Title: Whiskey Business (States of Love)
Author: Avon Gale
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: 104 Pages
At a Glance: I hope we see much more of this town and this couple—it would really be a treat!
Reviewed By: Sammy
Blurb: 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.
Review: I love Ryder Waites. Between him and the crazily quirky hometown of Gallows Grove, I was absolutely smitten from the get-go with Avon Gale’s Whiskey Business. I am sad that it was so short—well, okay, it wasn’t that short, but golly I wanted to spend more time with this town, this couple, and this delightfully talented writer.
Ryder is young—too young to carry the weight of an entire town and their future on his shoulders—but when his mother passed way too early, leaving Ryder and his Uncle in control of the family whiskey business, that is exactly what happened. Now, he is negotiating to sell the recipe, but only if the new owner agrees to keep the distillery in the small town of Gallows Grove, and that decision will rest firmly in the hands of the inspector the company has sent out, Adam Keller.
Adam is an uptight, unhappy, closeted gay man whose cold-hearted family owes their wealth to the horse business, a far cry from the brewing industry Adam loves. When he meets Ryder and the other members of the quirky small town, whose brewery he is sent to determine viable, he is smitten almost immediately—with the whiskey, the people, and with Ryder Waites. What begins as a one-off fling turns dangerously close to something much more involved, and for Adam, who has spent his life running in fear from commitment and the potential heartache from failed love affairs, Ryder is an addiction he must resist.
But Gallows Grove has sunk its wonderful hooks into Adam, and even after attempting to return to his lonely, boring life in Lexington, the town and its most notable resident calls to him more and more. When an offer too good to be true is dangled in front of Adam, and all the obstacles to happiness he has placed in his life begin to crumble, Adam must decide if he is really willing to put aside his fear of being hurt to embrace what could be the best thing to happen to him in a long time. But, has Ryder already moved on, or can the two rekindle the spark they once had and fan it into flame?
Golly, where to begin with a story that still has me grinning from ear to ear? First, the silly puns, the quick and clever dialogue, the townspeople who are just delightful, and that funeral home/creepy doll museum that poor Adam is forced to stay in during his time in Gallows Grove—it all combined to make the most delightful story imaginable. Then we add in the chemistry between Adam and Ryder that reminded one of a lighted match set to dry tinder, and you have a love story that just rocked from beginning to end.
Ryder was adorable—sorry, but he was—and Adam was so frustratingly martyr-like that you alternately wanted to shake some sense into him and hold him close to comfort him. Avon Gale includes such small details in her stories that make it stand out—little things like the rabid fan adoration of a so-so college basketball team, or that darn stack of People magazines that is such a tiny plot point but made the side characters so immensely real and likeable. It is this close attention to detail that makes this story stand out and that, despite the too fast ending that was also a bit shy of details, make me recommend Whiskey Business to you. I hope we see much more of this town and this couple—it would really be a treat!
You can buy Whiskey Business here: