Successful businesswoman Avery Barrows likes her dips and curves, but she’s sick of the haters telling her that she should be ashamed of her body instead of embracing it. Determined to send them a big f*** you, Avery resolves to cut loose during a girls’ trip, hightailing her quick-mouthed, plus-sized self to New Orleans. So, what’s a smart woman with a little extra gotta do to get laid in this town?
Not much if you ask Declan McGinn, the lead singer of BlackSmith. Tall, dark, and tattooed, with a body made for sin, Declan prefers his women as curvy as his guitars. Avery’s sharp tongue and keen mind makes him want her even more.
As they burn up the sheets, Avery and Declan realize this is no one-night (or even one-week) stand. But for all of her bluster, Avery isn’t sure she can handle any more rejection. Besides, Declan has demons of his own. Now Avery has a choice to make: play it safe, or place her trust in the hands of a man who’s as tempting as the devil himself.
Way back in February a friend suggested I might want to read an upcoming debut novel because the main character is a self-proclaimed fat girl who loves her body and flips the bird at anyone who thinks she’s anything less than sexy. As a fat girl myself, I jumped on the chance to read this book for ALBTALBS. And then dropped off the face of the earth for six months for complicated life reasons. But life has started to untangle itself so here I am with my review of Moonlight and Whiskey.
** TW/Spoiler: Avery endures episodes of fat shaming, and Declan’s relationships with Avery and his bandmates are various shades of dysfunctional due to past trauma.
I love sex positive romance. I love empowering love stories where the fat girl is living her best life and doesn’t let anyone get her down. There’s a real lack of fat positive books in romanclandia, so any book that presents a heroine who loves her fat self and a hero who worships every jiggly mound and valley of her luscious body is a book I’m going to read. After reading the blurb for Moonlight and Whiskey I made “gimme now” grabby hands and settled in to read a debut novel that promised to hit some of my romance sweet spots:
- Fat positive
- Fat heroine who is self confident and loves her body
- Rocker yet vulnerable hero – there is something about a vulnerable bad boy
- Sex positive – no slut shaming, thank you very much!
- New Orleans – only one of the sexiest cities on earth!
Avery Barrows is a sassy, foul mouthed fat thirty year old who has both beauty and brains. As soon as Avery dropped the fact she was a mechanical engineer and project manager I wanted to be completely on board with her. Here was the promise of a kickass heroine who ruled in a man’s world and did it in feminist style. Except it turns out Avery isn’t as internally fat positive or as confident about herself and her career as I was initially given to believe. She’s a hot mess of self doubt who tries to hid behind a veneer of bravado that at times turn into petulance and judgmentalism, both of herself and those closest to her.
Declan is a walking billboard for trust issues wrapped in a rocker bad boy persona. Right from the beginning he was going to be a hero with layers that he would be slow to reveal, and there was this dichotomy between how sweet and nurturing he could be with Avery and his friends, and how deeply his demons could hold him under. He was a man locked in his past while trying to create a future he could be proud of. So, typical bad boy with a broken child living inside. On the other hand, he may have trust issues, but he doesn’t have issues with sexual intimacy and is the type of man who puts his woman’s pleasure first.
Tricia Lynne brought her A-game to this novel with her ability to describe New Orleans. When I visited there last May, I was pleasantly surprised at how accurate Tricia’s depiction of the city was from the gritty nightlife at out of the way dive bars to the atmosphere of the French Quarter. She also had a deft hand at depicting that fast and unpredictable slide lust at first sight brings to a couple. There’s no shying away from hot, messy sex or that confusion that creeps in when what should be a fling decides it’s something more.
I wish I could say I loved this story as a whole, and maybe I would have if I had been unattached and somewhat rootless at thirty, but both characters read so much less mature to me than their backstories imply. I’m not talking about self-doubt or trust issues, as we can carry those with us until the day we die. It’s more how reactive both Avery and Declan are, and how little they invest in honest communication over jumping to conclusions and pushing each other away when things get complicated. If Avery and Declan were younger, this wouldn’t have bothered me as much, and maybe this means I’m not the target audience for this story, but it reads more like the gritty mess of self discovery I’ve read in New Adult novels than a story about two adults who are established in their chosen professions and know themselves intimately, flaws and all.
If you like stories that center around characters who are early in the gritty journey of self discovery, love foul mouthed heroines and squishy bad boys who love fat girls, and love explicit sexy times, this may be your book!
You can buy a copy here.