Wednesday, March 20, 2019

ARC Review: Whiskey To Wine by B.A. Tortuga


Love is hitting the slopes, and the competition is fierce.

It’s Gay Ski Week in Aspen, and blind sculptor Bleu Bridey and his ex-fiancé, Dan, are at the Leaning N Ranch to unveil Bleu’s latest commission.

Former Olympic snowboarder Ryan Shields is there too… and he’s Bleu’s true love who got away. Seeing Bleu again, Ryan remembers how they couldn’t get enough of each other in college.

Too bad it looks like Bleu is with Dan now, because Ryan would love to remind Bleu how good they were together, in and out of the sheets.

Between Ski Week parties, a bunch of exes, a private ski lesson, and one terrible accident that leaves Bleu stranded and Ryan in rescue mode, it’ll be a wonder if these two manage to survive, much less find a few seconds alone to remember how much love they have to keep them warm even in the worst of storms.

Sandra's review:

This is the third book in the Leaning N series, and another installment of the popular Dreamspun Desires series.

Bleu Bridey is a sculptor, creating masterpieces with his hands. He's also blind, living in Santa Fe, and a good friend of Stoney and Ford, the owners of the Leaning N ranch near Aspen. Bleu has been working on a commissioned piece celebrating the love story between Stoney and Ford, and he's traveling up to the ranch for Gay Ski Week, a yearly event, to unveil said commissioned piece, with his ex-boyfriend, gallery owner Dan, who's a good friend to Bleu even if their romance is over, and professionally involved with him as well.

Also at the ranch is Ryan Shields, a well-known and successful snowboarder, who's been asked to attend Gay Ski Week by his publicist/ex-boyfriend Phil, to promote his exclusive line of snowboards to the folks attending the ski week, as well as performing a show run.

Ryan and Bleu were involved in college where they shared a room, but once college was over, Ryan panicked at the thought of spending his life with a blind man and fled. And in the process broke Bleu's heart.

Bleu is sharing a cabin with Dan, separate beds, and Ryan has to share a room with Phil. While it's made clear to the reader early on that neither is involved with anyone when they first meet again, Bleu and Ryan assume that the other is taken, and nothing can come of the sparks they still feel after all these years. Bleu's not a cheater, and Ryan isn't either.

While their initial interaction is awkward, the more time they spend together, the more they both realize that the feelings they once had for each other never really went away. And once they clear up that they're both unattached, they leap at the chance to be together again, more mature, less fearful, more secure in who they are, and more prepared to deal with what life throws at them. Yes, Bleu is still blind, but it's no longer a deal breaker to Ryan, and it was a joy to watch Ryan be subtly helpful to Bleu, while giving him the space he needed to do things on his own. He enabled him, and he never made him feel lesser than.

Of course there is a bit of drama along the way, and there are some tense moments when Bleu, after a bad accident on a snowmobile he's riding with Stoney, is left stranded and scared, but not helpless. He's smart, he uses his head, and he does what he can to keep himself and Stoney as safe as possible while they wait for help to arrive.

And of course, we get a HEA because that's part of what makes this series so charming.

The author's writing style really lends itself to this type of romance while being so descriptive as to transport the reader into the white wonderland that is the Leaning N ranch in the winter. I love the cast of characters BA Tortuga created for this series, and how they all have such strong bonds, romantic or familial, that carry them through whatever may come. And Geoff, the ranch cook, is such a fabulous character, and I'm still hoping he'll get his own happy ending.

While this book can be read as a standalone, it is helpful to have read at least the first one to be familiar with the folks who live and love on the ranch, all of whom play a part, big or small, in this here book as well.

I enjoyed this, and I think you will too. While there's not a lot of steam due to there being a limit on steam as part of the Dreamspun Desires titles, what we do get happens as part of natural progression of the relationship as Bleu and Ryan rekindle their love story. It fit where it happened, and I was entirely sold on the relationship without a lot of bedroom shenanigans.

** I received a free copy of this book from its publisher in exchange for an honest review. **

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