Kimani, $6.50, ISBN 978-0-373-86453-9
Contemporary Romance, 2016
Cappuccino Kisses is a book in the multi-author series The Draysons: Sprinkled with Love. You think it was over? Well, the last books revolved around the Draysons in Chicago. This time, we shine the spotlight on the Draysons in Seattle. I suppose if the Seattle Draysons are a hit, we can then seed every major city in America with more Draysons. As per the last outing, this book – this series – revolves around members of a clan who start a pâtisserie business.
The Seattle Draysons are Mariah, Chase, and Jackson, and this time Mariah gets to be the star. Her marriage crumbled when her efforts to have a child failed. She threw herself into all kinds of fertility and homeopathic treatments, to such a degree that she didn’t notice that her husband was drifting farther behind until one day, when he announced that he would be leaving her. Now, she’s more cautious, so when Everett Myers expresses his intention to take her out for a date, she’s very tempted, but at the same time, wary.
Everett is from the Myers family that has long run a successful hotel and F&B business, and when he learns that the Draysons have opened a patisserie in Seattle, he sees a nice everyone-wins kind of opportunity. He can offer the famous Myers coffee to be made available at Lillian’s, a move that will only give Lillian’s an edge over other more established rival businesses in town. Along the way, he’d of course press his suit on Mariah. How long can Mariah hold out?
Mariah’s fertility issues is quite the baggage – she perceives herself as damaged goods and fears that no man will ever want a woman who can’t give that man many, many brats. Everett is far less troubled: he is a widower who doesn’t feel any desire to settle down again until he meets Mariah. Oh, he has an eight-year old brat who occasionally speaks like a 40-year old, who is also bullied in school. He also doesn’t mind adopting kids, so in many ways, he is Mariah’s perfect consolation prize for never being able to experience morning sickness and swollen feet for nine months or so. The plot, therefore, is all about Mariah acting like being pursued by a wealthy, hot bloke is the hardest cross a woman has to bear.
I don’t know what to make of this one, to be honest, because Mariah’s issues are central to the story, but Everett only learns of the nature of her angst in the late third or so of the book. Likewise, she is only aware that he is a father of an eight-year old boy at around that time too. So much time is spent on Everett charming and worming his way into her heart and bloomers, or on eye-rolling filler scenes designed to introduce sequel baits, that when these people finally learn who the other person really is, they rush into marriage and then it’s the happy ending.
It’s hard to believe the happy ending as a result. She’s a little too obsessed over having a kid of her own, and I’m not convinced that she’d happily settle to adopt or to be that creepy brat’s mother. I have this feeling that her insecurities stemming from her inability to carry her own kids – something that she desperately yearns to do – may somehow come in the way between her and Everett sooner or later.
Also, this story doesn’t feel well put-together like it should be. Some scenes make me scratch my head. For example, when Mariah talks about how she was taught how to bake by her aunt Lillian, and Everett asks whether this Lillian is Lillian Drayson, she acts like he’s so awesome for doing such detailed research on the woman he’d like to stalk and get into bed with. The thing is, he attended the opening ceremony of Lillian’s – which saw Lillian Drayson giving a speech – and he knows very well that Mariah is one of the owners of that business as well as part of the Drayson family. So, really now, is it that hard for Everett to deduce that Mariah’s Aunt Lillian is Lillian Drayson? Either the author forgot what took place in the first three pages of the story when she wrote that scene, or she wants me to think that maybe Mariah isn’t that bright a person. Scenes such as this one make me wonder whether the book was written in a rush.
If Cappuccino Kisses had been tightened up a bit and more of the focus is made on the characters’ mental baggage instead of the same old “pursued by a wealthy handsome bloke” song and dance, it would have been a much better read. In its current form, it just feels sloppy.