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The Vine Witch #1

The Vine Witch

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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 Château 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 sorcière 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.

269 pages, Kindle Edition

First published October 1, 2019

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About the author

Luanne G. Smith

8 books1,283 followers
Luanne G. Smith is the Washington Post and Amazon Charts bestselling author of The Vine Witch series, The Raven Spell books, and The Witch's Lens, coming October 2023.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 4,394 reviews
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,127 reviews39.2k followers
May 1, 2021
HA HA HA HA! You’re wrong! That’s not my reaction after I finished this book. This is the meaningless, cruel, insidious laughter of my neighbors who spy on me when I perform my happy dance ( this time is great mash up of Moonwalk-ing and young Britney moves –millions rehabs before-) after I find the idea of witches and vinery heavenly! Next time I will not forget to close my windows.
My reaction was sweet combination of cursing and frustration cries!

So yes we have an amazing start of a story. Everything is so intriguing, exciting, vivid, promising. How cannot be? Story takes place in France, plus in vineyard (I cannot stop my feet move, they already start tapdancing.) plus we have a cursed witch Elena Bourenau wakes up after 7 years’ spell and goes back to Chanceaux Valley to gather the pieces of her old life and find and avenge the person who had done this to her. And of course, we have a charming, sexy, charismatic stranger Jean Paul Martel…O lala! The story is getting better in each second.

As soon as my husband saw the name of the book, he congratulated me. He thought someone finally wrote my biography! (Yes he thinks I’m a wine lover witch!!!!)

So I opened a new bottle of Chateau Lafite, but I found out my sweet mother-in-law used all French cheese to make herself grilled cheese sandwich (She had no idea, she ate the most expensive sandwich and she will suffer from protein coma sooner) so I grabbed Cheetos bag (great with Bordeaux wines) and started my journey!

But…What the hell is going on? Why did book start to get slower? Everything was great till I reached the middle part… It was getting more suffocating, boring. I cannot breath! Why did the characters act like dumb and dumber? How could they not see the things in front of their eyes? Come on guys, just put the pieces there and complete the puzzle! Oh God, I think I have to grab both of them and hit their heads to the wall! Or I should take a quick appointment for brain transplant!

First half of the book and interesting, entertaining blurb make me toss between 5 and 4 stars but last third of the book is quiet torturous. I thought maybe somebody kidnapped the author and her big nemesis took the control of her computer to finish the book by filling nonsense elements and blabbering.

So my final point is 2.5 rounded up 3! I could give two stars, even one for the ending but beginning was so promising and riveting so I’m really sorry that so much potential wasted for nothing!
Profile Image for Mel (Epic Reading).
895 reviews274 followers
January 10, 2020
DNF at 35%
Whomever wrote the blurb for this book should be given a talking to. Not once in that entire blurb does it mention romance, love interest, growing attraction, or any of the key words I would expect given the clear and obvious intent of The Vine Witch to be a romance novel. It's okay for it to be a romance novel, but tell me that up-front so that I'm not disappointed.

Luanne G. Smith does a few other disservices to her novel in the first 35% that I read.
Here are a few points that really bothered me:
- Smith assumed that five pages of our lead gal being a frog/toad is enough for us to hate whomever cursed her. We never find out what she might have done wrong or how it came about (up to the 35% point) so I guess we are just supposed to 'trust' that our gal was wrong.
- Similar to the above issue we are presented with a 'bad guy' that is a classic successful business man whom wants to take over everything. Seriously put a guy in a black hat and suit, any bad guy from Dallas or other soap operas and you've got this guy. But again we don't really know what he's done. We know there are some charms that have been put in place; but no one actually establishes they are his or that he is aware of them. Being a shrewd business man doesn't necessarily make you evil. And yet the fierceness with which are lead gal wants his death is somehow supposed to mean something to me...?
- Who buys a property with a locked door and doesn't insist on seeing inside? I mean come on...
- If you want to combine the idea of the science that goes into wine making (which is fairly complex) and magic, I'm okay with it. But I need a way to connect the two. It can't be that science is all out and magic is all in, or the other way around. Find a way to make them harmonious.
- And finally, if you are going to be a romance novel then you need to set the precedent of why our gal or guy might be intrigued or interested in the other. With the exception of proximity and no other characters around of the right age I couldn't figure out what would attract our two characters to one another.

