on October 13th, 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance
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I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
ItÔÇÖs crazy how fast the buzz comes back after youÔÇÖve been sober for so long.
Whiskey stood there, on my doorstep, just like he had one year before. Except this time, there was no rain, no anger, no wedding invitation ÔÇö it was just us.
It was just him ÔÇö the old friend, the easy smile, the twisted solace wrapped in a glittering bottle.
It was just me ÔÇö the alcoholic, pretending like I didnÔÇÖt want to taste him, realizing too quickly that months of being clean didnÔÇÖt make me crave him any less.
But we canÔÇÖt start here.
No, to tell this story right, we need to go back.
Back to the beginning.
Back to the very first drop.
This is my love letter to Whiskey. I only hope he reads it.
“Jamie was whiskey, that much I was sure of. I couldn’t deny the way he burned, the way his taste lingered. Still, no one warned me that once a whiskey girl, always a whiskey girl. But I was figuring it out.”
Loredana: Whiskey burns. ┬áIf you’re not ready, it can almost feel like a heartache. ┬áThis story, these characters, burned my throat, made my eyes sting with tears, and left an ache in my chest. ┬áYet, I was addicted. ┬áAddicted to the pain, to the angst, to the need for more. ┬áI guess I am not all that different from Jamie and B.
The way they came together, evolving ┬áfrom a third-wheel friendship to an undeniable┬áand everlasting fire showed that while there were instant sparks, the slow burn lit surrounding tinder throughout the years. ┬áThey burned hot, often hurting themselves and others around them, whether they meant to or not.
Cyndi: ┬áI have honestly never been so nervous to start a book as I was A Love Letter To Whiskey. From the premise and teasers I knew there is an element of unrequited love and overt hints that maybe our heroine was an alcoholic struggling with sobriety and her love of whiskey. Well, our heroine does struggle with an addiction to ÔÇ£whiskeyÔÇØ, in the form of one Jamie Shaw.
Steiner’s writing is mesmerizing; smart & poetic. B contemplates everything (sheÔÇÖs an over thinker) and when I found myself thinking ÔÇ£no no no…donÔÇÖt do thatÔÇØ, I still got why the story went where it does. The story line pace, following B over this decade of time shows some of the most critical ones to forming who she is. She keeps a small circle of friends and there are few she trust, Jamie is one of them, but Jenna is her bestie. Yet she holds something back from both of them.
“I looked back on all the damage weÔÇÖd done ÔÇö to ourselves, to those around us ÔÇö and I mourned the time IÔÇÖd lost fighting for someone who would never be mine. IÔÇÖd been a fool, and now I was standing in the rubble of the life IÔÇÖd wasted, drowning in both sorrow and a drive to build a new one. IÔÇÖd waited too long for Whiskey, and I refused to let him hold that power over me any longer.”
Loredana:┬áThis book devastated me. ┬áI can still taste the lingering whiskey burn, my heart is broken, and I’m drunk in love. ┬áSeriously, my heart was shattered with each turn of the page. ┬áLuckily, B’s revelation about the medicinal properties of whiskey helped mend my heart. ┬áSteiner shared a piece of her heart in writing this masterpiece. ┬áIn doing so, she stole a slice of my soul. ┬áI loved her writing before, I’m in “love plus one” with her writing now.
Cyndi: ┬áAs we follow B through heartbreak after heartbreak , we do see her grow immensely. From college into the professional world, from choices about where to live and to work, she sacrifices her happiness due to guilt, maybe to punish herself. ItÔÇÖs like the brass ring is in site and she just canÔÇÖt find it in herself to lean out just a little bit more. She and Jamie just couldn’t seem to get the timing right.
Loredana: Oh, yes. That’s the nail on the head. ┬áThe timing – either the world around them or in their heads – was never right. ┬áI can’t even say how many times I wanted to run away from the heartache while reading. ┬áEven when it hurt, you could see the burn between them. ┬áIt never dulled, they just tried to deny it.
