Unraveled cover image

Review – Unraveled (Whiskey Sharp #1) by Lauren Dane

Reviewed by: E

The sharpest ache comes from wanting what you think you can’t have

Maybe Dolan has lived independent, free-spirited and unattached since leaving home at sixteen. Whiskey Sharp, Seattle’s sexy vintage-styled barbershop and whiskey bar, gave her a job and a reason to put down roots. Cutting hair by day, losing herself drumming in a punk rock band by night, she’s got it good.

But a longtime crush that turns into a hot, edgy night with brooding and bearded Alexsei Petrov makes it a hell of a lot better.

Maybe’s blunt attitude and carnal smile hooked Alexsei from the start. Protecting people is part of his nature and Maybe is meant to be his even if she doesn’t know it. Yet. He can’t help himself from wanting to protect and care for her.

But Maybe’s fiery independent spirit means pushing back when Alexsei goes too far. Still, he’s not afraid to do a little pushing of his own to get what he wants her in his life, and his bed, for good. Maybe’s more intoxicating than all the liquor on his shelf and he’s not afraid to ride the blade’s edge to bind her to him.
This blurb came from Goodreads

I have been looking forward this series starting since Dane announced it a couple of years ago. I mean barbershop, whiskey, woman settling into male dominated area, how could I resist? As much as I anticipated this book I had no idea of the emotional rollercoaster adventure Dane was going to take me on. The blurb doesn’t do justice to the depth and complexity of this story. I loved the opening chapter because it so neatly set some of the primary characters and gave hints of potential clashes in personality and forces of nature.
Maybe was such a strong colorful person and I really liked how color was such an integral piece of her character despite all of the bleakness and grey she experienced with her parents and even the emotional toll of her sister’s healing process. Her color was expressed in so many different ways even though her profession was one of staid comfortable timeless ritual, with only the chemical formulas of her tools changing over centuries. Yet she tied her job and her hobby, drumming in an all women punk-rock band, together with her daily pops of literal color and sparkle in her clothes, hair, jewelry, and tattoos. As intrigued as I was by what Maybe openly showed, I was completely hooked with her depth of caring as she became part of the community and how she would sacrifice her feelings to aid those she considered important.

I had as much fun with Alexei, grumpy bear Alexsei who never seemed to need to work for anything except his shop. It was very evident he was accustomed to being around strong women and fulfilling their requests with his behavior towards his aunt, cousins, mother, and ex-fiancee. It was also evident he liked women, and wanted all of the women around him happy and at peace, even if this meant he was sometimes oblivious to the undercurrents which proceeded a storm. And yet with all of his ease, I loved how patient and determined he could be as he eased his way into Maybe’s heart and not just her bed.

One of the things I love about Dane’s writing is how she always includes a sense of community, friendship, and family. This sense isn’t always defined by blood, often by choice, but regardless the connections are very strong and easy for the reader to see/feel. She also doesn’t shy away from the darker, messier, or downright ugly aspects which can come in some interpersonal relationships, making the journey towards a HEA much more fraught and thus more rewarding. Watching Maybe and Alexsei take this journey satisfied so many of my reading emotional wants and the confrontation towards the end. Chills!

Unraveled was so worth the wait and continued to remind me why know I can immerse myself in Dane’s writing regardless of romance subgenre. Now I can’t wait to see what happens in Jagged the next installment especially given the hints of a possible slow growing romance between a baker and a healing tattoo artist.

I give Unraveled an A+

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