Overall, I'd pass on this one unless you care a lot about wine, silly romances, or revenge magic. Don't let the pretty cover fool you.
Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.
Profile Image for Dilushani Jayalath.
870 reviews160 followers
July 7, 2020
I am very excited to announce that I successfully managed to finish this book while swiping off a good half a bottle of merlot too. Honestly, it’s purely futile if you don’t drink at least one good glass of wine while reading this book. This book makes you crave it like no other.

This is one of the books that I have been waiting for long time to read. One of those books that gripped me in its talons the moment I laid my eyes on the cover. Normally I would say that in the end it did not stay up to the first impression I had but this book was not like that. I indeed liked the book from the beginning to end. Yes, in a way it was more mellowed than what I was expecting but it managed to smoothly pass down like a good tart wine passing down our throats. The book is good as a hefty dose of red wine.

The characters themselves do not stand out in a grand gesture but manage to grow on the reader. The witches and the mortals do no exhibit a major rift between them as normal paranormal books do. The author manages to grow a story where the normal cliche plot of human vs paranormals aren’t repeated here. That is one of the major pros of the book.

It is quite sad though, that I am unable to put to words the true extent of how I feel about the book. It is not to the lack of enthusiasm but unfortunately today seem to be a day where words have abandoned me and I am struggling with just one review. Despite this measly review, I do hope readers give this book a chance. If it is mellow story with a dash of happiness in the shape of wine is what you are looking for, this book would be custom made for you.
Profile Image for Nicole.
717 reviews1,787 followers
June 4, 2021
I’m going to keep this review short because the book didn’t leave any impression on me.

The Vine Witch is a title I came across last week and thought the premise interesting. Romance + fantasy + witches + wine. What’s there not to like? I really should stop those impulsive reads and stick to my tbr. Elena is a vine witch who has been cursed to become a toad. Finally, after 7 years she breaks her curse and she wants revenge on whoever cursed her. She is pretty sure it’s her ex-lover because she refused to do what he asked of her. After going back to her old home, she finds it sold to Jean-Paul and the vineyard in a very sad state. Chateau Renard was long known for its exquisite wine but since 3 years ago, the vines are dying and simply not producing quality wine anymore. She offers her help to Jean-Paul who accepts. She’s also relieved to see the woman who raised her -who is also a vine witch- still there in the house. As a vine witch, she basically makes the grapes better. A lot better.

What follows is Elena trying to restore the winery to its old days but Jean-Paul doesn’t trust her witchery. Or that it even exists. A murder happens later and the two are forced to find out more about it.

Look, there’s nothing wrong with this book. No annoying characters and interesting secondary characters. The plot is also mostly fast-paced and the story is wrapped at the end. It’s also less than 300 pages. So it should be fun.

Except that it wasn’t. It’s one of the rare cases where I have nothing against the book but I simply can’t like it. I don’t hate it for sure but it was so meh that it didn’t leave anything with me. The story also bored me even though it was not long at all. I was only reading to finish the book. I was looking for a short novel to read with an enjoyable story and a touch of romance and while this book had all the right elements, it certainly didn’t click with me.

Well, almost all of the right elements. This wasn’t a good mystery. I also found a particular behavior of Jean-Paul pretty stupid . I found it predictable and easy to figure out.

Another thing is that I didn’t see the chemistry between Elena and Jean-Paul. I love a slow burn romance but their relationship was very boring and not interesting at all.

In sum, I couldn’t connect with this book and it wasn’t an enjoyable read at all. I honestly even regret starting it, I’m not sure what I expected and on the surface the Vine Witch wasn't different from what I knew I’m going to read. Yet, we had no chemistry, the book and I.

PS: why is she even called Elena? It’s not a French name while all other names in this book are French… it should’ve Helene…
PSS: the only interesting thing about this book is that it’s the first time I see a curse in my native language written down in a book… not even in an Arabic book.. so yeah this was funny.
September 23, 2022
So, as I sit here on this rather bleak and dreary Wednesday afternoon, my thoughts wander to what I might read next, and also, what the hell, was the point of The Vine Witch? This book should definitely come with a pre-warning to any seemingly promising potential buyer, of "Whatever you do, just don't let that gorgeous cover fool you!"