“I think I needed that first, true heartbreak to feel enough to write the way I did that night. Words donÔÇÖt get written from a heart thatÔÇÖs never felt. They come from pain, from love, from unspeakable depths ÔÇö and they were my only release. That was also the night I pledged myself dry.”
Cyndi: Steiner doesn’t give us a break. We are on an emotional freight train careening out of control right to the very end. We had built up quite the expectations for this book and honestly it was even better than expected. We havenÔÇÖt been able to stop thinking about it, itÔÇÖs so beautiful, so perfectly executed and one of my top reads of the year and a #MustRead.
We beg you to read this book. ┬áYour heart┬áwill ache, but you’ll never have loved the burn so much. ┬áFall in love with whiskey and join in the addiction.
“I wondered if the gaping hole where JamieÔÇÖs warm buzz used to exist would ever close, if IÔÇÖd ever get that part of myself back, or if itÔÇÖd always belong to him. I wondered if there would ever be a day, a single day in my entire life, where I would truly shake my addiction.”
In order to heal from epic┬ábook hangover, we found a little pop sensation which utterly encapsulated this book. ┬áWhile the beat is pop, the words are spot on. ┬áThank you One Direction for this lyrical balm.
Cyndi: That song choice…BRAVO Loredana!! What a perfect pick!
You don’t understand, you don’t understand
What you do to me when you hold his hand
We were meant to be but a twist of fate
Made it so you had to walk away‘Cause we’re on fire
We are on fire
We’re on fire now
Yeah, we’re on fire
We are on fire
We’re on fire nowI don’t care what people say when we’re together
You know I wanna be the one to hold you when you sleep
I just want it to be you and I forever
I know you wanna leave
So c’mon baby be with me
The first time I tasted Whiskey, I fell flat on my face.
I was drunk from the very first sip, and I guess that should have been my sign to stay away.
Jenna and I were running the trail around the lake near her house, sweat dripping into our eyes from the intense South Florida heat. It was early September, but in South Florida, it might as well have been July. There was no ÔÇ£boots and scarvesÔÇØ season, unless you counted the approximately six weeks in January and February where the temperature dropped below eighty degrees.
As it was, we were battling ninety-plus degrees, me trying to be a show off and prove I could keep up with JennaÔÇÖs cheerleading training program. She had finally made the varsity squad, and with that privilege came ridiculous standards she had to uphold. I hated running ÔÇö absolutely loathed it. I would much rather have been on my surf board that day. But fortunately for Jenna, she had a competitive best friend who never turned down a challenge. So when she asked me to train with her, IÔÇÖd agreed eagerly, even knowing IÔÇÖd have screaming ribs and calves by the end of the day.
I saw him first.
I was just a few steps ahead of Jenna, and IÔÇÖd been staring down at my hot pink sneakers as they hit the concrete. When I looked up, he was about fifty feet away, and even from that distance I could tell I was in trouble. He seemed sort of average at first ÔÇö brown hair, lean build, soaked white running shirt ÔÇö but the closer he got, the more I realized just how edible he was. I noticed the shift in the muscles of his legs as he ran, the way his hair bounced slightly, how he pressed his lips together in concentration as he neared us.
I looked over my shoulder, attempting to waggle my eyebrows at Jenna and give her the secret best friend code for ÔÇ£hot guy up aheadÔÇØ, but she had stopped to tie her shoes. And when I turned back around, it was too late.
I smacked into him ÔÇö hard ÔÇö and fell to the pavement, rolling a bit to soften the fall. He cursed and I groaned, more from embarrassment than pain. I wish I could say I gracefully picked myself up, smiled radiantly, and asked him for his number, but the truth is I lost the ability to do anything the minute I looked up at him.
It was an unfamiliar, warm ache that spread through my chest as I used my hand to shield the sun streaming in behind his silhouette, just how youÔÇÖd expect the first sip of whiskey to feel. He was bent over, hand outstretched, saying something that wasnÔÇÖt registering because I had somehow managed to slip my hand into his and just that one touch had set my skin on fire.
