But First, Coffee by Sarah Darlington

Overall: 1.5/5 ⭐️💫
Heat: 2/4 🔥🔥
Feels: 🤣😳🙄😑😒

I really wanted to like this book but it just wasn’t my cup of tea. By the fifth chapter I had seriously debated on putting it down (I honestly cannot remember the last time I DNF’d a book…) but decided I owed it a chance and finished it. It didn’t get much better unfortunately.

I am always honest in my reviews so be aware that while this review is by no means personal, I also didn’t pull any punches when it came to content.

There were a few things that could be attributed to my being picky (i.e. character names, Lana being a weak female CEO getting flustered all the time) but the remainder of my issues were with the fact that the story was not the least bit plausible and felt rushed. Keep in mind this is not a novella.

1. During her interview of Joe Coffee, Lana Bitterman proceeds to show him the mattress she keeps under her desk to sleep on because she’s so overworked (unprofessional, much?) and she’s a CEO with multiple stores, she can’t afford a couch?

2. Joe Coffee is a good barista, and at one point went to some good schools (but didn’t graduate) and that makes Lana decide she wants to promote him to VP after a single meeting.

3. She takes him on a business trip on his second day on the job wherein she wants his opinion about where to open another store. He suggests adding a drive-thru which is something she’s never done before and without taking more than what seems like a few minutes, makes the decision on the spot that he’s right and that he’ll work with the contractor to get the store built. What CEO does this??

4. The night before the above business trip, Joe calls Lana to ask if he can bring his little sister on the trip with them (it’s a 2hr road trip but they may stay overnight) because she’s having a rough time and he doesn’t want to leave her alone (what?!? backstory: her boyfriend broke up with her and she decided to get trashed so he didn’t feel comfortable leaving her alone with her history of abusing alcohol/drugs) — not only is that unprofessional enough, but the sister proceeds to get out of the car at each business stop, provides an opinion on business matters and starts to overstep with Joe’s boss… during lunch she takes off her shirt to use as a bandana and tells Lana she needs to let loose… it’s like, in what alternate universe do these things happen??

5. Joe’s ADHD is mentioned too many times. It’s as if the addition of his ADHD was to add some depth to his character. It could have been left out and the story arc wouldn’t have changed.

6. Lana falls asleep on the car ride back from the trip and wakes up in Joe’s house; after a cursory explanation which would leave anyone rattled, instead of leaving and discussing business later like a normal person, she proceeds to want to discuss his position with the contractor on the spot; the rest of their interactions are also very similar; there was very rarely any organic flow to them.

7. There is little preamble to their first intimate scene and when they do get intimate there is discussion of birth control (she’s on the pill) but nothing about protection from STDs… no I got tested… no condom discussion at all. There is a ton of discussion about consent but then no protection discussion. ??!?

8. The whole Doug thing. Doug is blackmailing Joe by holding the release of Joe’s sister Kitty’s sex tapes over his head. He asks Joe to spy on Lana. The reason behind this is so trite. Doug thinks Lana’s business should have been co-owned by him because he had a few short discussions with her in college and years later he is so obsessed he wants to run it? ruin it? It’s not entirely clear. At one point he wants to trade companies? Doug’s asshole-ness is played up a whole bunch and then all of a sudden he turns into a good guy, wanting to do the right thing and by the end of the book you realize that the next book is about Kitty and Doug… being together… Again. Alternate universe where the getting together with the person blackmailing your brother with your sex tapes is plausible.

9. There’s an altercation toward the end at the rival coffee shop and afterward Lana just up and decides she’s horny and wants to go home to have sex. Like, what? Why? No lead up, nothing.

The story was very disjointed and I just couldn’t get past the issues. I tried. I really did. It just felt like boxes were ticked off: something for drama (check), some flaw for the main character (check) , something that makes them go through some hardship together (check), some sex scenes (check). The main story arc could have maybe worked but the meat of the story was just not there.