Seriously, I couldn't even recommend this to a person I dislike.

Thankfully, this was a free book with Amazon first reads, so there are no precious coins lost there for me, so tonight, I may sleep peacefully.

To be frank, nothing notable or even moderately interesting happens in this book. But i'll admit, when Elena emerges from a swamp I may have experienced just a flicker of interest, but apart from that, you're totally doomed. It seemed like a vague and lazy attempt of a fairytale retelling, but with a lot of silly cheap romance, that just didn't roll with me.

I knew who Elena was going to fall for before she did, and the person in question thought more about dipping his bread, than his full time occupation of being a wine maker. I was expecting more of a development on the witchy side of things, and less about the stirring in John Paul's pants.

The writing itself, was simple, and it felt like it needed a good editing job. I felt unchallenged, and generally irritated while grudgingly forcing my way through this, and now, I'm just relieved I can move on.
Profile Image for sarah.
382 reviews260 followers
October 13, 2019
The Vine Witch is a perfect October read that emanates a spooky, autumnal atmosphere. We follow our main character, Elena after she emerges from a curse that has left her as a toad for the past 7 years. Elena is a vine witch who lives in France tending to the vineyards of Château Renard. When she returns, she finds out the vineyard has been taken over by Jean-Paul, a city man who dismisses the country folk's belief in witchcraft as backward thinking and superstitious. But despite all his knowledge of the science of winemaking- his wine is not working. He will have to put aside what he thinks he knows to save his vines, but more sinister forces are lurking in the shadows.

✔ L I K E S ✔
✔ The magic!
I love love loved the magic in this book. It was so interesting to see the different abilities of all the types of witches!

✔ The atmosphere and descriptions
This is where Smith excels. I could practically taste the wine, smell the goods from the boulangeries, see the historical french landscape.

✗ D I S L I K E S ✗
✗ The characterisation
This book had so much potential for me to love it, but the characters fell flat for me. I didn't feel as if I knew any of them, or cared.

✗ The romance
I know, I'm shocked too. I am usually a sucker for a good romance, but this one just felt as if there was no chemistry. They touched hands once and BOOM they were in love. ugh.

✗ boringggg
It took me so long to finish this, especially considering that this is a relatively short novel. I also found myself skimming it near the end.

I wanted to love it. I really did, but I just had a detachment from everything that prevented the book from reaching its full potential. I will continue with the series (because it is only a duology, and I do want to know how Elena and Jean-Paul's story ends.)

Thank you to netgalley for providing me with a copy of this E-ARC!
2.75 stars
Profile Image for HBalikov.
1,712 reviews637 followers
September 23, 2019
Not my cup of wine

My 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 more 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.
Profile Image for pagesofchapters | demi.
140 reviews81 followers
August 7, 2020
Well this book was definitely a disappointment. I had seen pretty good reviews from this book, and was even recommended it but it really didn’t live up to my expectations.

Now going into this books I will admit that I was very excited. I mean a story with witches, a murder mystery, and a love story? Count me in! However, in my opinion there were many things wrong with this book. While I can definitely see the appeal that brings people to like The Vine Witch, it definitely wasn’t for me. For majority of the book I was debating on dnfing it but decided to continue and really give it a chance. I had hoped it would get better but it just didn’t.

So firstly, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the writing style used. It felt very forced at times and there were a lot of very unnecessary wordiness throughout the whole thing. Secondly, while the plot definitely had potential and sounded really interesting and unique, it really fell flat for me. This book really struggled to keep my attention throughout the book and I never felt myself becoming invested into the storyline and the characters. I also found this book to be very predictable and so it held no mystery for me. Now my issue with the characters, I felt absolutely no connection to any of these characters. I am someone who becomes very invested into the stories and lives of characters in books but that wasn’t the case for The Vine Witch. To be completely honest, I didn’t care for a single character, and while I absolutely love a good love story, the romance in this book wasn’t believable and felt a little forced.

