'The Winemaker's Secret' Book Review

Updated: Sep 14, 2019

Book: The Winemaker’s Secret Author: Cynthia Ellingsen Genre: Mystery, Fiction Pages: 345 (Kindle) Published: April 2019

Hello! Today’s book review is Cynthia Ellingsen’s ‘The Winemaker’s Secret’ – I hope you enjoy it!


Abby Harrington’s family has dedicated their lives to cultivating the family vineyard and collecting vintage wines. But it takes only one night for the priceless collection to vanish, stolen during Abby’s grandparents’ sixtieth anniversary celebration. Then a devastating plane crash leaves her grandfather clinging to life in intensive care.

Desperate to take action, Abby sets out to discover who stole the precious wine—and why. The clues lead her to dark truths about her family she is not prepared to face. Soon Abby begins receiving threatening messages and doubting those closest to her. Making things even more complicated, the attractive doctor who saved her grandfather’s life offers her a shoulder to lean on just as the man she once loved returns to the vineyard.

The more truths Abby is forced to confront, the more her world spins off its axis. Can she unravel the secrets of the past in time to save the vineyard’s future—and her own?

(From Goodreads - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40851648-the-winemaker-s-secret )


This book, ahhh this book! I was scrolling my usual book browsing sites and fell upon this one. Two things immediately drew me in – the intriguing title (A secret!? I’m in!) and of course, you guessed it, the cover! My picture below doesn’t do it justice, it’s really quite beautiful. I soon discovered however that this is the second novel within the ‘Starlight Cove’ series, yet they don’t necessarily need to be read in order as the books do focus on separate families. The second book does contain spoilers for the first, so I’d recommend ‘The Lighthouse Keeper’ if you’d like to read them chronologically.

The novel jumps straight into the plot, within the first few pages you’re given a general idea of who’s who, most of the main character’s personalities and flaws before disaster strikes and (as mentioned in the synopsis) Abby Harrington discovers the family’s collection of ice wine is stolen and her grandfather is involved in a plane crash! Throughout the book, we follow Abby’s journey of both personal struggles with relationships, friendship and past trauma and also professional struggles with the family vineyard.

The characters weren’t bad, Abby did show some character development and an interesting personality. Her brother, Dean, was also an interesting character with a deviant past. Yet, apart from Braden (the doctor Abby quickly meets), and two others (whom I’ll keep quiet about for risk of spoilers) the other characters remained at quite a basic level.

This book was my first read of Ellingsen’s, and I’m glad to say that I did enjoy her writing style. She knows how to grab her reader’s attention from the start, and there’s plenty of sudden twists and turns to keep the mystery going and keep the reader guessing. I didn’t read this book as quickly as I would have liked due to personal commitments (work, eh!) but I would have done given the chance. A great start, a little bit slow in the middle, but then the ending couple of chapters keep you hooked still further. And what an end! Phew! I mean, no spoilers and all – but I quite like Abby. Ellingsen’s descriptive style and imagery is outstanding, I found myself daydreaming of owning my own winery – and I don’t even like wine?!

A little trigger warning for this book – there are mentions of what sounds like PTSD due to hospital childhood trauma, and there is also mention of drug/alcohol abuse. As always, you’re welcome to message me if you have any concerns and would like more information before reading this book.

Overall, I did quite like this book and would rate it 4 out of 5 stars as I enjoyed the writing style and plot, yet there could have been more character development. I wouldn’t reread this book yet I am considering purchasing Ellingen’s first novel ‘The Lighthouse Keeper’. Have you read ‘The Winemaker’s Secret’? What did you think of it?

Take care, Sophie x

Disclaimer: As mentioned in my 'Terms and Conditions' page, I am not asked to write my book reviews, contacted by the author/publisher in any way nor have I been given anything in exchange for my reviews, unless otherwise stated.

The Winemaker's Secret - Cynthia Ellingsen

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