Thursday, 27 April 2017

New Release Spotlight & Review: Love On Tap by Meg Benjamin

Love on Tap

by Meg Benjamin
Publication Date: April 24, 2017
Genres: Adult, Entangled: Select, Contemporary Romance

Wyatt Montgomery knows a barrel of legendary Zoria imperial stout will help his Denver gastropub stay on top. The only problem is the brewery that made it is no longer in business. When Wyatt hears the brewmaster has only one barrel left, he won’t stop until it’s his. He doesn’t consider what this mythical barrel might cost him. And he certainly doesn’t anticipate his reaction to the heart-stoppingly beautiful brewmaster he needs to convince to sell him the beer.

When Wyatt rushes into Bec Dempsey’s small-town cooperative offering to buy the last barrel of her precious Zoria, she’s thrown for a loop. She’s been burned by city-slickers before, and she’ll be damned if she’ll let it happen again. But when things start heating up between them, Bec decides to make Wyatt a counteroffer. One she hopes he won’t refuse.

Bec opened the apartment door cautiously, heading for the small kitchen table where they’d had dinner. Evening sunlight filtered through the window in the living room, the mountains looming blue-black and massive in the distance. She set her glass of Zoria on the table near her chair, waiting until Wyatt had taken his place across from her.
We do this right,” she said slowly. “First, we look at the color.” She raised her glass until the sunlight caught it. Wyatt did the same. Deep golden highlights danced within the dark brown depths, like molasses or unfiltered honey.
Nice,” he murmured.
She nodded. “Looks about right.”
He stared down at the beer again. It was time to taste it, but suddenly he felt nervous. What if it didn’t live up to the hype? What if it wasn’t good? Even worse, what if it was…okay? Good, but just good. What would he say to Bec if she expected a religious experience and it was just sort of ordinary?
Now we sip,” she said flatly, and he realized she was feeling the same fear that he was.
He nodded. “We do.” They picked up their glasses at the same time and sipped.
Wyatt closed his eyes. He tasted chocolate and caramel, the deep toasted notes of the grain, a faint bitterness of hops that kept the ale from being too sweet. He paused, savoring, and the flavor grew—deep, warm, smoky.
He swallowed, then took a deep breath, holding himself back from guzzling another gulp. “It’s good,” he said softly. “It’s really good.” It’s outstanding, but you must know that.
Bec nodded slowly, her forehead furrowed. “I think it worked out. The flavor’s a little deeper than the other barrel—that extra year made a difference.” She took another sip, closing her eyes for a moment. “Yeah. It worked out.”
He thought of all the things he wanted to say to her. You’re a wizard. Nobody else makes stuff like this. My god, this is head and shoulders above every other beer I’ve tasted in the last year. But somehow he couldn’t get the words out. She was so good at her craft that all the compliments he could think of sounded like empty flattery.
I’m glad I bought this,” he said quietly. “And I owe you a hell of a lot more than I paid.”
She shook her head. “We agreed on the price. I need the money, but I also need the other things you bought for me if I’m going to start brewing again. You got me everything I needed, everything I wanted. Antero can start over again now.” She raised her glass in his direction. “Thank you, Mr. Montgomery.”
He took another sip of the Zoria, then reached across the table to touch her cheek. “You’re a star, Bec. This is one of the best beers I’ve ever tasted. If I can help you get back to brewing again, it’s worth it.”

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This is a fascinating novel by new-to-me author Meg Benjamin. The idea of a love story set against the beer brewing industry is a new one for me and a refreshing change...pun intended!

Wyatt Montgomery needs to get his hands on what he believes is the last remaining barrel of Zoria; an aged imperial stout from the now de-funked Antero Brewing. Quaff, the gastropub he manages needs to pull out all the stops to keep up with the new gastropub on the block if they are to maintain their status of top gastropub in Denver. Wyatt heads off to Arturo Brewery determined to secure the Zoria and relieved to discover one barrel is still available for sale. Only, the owner has a rather complicated way of making the barrel available for purchase.

Bec Dempsey is wary when a guy from a pretentiously named gastropub in Denver comes to enquire about the last remaining barrel of Zoria. He seems genuine enough, but so did her ex before he took off and ceased financing their fledgeling business leaving it owing debts. However. Bec desperately wants to get Antero Brewing operational again and hatches an idea on how she can achieve it. Only, will the good looking guy from the big city be willing to pay more than the price of the barrel of Zoria to help her achieve her ambition?

Bec and Wyatt's road to a Happy Ever After is amusing. The pair manages to compliment each other although it is Wyatt who has the more appealing, easy-going personality. His actions help Bec to face up to her responsibilities from the past which has isolated her from important friends and associates. It's a mistake she wants to rectify, but embarrassed by how she dealt with the fall-out when Arturo Brewing closed its doors. Thankfully with help, she makes amends and her sincerity solidifies the believes others have in her...including Wyatt's.

The plot is highly original and kept me entertained and turning the pages as I became engrossed with the protagonists and the beer brewing industry. Meg Benjamin gives a wonderful insight into how small micro breweries operated and it's always a huge bonus when reading a novel if I gain a little knowledge along the way. This balances perfectly with the likeable protagonists and complimentary supporting characters. My small criticism is the narrative's pace; it plods along in places giving me a feeling of predictability. However, the author has a wonderful knack of delivering the unexpected, so the reading experience is definitely like riding a roller-coaster.

Love On Tap is a solid start in the Brewing Love series and I'm curious to know what the author comes up with next.

***arc generously received courtesy of Entangled Publishing via NetGalley***

Meg Benjamin is an author of contemporary romance. Her books have won an EPIC Award for Contemporary Romance, the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award, the Holt Medallion, and the Award of Excellence among other honors. Meg lives in Colorado with her DH and two rather large Maine coon kitties (well, partly Maine Coon anyway).

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