Overall, I wasn’t the biggest fan of this book. In saying that, I can see how people would find this book appealing and enjoyable, it just wasn’t for me.
Profile Image for Constantine.
806 reviews128 followers
February 18, 2022

Rating: 3.0/5.0
Genre: Fantasy

Set in France in the Chanceaux Valley. After 7 years of being cursed and trapped in a toad body by the vine witch, Elena Boureanu breaks the curse and it is the time to take revenge on the person who she thinks has cursed her (Her fiance Bastien Du Monde). When she returns to the vineyard she used to live and work in she finds out that it is sold and the owner is Jean-Paul Martel who does not want to do anything with witches. When she tries to take revenge for being cursed for years the events take a totally different turn.

What I appreciated in this book is being set in France. The beautiful vineyard description, the overall atmosphere of that era was enchanting. However, I feel the characters were not jointed well. They all seemed to be distanced from each other. I feel the biggest problem of this book is being very ambitious but not successful in living up to that. It tries hard to have everything in terms of genre, be it fantasy, romance, murder mystery!

As a debut book, this might seem to be OK. But it is not just a debut book but also the first book in a series. And one has to really love the first book to be invested in a series. As a standalone book, I think it is an OK book. It was not entertaining as much as I was expecting it to be but it is not a bad book either. However, do I want to continue reading the second book when it comes out? maybe. Am I very eager about it? No.

Available on Kindle Unlimited.
Profile Image for Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader.
2,084 reviews30.1k followers
November 27, 2019
The Vine Witch is the perfect book for fall, or even as we transition to the coziness of winter. It’s full of ambience and warm characters.

The vineyards at Chateau Renard are grateful for the love and care of the vine witches, who assist in the creation of the famous wine. All that falls apart when Elena Boureanu is cursed.

Many seasons later, Elena has finally broken free of the curse and seeks to return to her vineyard when she finds a handsome man, Jean-Paul Martel, now owns it.

Jean-Paul believes in the science of the wine and not sorcery. Elena sees the vineyard needs her help, and she’ll have to offer it covertly so Jean-Paul won’t know. Will the vineyard overcome?

The atmosphere pulls you right in with the vineyards and France. I loved the folklore of witches being the ones to make the world-renowned wine. Elena and Jean-Paul are strong characters, and I loved the chemistry between them.

I will say the pacing was stronger for the first half of the book than the second, but that didn’t affect my overall enjoyment. Luanne Smith’s beautiful writing and this charming, inventive, and exciting storyline kept me intrigued throughout.

I received a complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.

Many of my reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com
Profile Image for Gary .
200 reviews183 followers
January 11, 2020
This book was a decent read. It went quickly. It was really filler for me that landed in between a couple of other books I am reading, and it served it’s purpose. The characters were fairly well developed (at least the major ones were) and the plot was simplistic and straightforward.
It’s a revenge story- a vine witch is back to get revenge on the person that she is fairly sure cast a nasty spell on her. The magic system shows a lot of potential, and there are moments that this author’s talent really shines. I just wish there were more of them. The book would begin to move along nicely with some complicated magical episodes or dramatic suspense, and then it would crash to a halt. It would eventually pick back up again, but without slogging down it would have been a delightful read. As it is, it’s not bad and I will probably read the next book in this series when it comes out for the same reason I read this one- a short, easy break from more serious reading.
Three stars.
Profile Image for Mlpmom (Book Reviewer).
2,981 reviews362 followers
October 11, 2019
What is better than a witchy read this time of year? Not much.
I really enjoyed this story, so much more than I expected and I'm so glad I took a chance on it. Filled with magic, mystery, danger, adventure, spells, demons, love, friendship, lessons, and so much more, this truly was a delight to read and absolutely perfect for this time of year.
Profile Image for Erika Sarutobi.
597 reviews23 followers
March 17, 2020
3.5 stars.

I honestly had more expectations out of this book but sadly I was left disappointed. I was expecting more vine growing info and moments, more spells and definitely more of that romance but barely got any of that.

