Cappuccino in the Winter
The plot in Cappuccino in the Winter is fresh from the headlines: Hackers break into financial institutions with the potential to bring the planet to its knees. However, much of the freshness of the plot gets stuck in the clichéd characters and stop-and-go pace of much of the book.
Alayna Alexander is furious. She’s an expert in her field, but when Liberty National Bank’s security is compromised, her supervisor, Michael Tafuri (Furi), gives the assignment to Khavon Brighton, a former computer hacker whose highly specialized skills make him ideal for investigating the threat that looms over not only Liberty, but most other financial transactions around the world.
Although attracted to Khavon, Alayna is set to marry Warren Harrington, an aloof man she doesn’t love, who nonetheless, represents the security and family Alayna longs to have. Khavon instantly wonders why Alayna would be engaged to a man who ignores her, criticizes her clothes and tells her what she should have worn, and generally seems more interested in his career than in the woman who will be his wife.
After Alayna’s disastrous thirtieth birthday, the engagement is over and her relationship with Khavon ignites just as more problems begin to surface for Liberty. Despite all of Alayna and Khavon’s expertise in creating impenetrable security devices, the hackers causing the illegal transfers manage to bypass them, and it becomes clear that whoever is behind it all, is someone on the inside. The chase to catch the culprits before any more damage can be done takes Alayna and Khavon all the way to Amsterdam, where the villains are unmasked and the story reaches its climax.
Alayna Alexander’s maturity level leaves a lot to be desired. She is brutally rude to Furi and Khavon; I know first-hand the frustration of being passed over for a promotion, but the answer is certainly not to be offensive to the boss or to the new person who sits in that office. She also changes her mind very easily; she is determined to have her family life with Warren and hates Khavon, the next moment she is fantasizing about Khavon’s “skills” and behaves like a dumbstruck teenager instead of the woman she is.
Khavon does the honorable thing and, because of a long-ago debt, takes the assignment he would rather pass up. Considering he is the “go-to” guy, however, he sure spends a lot of time focusing on Alayna’s legs, Alayna’s perfume, Alayna’s body in the leotard she wears to teach class. He is determined never to marry again, after the disaster that was his first marriage, but do we really doubt that he will, in the end, marry Alayna?
The pace in the book hurts the story; there are many scenes filling page after page that add nothing to the plot or the romance. Long descriptions of Alayna’s outfits and the outings she and Khavon take, too many soothing baths, and way too many scenes with cappuccino in them. Considering there is a threat to the major financial institutions in the US, and consequently, the rest of the world economy, I expected these two to actually focus on solving the problem.
This first book by author Valerie Rose shows a promising plot, but the fault lies in the characters and the lack of editing. Some of the dialogue points-of-view are confusing and it seems like there are some sentences that are outright missing. Instead, we have unnecessary discussions of cappuccino and the accuracy of weather forecasting in the US. With more focus on the actual plot and the characters, Ms. Rose’s future novels might show some improvement, but I cannot in good faith recommend her debut novel.