Coffee Boy by Austin Chant. NineStar Press. 2016.
Content Warnings for review: discussion of trans antagonism, misgendering and sex
I recently finished my third read of this book, and it is absolutely my go-to reread when I need a dependable trans romance comfort reread that I know I will love.
This read, I was particularly struck by not just the workplace aspect, which I discussed in my original review (which I include below), but the way Kieran is grappling with imagining a future. I feel like this aspect of trans experience is something that I rarely see even discussed, much less depicted in books. One of the reasons I often recommend books like S. Bear Bergman’s Blood, Marriage, Wine and Glitter to young trans readers is that it can be so difficult to imagine a future, where you might have a large chosen and blood family, and raise children. Kieran struggles to imagine life beyond his current awful job that pays the bills, to imagine that this internship might be a step toward a future career. That struggle, which is rooted in his transness and experience of trans antagonism, felt so resonant for me as a trans reader. It is hard to dream a future career when all that feels real is the terrible misgendering alienating experience on the job every day. I really liked that Kieran got to be in those feelings, and share them, and have his love interest hold those feelings with him.
I already know I am going to reread this again. It captures a trans experience that I know deeply, and it is the first book I’ve read that does so. It stirred up all these feels, because of that. This book really holds the reality of what it’s like to be a non-passing trans guy at the workplace. A reality I know well. (I am non-binary, but was read as a non-passing trans guy on the job for the last 13 years. So, while my situation is not identical to Kierans, it has substantial overlap.) The inexorable experience of being misgendered all day, every day, including by people that are well-meaning and kind in other ways, grappling with imagining a future of work being like this, being glad that other people correct folks about pronouns and also just wanting both your transness and the way it’s a problem for other people not put you at the center all the time. This aspect of the story feels so critically important and so deeply needed in representation that I was pretty thoroughly distracted by it.
But yes, there is a romance at the center of this book, and it has a sweetness to it that I really enjoyed. The dislike turning to crush is lovely as it unfolds, the way they seek intimacy with each other and step back is a dance that I enjoyed quite a bit. The dancing scene is perfect. The sex is hot and real.
I liked how careful Seth was to establish actual consent, that I didn’t doubt that he had it and cared about that. I usually avoid boss/employee romances because I’m worried this will be mishandled. I felt ok with it, personally.
What I would want, if anything, is more story. A companion novella, showing them at the next stage of their relationship. Or for this to be a full length novel. I was just really getting on board with them as a couple when the book ended. It may be that I am especially hungry for more because I so identified with Kieran and so need more queer trans stories. Those things are absolutely true. I am hoping there might be a sequel, that this could be a trilogy of novellas, or at least a duology. I would love that.
- Queer trans man MC
- Bisexual man love interest
- Queer trans man author.
Content Warnings (in white, highlight to read)
Supervisor/intern romance, including sex on the page, which I thought took great pains to establish consent for. Lots of misgendering on the job. A power dynamic that includes pity around trans identity (not with love interest).
- Source of the book: I bought this myself
- I am friends with the author.
- All links to Amazon will be affiliate ones. If you buy through those links, I will make a small amount of money on that sale (which I plan to use to buy more books to review), but it will not add any to the cost of your product. It comes out of the company’s profits.
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Related reviews and posts
- Essay that discusses Chant’s Peter Darling at length
- Review of Darkling, another m/m romance with a trans man MC
- Review of A Boy Called Cin, another age gap romance with a trans man MC
- Review of Just One Night, another age gap romance
- Review of Criminal Intentions: Junk Shop Blues, another m/m workplace romance
- Review of Take the Lead, another workplace romance
- Review of Merry Inkmas, another workplace romance
- Review of Better at Weddings than You, another workplace romance
- Review of Making Up, another workplace romance
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