It started off so well until the second half for me. I'm a big fan of enemies to lovers which is what I got in this book, however the author decided to let it develop off screen and just give us glimpses which sucked for me since I wanted more of it.

I was expecting some spell breaking and witch fights, especially at the end but we only got a long ass monologue by the antagonist while Elena just stood there and watched, doing nothing really but listening without interruption while the antagonist continued with her summoning.

The rest of the story is mediocre with the typical plotline to get the story going. I honestly wish the author focused more on the other stuff.

Overall, it wasn't too bad despite it being cliche because the writing style was amazing which made it up for me. The book focused on other stuff besides what the first chapter eluded which is why I was disappointed because it could have been better.

Thank you Netgalley for providing me with the digital copy for an honest review.
December 29, 2019
Well-written and intriguing, The Vine Witch is a short novel you'll want to sip and savor. The writing was my favorite aspect because it flowed so eloquently. The story has a unique flavor and cast of characters. If you're in the mood for a different kind of witch story, you've found it.
Profile Image for Keri.
110 reviews50 followers
October 6, 2019
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 more, 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 more: more worldbuilding, more character development, more 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:


Um, yes PLEASE. How did I not know about this book sooner?
Profile Image for Krystal.
1,356 reviews351 followers
July 30, 2021
Bonus star for the audio!

This was a really fun story to listen to! The audio really made it for me; it was done brilliantly.

The story follows Elena, a Vine Witch who returns home after being cursed for seven years. The home she returns to used to be famous for it's amazing wine but without its trusty Vine Witch keeping things in tip top shape, the place has fallen on hard times and the new owner, Jean-Paul - a man of science - is struggling to make any kind of decent wine. Probably something to do with all the hexes he knows nothing about. Hmm.

So straight away we have quite a few interesting things - the mystery of Elena's curse (who? why?), the magic (what is a Vine Witch? What can they do? Are there other kinds of witches?), and the fun magic vs science argument (surely the answer is always BOTH).

I was really intrigued and appreciated Elena's spirit from the get-go. She's smart enough to break her own curse (no Prince Charming here) and then she has a fiery spirit that immediately lusts for revenge (it's always fun when they aren't perfectly wholesome). But she also loves what she does and has a true dedication to the art of magic and the wine-making process. She was really fun to follow because she makes some interesting choices and isn't afraid to get her hands dirty here and there.

Jean-Paul was an eh character but I really loved the science angle he brought with him. I liked that, in this world of magic and superstition, he just absolutely refuses to get caught up in it. He's a bit of an idiot about it, of course, and listens a lot more eagerly when a pretty girl is involved, but I liked the contrast of his science-loving nature against all the magic.

There's also so much French which a) warmed my Francophile heart and b) made me extra thankful for the audio. Hearing the terms out loud really enhanced the experience and the whole thing felt a lot more authentic for it. I also loved all the different accents and each character was so easy to distinguish. Honestly, the audio made this story come alive.

The magic was a lot of fun with traditional witchy things like potions, hexes and spells, but there's also a bit of randomness thrown in and there really is no limit. I would have loved to learn more about the secret society governing all these witches and the laws etc, but there are two more books in the series I believe so maybe it'll be expanded upon later.

This was just such an enjoyable read, and I'm really glad I went the audio route because I feel like maybe the story was a little thin and confusing in places but I didn't really care because I was enjoying the audio performance so much. The story itself is still quite fascinating, with lots of different elements to keep it interesting, but the romance feels a bit out of place though not unexpected.

I do recommend it to people who love to dabble in fantasy with a side of realism, and highly recommend the audio. It's a fun way to pass the time, and I'll definitely be looking into the next book in the series.
Profile Image for Jackie Cain.
368 reviews4 followers
September 9, 2019
I finished this book only because it was an Amazon First Reads and I felt under an obligation to finish it after having downloaded it. I thought it was an interesting concept but the story bored me so much so that I took a break in the middle and read something else!

A lot of the story is told from the point of view of the main character, Elena, and I just didn't believe in her. It possibly didn't help that there is a lot of telling and quite a lot of repetition. Even where there is an idea for a scene that could have been dramatised for us, showing us the point the author wanted to make about Elena's mentor, it is simply told to us - in the past, as if the author suddenly remembered she wanted to Elena to draw on that evidence so had to add the scene in.

There is almost no sense of place nor time. The vineyard owner looks through his "Boddington's catalog (sic)" and neither I nor Wikipedia has any idea what that is or was - Boddington's is a beer in the UK and might well have been a catalogue in the USA but it doesn't sound like it would be used in France. There is a reference to the flight of Bleriot, which took place in 1909, and to French suffragette women whose organisation was founded in the same year, so I guess it is then but it didn't feel like that era. One of the key women's dress is described and, again, that gave some sense of the time period but it stood out to me as one incident in a desert.

The author chose to use very little French, which I think is a good idea. The French she did use was wrong: "mon petite" in chapter 9 and "etranger" (addressed to Elena) in chapter 12. These are little niggles in one sense but they distracted me and dislodged me from the terroir of the book, as it were. Ironic, given the subject matter.

As I said, there was a good concept in the story, which is why I've given it 2 stars rather than just 1, but the execution didn't do it justice.
Profile Image for N.W. Moors.
Author 11 books153 followers
September 8, 2019
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 Château 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 more from this author in future.
Profile Image for ☕️Kimberly  (Caffeinated Reviewer).
2,996 reviews636 followers
October 28, 2019
Elena Boureanu is a vine witch who casts spells to enhance the vineyards of the Château Renard, situated in the Chanceaux Valley. Or at least she did before someone cast a spell on her.

She had been missing seven years. Most suspected she was dead. Upon her return she discovers the woman she thinks of as a grandmother has sold the vineyards to Jean-Paul Martel. Jean-Paul is a former lawyer and man of science who doesn’t believe in the areas practice of vine witches, but something is wrong with the vineyards. Elena will need to do some serious work to save them. She has other plans as well and those involve poison and revenge.

What a delightful tale from the setting to the paranormal elements. I loved everything from the characters to the dirt in the vineyards. I can hardly believe this is Smith’s debut novel. Fans of fantasy like the Discovery of Witches will want to add this series to their bookshelves. I am actually hoping the movie rights are acquired as these would be delightful on the big screen.

The tale delivered a few twists, as we discover who cursed Elena. This first book wraps up nicely, and I am curious to see what book two, The Glamourist, brings us in June of 2020.

Susannah Jones was a new to me narrated by she quickly added voice to these characters enhancing emotions, tensions and quirks. Through pacing and tone she helped to build the suspense and add tension to key moments. Subtle inflection brought a genuineness to the romantic elements. This review was originally posted at Caffeinated Reviewer
206 reviews3 followers
September 2, 2019
Hooray for a complete story

Nicely 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.
Profile Image for Bookphenomena (Micky) .
2,377 reviews373 followers
May 28, 2020
THE VINE WITCH was a case of a really strong start and an exciting story that didn’t quite keep hold of that promise all the way through. This was a historical fantasy, set in the wineries of France with a rich history of witches working with the vines and elements to produce good wine. I absolutely loved this idea and the main character Elena was so interesting. Elena remained a strong characterisation throughout, she carried the show.

The story started with a curse, a toad and transformation. Elena’s return to her home was sad and interesting and the two key characters of Grand-Mere and Jean-Paul added to the intrigue. The wider village characters were rich and made me reminiscent of Chocolat by Joanne Harris.

Where my love for the book waned a little was when the story direction changed in the second half. This may be more about my expectations than anything else, but I wanted more time in the winery, how Elena worked, how she and Jean-Paul worked together. I didn’t expect what I got and I longed for more story development in other directions.

The romance that developed was so low-level and unfulfilled in terms of character connection to one another. This story line needed a fuller commitment on the page because I wanted this couple together and I believed in their grudging work relationship, so much that their romantic connection could have been great.

Overall, this was a good read that didn’t quite fulfill what I wanted but it was unique and quick. The second book follows a side character from this story and I believe more of Elena, so I may read on in the series.

This review can be found on A Take From Two Cities Blog.
Profile Image for Somia.
2,050 reviews122 followers
November 15, 2019
Having spent years trapped in an intricate curse, Vine Witch (sorcière) Elena Boureanu, finally is able to free herself, once free her mind and heart are consumed with gaining bloody vengeance on the mysterious figure who had her so cruelly trapped.