Handsome wasnÔÇÖt the right word to describe him, but it was all I kept thinking as I traced his features. His hair was a sort of mocha color, damp at the roots, falling onto his forehead just slightly. His eyes were wide ÔÇö almost too round ÔÇö and a mixture of gold, green, and the deepest brown. I didnÔÇÖt coin the nickname Whiskey until much later, but it was that moment that I saw it for the first time ÔÇö those were whiskey eyes. The kind of eyes you get lost in. The kind that drink you in. He had the longest lashes and a firm, square jaw. It was so hard, the edges so clean that I would have sworn he was angry with me if it werenÔÇÖt for the smile on his face.He was still talking as my eyes fell over his broad chest before snapping back up to his sideways grin.
ÔÇ£Oh my God, are you fucking blind?!ÔÇØ JennaÔÇÖs voice snapped me from my haze as she shoved Whiskey out of the way and latched onto my hand, ripping me back to standing position. IÔÇÖd barely caught my balance before she whipped around to continue her scolding. ÔÇ£How about you brush that long ass hair out of your eyes and watch where youÔÇÖre going, huh champ?ÔÇØ
I didnÔÇÖt even have time to call dibs, I couldnÔÇÖt even think the word, let alone say it, before it was too late. I watched it, in slow motion, as Whiskey fell for my best friend before I even had the chance to say a single word to him.
Jenna was standing tall, arms crossed, one hip popped in her usual fashion as she waited for him to defend himself. This was her protocol ÔÇö it was one of the reasons we got along. We were both what youÔÇÖd call ÔÇ£spitfiresÔÇØ, but Jenna had the distinct advantage of being cripplingly gorgeous on top of having an attitude. She flipped her long, wavy blonde ponytail behind her and cocked a brow.
And then he did, too.
His smile grew wider as he met her eyes, and it was the same look IÔÇÖd watched fall over guy after countless guy. Jenna was a unicorn, and men were enamored by her. As they should have been ÔÇö she had platinum blonde hair, crystal blue eyes, legs for days and a personality to boot. Now, before you go thinking that I was the insecure best friend – I had it going on, too. I worked hard, I was talented – just not at the things traditional high school boys valued.
But weÔÇÖll get to that.
ÔÇ£Hi,ÔÇØ Whiskey finally said, extending his hand to Jenna this time. His eyes were warm, smile inviting ÔÇö if I had to pick the right word for him, just one, IÔÇÖd say charming. He just oozed charm. ÔÇ£IÔÇÖm Jamie.ÔÇØ
ÔÇ£Well, Jamie, maybe you should make an appointment with the eye doctor before you run over another innocent jogger. And you owe Brecks an apology.ÔÇØ She nodded to me then and I cringed at my name, wondering why she felt the need to spill it at all. She always called me B ÔÇö everyone did ÔÇö so why did she choose the moment I was face to face with the first boy to ever make my heart accelerate to use my full name?
Jamie was still grinning, eying Jenna, trying to figure her out, but he turned to me after a moment with that same crooked smile. ÔÇ£IÔÇÖm sorry, I should have been watching where I was going.ÔÇØ He said the words with conviction, but lifted his brows on that last line because he and I both knew who wasnÔÇÖt paying attention to the trail, and he wasnÔÇÖt the guilty party.
ÔÇ£ItÔÇÖs fine,ÔÇØ I murmured, because for some reason I was still having a difficult time finding my voice. Jamie tilted his head just a fraction, his eyes hard on me this time, and I felt naked beneath his gaze. IÔÇÖd never had anyone look at me that way ÔÇö completely zeroed in. It was unnerving and exhilarating, too.
But before I could latch onto the feeling, he turned back to Jenna, their eyes meeting as slow smiles spread on both of their faces. IÔÇÖd seen it a million times, but this was the first time I felt sick watching it happen.
I saw him first, but it didnÔÇÖt matter.
Because he saw her.