Published by Kandi Steiner on October 13, 2016
Genres: Adult, Friends to Lovers, Romance
It’s crazy how fast the buzz comes back after you’ve 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 — it was just us.
It was just him — the old friend, the easy smile, the twisted solace wrapped in a glittering bottle.
It was just me — the alcoholic, pretending like I didn’t want to taste him, realizing too quickly that months of being clean didn’t make me crave him any less.
But we can’t 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.
I feel like I need to apologize in advance because this review is most likely just going to be a jumbled mess. A bit pile of messy letters and words and feeling that don’t really make sense but are here nonetheless. So sorry, for whoever tries to decipher this, I’m still in knots over this book even though it’s been days since I finished the last page.
“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.”
Speak of that last page, I’m going to start with the ending. The ending of A Love Letter to Whiskey killed me. There, I said it. I died. I was an emotional mess and spent a few minutes just staring at the cover. I held strong while read this story and never actually cried. There were a few times when I thought I was bound to, a few times my eyes watered, because of those blasted indoor allergies getting me, but the tears never fell. Many deep breaths later and I was not okay, but could move on. But by the time I read the last page in the last chapter, there was no hope left for me, I was done for. Tears galore, I’m sure there was snot involved, so basically I looked beautiful, because crying like an idiot will do that to a person. 😉
“I realized that I loved him, I realized that he loved me, but that wasn’t enough. Because what I didn’t realize was that Jamie bruised my heart that first day we met, when he literally ran into me, and every time I’d seen him since then, it had been like jabbing that bruise with granite fingers. A self-inflicted wound. I liked the way it hurt with him, the way it stung, the way it wasn’t perfect —and so did he. But I was done hurting myself. I was done hurting him, too.”
I was both sort of content and angry as hell at Kandi for leaving the book like that. “How could she do this to me?” I yelled, shaking my fist in the air. But wait, there’s an epilogue. All will be okay if there’s an epilogue, right? RIGHT?! Good lord almighty, I had so many feelings. So yes, there’s an epilogue, but Kandi being the trickster that she is, doesn’t make it a simple one. No, because obviously she hadn’t fucked with me enough already. *Sigh.* I can’t even tell you how many emotions I went through in that two page span. I was heartbroken, confused, angry, satiated, hopeful, and everything in between. I had to read it twice before I could even digest what was happening, and had to read it a third time afterwards to start uncovering how I felt about everything. This is where the jumbled mess comes back into play.
“Looking back, that was the night my hate for timing truly manifested. That was the night I realized that no matter how easy it seemed to be to form a long-standing relationship with Whiskey, the truth was that it wasn’t simple at all, not even a little bit.
He asked me for two things: tonight, and one day.
But one day never came.”
You know when you’re standing in a club and you can feel the bass thumping through your entire body? How you can feel it in your bones, your veins, your heart? ALLTW has those vibrations, but Kandi replaced the bass with angst. Just close your eyes for a second and picture this: angst angst angst angst angst angst. Beating through your body. Over and over again. Nonstop. It’s a good thing I like angsty books because there’s a good chance that this is one of the hardest things I’ve ever read. It’s written in such a way to take you through so many different emotions. You feel what you don’t want to, Kandi confronts you with things you might not want to address or think about, and puts them in your sights anyways. This is one of the hardest reading journeys I’ve been on and the author knows exactly what she’s doing in terms of making you feel.
This story for B and Jamie spans over twelve years or so, so be prepared to go on a long ride with lots of twists and turns. Just to prepare yourselves, yes, there is OM/OW scenarios in this book because you can’t really expect there not to be, with such a long timeline. But it’s all handled extremely well and I loved the way my heart would speed up to a mile a minute while reading each twist and turn!
“It’s okay to love him,” Jamie whispered, and another deep roll of thunder sounded with his words.
“No it’s not,” I breathed, lifting my head from his chest. I met his eyes, their greenish-gold glow bringing me the strength I needed to say the next words. “Just like it’s not okay to love you.”
His nose flared, and his hand found my chin, tilting it up before sliding to cradle my neck. “You love me? […] Is it okay that I love you back?”
