Title: Whiskey and Moonshine
Author: Elizabeth Noble
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: January 15, 2019
Page Count: 160
Reviewed by: Kristin F.
Heat Level: 2 flames out of 5
Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Drunk on love.
Like a well-aged whiskey, master distiller and old-money entrepreneur Malone Kensington is elegant and refined. Unfortunately he’s also a perfectionist who is more dedicated to the success of his generations-old company than his own love life.
That company needs a public spokesman.
What Colton Hale lacks in sophistication, he more than makes up for with the charisma that’s allowed him to survive on the street from a young age and charm his way into the lucrative—if overwhelming—public position at the Kensington Distillery. When Mal takes Colt under his wing, hoping to polish off his rough edges, opposites attract and a passionate romance blossoms despite the differences in age and background. But can it survive a Kensington Board of Directors who believe Colt is nothing but a gold digger and a kidnapper determined to profit from the love of Mal’s life—dead or alive?
Blurb isn’t quite accurate. Premise of the book is, Colt’s been living on the streets since he was 15. After getting beat up again, he buys a bus ticket to anywhere. When he wakes up to the sun shining over the Smokey Mts, and the bus makes it’s next stop, he decides he needs to figure out how to stay in Tennessee. When he takes a tour of Kensington Whiskey Factory he convinces HR to hire him as a janitor.
When an opportunity arises to become the face of the company, Colt does his research and works his way into an interview, and into Mal Kensington’s lonely life. Mal, solitary by nature, is intrigued by the bold Colt. Over the coming months as Colt learns what it is to be in the spotlight, the two men come to find some common ground and friendship. When their burgeoning romance is threatened by the Board of Directors and a kidnapping, everything might be undone.
So. I enjoyed this. It’s a smooth, nicely paced, light romance set in Tennessee and the Smokey Mountains. The characters are interesting and varied, the business of making whiskey was interesting, and the premise of the book engaging.
But…something felt off. Or maybe it was lots of little somethings that never coalesced into something of substance.
I’ll start with Colt. So if Colt is as enterprising as he’s portrayed, why didn’t he work this hard to get a job in Toledo so at least he would have been off the streets? The insta-job and subsequent “promotions” over a couple of weeks left me going, huh?
Mal’s self-imposed solitude never gelled for me. He obviously had a solid relationship with Gwen, Phillip, Audrey and others, and it wasn’t like he was afraid to attend social events, so the lonely isolation expressed wasn’t there in feeling.
The insta-romance was…flat. Now I don’t need fireworks and declarations of love shouted from the tops of buildings in every book, but the feelings between Mal and Colt jumped from friends to lovers in a couple of pages which again left me going, huh?
The whole business with the paperwork (purposely being vague) also felt like it was trying to force something in where it didn’t need to be at that point in the story.
There were other small quirks, but I’ll leave it at the main points above.
So, yeah, it sounds like I’m contradicting myself – but I did enjoy reading this selection. It was low angst, I liked the characters, the plot flowed along nicely, and I could tune out a crappy week for a while. But the pacing of Colt’s promotions, the speed of the romance, and a handful of other small items had me scratching my head a bit.