Between the Vines (Keystone Couples #3) by Staci Troilo #bookreview #romance

When you grow up on a vineyard, you learn the grapevine can’t always be trusted.

Elena Santucci is one of the best wedding planners in the Keystone state—ironic, as she doesn’t believe in love. Why should she? Rumors cost her all meaningful relationships, sending her into the arms of one loser after another until she swore off men entirely. Now she spends her days helping brides put together dream days… even though she suspects they’ll all lead to nightmares.

Aaron Kennedy looks like a tough-as-nails cop, but he’s got a marshmallow for a heart. One that’s recently been roasted over the coals by Heather, his former fiancée. After discovering her affair with his best friend, he broke off his engagement and swore off women—at least for a while. When his sister asks for help with her wedding plans, he can’t say no. Then he learns the wedding is at Blooming Valley Vineyards, and his former crush is the event planner. Maybe this is fate telling him not to give up so quickly.

Just when Aaron starts to break through Elena’s icy shell, Heather comes back into his life with an unbelievable story—one Elena seems to support. Rumors travel the grapevine faster than he can make sense of them. He needs to discover the truth before his one chance at happiness withers on the vine. 

I thought I’d posted this review months ago, but was shocked to find it in my drafts. Apologies to Staci!

Romance isn’t one of my most read genres, but I venture into that area every now and then, and I’m sorry to see this series of novellas end. Part of the reason I’ve enjoyed it so much is because of the humorous situations and misunderstandings that lean into the romantic comedy direction at times. Combine that with very likeable, realistic, flawed characters, and you’ve got an addictive read. And these can be read in about an hour or so.

Elena is a successful wedding planner – ironically, she doesn’t believe in love due to a history of disasters. Enter Aaron, who’s recovering from a recent engagement gone wrong. Having attended school together in a relatively small town, the two aren’t strangers. Aaron even had a crush on Elena in high school. A tentative relationship begins to develop, and just when Elena thinks maybe love isn’t such a ridiculous notion after all, Aaron’s jealous ex shows up. Trust me – she’s a character who inspires strong dislike and lots of eye rolling.

I loved that the author included Easter eggs consisting of the couples from the other two novellas in the series. Seeing a little of what the future held for them was an unexpected treat.

Each of these three novellas can be read as standalones, but I’d recommend starting from the beginning to fully appreciate the stories. If you’re looking for light-hearted reads that leave you with warm fuzzies, you can’t go wrong with Keystone Couples.