Whiskey Business, by Avon Gale (novella)
Series/Collection: States of Love (Kentucky)
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: December 28, 2016
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Ryder Waites will do anything to keep the tiny town of Gallows Grove, Kentucky, from vanishing off the map—even sell his family’s whiskey recipe to Bluegrass Bourbon in Lexington. Hopeful that the larger company can provide necessary improvements to the distillery, Ryder’s ultimate goal is to get Gallows Grove on the Bourbon Trail… and bring in much-needed tourism revenue. But to keep producing Hanged Man Bourbon in Gallows Grove, he’ll have to convince company liaison, unbearably stuffy and seriously hot Adam Keller, that he’s worth the investment.
Adam comes from an old-money family, but he’s determined to make his own way in the world. When he’s sent to Gallows Grove, he questions the life choices that led him to a rented room in a funeral home, in a town full of macabre-themed businesses. And he doesn’t know what to make of Ryder, the descendant of bootleggers who’s on a mission to save his strange town from extinction. When Adam and Ryder put aside their initial mistrust, the results are as smooth as good whiskey. But after Adam’s assignment ends, he’ll have to decide if small-town life and a future with Ryder is to his tastes.
(Part of Dreamspinner Press’s “States of Love” Collection for Kentucky)
Enemies to Lovers
I have a confession. This is my first time reading Avon Gale. I know! I’d heard fantastic things about her work, particularly her hockey series, but just never got around to her books. Anyway, I figured this novella from Dreamspinners’ States of Love collection would be a good introduction to her writing. And boy did I figure correctly.
The hipster distillery owner and the buttoned up businessman? Yes please. Ryder and Adam’s chemistry was off the charts from the word go and after some brief butting of heads, they got down to business. Not only were they hot together, but their characters had solid depth, which I think is no small feat in a shorter format. Unlike with some novellas, I felt like I really got to know these men, including their hopes and desires and fears.
I thought the real star of the novella though, was the tiny town of Gallows Grove, Kentucky. Sure, I got the sense right away of Ryder’s love for his hometown and his desperate need to save it and see it prosper. But getting to know the town’s wild bootlegger history, its quirky people and the colorful yet macabre essence of the place was simply priceless and made me a thousand percent invested in the story. Small town eccentricities can often grate on my nerves, but I thought the author created the perfect mix of kooky and charming.
As someone living in the Midwest, I was also highly amused at the way college sports crept into random conversations among the various characters, because Hello, accurate! and Heck no you don’t schedule parties and especially weddings on a game day.
The entire story, in fact, was really funny and entertaining – not to mention rich and compelling – and I came away from it so satisfied that I honestly forgot that I had been reading a novella. I can’t speak for the other books in the States of Love collection, but Whiskey Business is definitely top shelf. Highly recommended.
Avon Gale was once the mayor on Foursquare of Jazzercise and Lollicup, which should tell you all you need to know about her as a person. She likes road trips, rock concerts, drinking Kentucky bourbon and yelling at hockey. She’s a displaced southerner living in a liberal midwestern college town, and she never gets tired of people and their stories — either real or the ones she makes up in her head.
To find out more about Gale and her books head over to her website.
Whiskey Business can be purchased at:
I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.
To celebrate the release of Whiskey Business, one lucky winner will receive a $5 gift certificate from Dreamspinner Press! To enter the contest, leave a comment below along with your contact info. Entries close at midnight (Eastern time) on Monday, January 2, 2017. Contest is open worldwide. Don’t forget to leave your contact info!