Coffee Cake, by Michaela Grey
Series: Coffee Cake, Book 1
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (May 11, 2015)
Page Count: 220 pages
Genre: Gay (M/M) Romance; Asexual Romance; Erotic Content
Rating: 3 out of 5
I saw the release for the second book in this series, Beignets, just a few days ago, and was intrigued by the cover. I went to check out the first one during the ARe sale, and was surprised and delighted by the summary… another ace romance! But… not all is as it seems. (Rant ahoy, you’ve been warned!)
Bran Kendrick never expected to fall in love. He’s asexual, after all. What chance does he have of finding someone who’ll see past that? So when Malachi Warren catches his eye, Bran tells himself his crush will pass. Malachi disagrees. He has been attracted to Bran for some time, something he is delighted to find Bran reciprocating. They begin to date and feel their way through an intimate relationship that meets both their needs.
Suddenly Bran finds himself juggling a new boyfriend, a demanding job, and a college degree he’s not sure he wants, but he couldn’t be happier—until a series of seemingly random accidents befall Malachi. When they escalate, Bran realizes someone is trying to take away the best thing that ever happened to him, and he must scramble to keep Malachi safe while they search for the would-be killer.
I know that “asexuality” means different things to different people, and that my asexual experience does not define the term for anyone else. But this book had way too many erotic scenes in it for me to be comfortable. I had to stop reading only a few pages in to the novel and readjust my mindset for an m/m erotic romance, rather than an ace romance like I was expecting.
Bran is ace, and believes that he’ll never find anyone who accepts him for who he is. He has a crush on Malachi Warren, the handsome and popular boy on campus, and Mal just so happens to return it. Miraculously enough, Mal also has zero problems with Bran being ace, and knows more about the subject than Bran himself does!
“Nothing to be ashamed of, kiddo. So you’re ace?”
Brand nodded jerkily.
Malachi smiled at him. “Are you aromatic too?”
“I, uh…” Bran floundered for words.
“Haven’t gotten that far in your research yet?” Malachi winked at him. “Look it up. We can talk about it when we get together to study tomorrow.”
But there is a LOT of sex in this book! Bran has no problem bringing Mal off in every way he can imagine. He himself isn’t interested in sex, never gets aroused, nothing, and that’s fine. I’m not judging the character, or saying that he’s “not ace”, because like I said before asexuality can be defined a thousand different ways. But I was not expecting that much one-sided sex in a novel that puts so much emphasis on the asexuality of one of its characters.
“I want to give you this,” he said. “I may not want it for myself, but I want to give you pleasure. I like making you feel good.”
One huge pet peeve? At one point, Bran states that he’s “kind of textbook” when it comes to asexuality. UH NO. First of all, there’s no such thing. Asexuality is, at the base level, simply a lack of sexual attraction, but even that is a flawed definition. Saying that a guy who does not get aroused, who thinks orgasms are like “being electrocuted”, is textbook ace? That upsets me. It makes me feel like my asexual experience is invalidated.
And I understand from the dedication that the author is also asexual. So I assume she’s writing based on her experience, which is awesome. But her experience is not The Definitive Experience, and neither is Bran’s. And I don’t think she was intending it to be read that way, but that’s still how I read it.
The rest of the book was pretty interesting, though. After the first sex scene (on page 25, no joke), I started reading it as an m/m romance, since that personally made me more comfortable. The romance itself is very fast-paced; Mal and Bran get together in the first few pages, fall in love rapidly, and reach a scary level of co-dependence by the 50% point. But they’re super sweet together, and I love that Mal never pressures Bran beyond his comfort level.
There’s also a mystery, as Bran, Mal, and their friends work to figure out who’s trying to kill Mal. It was less a mystery, though, and more a series of incidents that left everyone reeling, but no reactions or trying to solve anything until the very, very end. What I liked more was how the various attacks affected everyone; Bran stars to realize that he’s not doing what he loves, Mal’s relationship with his family changes and improves, and all of the characters grow a lot closer.
I just didn’t enjoy this novel a lot. It’s okay, but not great. But maybe it’s my feelings for the ace aspect that are souring my opinion? I wish the Dreamspinner Press website had a “heat meter” like other sites do, so I would have known going in that there was a considerable amount of erotic scenes.
I think you should try this book for yourself. It’s worth taking a shot, and I think other people who don’t have as much invested in the ace character and relationship may enjoy it a lot more.
(Also, I really adore the cover art!)
See also: Book 2, “Beignets”, released October 9, 2015.
Like this post? Follow me for more great reviews!