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Ratings and Book Reviews (3 6 star ratings
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    Slow-burn friends-to-lovers romance

    While this is the tenth novel in the A Love Story series, it’s only the second set at Foghorn Brewery (the first was Brew). It works perfectly fine as a standalone novel, though. This is a sweet (very) slow-burn romance, with lovely, complex characters, and a friends-to-lovers premise. Of the three McNaughton brothers who run Foghorn Brewery, Patrick is the business guy. Along with Aspen Pane, the business manager, he takes care of all the marketing and financials for the brewery. Patrick is driven, and he only needs two things in life – for the brewery to do well, and Aspen. He’s been in love with Aspen for as long as he can remember, but has never so much as hinted at it. All that changes when, due to his fear of flying, he mixes alcohol and meds and reveals some of his feelings for her. “The energy was contagious, and once again, Aspen loved her job. Where else could she work where she had the challenge of budget projections and the best way to adhere beer caps to a giant trophy?” Aspen, like Patrick, is a workaholic. Ever since her dad left when she was ten, her mom has flitted from one relationship to another, more in love with love than any of her boyfriends. The only consistency she had in life was after they went to live with her grandmother (whom she calls “Grand”), so it should come as no surprise that Aspen’s anchors are her grandmother and work, and she has no time for things like feelings, and especially not for dating. “His hand at the small of her back, his eyes lit with mischief, and the way he looked at her now that she bothered to pay attention. Lord, the man knew how to look at a woman. It wasn’t a stare or even a trace of possession. No. Patrick appeared fascinated. It took her breath away.” Of course, the path to true love doesn’t run smooth. Besides their very valid worries about messing up their business relationship with a romantic one, they have different motivations for their drive. Aspen wants a comfortable, consistent life – she wants to have coffee every Monday with her Grand, and not worry about being able to afford niceties like well-fitting clothes and salon shampoo. A relationship of any kind is just a complication that she doesn’t need. While Patrick seems to be in control and in charge, in reality, he’s deeply vulnerable and feels like he has something to prove. Unfortunately, sometimes the challenges can consume him, to the detriment of everything else, including his relationships with his family and Aspen. All of this comes to a head when they meet a venture capitalist, Joel Siebold, who might be interested in investing in the brewery. Problem is, he’s as eccentric as they come, and he seems to enjoy having Patrick at his beck and call, asking for such varied things as business plans for a hypothetical music festival to Patrick’s favorite ice cream flavor. Living in the Bay Area, with friends and family who work at startups, Siebold and the whole VC dance felt very familiar. What Patrick can’t seem to realize, however, is that Siebold’s jerking around of him is just a progression of Patrick’s winning-at-all-costs mentality. When he can’t let the deal go, even after it’s obvious to everyone else that nothing will come of it, his ambition comes at the cost of his new relationship with Aspen. “’Aspen is at coffee with her Grand, and I’m going to report the hell out of you during our ten o’clock meeting. Tons of details about the industry. I have graphs and charts.’ ‘Christ,’ Boyd said, groaning. ‘No, not Christ. But pivot tables. You know how you love a good pivot table.’” C’mon, who doesn’t love a good pivot table joke? There’s lots of quirky humor, which is one thing I really loved about the previous book I read by Ms. Ewens. As for cons, the pace, like the romance itself, is slow. There were times when I would’ve liked things to proceed a little faster. Also, the whole Siebold subplot worked a bit too well for me – I knew I was supposed to be annoyed at the guy and Patrick for going along with him, but a couple of times I got so angry that I had to put the book down and walk away. Overall, though, this book was highly enjoyable, and I’m very much looking forward to the next book, which I’m guessing will star the remaining McNaughton brother, Cade. Recommended for anyone looking for a slow-burn friends-to-lovers romance! I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
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    Beer to Committ

    Foghorn's Beer is run by the McNaughton brothers. Great story of the struggles of running Foghorn in the black and finding love along the way. This is the eleventh "A Love Story" by Ewens. I have had the pleasure of reading two in this series and know that they stand alone nicely. Patrick is a driven man who on the surface seems to have everything under control. Aspen Pane is the business manager of Foghorn and because of a mother with unstable romantic encounters; Aspen has always shied from relationships. Full length novel with lots of love and parts that made me need a box of Kleenex. Ewens has a talent as an amazing weaver of romance. "A copy of this book was provided by author via NetGalley with no requirements for a review. Comments here are my honest opinion." Save this for a weekend read because it cannot be put down.
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    Friends to lovers.

    Tracy Ewens, ‘Smooth: a love story’. As an ARC reader I received this book for free. And promised an honest review. Here - unfortunately a bit later than planned - it is. English isn’t my first language. Sorry for errors. Rating: 4 stars (of 5). In general: Friends to lovers. Main characters: - Patrick McNaughton. Living in a small city, Petaluma (CA). With his brothers - Boyd and Cade - he started a family firm, the Foghorn Brewery. Patrick is the CEO of the company and feels it as his responsibility to make a success of the firm. So he’s a workaholic. - Aspen Pane. Got her MBA at Berkeley. Her father left his family when Aspen was 10 years old. Since then she was a planner helping her mom (horse trainer) and brother Thad. Now she’s the Business Manager of the Foghorn Brewery. Very efficient and with a lot af talent; so Patrick is afraid that a head hunter will offer her a better job at a bigger company. Patrick and Aspen knew each other since they were kids. Patrick had a secret crush on her but she was too busy with planning her life: family, study and the jobs she needed to pay for her college and university. Joining Patrick’s firm five years ago, the girl Aspen had grown into a gorgeous woman. Patrick, the workaholic, still admired her but kept his distance from an employee and also was afraid to loose Foghorn’s ‘Wonder Woman’ - actually indispensable for the brewery - when possible dating should go wrong. The story starts when Aspen and Patrick unexpectedly fly together to a convention. Patrick secretly is afraid of flying and before boarding he takes some pills and a glass of whiskey. It makes him very dizzy and sleepy. Aspen has to help him boarding the plane, taking a cab and getting into the bed of his hotelroom. During the flight Patrick confessed to her that she was gorgeous, had a sexy voice and he nuzzled against her neck. Next morning he acts as if nothing special had happened. During breakfast they prepare workshops during which Patrick hopes to find investors for the expanding brewery. So back to their ‘normal’ work relationship, based on mutual respect and admiration for the work ethos they both show. The author, Tracy Ewens, then writes how the relationship of Aspen and Partick gradually develops from admiration to love. For both it’s not easy. They are afraid to lose control when there is too much attraction and fear that love (or a break up) will influence their attitude to the work they like. The author describes the developments with feeling and insight. For me their fear for commitment wasn’t always logically explained and seemed sometimes a bit overdone. But the book had some wonderful characters and a lot of interesting info about the world of beer breweries. But here also a bit to much worries (as Patrick’s - an intelligent, confident man - compliance with a crazy, nagging, possible investor). But all in all, Tracy Ewen again created a book about the McNaughty brothers that - for me - was a pleasure to read.
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