Whiskey to Wine by B.A. Tortuga

Title: Whiskey to Wine

Series: Leaning N 03 / Dreamspun Desires 78

Author: B.A. Tortuga

Genre: Contemporary, Cowboys

Length: Novel (221 pages)

ISBN: 978-1-64080-771-6

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (19 March 2019)

Heat Level: Moderate

Heart Rating: 💖💖💖💖💖 4.5 Hearts

Reviewer: Prime

Blurb: 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.

Purchase Link: Dreamspinner | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Review: BA Tortuga is an author I’ve only recently (maybe about the past year) to come to fully appreciate, and now look forward to new books. Before that I either wasn’t really attracted to the blurbs or covers of Tortuga’s book. Now, maybe because I finally gave the author a chance, I really enjoy her books, particularly the cowboy/ranch setting books.

Whiskey to Wine is the third book in Tortuga’s Leaning N ranch. I really loved the two previous books in this series and so looked forward to seeing Bleu and Ryan’s story unfold. I was particularly interested because I do like a book where an MC has a physical challenge/disability because he can show the world (and his prospective lover) that despite being hard work, he is his own very capable man. In the case of this book Bleu has an autoimmune disease (I’m kinda of guessing Sjogren’s because I have a friend who has that and some of Bleu’s challenges are similar although my friend is not blind).

Even though this is a series, I do believe that it can be read and fully appreciated as a standalone book. However, the couples from the two previous books do feature prominently. So if you’re like me you’ll probably want to go back to their stories to find out about these guys either before or after you finish the present book.

Bleu Bridely and Ryan Shields are the MCs of this novel and back in college they were lovers. But Ryan got scared and broke Bleu’s heart. In fact, Ryan is a bit of dick although I could see that he had a lot of potential for change, I did dislike him for a time. Fortunately, his character did develop and grow along the way, to a lesser extent this was also true of Bleu as he got to know his former lover again.

Bleu is energy and creativity and totally unstoppable. I mean the guy is a blind sculptor. He has a passion and thirst for life which is stifled by well meaning exes who think that he should take it easy, especially with his health problems impacting on his life. Bleu is accompanied by his ex (and business associate) to the Leaning N Ranch in Aspen to help Bleu for the unveiling of his most recent commission.

It is here that Bleu runs into his college ex, Ryan, who is at Leaning N as a volunteer ski instructor for Gay Ski Week. Bleu is at first reticent when it comes to seeing Ryan again, can’t blame him really because Ryan left him because the thought of being with some who is disabled scared the crap out of him. Ryan had thought that being with Bleu would hold back his dreams, which he achieved since, as described in the blurb, he is a former Olympic snowboarder. The guys get to know each other and Ryan seems to realise how superficial he had been along the way, which leads into what is an extremely sweet and well developed romance.

Against the odds in the face of a man character I really could have disliked, I loved this book. This is a wonderful story about the one that got away and second chances where we see the MCs grow.

I’m hoping that Bleu’s ex, Dan, gets a story because there seems to be hidden depths there and it would be a shame not to develop the character further beyond the superficial, bossy businessman we got to see. In fact, there are a number of minor characters who I hope will get their HEA. I can’t wait for July when the next book in this series is released, although I know it’s different characters to the ones I just said I hope could get their own story.

As a side note, I’m also really enjoying the new cover designs for the Dreamspun Desires line, which switched over to this current style a few months ago. It certainly added to the appeal of the book and blurb. I like that this cover doesn’t have an image of a seeing eye dog or a guy wearing glasses, nothing that makes me say “oh, blind guy”. I find it refreshing and it suits Bleu’s determination to not let anything get in his way.

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