Coffeehouse Angel

by Suzanne Selfors
ages: 12+
First sentence (ARC): “The first time I saw him, he was lying in the ally behind my grandmother’s coffeehouse.”
Review copy sent to me by the publisher.
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Katrina is an average girl. Not exactly pretty. Not exactly ambitious. Not exactly memorable. She works in her grandmother’s coffeehouse, which doesn’t exactly do brisk business; most of that goes next door to the new Java Heaven. Katrina is, however, a decent human being, and so when she opens the coffee shop one day, and spies what seems to be a homeless man in the alley, she leaves him a cuppa joe, a bag of pastries, and some chocolate-covered coffee beans, and doesn’t think anything of it.

That is, not until the guy — whose name is Malcom — shows up at an assembly, wearing a kilt, and knowing her name, saying that, in thanks, he wants to grant her innermost desire. That’s a tricky one, since Katrina is not only average, but a bit driftless, too: she has no idea what she really wants… until she gets to know Malcom a bit better. Then what she wants is something she really can’t have.

Selfors has written another delightful, unexpected romance. While Katrina was a bit too angst-ridden at times, she was also amazingly unselfish. Twice, Malcom offers her her heart’s “desire” — first fortune and then fame — and twice, she lets it slide, almost purposefully, through her fingers. She doesn’t want fame, or fortune. She wants to stop fighting with her best friend. And for the coffee shop to stay open. And for her grandmother to be happy. You would think with all this unselfishness that Katrina would be annoying, but she’s not. Not really. Selfors writes in such at way that you feel for Katrina, and when she makes the ultimate unselfish decision, it’s quite touching.

Ultimately, though, it is a romance. And a very sweet one at that. You think it’s going to go in one particular direction, but Selfors is skilled enough in the use of magic — or in this case the angelic — that she makes something outrageous seem effortless, plausible, and not in the least hokey. Which is magic in and of itself.

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