Whiskey to Wine (ParisDude’s Review)

Title: Whiskey to Wine (Leaning N Book #3)
Author: BA Tortuga
Publisher: Dreamspun Desires
Release Date: March 19, 2019
Genre(s): Contemporary
Page Count: 221
Reviewed by: ParisDude
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5


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.

Bleu Bridey is that handsome blind sculptor living in Santa Fe who has become a frequent visitor of the Leaning N ranch near Aspen. Shortly after Christmas, his ex-boyfriend and gallery-owner Dan Klah drives him up to the ranch for the Gay Ski Week and the unveiling of Bleu’s latest work, a sculpture celebrating the ranch owners’ love and mutual commitment. Bleu is happy to meet up again with the friendly staff and to discover the snow-covered mountains. That is, until he stumbles upon who else but his college-ex, Ryan “I Fucked Up Your Life And Left You Heartbroken” Shields (I’m quoting the author here).

Ryan has made his name world-wide as a prodigious, Olympic snowboarder. He’s now living in Boulder, doing the odd show-run, and managing his own, successful snowboard company featuring exclusive designs. He’s helped in this by his one-time lover Phil.

When he meets Bleu again, the situation is awkward, both being polite, but clumsy around each other. Ryan immediately regrets the silliness of his college-boy behaviour, however, which has let to their split-up. He realizes he’s still very smitten with his ex-lover. Bleu, by the way, can’t deny he’s feeling the same old chemistry between them, too. But. Bleu is there with Dan, who seems to be Bleu’s husband. And Ryan sleeps in the same room as Phil. It looks as if both were already emotionally engaged with someone else.

It takes some chapters for Bleu and Ryan to clear up any misunderstanding, to catch up and get to know each other anew. But as you turn the pages, things get smoother, and almost halfway through the book, it becomes clear these two will make it happen. They are in love, they have matured, they are ready for the Real Deal. That’s a constant till the not-so-surprising ending, despite events apparently working against them.

I must confess, I haven’t read the first two books of the series. But this can be read as a stand-alone novel (although I’m certainly going to check out what I’ve missed in the previous books). It’s written very nicely, even though in the beginning I was somewhat confused by the profusion of secondary characters (shoot me, but my first-name-memory is pretty lousy). Another quibble would be that sometimes the dialogues could have been trimmed shorter and that there’s no real need to interrupt them with thought processes or explanatory notes. I also think in the eleven years I’ve been living with my boyfriend I haven’t “babe”-d him as often as Ryan and Bleu do in just a couple of days (is it a Texan/Coloradan thing?).

But these are minor quibbles. The book is evenly paced, there’s chemistry, there’s love, there’s friendship, there’s understanding, there’s (old) romance blooming again. The characters are really endearing, and it was a surprising but nice experience to “see” the world through the eyes of a blind man (something I have to say BA Tortuga pulls off very well). Moreover, as an Austrian-born guy, I’m exceedingly fond of romantic kissing going on when snow is falling on the romantic kissers. As already mentioned, I’m looking forward to reading the first two books—“Whiskey and Wine” has whetted my appetite for more tales out of the Leaning N ranch.

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Advanced Review Copy

Galley copy of WHISKEY AND WINE provided by the publisher in exchange of an honest review.


Dieter, born and raised in Austria, studied Political Sciences in Vienna in the early 90s. He's living in Paris, France, with his boyfriend and working as a graphic designer. In his spare time, he loves to write, read, cook, take photos, and travel as often as possible. He’s already published two short-story collections as well as four poetry collections. His first murder mystery novel “The Stuffed Coffin” featuring Damien Drechsler and the dashing Greek student Nikos has been released on Jan. 6, 2019, and is available in English, French, and German. By the way, the French version "Le cercueil farci" has won the prestigious Prix du roman gay 2019 in the category murder mystery. Dieter runs a gay book reviews site in French and is also writing reviews for Gay Book Reviews under the pseudonym of ParisDude.
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