Series Review

Series Review: Calvin’s Coffee and Donuts by Layla King (2019)

Heat Factor: It’s not hot–closed door and very tepid. 

Character Chemistry: Some are a little more zingy than others, but for the most part there’s not a lot of ka-zam going on here.

Plot: At Calvin’s Coffee Shop, we meet a group of employees who all end up finding their true loves during the course of the winter season.

Overall: Honestly, I’m usually the queen of low-drama, easy-on-the-bedroom-scenes type smut but this series dragged a bit too much for me.

Happy Friday, lads and lassies. Today I’m bringing to your attention a series called Calvin’s Coffee and Donuts. I snatched the opportunity to review this series for donut week because the premise just called to me–in my head, I pictured a quaint little bustling coffee shop where adorable couples touched hands over pastries and things got electric in the broom closet. 

However, it was more like a Starbucks location. A lot of hair nets and headsets. I don’t want to knock romances that start in chain type coffee joints, but this was not the romantic setting I envisioned. Also, the romances were more like vignettes at a very high-level overview. 

Here’s what I liked about the books: the characters do come from a wide variety of backgrounds, including a woman in her forties. It helped keep things fresh and felt more realistic. After I got over my initial disappointment about the setting, I realized it was kind of cool to choose a place where real life people fall in love and work through life issues and stuff. So that was fresh and fun.

However, despite the characters all coming from different backgrounds, their voices all sounded the same, and here’s why–the narration is third person and switches perspectives, but there’s almost no dialogue. Which means that you’re seeing what’s happening, and someone is telling you how these characters feel, but there’s simply too much distance between the emotional plot and the reader. Had there been more dialogue, I think the characters would have been able to differentiate themselves. For example, all the women “giggle”–I would have expected some differences in their attitudes and comportment. The only one whose personality starts out a bit different is Kate–but as she softens towards her love interest, she also ends up sounding like the other women. 

The other thing that I had just…an ALMOST impossible time with is that the author reruns the plot. THE WHOLE TIME. So you’ll see from the heroine’s perspective that, ahh, they have a conversation about going out! Cool. Next chapter. Ah. they’re having the exact. same. conversation. about. going. out. At one point, Alan tries to ask Miranda to go with him to another character’s wedding when they’re interrupted, and then he tries again later successfully. The story is repeated SO closely that it ends up feeling like you’re reading the same exact content four times. I love perspective shifting and emotional replays most of the time because I think it’s an important tool (especially in first person) to get an idea of what happened inside the other character’s head and heart during fast-paced or complex scenes, but the way it was used here ended up looking a copy-paste of the same thing over and over again. So in that respect it was a bit of a slog. 

I will admit that there’s a lot going on in the world right now, and I personally felt like reading this book, despite its faults, was kind of soothing. It kept things light, there wasn’t anything that would have sped up my already frequently racing heart rate. The coffee shop as described felt soothing and cheerful. So I did actually appreciate the comfort of the book–but by the end I was feeling a bit frustrated by how much was repeated unnecessarily.

Buy Now: Amazon

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