Everyone deserves a second chance. This is the essence of Stacey Wilk’s The Essence of Whiskey and Tea (The Wild Rose Press), a contemporary series romance about starting over, seizing opportunities and forgiving the ones you love.

JT Davies is back in Heritage River. After more than 20 years spent away from the town where he grew up, JT was sure he’d never be back. Now the single dad of a smart and sassy teenage daughter, JT returns to claim his inheritance – a home and a business his father left for him upon his death.

JT has already made a name for himself as the owner of several whiskey bars and is determined to put down roots and prove he’s better than the careless kid that everyone remembers. Except he’s not expecting competition in the form of a tea room next door owned by the sister of old friends and the woman who drove him out of town.

Savannah Savage Montgomery always follows the rules. As a widowed mother of three and a business owner, she has time for little else — especially now that her tea room isn’t earning a profit. With the due date of her son’s college tuition payment looming, Savannah knows catering the town’s black-tie dinner may be her only chance to bring in more customers. Or it would be, if she didn’t have competition from JT Davies – a man she’d once loved who left town years ago without a word.

Though they start out at odds with one another, it’s not long before JT and Savannah become so much more. They both have their own battles to fight, but when JT’s stepmom threatens to shut down his bar and Savannah’s financial situation becomes dire, they turn to each other for support.

After Savannah discovers the truth about why JT left, will she be able to set aside her fear and guilt and commit to a man she has always loved? And will JT choose Savannah over his need to prove to himself and the town that he can achieve success?

Even though this is her third book in the Heritage River series about the Savage clan, Wilk makes the transition easy for readers. The history between secondary characters is weaved throughout, alluding to their relationships with Savannah and JT without taking away from their story. Each character is important and contributes to who Savannah and JT are at the beginning and who they become as a result of their journey.

Family and the ties that bind are common themes in this author’s work, and The Essence of Whiskey and Tea exemplifies the challenges families face in an increasingly demanding world.

One of this novel’s strengths is the characters’ stubborn willingness to face opposition head-on, without expecting that the answers will be handed to them or that they will be saved by another.  JT and Savannah are pursuers of their own destinies, each ensuring they will succeed or fail on their own merit. This is something every reader will appreciate as they will another of Wilk’s messages: Sometimes it’s ok to ask for help.

If you enjoy a good series about family and love, then this novel is sure to soothe your soul. Just like a good cup of tea.

The Essence of Whiskey and Tea is available to purchase.

About Stacey Wilk:

Stacey Wilk wrote her first novel in middle school to quiet the characters in her head. It was that or let them out to eat the cannolis and she wasn’t sharing Pop-Pop’s Italian pastries. Many years later her life took an adventurous turn when she gave birth to two different kinds of characters. She often sits in awe of their abilities to roll their eyes, stay-up all hours of the night, and misplace everything. She does share the cannolis with them for fear of having her fingers bit off.

Because of the extraordinary characters now in her house instead of her head,  including a king who surfaces after dark and for coffee, she writes novels about family: those that we are born to and those that we pick up along the way. You can find her message in her romance novels as well as her middle-grade fantasy novels. Family are those that love you when you need them.

When she’s not creating stories in make-believe places, Wilk can be found hanging with the cast members of her house, or teaching others how to make make-believe worlds of their own. Stop by for a visit and make sure to bring some cannolis.

Find out more at her website.