tl;dr: forgettable novel with too many characters and not enough heart
Ava Grace Landy is a country superstar who rose to fame after winning a televised singing competition: essentially, she’s Carrie Underwood, although in this universe, she is competing with Ms Underwood for dollars and fans. Her new management team at her record label are threatening to kick her to the curb if she can’t reel in some male listeners, as apparently her entire fanbase is female.
In order to appease the directive, she decides to partner with her friend’s husband’s friend’s (phew!) bourbon distillery. It’s a unique boutique distillery, located in San Francisco rather than Kentucky, where most bourbon is made. Ava Grace decides rather quickly that she just has to have Beck, the guarded friend of her friend’s husband, who co-owns the distillery with two of his other friends (who no doubt have their own books complete with HEAs on the way).
Beck is reluctant to start anything with Ava Grace because he doesn’t want to be in the spotlight after his own tabloid-fodder past, and also because he thinks it can’t be genuine because she’s a superstar, or something. They end up having a torrid affair anyway, because of reasons. Honestly, most of it is a little fuzzy to me.
There’s some stuff about Ava Grace’s father, her daddy issues, and her coming forward to talk about how her father’s Alzheimer’s disease affected her, but it all blurs together.
There are books that I read that after I’ve finished them, I nearly forget the entire book. They just aren’t memorable. Sometimes there are so many threads to keep straight that I just can’t grasp them all, and they all become a tangled mess. Other times, the characters don’t come alive and jump off the page. Or the plot is non-existent and the story meanders pointlessly. This book had elements of all of those things. I found all of the many, many characters to be one-dimensional and difficult to keep straight. Some plot elements I can remember clearly, but the rest of it has just faded all together.
My largest issue with this book is that it not only works as a standalone for this series, but evidently borrows heavily from other books in a series unrelated to this one by the same author. Re-using characters is all fine and good, but the book still needs to stand on its own. There was just too much of it. There’s a point where Sutton basically introduces the main players to the next book in the series, with a page-long description of a woman who lives next door to the place that Beck’s co-owner friend moves into. It doesn’t further the plot of THIS book one iota. I ended up skimming it.
This book was fine. I struggled to finish it as it didn’t really hold my interest. There were too many characters and too much going on to invest fully into the central relationship.
For more bourbon romance novels, I recommend The Bourbon Thief by Tiffany Reisz. It definitely held my interest.