Moonlight Masquerade

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Cool Beans by Erynn Mangum

Posted by Lori Twichell On April - 15 - 2010

Genre: Comedy, Romance, Chicklit

Publisher: NavPress

Publication Date: April 2010

Lori Twichell’s Review:

Maya Davis loves coffee and is not a big fan of eating healthy. She will gladly drink her body weight in caffeine and eat frozen foods for every meal of every day.  She’s not looking for love. She’s happy in her job as a barista at a local coffee shop (Cool Beans). She loves her friends. She loves her dog. In short, she’s completely content where she is.

Until her roommate, Jen, brings her new boyfriend, Travis, to meet Maya. Then things get a little sticky. You see Jen’s new boyfriend is Maya’s ex, but Jen doesn’t know that and apparently, neither does Travis. Since he and Maya dated years ago, she has cut and dyed her hair and lost some weight. This presents an interesting dilemma for Maya. Should she tell Jen and risk hurting Jen’s feelings or should she wait it out and see how serious things get? Or should she just go get another cup of coffee and forget about the stress for right now? Which choice do you think is the right one? And now, the better question, which one do you think Maya chooses?

If you picked getting a cup of coffee and forgetting about the stress you got the right answer. Well, as far as Maya is concerned.
Maya Davis is a snarky fun young woman who has a great way of viewing the world and Erynn Mangum expresses her values and views in a non preachy but totally realistic way. Instead of Maya being a perfect person who always chooses the right thing because the Bible says so, Maya is very realistic in her attitudes. She does what most of us in the world do. She avoids situations that make her uncomfortable or that might hurt people she loves. Oh and did I forget to mention a potential love interest in the middle? And it’s not Travis either. It’s a mixed up plot with a lot of fun inner monologue from Maya and interaction between Maya and those around her. Though the story isn’t full of angst, heavy romance or drama, it’s a thoroughly enjoyable read.

Mangum’s characters are heartwarming, delightful and fun with just enough conscience to make you cringe in sympathy at their troubles and distress. The pacing of the story is light and fun, easy to read (or devour) and at the end, it feels like time well spent. Even though I’m not a coffee drinker, I found myself craving the smell and flavor of a medium roast or dark roast. I longed for a girl’s night in pajamas with my best girlfriends and a movie (and did that last night actually – I credit Maya for the inspiration!) and a fun place to work like Cool Beans.

It appears that this is the first of a series of books from Maya’s perspective. I cannot wait to dive into Latte Daze, the next book, and find out what trouble comes Maya’s way this time.

Shaun Stevenson’s Review:

One thing is for sure: Erynn Mangum must love coffee. And chocolate. And watching Runaway Bride in pajamas. Because all three definitely appear in her new book, Cool Beans: A Maya Davis Novel. Maya Davis is twenty-four, single, working daily at the local coffee shop, Cool Beans, and loving life. That is until her roommate and best friend Jen starts dating. But she’s not just dating anyone. She’s dating Maya’s ex-boyfriend, Travis, from five years before. And thus, Maya’s perfect little world is flipped completely over. Can she deal with this new awkward relationship, her ever-annoying brother Zach moving back to town, and just sleeping through the night without her dog waking up the entire apartment complex?

Mangum returns after finishing her Lauren Holbrook series with a new setting, new characters, and more humor and relationship drama. At times, Maya is very similar to Lauren from the previous series, with many of the same quirks and habits, and it was hard to distinguish the two characters from each other. The basic construct of Maya’s world felt very similar to Lauren’s, with single’s group on Wednesday nights, a coffee shop, and church every Sunday. But that’s about where the similarities in plot and character end. About a fourth of a way through, Maya begins to emerge as a character of her own.

The writing moves along swiftly. Most of the chapters are made up of dialogue between Maya and her friends, and Mangum uses these conversations to advance the story. A few of the ending “twists” are pretty easy to see coming, but the characters are so enjoyable that they make up for the weaker plot. The reason for Maya’s breakup with Travis in the past is built up throughout the novel, but when the reality is revealed, it was almost a bit of a let-down, as we’ve been expecting something quite different from the truth. The drama never completely envelops the story, and things stay pretty light-hearted throughout.

Fans of Mangum’s earlier books (Miss Match, Rematch, and Match Point) will enjoy a new outing with funny characters and hints of Robin Gunn Jones-esque drama. All said, reading Cool Beans was often like sipping through a cup of coffee – warm and satisfying through to the end.

Don’t miss our interview with Erynn Mangum here.

Review copies provided by NavPress.