“Stop acting like we’re running out of time. Let’s pretend we have forever.”
Alex Hunter is a native of Mirabella Island who works long hours as a line cook at the local diner and plays hard with friends on his time off. A son of a fisherman, he is content with his life and living carefree in a small shack on the beach with his brother Will who is aspiring to be a lawyer and eventually leave the island. Although Alex is gay, only his best friend Holly knows his sexual orientation and therefore provides an unspoken front to the locals as his female friend with benefits. Matt Tarrington is a trust-fund baby breed from old Southern money and is taking a year off after college to return to Mirabella Island before heading to work for the family business in Atlanta, GA. Matt has known since a teenager that he was likely bisexual, and Alex has been the main guy that ignited his attraction. Dumbfounded as to why the “rich boy” would ever consider working at the diner, Alex is now teaching Matt how to cook. Once Alex and Matt begin working together in a confined space, they quickly discover the food is not the only thing heating up in the kitchen. After Alex discovers Matt accepted a bet with his frat brothers that he would not last two weeks as an employee at the diner, Alex is disgusted that Matt would view his job and his life as a joke but he is further disgusted of his attraction to a spoiled and ambitious man like Matt. Believing that Matt is not only a rich brat but a straight guy, he knows he has no business lusting after a man he could never have. But Holly sees a spark in Matt’s eyes that is undeniably for Alex and Matt’s desire to hang with Alex after work hours proves that he willing to explore the sexual chemistry that is evident whenever they are together.
“Alex was 100% team cock and Matt was certainly his kind of conquest.”
When Alex and Matt call each other on the carpet regarding their sexuality, the tension, need and desperation explodes into a desire neither one can contain. Matt suddenly questions if he was only following the “rules” when it comes to the opposite sex because one taste of Alex blows his mind to the point that he now questions if he has always been gay but never scratched the surface until now. And if Alex can give him memories to sustain him through his destined life of misery in the family business, he is determined to make the most of their time together.
“All he knew was he felt alive and sexual in a way he’d never been before this moment. No girl had stared at him like Alex did, predatory and hungry. Just the look in Alex’s whiskey-colored gaze running over him hotly, the flames dancing in their depths like a physical manifestation of the blaze that had risen up between them had Matt willing to go along with anything he asked.”
As the months pass, admittedly both Matt and Alex fall in love but neither of them have come out to their friends and family. Both know that their time together is drawing to an end and neither want to face what it means for their relationship. Alex would never be happy in Atlanta and Matt would have to walk away from a family legacy he never wanted in order to hold onto Alex.
“You’re better than the beach on a spring day, Matty.”
Matt realizes that quitting his job and staying on the island is a no-brainer and in his mind is planning the life he wants for himself with Alex. But, after Alex experiences and ugly encounter with Matt’s homophobic mother, Alex makes the decision he feels is best for Matt and breaks off their relationship sending a devastated Matt off to Atlanta.
It’s been six years since Matt left Mirabella Island and he has returned to face Alex and hopefully get answers he never divulged regarding their breakup years ago. Alex, now the owner of the diner, has never stopped loving Matt or regretting his stupid choice in letting him go. Six years later their attraction is still overwhelming. The question is can both look beyond their mistakes from the past and have the courage to take hold of the future both have never stopped wanting with each other?
Starfish and Coffee originally appealed to me, first, because it is a work by one of my favorite authors, Kele Moon. Second, because of the beach setting and the fact that while I could not literally make it to the beach this year, I could venture there within Ms. Moon’s writing. When I started reading Starfish and Coffee I truly escaped in my mind to the island of Mirabella. If I closed my eyes all I needed was sand under my feet and starfish doughnuts in my mouth. Ms. Moon’s descriptive seaside setting and introduction of two emotionally tortured guys had me totally engrossed in the story. I adored Matt’s cocky, laid back demeanor and his dirty-talking domineering presence in the bedroom. Matt in turn possesses a sweet and honest nature with Alex paired with a blunt, commanding presence when he is riled on any subject. Both displayed such an openness and comfort with each other that was refreshing to observe. And true to Kele Moon form, the sexuality and intimacy that she delivers between Matt and Alex is carnal and emotionally intoxicating. Alex radiates a tempered dominance that you feel is hanging on the edge and Matt is the person that pushes him over. Ms. Moon is a master of sexual desperation and hunger that as the reader you feel all the way to your toes. I melted a little every time they lost themselves in each other and loved that their most intimate moments resulted in each calling the other their nickname; Matty and Lexie. Ms. Moon delivers the heat in her unique and addicting way that makes me look forward to any couple she brings to life on the page.
“He pulled Matt over the threshold with him, and it made his thrusts faster and crueler, but Alex was already so far gone all it did was fuel the fire. For something that started out sweet and slow, the end was messy and violent, leaving both of them covered in sweat and gasping for breath once the pleasure crested and started to recede.”
The secondary characters, Will and Holly, have their own struggles as they fight to have a relationship together. Their union abruptly ends but I’m excited to learn from Ms. Moon that they will receive their own book. I believe several unanswered questions will definitely come to light in their story and I look forward to more of their emotionally charged chemistry.
Finally, Ms. Moon tackles the social stigmas of homosexuality in a small town setting revealing an honest reality of individual open-mindedness as well as prejudice. It is subtle and is not the premise of the story, however it does lay the groundwork of what this couple ultimately desires; an open mind and heart to people of all sexual orientation.
Contemporary m/m readers that love a beach-side setting; lush in intimacy, angst and sizzling, sensual moments should definitely dive into Starfish and Coffee. I can assure you it will be an emotionally memorable and satisfying trip!
“My mother has been calling all fucking day.” Matt groaned in annoyance. “I finally gave in and just spent the last twenty minutes listening to her bitch about how much I suck.”
“She was bitching about that?” Alex pulled back with a mock look of shock.
“Your sucking is one of my favorite things.”