whiskey business audioStory Rating: 4.5 stars
Audio Rating: 4.5 stars

Narrator: Kirt Graves
Length: 3 hours, 37 minutes

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Ryder Waites and his family have lived in the tiny Kentucky town of Gallows Grove for generations. Their family’s bourbon distillery is a town institution and Ryder dreams of getting a stop on the Bourbon Trail, as that will bring much needed money into the town. So even though it is a hard decision, he has sold the recipe for their Hanged Man bourbon to a bigger company who can help bring necessary improvements to the facility and production and hopefully the tourism will follow. And things seem to be going as planned, but what Ryder didn’t count on was the company sending a representative to Gallows Grove to inspect the facility and figure out if it is worth the investment to keep production in the small town or to move it to their headquarters instead. And he definitely didn’t count on the super stuffy but totally hot Adam Keller to be the man sent to check things out.

Adam’s family got rich off of horses, but he has never been interested in the family business and doesn’t have much to do with his cold relatives. But he takes his job seriously and if that makes him kind of uptight, he can deal with that. Adam doesn’t know quite what to expect from Gallows Grove, but a quirky little town filled with oddball citizens and businesses with death-pun names is not it. He also doesn’t expect to find himself immediately attracted to the sexy distillery owner.

Things get off on the wrong foot for Adam and Ryder, as Adam has a job to do and Ryder finds him stuffy and way too involved in Ryder’s company business. Not to mention that if things don’t go well with Adam’s report, Ryder might find the distillery moved out of town. But after spending long hours together working, the attraction between the men begins to boil over and they finally act on their feelings. And things are going great for the men and they are finding themselves happy together and very compatible. But Adam has to return home to Lexington when this is all over and Ryder has no desire to ever leave Gallows Grove. Now the men have to decide if the relationship they have built is something they can make work long term, or if they are going to risk losing it before they have even really started.

Oh, this was a really fun and charming story! I loved the humor and playfulness to this one with just the right amount of enemies to lovers vibe to start things off tense, with a nice slide into hot and heavy. Ryder and Adam are a lot of fun together and there is a nice chemistry between them. They are a nice mix of opposites personalities that also end up being a perfect fit. They are sexy together and playful, and I liked seeing the more free spirited Ryder help Adam shed his stuffier side.

Whiskey Business is part of the Dreamspinner Press States of Love collection, a set of unrelated books that each take place in a different state. So when I read one of these stories, I am particularly looking for a nice sense of place since that is the thread that ties the books together. And Gale does a great job with really grounding the story in Kentucky. Per the Author’s Note, she and her family are from the state and you can definitely tell by the obvious affection she has for the area, as well as the little details about the state. This story is all about the bourbon, but we also get a feel for the zeal for basketball and the love of horses that are also what Kentucky is known for. I also loved little Gallows Grove. Although it is a fictional town, Gale makes the little oddball town come alive. I loved how all the businesses had death themed names and all the quirky characters we meet. We can also really feel Ryder’s love for the town and why it is so important to him, so it give some weight to the conflict about the fate of the distillery and how that would affect the town.

I listened to this one in audio and I think narrator Kirt Graves did a great job. He has a nice drawl that fits well with the characters and the setting. I have no idea if it is authentic Kentucky, but to my untrained ear the accents all worked well. Nothing over the top, but enough to give you a sense of place. Adam’s voice is a bit overly raspy at times, which occasionally made him a bit hard to hear, but overall I think the main characters are voiced well and easily distinguished. The side characters are also done well, including the female voices. Graves gets the playfulness and humor of the story just right, and the intensity of the heated scenes as well. I think the story came to life quite well in audio and I really enjoyed it.

Believe it or not, this is my first Avon Gale story and this one has definitely tempted me to pick up more. So if you are in the mood for a short, fun, and playful story with some nice heat and an enjoyable relationship, definitely give Whiskey Business a try.

A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.

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