I really, really liked the start of this book, it had me intrigued and engaged. The first half of this book I would give 3.5 solid stars but sadly the second half of the book lost something, pacing got slower and slower and it took certain characters too long to see the truth that was right in front of their faces.

September Freebie via Amazon Prime offers.
Profile Image for Lauma.
217 reviews1 follower
April 15, 2021
Sākums jau bija super mīlīgs - galvenā varone atbrīvojās no lāsta brīdī, kad viņa kā krupis gremoja savu tikko nomesto ādu, un tad kaila izmaršēja no purva, atriebības meklējumos. Tur arī diemžēl visa jautrība beidzās un tālāk sekoja diezgan basic ziepene ar zaudētām mājām, bīstamu ex līgavaini, jaunu romantiku un viltus apsūdzību slepkavībā.

Maģija tika pasniegta kā zinātnei neatklātais un neredzemais, bet tajā pašā laikā ļoti slikti līmējas kopā + tā sajūta, ka tā ir nekam nederīga blakus maģijai. Kaut kā šis savienojums mani neuzrunāja. Turklāt nedaudz grūti noticēt, ka šī grāmata sarakstīta 2019. gadā. Vīriešu un sieviešu loma ir ļoti konkrēti sadalīta (pēc autores ieskatiem) un neizpaliek tādi teksti kā "mājoklim acīmredzami trūkst sievietes pieskāriena".

Tēlu attiecības ar vīnu bija pavisam īpašas...
The wine itself flowed like velvet in his mouth. It aroused the smooth sensuality of being inside a woman in the midst of lovemaking, the confluence of pleasure and attraction, the taste of lust on the tongue.

Indes gan šeit tika daudz pieminētas, jo galvenā varone cītīgi strādāja pie perfektās indes savas atriebības īstenošanai. Arī šīs tēmas apvienošana ar maģiju izvērtās diezgan interesanta.

Kaut kādā līmenī grāmata interesi noturēja, bet manas ekspektācijas arī nesasniedza un beigās palika tāda nedaudz meh sajūta...
Profile Image for Marta Cox.
2,547 reviews191 followers
October 8, 2019
Three and a half
I saw this beautiful cover and having read the synopsis was really keen to read this book. Its essentially an historical look at the possibilities of Witches in France and has a fabulous beginning with of all things a sentient toad or does it ? Actually no because for seven years Elena, a Vine Witch has been under a curse and when she finally breaks it her return home isn't exactly a pleasure because the Vineyard has been sold . So not only does she have to track down who cursed her but also deal with the new owner !
I liked this but did think the big bad was extremely obvious. Now having said that the final third of this story was very unpredictable because the author added a twist which made everything fall into place. If blunt I thought the romance was lukewarm and pretty one sided unfortunately but I did love the supporting character Yvette as she was so vibrant and I would love read a story about her.
This voluntary take is of a copy I requested from Netgalley and my thoughts and comments are honest and I believe fair
Profile Image for Alaina.
6,084 reviews215 followers
October 26, 2019
WINE AND WITCHES? Sign me tf up.

The Vine Witch seemed interesting. Heck the title and synopsis alone made me want to dive into it. Yet, once I did it was kind of meh and disappointing. It started off great but then slowly drained me of my soul. I just couldn't get into it anymore which is why it basically took me a while month to finish it.

In it, you will meet Elena and Jean-Paul. AT first, they were interesting. I mean the whole who cursed Elena to a toad was intriguing enough. However, after a while these two main characters just ended up annoying me. Mostly because of all the stupid shit they did in this thing. It was like dealing with a Dora the Explorer episode where Dora does that creepy pause because kids are supposed to shout guessing the answer (or whatever). It just took them so freaking long to figure things out and it just frustrated me to no end.

Overall, I had higher expectations for this book and definitely got let down.
Profile Image for Lukasz.
1,264 reviews202 followers
October 11, 2019
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 more than revenge against whoever stole seven years of her life. She suspects it was her ex-fiancé 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 Époque. 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 more, 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.
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