The Champagne Conspiracy

There's snow in the forecast in rural Virginia, and winemaker Lucie Montgomery is trying her hand at Champagne--or sparkling, as they say in the business. She's also looking forward to Valentine's Day with her boyfriend, Quinn Santori. But when Quinn's estranged cousin, prominent (and ruthless) vintner Gino Tomassi, turns up at Lucie's vineyard one frigid afternoon, he has a story that takes Lucie's thoughts off wine almost entirely. Ellen Crosby returns to the Montgomery Estate Vineyard and its warmhearted cast of small-town characters in her seventh Wine Country mystery, The Champagne Conspiracy.

Under threat from an anonymous blackmailer, Gino is worried about a scandal that may jeopardize both his bank account and his reputation. When he asks Lucie and Quinn for help digging up old family secrets, all three are shocked to discover the tangled connections between Gino's grandfather's first wife, Zara, Lucie's great-great-aunt and namesake, Lucy (known as "Lucky"), and President Warren Harding--who died in a San Francisco hotel one day before Zara did. As the damning evidence mounts up, so does the danger to Lucie and Quinn, who must identify the blackmailer before he or she silences them all.

Crosby (The Sauvignon Secret) keeps the plot flowing like the wine she writes about, with likable characters, inclement winter weather and enough plot twists to keep readers guessing. For mystery buffs who enjoy wine, jazz and a juicy scandal or two, The Champagne Conspiracy is a light, satisfying treat. Cheers! --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

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