Title: Something’s Brewing at Joe’s
Author: SJD Peterson
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: 200 Pages
At a Glance: For me, Something’s Brewing at Joe’s was a story with great potential that never quite arrived.
Reviewed By: Sammy
Blurb: The promise of a dream job lures Murphy to Tampa, but he arrives to the rude awakening that the offer is on hold. Now he’s got two choices: slink back to Michigan with his tail between his legs or stay and look for work. Things perk up when he goes into a coffee shop and learns the owner is looking for someone to renovate the apartment above it. He happily takes the job, only later realizing he’s met Joe Sterling, Kaffeinate’s proprietor, before… when they hooked up at a club Murphy’s first night in Tampa.
Murphy and Joe are both proud, passionate, and outspoken. Neither is looking for a relationship, though they can’t deny they go together as well as coffee and doughnuts, in spite of their tempers. But that’s before Joe learns Murphy will be working for the corporation he believes is harming local businesses and the environment—and if Murphy will be supporting it, Joe will want nothing to do with him, dooming any possibility of an unexpected happy ending.
Review: I want to preface this review by saying that I have enjoyed many works by this author. SJD Peterson is a gifted writer and has given us many a story that easily rose above the ranks to be considered outstanding novels. Something’s Brewing at Joe’s is one that I felt had great potential. The main characters, Joe and Murphy, were interesting guys, and had we even had a minor glimpse into their back-stories, I’m sure they would have been a delight to read about. I think if that aspect of the story had been more fully evolved, the vast amount of sex on the page might have been more palatable, because the story itself was developing. Unfortunately that didn’t happen, and the sex became more of the focus than the story itself. What we were left with, then, was a series of intimate scenes with a fairly weak plot and even weaker relational ties between the two main characters, and that was not enough to make what could have been a good story something memorable.
Murphy is a transplant from Michigan to Florida. Leaving behind everything, he pursues his dream of doing something more with his life by accepting a job with a major construction company. When he’s told the job isn’t ready, he must scramble to find something that will keep him from having to return home penniless and ashamed. After a steamy one-time hookup with a guy who pushes all Murphy’s dominant buttons, he sets off to pursue a job and finds one in a small coffee shop. The upper floor apartment attached to the shop is in desperate need of renovation, and Murphy is lucky enough to land the job. But it’s the coffee shop assistant who hires him, and when he discovers that the owner is none other than his fiery hook up from the evening before, Murphy worries about whether the two of them will be able to keep their hands off each other and actually work together successfully. The ability to have restraint is short-lived, and while neither man wants the entanglement of a relationship, they find themselves falling into one just the same. When Joe discovers just whom it is that Murphy will eventually be working for, all bets are off and Joe may just say goodbye to the best guy he has met in a long time.
I quickly found myself waiting for the other shoe to drop in this book. What I mean by that is I kept expecting to learn more about whatever happened in Joe and Murphy’s past that turned them off relationships so emphatically. There was a glimmer of something—a past relationship for Joe, and for Murphy as well, that left them sour on getting entangled again, but it was never pursued or developed, so we were left with the idea that both men were just not interested in getting involved with someone. Joe is a decided workaholic, and he makes no excuses for putting the success of his business above all else. It made great sense, then, that when he discovered the company Murphy might be attached to, eventually, was one that threatened the coffee shop in the past, Joe flew off the handle and angrily blamed Murphy for lying to him. This would not be the last time Joe lost it when it came to questioning Murphy’s actions, however, and while this initial setup was understandable, as Joe and Murphy got more involved, Joe’s short temper and explosive anger became a bit more unbelievable and questionable.
I wanted these two guys to come to some type of deeper level, other than just lusting after each other every time they said hello. After a while, without a solid storyline to anchor it, the novel got mired down in sex just for the sake of another hot scene, and while I find that enjoyable, I like to have a bit more plot to sink my teeth into when reading. The author had definitely came up with an idea that could have become a really great book exploring the idea that two men so opposed to emotional attachment find themselves smack in the middle of it despite themselves. Instead, we got a series of hot sex scenes strung together with a fairly weak plot, and characters that were mere shadows rather than fully fleshed out men.
For me, Something’s Brewing at Joe’s was a story with great potential that never quite arrived. This one was simply not the best this author had to offer this time, but still doesn’t detract from the fact that SJD Peterson is an excellent writer that almost always hits the mark.
You can buy Something’s Brewing at Joe’s here: