“As long as there was coffee in the world, how bad could things be?” ― Cassandra Clare
After returning from his third tour in the army, Tavio Reyes has been placed in a job as a barista, a welcome respite from the traumas of his past. For a whole year, the gorgeous, athletic super-geek Tommy O’Shaughnessy has been focusing his attentions on Tavio, force-feeding him comic book references and sci-fi trivia, but as Tommy starts to offer more of his personal life to Tavio, can the barista spurn the advances of the man who’s truly peaked his interest? Caring and caffeine converge as Tavio brews it hot and strong, with an extra shot of geek.
R. Cooper, why are you not on my radar? Well, you are now. I’d seen this book in the “coming soon” feature on Dreamspinner Press’s website (which I frequent to see what I should prepare myself to mud wrestle away from my fellow reviewers) and so with the speed of The Flash I ripped it from the cold dead fingers of my adversaries and claimed it for my own with a triumphant battle cry. Okay, that didn’t happen, but I wrote my name down in the nick of time and boy, am I glad I did!
Tavio was a complex character, silent and stoic and very reserved. It was a huge tribute to his character, allowing the reader to get inside his head and hear his thoughts, which were very sweet and indicative of a brilliantly crafted protagonist. Complete juxtaposition was found in the character of Tommy, who was all balls and mouth and Star Trek and hilarity. His fast-paced sarcasm and endearing nerd-ologues were wonderful to read which completely attracts the reader to Tommy, making it impossible not to fall in love him right along with Tavio.
While this is essentially a beautiful love story, hidden in the text are a plethora of different issues being raised and alluded to. The effects of the past for gay people in the army; struggling with PTSD; coming out to your family; non –nuclear family set ups. For such a small story, this one is really packed to the rafters with poignant morals and done so really subtly. It’s not in your face and preachy, it’s subdued and sensitive, and I loved every word.
As with most shorts and novellas alike, the only issue I had was that it wasn’t long enough. I fell for these guys hard, and I wanted to hear all the details of their lives together. But that isn’t the point; it gives you all you need to fill in the gaps yourself. While I have read a few reviews that have been less than impressed by the lack of sex contained in the story, it didn’t bother me one bit. It glossed over their lost weekend without a hint of a handjob, and I liked that. M/M romance books are still held up to a standard that implies that sex is the foundation of these tales. I don’t get why. While mainstream literature may not be ready for all the homosexual protagonists that we get to read daily, there doesn’t appear to be anything gained from gratuitous sex scenes, in fact it has a tendency to perpetuate misunderstanding. So I nod my head gratefully to the author for leaving the smut at the door and focusing on the core of the story. All the dicks in the world don’t make a great love story, something R. Cooper has proven with this wicked little installment into Dreamspinner Press’s incredibly awe-inspiring collection.
If you like a tale of opposites attract, if you favour the unconventional and root for the underdog, if you like a story driven by heart instead of loins, then this is the story for you. On a paltry word count, R. Cooper has achieved an incredibly fulfilling and heartfelt outcome, making this one hell of a tale I refused to put down until the final glorious page. Grab your copy from Dreamspinner Press now and geek out with me as Tommy and Tavio find love in the steam of the coffee machine, and get your blood pumping with a shot of creative caffeine that will leave you thirsty for more. Four enthusiastic stars for a wonderful new story that truly gripped my imagination. Kudos to R. Cooper.