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4 wining StarsA light, historical, murder mystery, romance, fantasy read that will have you anticipating each turn of the page This book is a mix of so many different genres neatly wrapped together in a superb read. Hooray for a complete storyNicely written, this book grabbed me from the beginning The World Building was great, and the characters were appealing I read it straight through to the satisfying ending And it did end, without forcing you to read a next book I ve almost forgotten what that was like.The whole idea of various witches, including Vine Witches, was intriguing Yes, there were other Supernaturals included, but the Vine Wine witches were the focus The story starred a strong Heroine, who didn t need a man to rescue her In fact, she ended up doing some rescuing The murder mystery was entertaining, and the story had an interesting twist towards the end.If you like Fantasy this one is a quick, entertaining read. Not my cup of wineMy apologies for being on the move and writing this with my phone app It is a desperate attempt to get my thoughts down on a book that I thought would be less romantic perils and wine in a fantasy world Elena is a wine witch, a special person whose gifts include being at one with her vineyard Even without the hexes and curses from other witches, her days would be full communicating with her vines and the bugs, birds and soil.Smith s thoughts on the subject are interesting and the various aspects of a vine witch s toolkit are well thought out Other magic is also interesting However, there is not a single character with sufficient depth to carry a story about two people, with issues, who don t initially like each other but find passion eventually The fact that one of the two is being tortured in a wine press for most of the final third of the story added to my disappointment Maybe my rating is generous, but I can be such while closing the door on this series. When a book starts from the viewpoint of a toad, you know you re reading an original and unusual story Elena is a vine witch, one who uses her spells to enhance the vineyards of the Ch teau Renard, a common occupation in the Chanceaux Valley When she finally reverses the curse that changed her to a toad, she returns to find that the Chateau has been sold Jean Paul is a man of science who scoffs at the country folk and their witchcraft, but his vines aren t doing well and he doesn t know why.This is such a fun story Elena comes back for revenge but her inbred sympathy for the vineyards vies with her darker instinct Jean Paul is a city man who must amend his deeply held beliefs in order to save his vineyard There are some good twists that keep the plot moving forward This is a great debut novel, and I hope to read from this author in future. I m not sure why I ve picked The Vine Witch I have no interest in wine and even less in books with a significant romance arc I won t say no to a glass of good wine or to a good romance book, but I don t actively seek them out Maybe it was the cover No idea To my surprise, I adored every second of Smith s debut A sign that I m growing old and sentimental for sure The Vine Witch, set in a fantasy version of rural France, blends romance, folklore, witchcraft, and murder mystery Elena Boureanu, the titular vine witch, had never suspected she d spent seven years eating moths and slugs to survive in a fetid pond, turned into a toad Focused on making Chateaux Renard s wines exceptional, she paid little attention to petty rivalries or little things And yet someone has cursed her and turned into an animal.When she regains her body, she wants nothing than revenge against whoever stole seven years of her life She suspects it was her ex fianc Bastien Du Monde, ambitious, business savvy and charismatic vigneron, and she plans to make him pay First, though, she needs to regain her power When she returns Chateaux Renard, her home, she discovers it was sold to a scientifically minded ex lawyer Jean Paul Martel who seeks a new vocation in life Her Grand Mere and magic teacher grew old and lost her edge and the vine that made Renard s Domaine famous lost its magic She took a sip of the wine to chase the memory from her mouth, but if she was looking for relief she was vividly disappointed None of the musky hues of spice and rose petals the Renard vineyard was famous for hit her palate It was all chalk and mushrooms.A closer look at the vineyards make things obvious someone cursed them Elena can deal with an intricate spellwork, but her magic reserves are still weak and when Bastien is found dead and Police consider her the prime suspect, things get complicated.Shaped by historically accurate details, the story feels true to the era of the late Belle poque Smith enriched it with fascinating details particular to that era fashion, automobiles, pre industrial wine and cheese making practices I m sure she s also made a lot of research on witchcraft, witch trials, and herb lore as they re very detailed All of this in less than 300 pages, something I highly appreciate as it proves the skillful writer can find a perfect balance between world building, pacing and characterization.The plot, while slightly predictable in places, impressed me with a great balance between murder mystery, action, and slow burn romance Just when I thought I had everything figured out, Smith threw few clever surprises at me, the perfect bitter sweet ending being one of them Well done.Both main characters and their sidekicks feel human Elena and Jean Paul are three dimensional and their romance is believable and engaging I prefer Elena, but I can see female readers falling for the handsome lawyer whose life is just about to turn upside down.Elena is a strong lead Fierce, intelligent, and hungry for knowledge, she s easy to like and admire Her past remains mysterious but we learn she has mastered divine arts while still in her teens Hungry for , she sought the magic she hadn t been taught including blood magic and developed an extraordinary talent known as shadow vision She knows there s a glorious magic to be found in the darkness and she wants to understand it I admit I have a soft spot for protagonists with a darker side and Elena fits the archetype well Jean Paul believes in science and innovation He treats the mention of magic as the superstitious nonsense and has no interest in seeing it applied in his vineyard When his beloved laws of physics, doctrines of religion and the empirical evidence of the senses are rendered useless by what he d seen, he must reassess his beliefs Smith portrayed his inner conflict well and found a clever way to change him.And now the romance I liked it perhaps because, while important and highlighted, it never overshadowed intricacies of the plot Jean Paul and Elena share a strong chemistry Their beliefs are at odds and this adds some tension to their budding relationship Besides the vine magic and slow burn romance, I enjoyed the investigation of the murder mystery and Elena s focus on discovering the witch wielding blood magic This part of the story went into dark places and added another layer of complexity to the story and characters I need to mention and praise the prose Rich, nuanced and appealing to all senses it makes reading The Vine Witch a worthwhile experience I loved the way the author described tastes, smells, landscapes and emotions Here s a little sample Despite his desire to leave, the fresh baked smell captivated him, and he reached for the sticky tart One bite and the full complexity hit him The pastry tasted of fruit and nuts, butter and brown sugar, and the rich spices of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom, all heat seared by fire Sweet, yes, but also sophisticated, heightened by a hint of salted brandy Not unlike a well aged wine, he thought, the way the flavors evolved on the tongue Descriptions of food and wine made me salivate Description of the Chanceaux Valley made me want to visit it When a book does it to me, I don t need another proof it s well written.If you re in the mood for witchcraft, romance, and the wine, I have an inkling you re going to love The Vine Witch. There s nothing like spending the last 7 years as a toad, is there Right off the bat, this book had me intrigued, eager to see where this story would take us How could she wish for anything else but to be part of the vineyard Its terroir was her blood, its mist her breath, its soil her bones, its harvest her unborn child I adored this historical fantasy world and all the magic that it contained I love the idea of all these different types of witches who secretly specialize in the creation of everyday products Like, I would gladly consume witch made wine and witch baked pastries There was a lot of cool magic involved and the world was abundant in detail But while I enjoyed this world, I did find myself wanting to know , specifically in terms of the rules of magic and the witch community What the eye couldn t see, the imagination filled in We put names to the unexplained Cast it as something to either fear or worship And yet just because a thing can t be seen doesn t mean it isn t real But as I hinted at in the previous paragraph, while this was an interesting read, I wanted worldbuilding, character development, pages Don t get me wrong it was decent as is, but it could have been so much better fleshed out I also found the romance completely underwhelming The protagonists are quick to romanticize love, but it felt unsupported by the lack of interactions we saw between the two characters They felt like they never moved passed infatuation Pain has always been the prosecutor s handmaiden Overall, The Vine Witch was an interesting read, and I would definitely check out another book that explores this world If you re craving wine or seeking an easy witchy read, give this book a try August 31, 2019 VINEYARDS, WINE, AND WITCHES Um, yes PLEASE How did I not know about this book sooner I m not going to finish this I just don t love something about it and I don t even know what it is I might pick it up again but for now I m not enjoying the characters or the story so I m gonna throw in the towel Pity because wine and witches How can I not like it *FREE DOWNLOAD ↜ The Vine Witch ☠ A young witch emerges from a curse to find her world upended in this gripping fantasy of betrayal, vengeance, and self discovery set in turn of the century France.For centuries, the vineyards at Ch teau Renard have depended on the talent of their vine witches, whose spells help create the world renowned wine of the Chanceaux Valley Then the skill of divining harvests fell into ruin when sorci re Elena Boureanu was blindsided by a curse Now, after breaking the spell that confined her to the shallows of a marshland and weakened her magic, Elena is struggling to return to her former life And the vineyard she was destined to inherit is now in the possession of a handsome stranger.Vigneron Jean Paul Martel naively favors science over superstition, and he certainly doesn t endorse the locals belief in witches But Elena knows a hex when she sees one, and the vineyard is covered in them To stay on and help the vines recover, she ll have to hide her true identity, along with her plans for revenge against whoever stole seven winters of her life And she won t rest until she can defy the evil powers that are still a threat to herself, Jean Paul, and the ancient vine witch legacy in the rolling hills of the Chanceaux Valley. Enjoyed this Full RTC. Magic in the air Considering this is the authors debut novel it is absolute M A G I C WE start in the swamp of all places Slightly confusing at first until we realize it s the inner monologue of a toad of all things Confusing, until we learn she s actually a woman that s been trapped in toad form for seven years by someone unknown We re introduced to a magical landscape in ways than one The French countryside full of vineyards and dazzling wines brought to their peak perfection through the age old courtesy and love of vine witches What happens when one such witch comes home from her seven year curse to find all she knew had changed Can she find her footing when her home and love are no longer hers When she not certain who cursed her and the vines she loves so very much Her magical tale will weave its way into your heart and beg to hear This is one author I can t wait to see from Brava