Opposed to the bigger twists, this novel had plenty of smaller moments that are still jam packed with all of the feels. Personally, I really liked the times that Jamie and B would just go around driving or surfing, chat all day or sit in comfortable silence. They understood each other and sometimes things are just easier when you fall into these (seemingly inconsequential) moments. Seeing the bigger picture afterward, these are where their relationship actually developed. Jamie and B became best friends early on and whether it was catching a wave or going cruising, this is where they understood each other, their thoughts, fears, dreams and hopes. The smallest moments paint the biggest pictures.
“Would you be mad if I kissed you right now?”
“Yes,” I lied, proving my previous statement wrong. I wanted him to kiss me —God, I wanted him to kiss me. It was all I could do to pull back from the way he pushed himself into my space. But a normal girl with a boyfriend would have been mad. That’s why he asked me. And that’s why I lied. I tried to hold onto the last thread of morality I had, but he snapped it in half with his next sentence.
“Then I hope you’ll forgive me later.”
I connected with B early on. You see, when she realized her addiction to whiskey, I understood her because I’m a whiskey girl myself. She was such a complex character, but I feel the need to state right off the bat that I didn’t always like her. People change as they grow and there was a certain time where I had to stop and think ‘wow, I actually really hate her right now, where did this come from?’, then proceed to figure out how long I had disliked her. I’m happy to say that it goes back and forth, she does get better, but when she’s being unreasonable or stubborn, it’s extremely easy to become frustrated with her character. She could’ve saved this story YEARS in the long run. I understand why it was written the way it was, but I’ll admit, I may have wanted to throttle her slightly for a second somewhere in there.
“I never answered. And I never called him back. It seemed I was trying to let go of Whiskey and he was trying to hold on to me.”
Jamie was quite the interesting hero. Sure he made some questionable decisions at times, but I loved his overall attitude. No matter what was happening in his or B’s life, you could never doubt him because he was 100% honest to himself and about his actions. Even when I was struggling, I still loved him. Even when I wanted to scream and cry and throw a fit over things he did, I still loved him.
This was sort of addressed already but man oh man, those last few chapters were insane! I couldn’t breathe. I never contemplated not finishing the story but I didn’t know how I was going to be able to get through it! I’m a believer in timing is everything. You can call it coincidence, but in one specific scene, these two show us how perfect (or imperfect) the timing really could be. My heart ripped out of my chest in these moments, on that night with the rain and a crumpled invitation. I bled for Jamie. His reasons. His feelings. I was happy all the while being so incredibly angry. There was so much going on, it’s a lot to take in at once.
“I looked back on all the damage we’d done —to ourselves, to those around us —and I mourned the time I’d lost fighting for someone who would never be mine. I’d been a fool, and now I was standing in the rubble of the life I’d wasted, drowning in both sorrow and a drive to build a new one.”
One thing I noticed about this author’s writing is how she answers every single question the reader has. There are times where questionable actions or words are said, and they’re at one point or another answered. Then as the story gets harder, it’s more difficult to see the reason in these actions. How could these two keep possibly hurting each other? When is enough, enough? You don’t realize how important it is to get these answers until they aren’t in front of your face and you’re trying to fill in the blanks. In one particularly heated moment, I felt the need to scream because I just simply couldn’t understand. Then Kandi gives an explanation that I never in a million years would’ve considered. Even when you think you know what’s coming, she’ll surprise you.
I feel like this will be the type of book that’s controversial enough to cause people to either love it or hate it, I’m not really sure there will be much of a middle ground. Kandi puts you through so much and these characters are far from perfect, at times it really does hurt to read. But if you like angst, this is the jackpot! Kandi works in so much more than I could’ve expected and elicited so many more feelings than I was willing to give. This book took and took from me and my clenching heart didn’t want it any other way!
“He would never be my Jamie again.
I wasn’t supposed to still love him.
But I did.”
Finishing off A Love Letter to Whiskey, for a moment put aside all of your feelings, all of your thoughts, and just simmer in what’s left… It’ll be that slow burn of a good whiskey, aged with care and time. Even after reading the story of an addict, for a whiskey girl like me, I’ll take that shot again and again. Will you?
*An ARC was received from the author and Southern Belle Promotions in exchange for an honest review.