“Whiskey and Wine,” by H. Dillon Smith
Publication date: March 17, 2016
Synopsis: Ellie Ray Vaughn needs a fresh start. Daughter of a washed-up ex-musician and alcoholic mother, ex-girlfriend to an abusive psycho, and unwanted house guest to her aunt and uncle that have had to take her in. College is supposed to be that fresh start. She has her best friend Annie by her side and a determination to pursue anything but music in hopes of not ending up like her mother. But in Nashville, it’s hard to run from the music that runs in her veins. She’s determined to leave her past behind her, but a certain blue eyed, tattooed guitar player refuses to let her stifle her talent…or her feelings.
Dean Thomas is just like any other arrogant musician. Girls are plentiful and fleeting, music is all that matters, and feelings belong only in the lyrics that he writes. He’s not looking to fall in love, only to leave his painful childhood behind and focus on the future. A future that involves music, record deals, and no one to tie him down. But when Dean meets Ellie he doesn’t hesitate to throw away his one night stands and wild nights for the girl he never thought he would find. He just didn’t expect it to be so hard.
“Whiskey and Wine,” is H. Dillon Smith’s debut novel and it is a fantastic romance. Ellie hasn’t had the best upbringing dealing with an alcoholic musician mother that gave her away, as well as, recently breaking up with an abusive boyfriend. She was raised by her aunt and uncle but always felt like a guest in their room rather than family. Getting ready to start college, Ellie and her best friend Annie are out at a bar when Ellie’s cousin Chandler begs her to fill in for their singer. Luckily Ellie agrees and she meets the guitarist Dean Thomas.
Dean also has a dark past after the death of his real father, his mother marrying a controlling and abusive Marine, and then with his mother’s death. While she was dying, she would talk to Dean about him meeting the girl he will fall in love with. She described a girl who has also had a troubling past, expresses herself with words and music, and is stubborn. Dean’s track record with girls has been one night flings so far, and he has a reputation as a player. But as soon as Dean meets Ellie, and especially after hearing her sing, he knows he has met the girl for him.
Ellie tries to push Dean away or at least remain just friends but things become challenging once she realizes he is rooming with her cousin right down the hall. Moreover, they have classes together, hang out with the same crowd, and he always seeks out her input on his songwriting. Ellie’s abusive ex-boyfriend is back in the picture also, calling and texting her to the point she thinks she may need another restraining order. Dean is persistent but not pushy, and eventually, Ellie can’t ignore their feelings for one another.
Why is “Whiskey and Wine” a different and unique romance? To being with, Ellie and Dean are amazing characters that are relatable and draw the reader in. They’re a mix of talent and fear, hope and painful memories. This isn’t an easy, storybook romance where everything just happily falls into place. Both of these complex main characters are battling demons from their pasts, as well as some demons in the present. Their talent and love for music help bring them closer, but her fear of his previous reputation also holds her back. There are a lot of sweet, romantic moments between these two, not just physically, but in-depth conversations and really getting to know one another. Smith developed a fantastic storyline and provided enough subplots for depth, but this novel doesn’t overwhelm you with too many details from too many characters. The only exception, without giving spoilers, is a scene in the hospital where there is a sort of revelation about Ellie’s past and family. I was confused as hell for a few minutes and had to go back a few pages to re-read, but I eventually got it 🙂
I loved this story and certainly loved the characters. This is a book you will read in one sitting because you can’t tear yourself away. H. Dillon Smith has written an amazing debut novel and I can’t wait to read more from her in the future!
Visit H. Dillon Smith’s web page to learn more about her.