Kimani, $6.50, ISBN 978-0-373-86458-4
Contemporary Romance, 2016
There is a simple kind of pleasure to be had just from reading a well-written book, so much so that I end up not caring that the plot is a bit on the generic, nondescript side. Jamie Pope’s Love and a Latte is one such book – everything comes together so well that I end up turning the pages just to savor the fact that, hey, look at me, I’m actually enjoying this. This is part of the multi-author series The Draysons: Sprinkled with Love, but it can stand alone very well.
Chase Drayson, of the Seattle part of the family, has opened Lillian’s, an upscale pâtisserie. He is the family “stodgy guy”, the corporate dude who can be relied on to pore over account books and make sure that the others are not running the family fortune into the ground. In this story, he is trying to figure out why their biggest competition is doing so much better than them, despite Lillian’s offering better desserts and coffee. Of course, he’s not biased, not at all. Along the way, he falls for the barista at Lillian’s, the free-spirited artistic soul Amber Bernard. She’s, naturally, his polar opposite in terms of personality, but they seem to be, in fact, perfect for each other.
That’s basically the plot of this story. It’s simple and sweet. The bulk of the story revolves around their interactions, along with their interactions with the rest of the cast. There are some sequel baiting, of course, but what impresses me here is how everything fits into the story. The domestic happiness of the couple of previous book, for example, is woven seamlessly as part of the story, and conversations about that couple’s lovey-dovey feelings come up naturally as part of daily interactions between friends and family members in a warm, close-knit circle.
Chase and Amber are pretty familiar archetypes, but no matter how much of them seem to be taken out of central casting, the author manages to bring them to life in such a fun, effervescent manner. I like these two, even when they are going through some conflicts that I have read oh so many times before. Their conversations feel so natural and unforced, and the humor is subtle yet effective. This story balances light humor and some mild angst pretty well – it can be funny without being too much like a sitcom, and it can be emotional and real while still retaining the romanticized idealism of a romance novel.
Anyway, Love and a Latte is a solid, enjoyable read from start to finish. A part of me wishes that it has tried a little bit more to be less of a “yet another Kimani story” thing, but it goes down so well like a well-made latte that I can’t deny that I’ve had a great time reading it.