A Barista for Christmas by J. Hali Steele

A Barista for Christmas by J. Hali Steele
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Erotic Romance, Holiday, LGBTQ, Contemporary
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

With a lot of hard work, Aspen Ferris’ dream of owning his own coffee shop has finally come true. Unfortunately, renovations are almost complete on a nearby mall that will house a chain coffee establishment. Not only that, Christmas is a few weeks away! When the electricity goes out at the mall, the construction company’s owner visits Asp’s store. Insulting the pushy brute gets Aspen thoroughly told off and… kissed! A kiss he can’t forget.

Dandridge St. Clare speeds to his worksite to handle an electric outage and misses his morning coffee. Locating a place to grab his caffeine fix, he’s offended by the barista at Your Coffee Cup. Anxious and upset, Dan pulls the man over the counter and can’t resist kissing the handsome jackass. On top of that, he enjoys the best cup of coffee ever. More unsettling still, he can’t erase the taste or feel of the man’s mouth. Dandridge returns for more of both.

The holidays are approaching and neither man expects much. Both get more than they bargained for.

Anything is possible at Christmas time.

Most of the LGBTQ stories I read are set in cities, so I was intrigued by the small town setting here. It didn’t take very long at all for the characters to explain what it was like for them to live in such a rural area while being part of a minority group. I liked the fact that this was included as it added another layer of tension and intrigue to the plot without distracting the audience from the main storyline.

As much as I thought Eric and Aspen were well-suited for each other, I was never quite convinced that they were ready for something much more than a fling due to the emotional baggage both of them carried from previous relationships that ended on sour notes and other difficult life experiences. Honestly, I wanted to send them both to counselling for a few months and then have them try again. It would have been helpful to see more examples of how these characters were overcoming their fears and facing their pasts in order to have a better future together.

The plot twists in this novella made me smile. For example, who knew that an argument with a stranger could be stopped in its tracks with a kiss? That was such an interesting way to start things off that I was eager to keep reading and see how else the author was planning to surprise their audience. I’ll leave it up to other readers to find out what happened next, but it was certainly worth the read.

A Barista for Christmas was a wild ride.

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