Tuesday, February 21, 2017

ARC Review: Daily Grind (Takeover 4) by Anna Zabo

Brian Keppler, owner of Ground N'At, the coffee shop beneath SR Anderson Consulting, doesn't have time for a relationship. His most recent girlfriend broke up with him because he'd become married to his shop, which is falling apart without his favorite barista, Justin.

As he struggles to stay afloat, the arrival of handsome British high-tech whiz Robert Ancroft becomes another complication. Rob quickly becomes a fixture at the shop with his sharp wit and easy charm, and Brian soon finds himself looking forward more and more to Rob's visits—to the point where his heart skips a beat when he walks in.

But will Brian be able to come to terms with his previously unexplored sexual identity and find happiness now that he has a chance?

Dani's rating:

Daily Grind, which can be read as a standalone, is one emotional, sexy ride.

Rob walks into Brian's coffee shop and ZING. It's not love at first sight, not quite, but Rob and Brian have an instant connection.

Rob is the CEO of a robotics company where Todd (one of the MCs from book 3) works. He's British (and a ginger!) but has made Pittsburgh his home. Brian owns a coffee shop, Grounds N'at. He's flirty and makes a special coffee concoction, strong and sweet with a bite of spice, just for Rob.

I love when the setting of a story comes alive, like it did here. Brian is a Pittsburgh native and knows so much about the area, its history, sights, and sounds. Both men have a passion for biking and photography, and Brian knows the best places and trails to explore.

Brian convinces Rob that he has an artist's eye and that his photographs are something special. Rob's working class parents discouraged anything they considered frivolous, so Rob still feels vaguely guilty seeing photography as anything other than a silly hobby.

Brian's coffee shop is his capricious mistress. Brian lives and breathes coffee. He doesn't trust most of his employees to open or close and feels anxious whenever he takes a day off. The immense stress of running the shop took a huge toll on his last relationship, and it threatens to destroy what he's building with Rob.

Rob wants to help (he know a thing or two about owning a business after all), but Brian is having none of that. There's a moment when Brian, overwhelmed and exhausted, takes his desperation out on Rob, and the shit that comes out of his mouth . . . wow, just NO. I have never spoken to anyone like that EVER, much less a lover. I was appalled. So was Rob.

The only angst in the story is the one Brian imposes on the relationship by working himself into the ground. Rob wants to be more than a cock to ride, a quick fuck at the end of the day; when Brian lashes out, Rob doesn't just take it. Brian has to apologize and promise to change to get his man back.

In the end, Brian and Rob talk through things like mature adults. There's no melodrama, no homophobia, no crazy family antics, no shame. Brian's parents are completely on board with Brian dating a man; they're not even surprised when he comes out as bi.

The sexy times in this book are sizzling. When Brian bottoms for the first time, mother of all that is holy, the pervy part of my brain threw a fucking fiesta. I so appreciate that Brian was willing to embrace his bisexuality and, although he'd only ever dated women, didn't want to hide Rob. He owned it, and that's awesome!

Even though this book is hot & dirty, the sex doesn't feel gratuitous. There are many tender moments between the guys too, the way they hold hands, the way Brian is obsessed with Rob's red hair and freckles, the inside coffee jokes (Rob calls Brian his "Americano," and they both tease each other about leaving room for cream. *ahem*)

My one niggle with this story is that Brian's bisexuality is like a Thing, a Big Thing. At the beginning especially, he's always comparing having sex with a woman to having sex with a man. Rob isn't threatened, not at all, which again, AWESOME, but I didn't like the many references to Brian having sex with his ex, Anita. (I would have felt the same had the ex been a man.)

During one scene, Rob tells Brian that he's his "bisexual barista who likes sucking cock as much as he likes eating pussy." WHAT? I can't even fathom my ex-girlfriend saying something like that to me. She knew I'd been with men, but it wasn't like a constant source of conversation, because at the time I was with HER.

This rubbed ME the wrong way, but that's on me. For real.

This book is pretty close to perfection. The epilogue is a lovely, but realistic, HEA. Brian's business problems aren't solved overnight, but he tries so hard to be the man Rob deserves.

One word: YET. Oh, yeah, these men have a future.

"You." Brian clutched his mug like a talisman. "Being with you. This, now. The bike rides. Hiking. Photography. The way you smile. Your hands. Your freckles. Your voice, You. All of you . . . I'd rather lose the shop than lose you."

Get the book:


In a good book the best is between the lines.
(Swedish Proverb)

An ARC of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

Download links are provided as a courtesy and do not constitute an endorsement of or affiliation with the book, author, publisher, or website listed.

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