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)
What a delightful story! I don't think I have ever really been to Kentucky (driving through when I was a kid doesn't count). I don't drink whiskey (I had a bad experience) and I don't watch basketball or horse racing (don't hate me). I tell you what, though, I love the 'enemies to lovers' trope and this story is full of win.
Ryder Waites was named after the Rider-Waite Tarot Card deck. Yeah, his mom was a bit new-agey, and not at all afraid to show her color. His whole family, including his ancestors, were pretty colorful people. Ryder comes from a line of bootleggers who helped found Gallows Grove during the prohibition. Ryder has his own color as well. He loves the town of Gallows Grove and he wants to do everything in his power to help the town, not just survive, but thrive. He aims to put Gallows Grove on the Bourbon Trail to bring in some tourist dollars and revitalize the town he loves so much.
Adam Keller, or Mr. Lexington as Ryder and some others occasionally call him, is a bit … uptight. It's not really his fault, though, he comes from a whole family of super uptight people. Horse people. Important people. So Adam doesn't really know how to let his hair down and relax. Since Gallows Grove isn't presently a tourist destination, they really don't have lodging for short time guests. For Adam's stay, he was put up in a room for rent in the "Ever After Funeral Home", which isn't used used for funerals all that often, but does have a room full of super creepy dolls and several clocks that tick too loudly.
At first, things are more than a little tense between Ryder and Adam. Adam is there to evaluate the distillery, after all, and determine if the ROI would be worth it to keep the distillery in Gallows Grove. So, the one thing that Ryder really needs to do is sell the idea of the town to Adam so he can see just how important it is to keep everything local. And if they decide to sex up the place, well, that wouldn't hurt, either, yeah?
I loved all the kitchy names of the businesses. The bar that Ryder lived above was called "Trapdoor", there is a florists called "Pushing up Daisies", and I would be remiss if I didn't mention "The Last Meal Diner", and "The Perfect Grime" laundromat. The funeral home was called "Ever After", as I mentioned above, but if I would have been in charge of naming it, I would have called it "Wake the Dead", because I am a fan of morbid humor.
My favorite quote in the book will not at all give any of the plot away and it is referring to Ryder's mom's funeral, where she made a rather unique last request: "I want my ashes placed in bubbles, so you can all blow me." -- I seriously LOL'd…then I read that part to my husband, and he LOL'd. I am formally changing my 'last request plans', because some things should be funny.
I really enjoyed Whiskey Business and would definitely recommend it for an evening of light reading fun.
ARC of Whiskey Business was generously provided by the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.
Thanks for reading my review!