*I received this book from NetGalley in return for a fair review.*
Love on Tap by Karis Walsh
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
Review Rating: 4.45 out of 5.0
Read: January 18 to January 19 2016
My fourth book by this author. Fair warning, but I appear to be an outlier with this book. What with how I ended up, rating wise, at least, compared to everyone else who has read this book.
The book stars Tace Lomond (Stacy Lombard, her sister couldn’t make the s sound, so she became Tace), and Berit Katsaros. Tace is a clerk at a department store, and the supporter of her siblings. Berit is a field archaeologist. Both had mothers with gambling addictions. Both had overworked fathers. I’m not sure what Tace’s father actually did (or when he left the picture, if he did, I’m vaguely confused about that part), but both appear to be of relatively working class stock.
Tace and Berit had three major differences, though, that helped move them from their few similarities to help them onto diverging paths that lead to where they were in life when the book opens. Bluntly: siblings, work, supporters.
Tace had younger siblings that she had to help raise, and had to try to fit school work around paying work starting around the age of 13. Berit did not have to fit school work around paying work.
Tace basically had to grow up fast, and be semi-parent, semi-sister to her siblings, because her mother was gone and the father needed the help. Berit didn’t exactly have a great childhood, what with cowering in casinos waiting for her mother, but she didn’t have to try to help raise siblings.
Tace had no one to try to be there for her, to look up to, to say that she mattered. Berit had a grandfather who inspired her and helped her come to the realization of what she wanted to do with her life – become an archeologist.
It wasn’t all sunshine and happiness for Berit, of course. Other than her grandfather, her childhood was apparently crap. One major trait that made it to her current personality, though, is directly tied to the death of that grandfather. She can never believe in contentment, that it would last. Since her own grandfather died while she was feeling content with life, and before she had graduated high school. So she needs to constantly move around, moving from dig to dig, not putting down roots, because she can’t allow herself to do so.
I’m not sure it was ever sunshine and happiness for Tace. The mother walked out on the family when Tace was, I think, somewhere between 7 and 13. Ah, I think she was nine. I’ve same vague recollection that Tace is 7 years older than her younger brother, Kyle, and that he was 2 when the mother left. Making Tace 9. So Tace had to grow up fast, and take over some level of mother-figure for her siblings. Her childhood was cut short and her teenage years were not at all like the others around her. She worked and never gave a thought to college. All of which lead to her with a personality, when the book opens, of being quite down on herself – she’s doing what she needs to do to continue supporting her sister in college, and helping her brother who might be going the ‘drifting through life’ path of their mother. The down on herself part has to do with how she can’t allow herself to feel happiness, or attempt to go for her own goals. Plus, she’s quite intimidated by anyone with an ounce of education, or just anyone who happens to be a student at college. This developed both from her own family circumstances, and from growing up as a townie in a college town. And the almost constant harassment that came from being that.
The book opens with Tace living and working in her small college town, while Berit is off on a dig in Peru. We, the readers, see their story through their own eyes. As in, in other words, both are main points of view. Tace’s section opens with Tace working, and receiving word from her brother that he needs to see her at a specific location.
She goes. Finds an overgrown dumpy looking place. Finds Kyle, the brother, near a building that looks, at least the external parts, to not be in great shape. She wonders what mess she has to bail her brother out this time. Well, it turns out; Kyle won a brewery in a poker contest. Poker game. He entered because he needed money for gambling debts, but found that everyone else in the game was in somewhat similar circumstances. So, they had to gamble for things like deeds to breweries. Tace, reluctantly, agrees to give the monetary value of the place to her brother so he can use the money to pay off his debts. Meanwhile Tace will immediately contact a real estate agent and sell the place.
The agent sees no value in a failing beer brewery and suggests tearing everything down and selling the land. For much less than Tace gave her brother. Her only real option seems to be to build the business up so that she can get some money back out. So she goes about attempting to do so. Helps that there’s this ninja like guy on the property who introduces himself as the brewmaster, or something like that, and is, in fact, quite good at his job. Since the beer actually tastes great. All but the porter, at least.
Berit’s section opens with her in Peru. On a dig. I believe I mentioned that at some point. A new intern has arrived and she is showing him around. While examining some bones she realizes why this specific body had been buried in a different position than the others, she had died in childbirth. Realizing that the interns were in the area the woman was found and might mess up finding the baby skeleton, she, a male colleague, and the intern run. Suddenly the male colleague falls from crumbling ground and Berit lunges for him. Gets, then loses his hand, then follows him over.
Cut to – Berit is riding in a taxi through a small town. She’s annoyed, frustrated, and in pain. She’s going to spend a year teaching at a college, mostly to pass the time, and because she thinks it will be easy. Though she’s never attempted to teach in a classroom before. Just out on digs to small groups of interns. Taxi cab stops at a house. Berit stares at the front porch. And the stairs leading up to it. She hadn’t actually informed her landlady that she was in a wheelchair. Mostly because she doesn’t want to be in a wheelchair and really hoped she wouldn’t be by the time she arrived at the house.
Tace stares at the woman in the wheelchair, her new tenant. She needs the money from renting out her rooms. Which are up a steep staircase. A ramp can be put in for the front porch, but nothing will fix the internal stairs. So, obviously . . . she gives the wheelchair bound woman her own first floor bedroom and den to the professor, and moves up to the attic.
Berit attempts to figure out how to actually teach. Tace tries to figure out how to run a brewery. A friendship and connection develops immediately between the two.
Lots and lots of months pass, though, before anything like a romance begins. Depending on various definitions of romance. The touching and stuff, doesn’t begin for months and months, at least.
Despite their own hang-ups – Tace literally flees if she learns someone has an education (there is a scene in a bar where she’s having a grand old time with a woman, learns that that woman is a professor, and immediately, flees the building); while Berit fears being tied down. I don’t mean in a bondage type way, I mean in a – tied to one location/one woman way. I lost this paragraph. Let’s try again. Despite their hang-ups, the two women actually do seem to work well together. Relatively naturally. I mean, if they had meet and then immediately leapt into bed together, then got on really well, then I’d say that things weren’t meshing – stated personalities and actions; but that isn’t what happened.
I had a good sense of the ‘outside town’ areas of Walla Walla Washington. The wheat fields, the wineries – all of which look the same – like they were lifted from Tuscany; and the brewery. I had a vague awareness of the layout of Tace’s house, and a vague feeling of the college, but no real handle on the store Tace worked in. Nor was my feeling for anything else inside the town that strong. Or, for that matter, exist at all, really. Beyond the vague sense that there was a college somewhere in there, a house, a department store . . . somewhere, and a bar.
Overall, I’m quite happy to have had the opportunity to read this book. I got a good solid sense of a struggling brewery, a quick look into the life of an archaeologist. Brief though that might have been – I mean the dig scenes. And something of a look at the life of a new professor.
An enjoyable experience. I have no idea why everyone else who has read this book on GoodReads seems to have hated the book (as of the time of writing this review - I had not actually read what they had written so that my own thoughts could be expressed un-disturbed). I was actually kind of reluctant to dive in because of what I had seen on here, ratings-wise. But I’ve read the author before, and the book looked interesting, so I dove in.
Oh, and for those who care about such things – yes there is sex scenes. Graphic sex scenes. Two or three.
I’d rate the book a good solid 4.45 out of 5.00 stars.
January 19 2016