Grab a chilled beer and dust off your lederhosen: it’s Oktoberfest. Not all beer enthusiasts can jet to Germany to join in the true revels of the celebration, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get in the spirit other ways! Beer in books? Yes! Even as a self-proclaimed wine person, I couldn’t help but carried away with Trouble Brewing (Gallery Books). Suzanne Baltsar’s contemporary romance is as much of a love story as it is an endearing (yet open-eyed) look at the beer industry, for all of its allure, stigma and structural faults.  The two protagonists, Piper Williams and Blake Reed, each have a passion for the beer industry, but have many  pressures, societal and personal, that try to cut their ambitions short.

Piper is dedicated to making her own brand “Out of the Bottle” beer a success. She studied under brewmasters in Germany and has funneled all her money into honing her beer to accommodate the high standards she expects from her products. And all of her work certainly shows. Pubs have started showing interest in the unique and authentic tastes Piper has invested in. But her slow rise to recognition does not come easily.

Besides all the hard work she puts into her craft, Piper deals with blatant sexism in the industry. As a female in a male-dominated line of work, Piper has to work twice as hard so the others in her community take her seriously. From customers not believing she could brew her own beer to a judging mentor who offers many of his tips with an unhealthy amount of condescension, Piper must face all these trials with a tight smile and razor sharp focus. Razor sharp that is, until she gets to know the owner of The Public pub, Blake Reed.

Blake Reed appears to be living the dream running his own trendy Minnesota gastropub. However, life isn’t as perfect as it seems. Blake’s family is highly critical of his business because it is the complete opposite of his previous position at the family law firm. Even more so since his father, Jack Reed, is deciding to run for senator and thinks his family must be the perfect reflection of him, and everything else to be a waste of time. Balancing family commitments with the demands of his growing business is a challenge, but one he tries to balance with the help of Piper, who understands him far better than his own parents.

Instantly attracted to her when she first brings her beer to his pub, Piper’s no-nonsense attitude toward having relationships with her business partners is also a continual thorn in Blake’s side. But he is as charming to Piper as he is persistent, and their shared bonding over their industry is beautiful to read. Blake admires Piper’s dedication to her career and lets her accept him on her own terms. Their relationship grows stronger for all the obstacles they overcome and seems to have true potential.

However, as the two negotiate their desires, career goals, and outside pressures, Piper receives an incredible business opportunity that could make a huge difference in her budding brand. But this offer does not come without strings attached, it would take her from Blake and whatever shared future the two could have. Without giving away any spoilers, this story has a lot to give readers in one tale. Both a light frothy rom-com you’ll be finishing in one weekend and a refreshing look at carving your own path in a business many envy to enter, Trouble Brewing is a seasonal read bound to satisfy.

Trouble Brewing is now available to purchase.

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Courtesy of Brighton Walsh

Suzanne Baltsar writes romance novels, manages a small cinema, and has her own film company, for which she wrote and directed a narrative feature in 2014. She writes and lives her happily ever afters in Pennsylvania with a Mr. Brawny look-alike and a couple of children, some furry, some not.