Desert Isle Keeper
Must Love Coffee
Sarah Mayberry is an author well known to those who read contemporary romance. It’s been a while since she’s released anything new so when I saw that she had a romantic comedy novella coming out, I made sure to pick it up. She’s good at evoking a lot of emotions in both her characters and her readers and Must Love Coffee is a prime example of her skills in this regard, a story that will make you laugh, with some heart-tugging empathy along the way.
Cassidy and Daniel don’t know each other but they are each going through a rough patch, having had some difficult upheavals in their lives. Cassidy’s marriage just ended (her husband had been cheating on her) and Daniel lost his beloved pet dog Walter two months previously. They are both in need of a distraction to help them move forward and they find one unexpectedly in a coffee shop they both frequent on a daily basis.
Daniel unknowingly starts off the sequence of events that will lead to their eventual meeting. He and his co-worker and friend Pete are frequent customers at Cuppa Diem, the coffee shop near their work. As a joke, he proclaims himself their best customer (he does go there 5 times a day!) with a funny selfie and quickly made poster for the shop.
Cassidy also gets her coffee at this same shop with her best friend and colleague Libby, and when she sees Daniel’s poster by the cash register, she is somewhat affronted since she knows that with the amount of times SHE frequents the shop, it should definitely be her who gets to claim the title of best customer. She makes a more professional sign proclaiming herself as top dog to post next to his.
This is an amusing turn of events for Pete and Libby, a married couple who’ve been trying to set up Daniel and Cassidy on a blind date to no avail, both having proclaimed themselves not in the right frame of mind for dating. But they can see the spark that this little game has engendered and decide to keep quiet and see what plays out. Then it’s a battle of wits and oneupmanship between Daniel and Cassidy, to the delight of the patrons of the store and the baristas, who are quite happy with the influx of customers eager to see who is going to come out on top.
Anyone who has felt the sting of grief associated with the loss of a beloved pet will understand Daniel and how much he misses Walter. The author deftly weaves these moments of loss into Daniel’s daily life and also as he starts to recover from that grief, the distraction of the game with Cassidy enabling him to look forward to a new day with anticipation even without his faithful companion. Similarly, those who’ve gone through a relationship that ended when a partner was unfaithful will understand Cassidy’s emotional seesaw of hurt and anger. She throws herself into the challenge with Daniel and it helps her realize that her valid feelings about the dissolution of her marriage no longer need to be front and center.
When the game ends, both Cassidy and Daniel realize that they’re not ready to let it go, and want to meet in person (to the delight of Pete and Libby!). The meeting leads to lunch and dates and some sexy time, and eventually a lovely HEA complete with a sweet epilogue. The fact that the story is based on a real ‘meet cute’ is icing on the cake. If you want to read a feel good story that touches on grief and loss, the value of friendship, and our resilience to bounce back and look for happiness, I highly recommend this lovely romance.