Ryder Waites knows the only way to save his tiny town is to get his generations old whiskey distillery on the Bourbon Trail. Selling the recipe is a gamble, even when he makes sure the larger company promises to continue to produce the bourbon in Gallows Grove. But a business needs to make money, and they send Adam Keller to Gallows Grove to make a complete report of the viability of leaving the distillery, and Hanged Man Bourbon, in the small town. Ryder dislikes Adam on sight, thinking the gorgeous man is just there to ruin his business and move the production out of town.
It doesn’t help that Adam comes off as stuffy and uptight. But as the two men get to know each other, Ryder begins to realize that Adam’s personality is the product of his upbringing and deep-seeded fears. Adam starts to fall in love with the town, morbid history and pun-tastically named business and all. He also wants Ryder, and their attraction is so intense they act on it. But Adam can’t let his worries and fears go, and when the report is complete, he and Ryder have a falling out. He heads back to Lexington, and a life he hates, only to have everything change. It’s too much to hope for that Adam could get a life he wants to live and a man he wants to share it with, but when everything aligns, he might get just that.
This is the first book I’ve read by Avon Gale, and I really enjoyed myself. It’s part of Dreamspinner Press’ States of Love collection, and the author peppered in a lot of details that gave the setting a real, small town Kentucky feel. Most of our time is spent with Adam and Ryder, and they were both well-developed MCs. The secondary characters really added to the atmosphere and fleshed out the story well. I definitely enjoyed my time with this story.
Both MCs are fully realized. There’s an opposites attract feeling to this book, as Ryder is an open, engaging, big hearted man and Adam is more stuffy and closed in. Their vastly different upbringings played a part in their respective personalities. I liked that we got into both of these guys’ heads, so we really saw where they were coming from. Adam is a little more tragic of the two, though that’s not exactly the right word. But he’s definitely experienced coldness in his life, and it makes sense for who he is. I liked the way he and Ryder fit together, and how their relationship felt like it progressed naturally. The better they knew each other, the more comfortable Adam was with letting his inner self out. Not to mention their electric chemistry. So these guys really worked well and carried the story nicely.
The downside for me, small as it is, was that I felt like there was a bit too much telling going on, and I would have liked some more showing. The scenes with Ryder and Adam were great, and I really enjoyed their banter as they became comfortable with each other. But there were times when a paragraph of “this is what happened next” was all we got to move us from one scene to another. While a whole lot more wasn’t necessarily needed, a few lines of dialogue or a bit of showing would have gone a long way for me in these scenes. While the writing itself is great, these instances put me at a bit of a distance with the story.
But overall, I enjoyed this tale. Adam and Ryder were great characters, and I liked that everything worked out so beautifully, while still remaining believable. If you’re looking for an easy read with great characters and some amusing puns, then definitely pick this one up.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.