Whiskey & Ribbons by Leesa Cross-Smith

Trigger Warning: This novel and review discuss the following: relationships, love, family, prejudice, police, death, shooting, adultery.

Goodreads Rating4 Stars


A heartbreaking love story, set in Kentucky, in the midst of a snowstorm? Yes, please.

The reader is introduced to Eamon Royce, a Louisville cop, and his brother, Dalton, a bike-shop owner. These boys were born six days apart, grew up together, and their mothers had been best friends. When Dalton’s mother passed away, the Royce’s adopt Dalton and treat him like he had always been a part of the family- because he had been.

When Eamon meets Evangeline “Evi”, a ballerina and ballet teacher, he knew it was love at first sight, and that one day they would be married. From there, it’s a blissful whirlwind romance. Eamon knows Evi worries about him while he’s on duty, but she never once asked him to give up the job he loves. Deciding that he’ll do anything to make sure that Evi is always taken care of, he makes a pact with Dalton. Dalton agrees that if something were to ever happen to Eamon, he would take care of Evi.

Image result for Louisville Police Dept

(Photo: Google Images)

While miles apart on a fishing trip, Eamon receives a call from Evi- she’s pregnant, and he’s over the moon, joyous. Dalton can’t be more thrilled for the two of them, and he ups the ante with the pact- he will take care of Evi and this unborn child.

Then, the worst and unexpected happens- Eamon is killed in the line of duty, sixteen days before Evi gives birth to baby Noah. She is distraught, and Dalton knows he has to be strong for her, but he’s also swallowed by grief. Determined to keep his promise, Dalton makes sure that Noah is loved and cared for, as well as Evi. He knows that no matter what, he will never replace the love that Eamon had for these two, but it’s more than the pact keeping him to his promise- it’s the fact that these two are his family. He loves them both. And as time passes and the sharp ache from the loss dulls, Evi and Dalton learn that the two of them have more than kind feelings towards each other. Dalton and Evi end up snowed in together with baby Noah at his grandparents. Now, the two of them have a chance to sort out their tangled feelings of past loves and the future of their relationship.

Cross-Smith has made a gorgeous debut novel with Whiskey and Ribbons, and a new fan out of me. The writing is beautiful, and the word choice shows, rather than tells, the reader how the characters feel. I loved the repetition of certain words and phrases, giving them deeper meaning and allowing the reader to roll them in their mouths or swirl them in their minds. And the development of the characters is wonderful, especially Dalton’s as the man who has always been in the shadow of Eamon’s family.

Overall, it’s an intimate story line full of family, faith, love, duty, and grief. I absolutely recommend you give it a read, but prepare to have your heart broken.

Also, just to share- when I posted on instagram about my review, this happened:


Published: March 8, 2018

Publisher: Hub City Press

TL/DR: Whiskey and Ribbons by Leesa Cross-Smith is a fictional family drama and romance novel about a woman who loses her police husband and ends up falling for his best friend, despite their grief over their loss.

Read it? Oh absolutely, yes. It will break your heart though.

Recommend it? Definitely yes, but with caution for the trigger warnings and will a preface of needing tissues while reading.

Buy it? Definitely worth the purchase. I read a library copy and then bought my own.

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Categories: Book Review, Contemporary, Culturally Diverse, Family Drama, Fiction, Kentucky Reads

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