When it comes to beautiful scenery, you can’t ask for much more than the lush vineyards of Tuscany that are the staging ground for Julianne Mclean’s These Tangled Vines.
There are few books I have read recently that had me more nostalgic for the days of easy travel and jet setting.
This is the latest release and the first book I have ever read by Julianne Mclean.
While I can’t say it was life-altering, it was definitely enjoyable enough that I would be curious to read more of her books.
And with more than 30 books written in total, she has plenty to choose from!
Tangled Vines of Truth and Secrets
The novel These Tangled Vines offers a glimpse into the kind of “hit by lightning” moments where things in life change so drastically you are left reeling.
This is exactly what happens to our heroine, Fiona.
Years after her mother’s death, she learns more about the mystery of her mother. Thanks to her late mother’s affair, she has a biological father she has never met, Anton Clark.
When he also dies, she learns from the reading of the will that he has left her an incredible inheritance: a Tuscan Winery valued at 90 million pounds.
Not only that, she learns she has two half siblings. They weren’t exactly expecting only a small share of the will, so that leads to some tense sibling rivalries in her new family. Fiona realizes maybe she never really knew her mother or the father that raised her.
Safe to say, it’s a lot to take in.
Having had the care of her quadriplegic father for years, this new destiny pushes Fiona to experience the romance of Tuscany while navigating tricky family relationships. We may think we want to wake up and discover we are wealthy beyond imagining, but Fiona shows it may not be as straightforward as all that.
The story unfolds in parallel. What really happened with Fiona’s mother on the vineyard that fateful summer, and with Fiona herself trying to come to grips with family secrets and understand the present.
The story is extremely well crafted in that Julianne Mclean puts these little bites and clues out for you as you read. Even the things that feel straightforward in one chapter become complicated the next.
It forces you to look at your feelings about love and when does true love trump duty and morality.
How long is someone supposed to sacrifice their own happiness for another’s well-being or dreams?
It’s not something I had thought about before, and Mclean does a great job of pushing for contemplation in a way that doesn’t feel judgemental. Instead, she helps us to look at the impact of our choices in the wrappings of an emotional tale of love.
The only drawback in my eyes is that while I really enjoyed the writing style, some of the conclusions felt a little declarative towards the end.
The characters have these grand thoughts that sum up their feelings of life, love, and everything in between. And while the takeaways seem very smart and well worded, they don’t really feel as natural as the rest of the book does.
Still, it’s not something that gets in the way of the overall enjoyment of the book.
If you are a fan of stories about how complicated relationships with family and loved ones can get, I think you will enjoy Tangled Vines as well. It’s the perfect escape in these troubled times.
So pour yourself a glass of Italian wine and enjoy this breathtaking journey of love that shows the true meaning of family.
But fair warning! It just may make you want to quit your job and fly off to live on a wine estate in Tuscany. But maybe that’s not such a bad thing?
Book Club Questions
Not every book makes a good option for a book club. But with its depictions of the flourishing vineyards of Tuscany, its epic love story, and its drama around tricky family relationships, this novel does make an excellent choice.
For help unpacking the book and getting a discussion started, take a look at These Tangled Vines book club questions.
About the Author
Mostly known for writing historical romance novels (my favorite romance genre), Julianne Maclean has been regularly publishing books since her debut novel in 2003.
She is an award-winning Canadian author with millions of copies of her books sold worldwide, and her books have been translated into more than a dozen languages.
Her rich descriptions and introspection on the complicated depths of the human heart make it easy to see why.
She admits herself her books are heavily researched which “gives her a break from the blank page” (something I can definitely relate to wanting sometimes)!
She wrote four manuscripts that never sold, but the fifth was sold to Harlequin in 1999.
Looking back, she says that was for the best as the process of writing those first four books is what got her to hone her craft and make sure her first book was actually good.
She says she is heavily influenced by the letter she receives from her readers about what she should write about next. If you loved These Tangled Vines and want a sequel, let her know!
Looking to make reading a more regular thing? Why not start a book club! Check out my article on How to Form a Book Club for tips on creating the ideal club for your lifestyle.
Did you read These Tangled Vines? What did you think? Leave me a comment below about what you loved (and didn’t love) about the book!