It’s springtime at The Vineyard in Alsace, a new season and a new beginning
After being abandoned by her partner when she falls pregnant, Lottie Schell goes home to live on The Vineyard in Alsace, where she has started a new relationship with the estate’s winemaker, Thierry. Now about to give birth, Lottie’s determined to raise her child and to provide for them both on her own without having to depend on anyone else.
Thierry Bernard is still dealing with his grief and guilt following the death of his wife two years earlier, for which he blames himself. When he meets Lottie, the instant attraction he feels towards her gives him hope that he can move on from the tragedy of his past, as long as he can tell Lottie the truth of what happened.
When circumstances force Lottie and Thierry closer together, they both find it hard to compromise – she’s proudly independent and he’s fiercely protective – and they’re both wary about trusting someone new with their heart.
Can Lottie and Thierry take a chance on each other, move on from their pasts and start over?
Why I chose Alsace for the setting of my vineyard series
I was reading an article in the paper recently and found out that France’s favourite village of 2020 based on a TV poll of 700,000 French viewers, is a little village in Alsace called Hunspach. It has just 652 inhabitants, and is described by guide books as ‘peaceful’. Well, it was until that article was published anyway!
I can well understand though that ‘its picturesque black and white, half-timbered houses’ were what most people liked about the place, as well as its location, nestled in the Vosges mountains not far from the German border. These are some of the reasons why I love Alsace too, and why I continue to visit the area after so many years.
I always knew that I would set a book on a French vineyard one day – after working in the wine trade and visiting a fair few French vineyards in my time, as well as my love of France, that was always a given – but when it came down to the location of my fictional vineyard, something about Alsace called to me particularly. And it’s usually the setting that gets me started with my book ideas.
I love the history of this area of France, perched so precariously on the border with Germany, it has passed hands a good few times between the different countries, and as a result, both German and French are spoken here and the names of the people reflect that. This is why my main characters in the first two books, Fran and Lottie, have a German surname – Schell. When I spent my year abroad in France during my degree many years ago, I made friends with someone with that surname and that has always stayed with me.
The German background has also influenced the place names – Riquewihr, Eguisheim, Hunawihr, to name a few – and the wine bottles are flûtes, more commonly seen in Germany than in France. The half-timbered houses are also more typical of German chalets rather than the houses you see in other parts of France. All of this adds up to a particular charm about Alsace that is quite different from the rest of the country. The church at Hunawihr features in my first book of the series and is quite a sight, located on a small hill with a fortified cemetery around it.
The cuisine is an interesting mix of the two countries too. I use the word ‘interesting’ advisedly because choucroute garnie is not to everyone’s taste! I love onion tart and tarte flambée though, and there are plenty of other tasty dishes to choose from. Some of these feature in my two books – I haven’t gone so far as to include choucroute yet, but as I’m planning to introduce a café on the vineyard in the next book, it might show up on the menu there!
Finally, there’s the semi-continental climate of Alsace, so good for winemaking but also for balmy temperatures for a large proportion of the year, making it such a lovely place to visit. So I’m very glad to have set this series of books in such a beautiful part of France, and I hope that despite the awards, it remains lesser-known for some time to come.
Thank you, Julie Stock and Rachel’s Random Resources
About the author
Julie Stock writes contemporary feel-good romance from around the world: novels, novellas and short stories. She published her debut novel, From Here to Nashville, in February 2015 and her second novel, The Vineyard in Alsace in March 2017. Over You (Sam’s Story) and Finding You (Jenna’s Story), her follow-up novellas to From Here to Nashville were published in 2018, making the From Here to You series complete. She has also published a boxed set of the From Here to You trilogy of books.
The Bistro by Watersmeet Bridge was published in August 2019, followed by Bittersweet, a collection of 12 Short Stories for Modern Life in September 2019.
Julie is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and The Society of Authors.
Julie is married and lives with her family in Bedfordshire in the UK.
Website – www.julie-stock.co.uk
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