Years After Escaping the Dark, Chef is ‘Torn’ When It Comes to Embracing His Future [REVIEW]


You never know who you’ll find inside Whiskey Sharp, the barbershop and bar featured in Lauren Dane’s Torn. (Photo by cleverdame107, Flickr)

Then, she was a sweet kid with a big crush. He was a handsome but messed up youth trying to figure out his life. Now, years later, they are both older and wiser. But is dating an old friend a good idea? In Lauren Dane’s Torn, we discover that sometimes two people simply have to take a chance. 

Lauren Dane's TORN


Beau Petty is a celebrity chef and cookbook author visiting Seattle to do a bit of research for new seafood recipes. When he visits his friends above Whiskey Sharp, a unique barbershop and bar, he doesn’t expect to run into someone from his past, a girl who has grown into a beautiful woman, a girl he never thought of romantically before because she’d been so young the last time he’d seen her, not to mention that back then he’d been messed up on drugs and booze after his narrow escape from a cult.

Cora is stunned when she walks into her friends’ kitchen and sees Beau standing at the stove, looking all delicious as he prepares a feast she can’t wait to eat. Still remembering her teenage crush on the broken young man she’d first met, she is happy to reunite with the now successful Beau. Fresh off the plane after helping her mother with work abroad, she is ready to shirk the role of family caretaker and focus on her own life for once, or rather, her lack of one. She can barely remember the last time she actually dated someone. So it is rather serendipitous that she and Beau meet again at just this moment.

As their relationship flickers to life, however, Beau is hesitant because he doesn’t want to hurt Cora. He still carries around a lot of baggage from his past, and has plenty of unresolved issues, the main one being that he is still searching for the sons who were stolen from him when he escaped the cult a lifetime ago, when he was barely more than a boy himself. Should he really pull an innocent like Cora into his world of pain, where darkness lurks, threatening to engulf him at any time? Little does he realize that Cora is tougher than she looks, and she has every intention of helping him heal.

Torn is the third installment in the Whiskey Sharp series, and it is always nice to get to revisit this unique, and sometimes dangerous, world in the heart of Seattle. Not only is a barbershop that turns into a nighttime bar an intriguing concept, but Dane populates it with characters who are deeply flawed yet exceedingly human and therefore likeable despite all of their rough edges. Rather admirably, she also manages to keep larger-than-life people from becoming caricatures in her own story, despite the fact that the author seems to enjoy her alpha males in abundance. But alphas aren’t attracted to wilting flowers, and thus the relationships work here, because Dane’s female characters are happy to give as much as they get, thus making for interesting conflict and an entertaining read.

One of Dane’s greatest strengths here, however, is her use of comic relief. She infuses wry humor into what could otherwise be a very dark and tragic novel, and thus keeps the story buoyant and romantic, despite the ominous vibes that echo throughout and her characters’ bleak back stories. The friendships between Cora and her girlfriends and Beau and his longtime buddies also help and are what lend a beacon of light to the entire cast. This ties the universe of Whiskey Sharp together, making readers enjoy the story and hope for yet another chapter in this little world near Pioneer Square.

Lauren Dane

Lauren Dane
(Photo by David Hiller)


Lauren Dane is the New York Times bestselling author of more than 50 novels and novellas that span several genres. Recent titles include Jagged and Unraveled in the Whiskey Sharp series, as well as Back to You, Broken Open, and The Best Kind of Trouble

She began writing while on pregnancy bed rest, when she had plenty of down time. Her husband took her comments about “giving that writing thing a serious go” to heart and bought her a secondhand laptop. She wrote her first book on it, then sold the novel and never looked back.

Lauren lives in the Northwest with her patient husband and three wild children. Visit her at her home on the Web at, email her at, like her on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter and Instagram. Readers can also write to her at PO Box 45175, Seattle, WA 98145.

By Lauren Dane
352 pgs. HQN. $7.99

TLC Book Tours Tour HostPurchase Whiskey Sharp: Torn at one of these fine online retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, IndieBound, and Powell’s.

Whiskey Sharp: Torn is brought to you in association with TLC Book Tours.

About J.R. Wallace
J.R. Wallace is a freelance writer and blogger who enjoys cooking, reading, travel and fitness. He lives in Ohio with his family, two cats and a ferret named Igor.

2 Responses to Years After Escaping the Dark, Chef is ‘Torn’ When It Comes to Embracing His Future [REVIEW]

  1. I feel like I’m missing out since I haven’t read any of this series yet – I think I’d enjoy getting to know the people of Pioneer Square.

    Thanks for being on the tour!

  2. Pingback: Lauren Dane, author of WHISKEY SHARP: TORN, on tour June/July 2018 | TLC Book Tours

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: