Underneath the Whisky by author Chelsea Lauren
Thank you to authro Chelsea Lauren for providing me with a copy of her book in exchange for this honest review.
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Underneath the Whisky is an LGBTQ novel that deals with many tough subjects such as conversion therapy, alcohol abuse, sexual violence, and suicide. But it also maintains an aura of hope and understanding, never allowing itself to be sucked into the darkness.
Benjamin is a successful business owner about to open a third location of his coffee shop. He has a happy family with his wife and kids. He also has a secret.
Benjamin is gay. Unfortunately Ben got his now wife pregnant before he was able to come out and live his life openly. He committed to taking care of the child and the woman who loves him thinking that it would all be for the best.
At the strong recommendation of his wife he attended conversion therapy, aimed at traumatizing the gay out of him through such extreme measures as electro shock therapy. Ben is brainwashed enough to believe that it worked.
That is, until he meets Caden. He hires Caden as the manager of his new store and instantly starts developing confusing feelings for him. Caden is gay and single and holds an admiration for Ben as well.
They ease into an affair and subsequently fall in love. Of course, this will not be an easy happily ever after. Ben has the wife and kids to worry about as well as the conflict of interest in sleeping with one of his employees.
Ben begins to drink. He wants to take the edge off of all the stress he’s feeling. He’s feeling pressure from Caden to commit fully to his true self but still having flashbacks of conversion therapy. He feels pressure to stay with his family but can no longer deny that he is gay.
With no plan of how to set things right he spirals into alcoholism. If the beginning of the book is a cute romcom, the middle is a stressful drama where the protagonist just keeps making all the wrong choices.
The best part about Underneath the Whisky is that all of these wrong choices still make sense. I fully understand why he’s crippled by indecision in this no win scenario. I can definitely see how someone would turn to an addiction to numb their way through this.
Additionally, how the characters surrounding Ben act are all realistic and understandable. They may not be the same decisions we would make but we all know someone who would act that way. The characters are true to life with all of their flaws but also all of the good that people can have.
Everyone is a mix of good and bad, there are no true antagonists and no one is a villain. Even Ben’s wife, who still doesn’t see how damaging conversion therapy was, did what she thought was right and the best for them both.
Throughout the entirety of Underneath the Whisky I was rooting for Ben to get his shit together and earn that happily ever after, whichever way he chose to go. It was exceedingly stressful to watch him tear his life apart but that’s just how attached I got to him.
You’ll have to read for yourself to see if Ben is abe to bounce back from rock bottom or if he slips underneath the whisky for good.
Underneath the Whisky is one of the best books I’ve read so far this year and I look forward to more from author Chelsea Lauren in the future. Please check this one out and make sure to show some understanding and forgiveness toward your loved ones.
5/5 stiff drinks 🥃🥃🥃🥃🥃
If you like Underneath the Whisky you might also like Puppet Boy
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Buy it here: Underneath the Whisky