical, she thought with a sigh. God forbid Catherine should dance to the same beat as everyone else.

 As for Jaguar—actually his real name. Barbara had insisted on seeing his birth certificate before agreeing to the marriage— he wanted whatever Catherine did. The woman practically led him around by the nose.

“Stop,” Rhys told her. “You’re getting your ‘my daughter is annoying me’ look. Enjoy the party.”

“I am. It is a lovely night. I’ll even pretend I didn’t notice that you and Mackenzie were late.” “By fifteen minutes, Mom. She was in the west vineyards communing with the grapes.”

 “Is she still happy with how things are progressing?”

 Her son smiled. “You know she is. Otherwise, she would have been in your office, telling you every little thing that was wrong.”

 Barbara knew that was true. Mackenzie always kept her informed. They were such a good team.

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Step into the vineyard with Susan Mallery’s most irresistible novel yet, as one woman searches for the perfect blend of love, family and wine.

Mackenzie Dienes seems to have it all—a beautiful home, close friends and a successful career as an elite winemaker with the family winery. There’s just one problem—it’s not her family, it’s her husband’s. In fact, everything in her life is tied to him—his mother is the closest thing to a mom that she’s ever had, their home is on the family compound, his sister is her best friend. So when she and her husband admit their marriage is over, her pain goes beyond heartbreak. She’s on the brink of losing everything. Her job, her home, her friends and, worst of all, her family.

Staying is an option. She can continue to work at the winery, be friends with her mother-in-law, hug her nieces and nephews—but as an employee, nothing more. Or she can surrender every piece of her heart in order to build a legacy of her own. If she can dare to let go of the life she thought she wanted, she might discover something even more beautiful waiting for her beneath a painted moon.

Susan Mallery
Susan Mallery
(Photo by Annie Brady)


Susan Mallery is the number one New York Times bestselling author of novels about the relationships that define women’s lives—family, friendship and romance. Library Journal says, “Mallery is the master of blending emotionally believable characters in realistic situations,” and readers seem to agree—40 million copies of her books have been sold worldwide. Her warm, humorous stories make the world a happier place to live.

Susan grew up in California and now lives in Seattle with her husband. She’s passionate about animal welfare, especially that of the two ragdoll cats and adorable poodle who think of her as Mom. Visit Susan online at, like her on Facebook, and follow her on TwitterPinterestGoodreadsInstagramBookBub, and Amazon.

By Susan Mallery
384 pp. HQN. $26.99

TLC Book Tours Tour Host

Preorder The Vineyard at Painted Moon direct from Jathan & Heather Books or from one of these other fine online retailers: AmazonBarnes & NobleBooks-A-MillionHalf Price BooksHarlequinHudson Booksellers, IndieBound, Powell’s, Target, or Walmart.

The Vineyard at Painted Moon is brought to you in association with TLC Book Tours.

About Jathan Fink
Jathan is a journalist, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. He is also a travel junkie, foodie and jazz aficionado. A California native, he resides in Texas.

2 Responses to Susan Mallery’s ‘The Vineyard at Painted Moon’ [EXCERPT]

  1. Pingback: Susan Mallery, author of THE VINEYARD AT PAINTED MOON, on tour January/February 2021 | TLC Book Tours

  2. Pingback: Spotlight + Excerpt: The Vineyard at Painted Moon by Susan Mallery – Escape Reality, Read Fiction!

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