‘A Love Letter to Whiskey’ was my first Kandi Steiner’s book and certainly won’t my last because let me tell you, this lady can write, really write. Kandi’s newest novel was utterly addictive. I honestly couldn’t put it down for one second. Maybe because of her effortless, wonderful storytelling, or maybe because of all the angst fest that blew me away more and more with each and every chapter. Who knows? But one thing it’s sure – I enjoyed the hell put of this book! ‘A Love Letter to Whiskey’ was intoxicating, consuming and such an emotional roller-coaster. It’s a story that will make you think, but most important, it’s a story that will make you feel so much.
“…the biggest player in the game of life is timing — and you either have that player on your team, or you don’t.”
Breck aka “B” meets Jamie, the boy with whiskey eyes, who will become her ‘Whiskey’ when both of them were in high school. She literally runs into him and from the moment she lays her eyes on him, she knows that he’s different. B and Jamie become friends, their friendship getting complicated over the months and years when certain lines are crossed. Even if their connection grows over the time and even if their feelings for each other become stronger with every single one of their encounters, the timing seems not so kind when it comes to them together as a couple.
“He kissed me like he was losing me, like that kiss was his last chance to keep me, and I didn’t have the heart to tell him that it wasn’t.”
‘A Love Letter to Whiskey’ was raw, poignant and wonderfully written. Filled with so much angst that I had my stomach in knots the entire time, this powerful story of love, loss and sacrifice was from the beginning so unputdownable. Every single aspect of this story was consuming and every single aspect was exhausting. Not only because the angst was crazy as hell and it almost killed me, but also because the two main characters were SO. DAMN. FRUSTRATING.
Both B and Jamie were well developed, complex characters. Both of them were in some way relatable and both of them had so much depth. B was a very frustrating, infuriating, stubborn heroine. To be honest, I lost count how many times I wanted to throttle her or to scream at her. She was for sure that kind of heroine that many readers will not find very appealing, but here’s the thing – with all her flaws she felt so very real. You will be annoyed with her, sure, but you will also feel for her.
“It’s just not the right time for us…” I shook my head. “It’s never the right time.”
Jamie was a hero I liked from the beginning. I liked the way he was with B, the way he loved her and how much he valued their friendship. These two characters’ story was full of ups and downs. Their relationship was fantastically portrayed and as much as I found it to be frustrating and so full of misunderstandings, I loved it. While I didn’t really love these two characters individually, I loved them together. I wanted so badly to start properly communicate with each other, to forget about everything and everyone, to trust their hearts and to finally learn how to be happy TOGETHER.
The love they have for each other was amazing, so strong and passionate. You will feel their connection and their love for each other with each and every chapter as the story unfolds, but you also will feel their hate, their fears, their insecurities.
“He couldn’t get enough of me, and I never wanted to get enough of him. I never wanted to lose that primal need, that possessive desire that always existed between us.”
All in all, ‘A Letter to Whiskey’ was an enthralling raw, real and honest read, filled with angst and drama that will grip you from the beginning and will leave you for sure an emotional mess.
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 “boots and scarves” 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 Jenna’s cheerleading training program. She had finally made the varsity squad, and with that privilege came ridiculous standards she had to uphold. I hated running — 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, I’d agreed eagerly, even knowing I’d 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 I’d 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 — brown hair, lean build, soaked white running shirt — 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 “hot guy up ahead”, but she had stopped to tie her shoes. And when I turned back around, it was too late.
I smacked into him — hard — 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 you’d expect the first sip of whiskey to feel. He was bent over, hand outstretched, saying something that wasn’t registering because I had somehow managed to slip my hand into his and just that one touch had set my skin on fire.
Handsome wasn’t 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 — almost too round — and a mixture of gold, green, and the deepest brown. I didn’t coin the nickname Whiskey until much later, but it was that moment that I saw it for the first time — 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 weren’t 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.
“Oh my God, are you fucking blind?!” Jenna’s 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. I’d barely caught my balance before she whipped around to continue her scolding. “How about you brush that long ass hair out of your eyes and watch where you’re going, huh champ?”
I didn’t even have time to call dibs, I couldn’t 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 — it was one of the reasons we got along. We were both what you’d call “spitfires”, 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 I’d watched fall over guy after countless guy. Jenna was a unicorn, and men were enamored by her. As they should have been — 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 we’ll get to that.
“Hi,” Whiskey finally said, extending his hand to Jenna this time. His eyes were warm, smile inviting — if I had to pick the right word for him, just one, I’d say charming. He just oozed charm. “I’m Jamie.”
“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.” 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 — everyone did — 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. “I’m sorry, I should have been watching where I was going.” He said the words with conviction, but lifted his brows on that last line because he and I both knew who wasn’t paying attention to the trail, and he wasn’t the guilty party.
“It’s fine,” 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. I’d never had anyone look at me that way — 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. I’d seen it a million times, but this was the first time I felt sick watching it happen.
I saw him first, but it didn’t matter.
Because he saw her.
About the Author
Kandi Steiner is a Creative Writing and Advertising/Public Relations graduate from the University of Central Florida living in Tampa with her husband. Kandi works full time as a social media specialist, but also works part time as a Zumba fitness instructor and blackjack dealer.
Kandi started writing back in the 4th grade after reading the first Harry Potter installment. In 6th grade, she wrote and edited her own newspaper and distributed to her classmates. Eventually, the principal caught on and the newspaper was quickly halted, though Kandi tried fighting for her “freedom of press.” She took particular interest in writing romance after college, as she has always been a die hard hopeless romantic (like most girls brought up on Disney movies).
When Kandi isn’t working or writing, you can find her reading books of all kinds, talking with her extremely vocal cat, and spending time with her friends and family. She enjoys beach days, movie marathons, live music, craft beer and sweet wine – not necessarily in that order.