Coffee Boy follows the synopsis pretty closely; there aren’t any surprises going into it, which I loved. Sometimes all I need to cheer me up is a cute romance novella with a beautiful cover.
After graduation, Kieran expected to go straight into a career of flipping burgers—only to be offered the internship of his dreams at a political campaign. But the pressure of being an out trans man in the workplace quickly sucks the joy out of things, as does Seth, the humorless campaign strategist who watches his every move.
Soon, the only upside to the job is that Seth has a painful crush on their painfully straight boss, and Kieran has a front row seat to the drama. But when Seth proves to be as respectful and supportive as he is prickly, Kieran develops an awkward crush of his own—one which Seth is far too prim and proper to ever reciprocate.
I knew going into this that I was going to get a great romance, but what I wasn’t expecting was the healthy amount of humor thrown in. I love the fact that the author took the time to include some banter in here. I always appreciate it when a new read manages to make me laugh out loud multiple times.
Just to give you a couple of examples:
“Crazy thing, though. I’m pretty sure Mister Senior Campaign Strategist has a thing for Marcus.”
“Nice,” Jillian says. “See, I’m not the only one!”
Kieran pokes the side of her ramen bowl with his toe—not enough to make it slosh, just enough to make her shriek and slap his foot away. “Is that not weird to you?”
“Why? Are you saying mean, bitter people can’t be queer?” Jillian pats his foot. “Look in the mirror.”
Also, Kieran shading his supervisor:
“Wait, so—I was assigned female at birth, and that’s okay to talk about, but your crush on our boss isn’t appropriate?”
But real talk the fact that Seth was pining for his -married with children- boss kind of made me dislike him a bit… Reading about someone thinking about a married person like that is just something that doesn’t sit well with me personally. And then taking the fact that he’s a decade (and something) older than Kieran… I don’t usually enjoy reading about significant age-gaps in romances. And I still don’t. So I had to make myself forget that the romantic interest is significantly older than our main character…
Those were the only negative aspects for me, but still, don’t get me wrong, Seth is an amazing romantic partner for Kieran. He’s kind, supportive, respectful and genuinely takes the time to get to know him. It’s really only because of my personal issues on the married thing and age-gaps that lowered my attachment a bit. Other than that, this novella is fucking great for its:
- LGBTQIA+ representation.
- Witty banter scattered throughout.
- This next one is kind of random, but bear with me: When Kieran and Seth go out and order fries, I ended up googling 34 best french fries recipes and ideas (it was midnight, so don’t judge me). And now thanks to Coffee Boy I know what I’m having for lunch.
- Also kind of unrelated, but this book managed to perfectly describe this one minor character in my favorite show:
“The customer is probably like nineteen, or a precocious high school senior, but he clearly thinks he’s hot shit. To his credit, he’s cute, in a wannabe-frat-boy way. He’s got long eyelashes and a cocky smile, and for a second Kieran genuinely grins back at him.”
That paragraph literally put down in words what I think of Christoffer Schistad from Skam.
- Ok. Now back to the actual storyline… Coffee Boy is one of the most important LGBTQIA+ romances I’ve read in awhile. And I’ll appreciate it eternally for taking the time to discuss so many important topics, such as the usage of the word ‘queer’ among many other:
“I’m afraid I don’t have your ability to be so open. I don’t like to discuss certain personal matters at work.”
Kieran could gracefully accept his apology. Or he could open his fucking mouth, and guess which one he does. “Neither do I,” he says, and even to his own ears he sounds sullen. “For some reason it always seems to come up, though.”
Seth blinks at him for a moment before it dawns on him. “Ah.”
“Yeah, sorry. I do get it. You’d rather not have to be queer at work.”
Seth winces. “I’m not overly fond of the word ‘queer’, either.”
“It’s not that I don’t identify with the general idea, it’s more that I can’t help thinking of it as…” Seth’s face closes a little. “As the kind of thing boys call each other when they can’t think of anything worse.”
We need more books like this!!!
Overall, I’m more than glad I picked this one up and stayed up late to finish it. I definitely recommend Coffee Boy if you’re looking for a quick but lasting read.