Title: But First, Coffee
Series: Love & Coffee Series #1
Author: Sarah Darlington
Genre: Contemporary Romance
He’s a barista. She’s the CEO of Java Beans.
Every time I hear the name Joe Coffee, I nearly burst out laughing. However, he happens to be the best barista in the company; single handedly changing the store he works in from our lowest earner to our highest earner. So, naturally, as CEO I want to meet him and give him a well-earned promotion. But when he walks into my office looking like sin incarnate, covered in tattoos with electric blue eyes that send shockwaves through my body, the only thing I really want is… him… in my bed.
Lana Bitterman has a stick up her ass. Everyone knows that. And I don’t care about her one way or the other. I’m just trying to live my life my way, which was exactly why I dropped out of law school and became a barista in the first place. Only, my sister landed herself in a bad situation and Doug Maddox, someone with a serious grudge against Lana, know that. Doug’s blackmailing me. He’s using me as his spy. So when I walk into Lana’s office, I’m not actually there on my own agenda. Ms. Uptight won’t know what hit her. Little did I know, neither would I.
Four ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ stars from Ari
But First Coffee is my first novel by Sarah Darlington and I knew I needed to read this by the title alone! Coffee, suspense, and love? Yes, please!
This book left me with some mixed feelings. I loved some of it, I liked some of it, but a freaking loved the hero, Joe! Let’s start with the awesome parts, aka Joe. Whoa! He’s *such* and interesting character. On paper the man shouldn’t make me swoon or slightly drool, but he did! He’s had problems with drugs, sex addiction, and has ADHD and a few other issues. And yet I couldn’t get enough of him. I loved getting glimpses of his inner musings and his realness made him completely captivating. Lana was a great character too. Hardworking and driven, but Joe stole the show for me.
Now on to what didn’t work for me. The story has a great pace for most of the book, but Lana and Joe’s relationship still felt rushed. Then the ending seemed like all the conflict was solved way too quickly. I was left feeling like I needed more. But maybe that’s because I loved Joe so much and didn’t want to let him go. Still, a great story that I would totally recommend. 4 Stars.
“I’m only a barista,” he answered.
“That’s bullshit and you know it.”
“I’m not your saving grace.”
“I’m just asking for a good employee. Maybe one who can show me a little more respect.”
“Maybe you shouldn’t trust me so easily.”
I closed my eyes for second, grunting in frustration, because he had a serious problem letting me win this argument. He was pushing me, almost as if he wanted to see how far he could take this before I had no choice but to fire his ungrateful ass. I rubbed at my still tender hand and opened my eyes, ready to continue my verbal showdown with Joe.
But he surprised me when I noticed a tenderness in his eyes that wasn’t there before. “Let me see your hand.” I realized I was clutching the one that hurt in the palm of my good hand.
He stepped closer to me.
My heart went off like a wild animal. His nearness had way too much of an effect over me. I didn’t know if it was wise to let him get so close to me, especially when he smelled so good. It wasn’t cologne, just his natural manly scent.
He gestured again for my hand.
I was holding it captive, but I cautiously moved it in his direction. He took it in his warm and—surprisingly—gentle hands. The tips of his fingers massaged and squeezed over my knuckles and fingers as if he knew what he was doing, checking to see if all was okay. “Does any of this hurt?”
I felt numb and breathless as I answered, “Not really.”
“I don’t think anything’s broken, then.”
His fingers stopped moving, but he didn’t drop my hand, and I didn’t pull it from him, either. We both just stood there, trapped in each other’s gaze, technically holding hands, with neither of us making a move to break away.
Sarah Darlington grew up traveling the United States—although, she’s called Virginia home for most of her adult life. She’s the proud mom of an intelligent 5-year-old boy with autism, who makes every day an adventure, and a 1-year-old red-headed little girl who is as fiery as her hair color. She believes in true love, soul mates, unicorns, rainbows, and that Hogwarts really does exist. Before having kids she worked as a flight attendant. And when she’s not writing, she’s busy plotting her next grand adventure.