Monday, February 20, 2017

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

A man discovers that love can show up when you least expect it—and in a much different form—in this piping-hot romance from the author of Due Diligence and Just Business.

Brian Keppler, owner of Grounds 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?

Jewel's rating:

Daily grind might just be my favorite book in the Takeover series (who am I kidding, it is my favorite). It was spot on regarding just how owing one's own food service business can grind you up and spit you out. And having literally grown up in the food service industry, and watched my parents' marriage disintegrate when they owned a restaurant when I was a kid (though the restaurant was only one of their many problems), I could seriously relate to Brian and his dilemmas.

There are so many things I appreciated about this story. I appreciated that food service work was portrayed as being stressful and hectic, because it is. I appreciated that both MC's were older, instead of fresh out of college. And I really appreciated how Brian's bisexuality was treated. Brian didn't agonize much over it (though, like so many, he probably did when he was younger), and when he decided to go for it, he dove right in. I loved that Brian's family was just so accepting, like it was no big deal -- because it shouldn't be. And I loved how Rob was focused on Brian and not his sexuality. There were just so many things done right, that Daily Grind was a joy to read, even when the angst kicked in. Plus - and it's a big plus - Daily Grind is deliciously dirty! With coffee puns. Yum!!

Brian Keppler is 38 and has been in a long-term, committed (and kind of abusive) relationship with his coffee shop, Grounds N'at since he bought it. Everything else in his life has come second, and the cost for that has been high. He runs himself into the ground, sacrifices his own health and well-being, as well as relationships because he doesn't know how to accept help. Stubborn one, that Brian. Pride is a funny thing and sometimes it really does take something drastic to make a person stop and think about what really is important in life. Every relationship Brian has ever had has ended because he works too much, until the other person got tired of feeling like an afterthought.

Rob Ancroft is 40 and knows what it's like being a workaholic, too, being the CEO of a high-tech robotics company. And he's had his share of exhausting days and people that don't really see "him" or only want to use him. He's trying to get better, though, and not end up in an early grave, like his father. Rob has many regrets in life, and some of them, like his relationship with his parents, are too late to fix, but Rob is taking steps to ensure he has fewer regrets in the future. Rob recently moved his company from Chicago to Pittsburgh because there is more talent to acquire in Pittsburgh, and he spends his days in meeting after meeting making sure that projects run smoothly and the company stays on track. But he learned the hard way that sometimes you need to take a step back in order to go forward.

And up until now, Brian has only dated women, even though he's always known he was bisexual. He never felt free to explore his bisexuality because so many people don't accept it and assume some pretty awful things. So while he has definitely been attracted to men before, he'd never found one he wanted to take a chance on, before a tall, ginger Englishman walked into his shop. Then, like a compass pointing to magnetic north, Brian homed right in. There's so much that could have gone wrong, of course, but none of the usual plot devices were used (no homophobia or biphobia), and I love the author for that. Brian's family is accepting, his friends don't blink twice at the news and Rob never takes issue with Brian's bisexuality in the least. It was truly refreshing, all of it.

Brian and Rob are just so sexy together. They have loads in common -- both of them own their businesses, they work hard, they take pride in what they do, they both love to bike and hike and enjoy photography and old movies. They fit. And sexually, they are on fire. Brian took to man on man sex like fire to oxygen. I'm not going to say he was completely fearless, but dove in pretty quickly when he decided he wanted to go for it, and he was adventurous. And every sexy moment between these two men was gorgeous and hot.

Brian struggles with his shop, though, and Rob, well he's a fixer. He knows that Brian is having problems at his coffee shop, because Brian is increasingly more exhausted from working longer and longer hours, he's worried because prices are climbing and profits are declining and though he doesn't really know how to fix it, he's convinced himself that he has to do it all himself. Even if it kills him. And Rob is loath to watch him do it. In fact, Grounds N'at is the source of strife between Brian and Rob, just like every other relationship that Brian has had, but this time there is more of Brian's heart on the line and decisions have to be made. But worry not, the HEA is more than satisfying.

I just loved Daily Grind. Most definitely recommended.


ARC of Daily Grind was generously provided by the publisher, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

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