by Kathleen Costa
& J.C. Eaton
This week we have a review of Sauvigone for Good by J.C. Eaton, a Valentine’s Day mystery. We also have a fun guest post by J.C. about chocolate, wine, Valentine’s Day and some of the research they did for the book. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of Sauvigone for Good, and a link to purchase it from Amazon.
Sauvigone for Good: The Wine Trails Mystery By J.C. Eaton
Review by Kathleen Costa
Twenty-something Norrie Ellington had a successful screenwriting career for a Canadian film company, but her sister Francine had requested, more like pleaded, she become less a silent and more an active partner in the upstate New York family business, Two Witches Winery. Francine hoped to join her husband Jason in the Costa Rican rainforest for a whole year chasing after some insect. She assured Norrie that “the winery practically runs itself;” just oversee operations, attend meetings, and handle emergencies. With her “laptop and a landline” she could still continue with her writing. Norrie should have checked the small print because the last six months were far from “runs itself.” A local resident who spoke out against wineries and their impact on her B&B ends up dead on Norrie’s property (A Riesling to Die For). A local landowner is raising rent on Norrie’s friend, but before the rent has a chance to go in effect, he ends up dead (Chardonnayed to Rest). A holiday festival is set, but there are problems with the Pinot Noir and a local wine distributor winds up dead (Pinot Red or Dead?). And now, there’s a big event coming up, her script is due, her sister unfortunately found out about the murders at the winery, tabloid reporters are lurking everywhere, and the weather is snow, and lots of it…what could possibly go wrong?
Sauvigone for Good earns 5/5 Chocolate & Wine Pairings…Engaging Fun!
Blame it on an itch! When Norrie tried to scratch it, she ended up volunteering to be on Catherine Trobert’s subcommittee for WOW, Wineries of the West. Norrie was not going to be alone with Catherine, who tirelessly tries to set Norrie up with her son Steven, so a well-place kick landing on her friend Theo’s ankle, and the group became three. The trio is handling arrangements to showcase demonstrations from three world-famous chocolatiers competing in a Valentine’s Day event, the Chocolate and Wine Extravaganza, sponsored by the Seneca Lake Wine Trail and hosted by the six local wineries including Norrie’s Two Witches Winery. Each chocolatier will be assigned to two wineries, and the winery will select the perfect wine to pair with the chocolate creations. It’s important, as Catherine laments, that the event go off without a hitch, but with over-the-top demands, quirky obsessions, almost chocolatier-zilla manners, and social media trending a report that “New threats and old rivalries loom for famed chocolatiers,” this is bigger than originally thought. But murder with one of the Two Witches wines as a possible murder weapon! Norrie is back in preservation mode. Who killed the chocolate man? Only Karma knows!
I am new to the work of J.C. Eaton, delighted to learn they are a writing duo, and with an entertaining writing style, I’ll be seeking out more of their books. In this fourth book in their Wine Trails Mystery series, they use my favorite first-person narrative giving me a fun and vicarious role in the drama through Norrie’s “I” perspective highlighting her descriptions and inner thoughts. The story is well-developed starting with a revisiting of some backstory, but I missed some supporting character details, none of which interfered with my staying engaged in the story. The drama continues with a good setup, pointing to a possible victim who needs a sip of karma, and a plethora of suspects with professional and personal motives to mull over. Their use of descriptive language and dialogue did well to illustrate the setting, characters, tone, and personalities from helpful to annoying, quirky to level-headed, innocent to murderer. Norrie’s investigative style is realistic to a point with informal interrogations, nosiness, and happening upon clues along with a somewhat antagonistic relationship with local law enforcement, and the dead ends, false clues, and twists were very entertaining. The events leading to the conclusion had some “wiggly” concerns (no spoilers) and a little over the top, but I was pleasantly surprised. Ok, wine, food, and chocolate, but where’s the bonus recipes? It’s not imperative, and I’m a bit selfish in this, because I really enjoyed the story, but I love my recipes, too.
The Wine Trails Mystery
A Riesling to Die For (2018)
Chardonnayed to Rest (2018)
Pinot Red or Dead? (2019)
Sauvigone for Good (2019)
Be a Big J.C. Eaton Fan!
J.C. Eaton is the pen name for the wife and husband writing duo of Ann I. Goldfarb and James E. Clapp. Ann, a veteran writer of several young-adult time travel mysteries, and James, a former winery tasting room manager and author of informative articles on the wine industry, have collaborated on this fascinating and engaging four-book The Wine Trails Mystery series. They also pen the five-book Sophia Kimball series with book six, Dressed Up 4 Murder, due to release at the end of February and the two-book The Marcie Rayner Mysteries. Something for every cozy taste!
What’s a Valentine’s Day Event Without Chocolate, Wine, and a Murder Mystery?
By J.C. Eaton
One of the neat things about writing our Wine Trail Mysteries, set in New York State’s Finger Lakes Region, is that we can bank them off of the real events that take place there. And believe us, there were plenty to choose from.
Seneca Lake, where Jim worked as a tasting room manager for one of the wineries, is home to over thirty wineries that comprise the Seneca Lake Wine Trail. To draw tourists and wine tasters to the region, the wineries host a number of seasonal events including “Deck the Halls” for Christmas, “Wine and Cheese” in the spring, and “Chocolate and Wine” to commemorate Valentine’s Day in February.
Since both of us are wild about chocolate and no strangers to good wine, we thought it would be fun to develop a plot that focused on an international chocolate competition hosted by the Seneca Lake Wine Trail. It allowed us to create quirky, demanding, and possibly murderous chocolatiers who coveted the grand prize enough to kill for it. Thankfully we watched enough baking competitions on television to get the general idea and embellish it like nobody’s business.
The one thing we didn’t count on was the fact that neither of us knew how to make chocolate confections or chocolate for that matter. Boy, did we learn fast! Lots of research, lots of conversations with folks who had experience, and a real eye opener – Chocolatiers do not make the chocolate. They make the detailed and tasty confections from high quality chocolate. Usually from internationally famous companies. We also learned about the tools of the trade, including dipping forks, piping tools, molds, and of course, tempering machines. It was enough to make our heads spin!
Armed with an arsenal of ideas, we took our plotline and added twists, turns, and red herrings the way a chocolatier would add a ganache filling. And while the writing part was fun, it also made us ravenous for chocolate. Needless to say, we gouged on the good stuff – Ghirardelli, Godiva, Scharffen Berger…and the list goes on. Like the weight we gained.
When Norrie finally figured out whodunit, we had to figure out which diet plan to start. At least we can say Sauvigone For Good is one Valentine’s cozy that’s meant to make readers laugh as Norrie and the crew sift through the evidence to catch a killer before someone else is knocked off. We made sure to include Alvin, the spitting goat, and Charlie, the laidback Plott Hound who’d rather roll in stinky stuff and lounge on Norrie’s bed.
We can safely say the real “Chocolate and Wine” event doesn’t have the drama, but does have fabulous chocolate and wine. As for the competition, if the Seneca Lake Wine Trail ever decides to host internationally famous chocolatiers, we’ll have to make the trip back east and warn them!
To enter to win a copy of Sauvigone for Good, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, with the subject line “sauvigone,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen February 15, 2020. Only US entries and you must be at least 18 to enter. If entering via email be sure to include your mailing address in case you win. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.
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