Title: Coffee Cake
Author: Michaela Grey
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Pages/Word Count: 220 Pages
At a Glance: I appreciated several things about Coffee Cake, Michaela Grey’s first foray into the M/M romance genre. The whole cast of characters was extremely likeable and eclectic.
Reviewed By: Jules
Blurb: Bran Kendrick never expected to fall in love. He’s asexual, after all. What chance does he have of finding someone who’ll see past that? So when Malachi Warren catches his eye, Bran tells himself his crush will pass. Malachi disagrees. He has been attracted to Bran for some time, something he is delighted to find Bran reciprocating. They begin to date and feel their way through an intimate relationship that meets both their needs.
Suddenly Bran finds himself juggling a new boyfriend, a demanding job, and a college degree he’s not sure he wants, but he couldn’t be happier—until a series of seemingly random accidents befall Malachi. When they escalate, Bran realizes someone is trying to take away the best thing that ever happened to him, and he must scramble to keep Malachi safe while they search for the would-be killer.
Review: I want to start by talking about how much I adored Bran’s character in this book. Bran is fiercely loyal, sweet, and smart. I liked him immediately. He is dedicated and attentive to his studies, but clearly loves baking, creating new recipes and working at the café near campus as well; and he soon finds himself less interested in his class work, and frequently turning to the kitchen to center himself and take his mind off of what’s going on in his life. As the story goes on, it becomes more and more apparent that Bran’s talent for baking should be where he focuses his energies. I really enjoyed where the author took Bran on his personal journey.
I also really liked Malachi, who Bran has been admiring from afar for awhile when the story begins. Malachi is not quite what you see on the surface. He comes across as an extremely confident, popular, vivacious guy – and he is those things – but, on the inside, he’s actually battling lots of insecurity and is fairly unsure of himself and where he’s going in life. One would never know that he has a past he’s having a hard time putting behind him, and that it is also perhaps coming back to bite him in the ass.
In fact, I appreciated several things about Coffee Cake, Michaela Grey’s first foray into the M/M romance genre. The whole cast of characters was extremely likeable and eclectic. I enjoyed the way the author brought both Bran’s and Malachi’s brothers into the bulk of the story. Bran’s brother, Callan, is also fiercely loyal and protective of Bran, as well as being lots of fun. He obviously loves Bran a great deal. And, Malachi’s brother, Tristan, really grew on me throughout the story. He’s extremely dry, and comes across as very uptight most of the time, but he actually has a good sense of humor, and cares deeply for his brother. I would actually love to read even more about Tristan. I thought he was a fascinating character.
Along with the importance of friendships and family, another big theme in the book is Bran’s asexuality. The author does a very good job at showing that it’s just one tiny facet of what makes up Bran. Making it clear that it doesn’t have to define the person, as well as showing that they can still have a fulfilling sex life—if that’s something that they want with their partner—is certainly important, and she did very well with that. However, the scene in the beginning of the story, where Bran and Malachi first discuss their sexuality felt very contrived. Bran tells Malachi that he’s not interested in girls, and then says that he’s “not gay either”. From just these two statements, Malachi somehow instantly makes the leap to Bran being asexual, and states, “So you’re ace?” Maybe twenty and twenty-one year olds are much more progressive these days – I hope so – but I still find it hard to believe that asexuality is common enough for Malachi to have instantly inferred it from what Bran told him. Also, along with casually using the lingo, he asks Bran if he’s aromantic, and Bran doesn’t even know what that means. Bran…who has done lots of research trying to learn about his asexuality…doesn’t know what it means. Huh. Just didn’t quite sit right with me.
The mystery/drama element of the story was okay, but for me this was absolutely a character driven story, and the mystery aspect was really more just the vehicle for getting to know and enjoy all of the players, who were definitely the strength of the book. Bran and Malachi’s chemistry was great, and I loved how they supported and took care of each other through everything. They were the stars of the show.
You can buy Coffee Cake here: