Title: Fear, Hope and Bread Pudding (Strawberries for Dessert #2 / Coda #7)
Author: Marie Sexton
Length: 40,539 words
Genre: m/m Contemporary Romance
Heat: 3 – Sexy & Mild
Sex Frequency: 2 – Few and Far Between
Keywords/Tags: Series, Established Relationships, Kids, Family, Gay Dads, Gay Marriage, Adoption, On Vacation, Germany, Arizona, Phoenix, Long Awaited!, Favorite Couples!
Rating: Really Liked It
Families should grow, not shrink. It’s been on Jon Kechter’s mind since before he tied the knot with his millionaire lover, Cole Fenton. Now hoping to adopt, Jon and Cole search for a mother-to-be willing to let them love her baby, but the interminable wait is wearing on them both.
Jon is close to his father, George, but until Cole, he didn’t have anyone else. Now George is pushing Cole to reconcile with his estranged mother. When the three of them spend Christmas with her in Munich, the results are disastrous. Jon and Cole resolve to stay positive, but no hope exists without a tinge of fear. Jon and Cole can’t help but wonder if their dream of being parents just wasn’t meant to be.
The most awaited book of the year! Well, maybe… probably! And ever since the listing came up on the DSP site I’ve been mourning the fact that I can’t get it in paperback, to complete my set 😦 I guess that means that Marie is going to have to extend the series somehow, because that would be a crime!
Anyway, I was so happy when I got this in my inbox for review. In fact, I knew I was getting it early so I made sure to go back and read Strawberries for Dessert, which would be somewhat fortuitous. For those of you not living under a rock, Fear, Hope and Bread Pudding continues the story of Cole and Jonathan. Let’s do a little recap. We first met Cole in the first book of the Coda series, Promises, as Jared’s past fuck buddy and good friend. He’s fabulously rich and traveling is his career, with a boy in every port shall we say. Jonathan is introduced as Zack’s ex-boyfriend and we meet him on page for the first time in The Letter Z, where the two couples (Matt and Jared, Zack and Angelo) run into Jonathan in Las Vegas while on vacation.
Then, the best book of the series (and it’s definitely not just me that thinks that!) introduced the two men to each other. Jared, playing matchmaker, gave Cole Jonathan’s number which he got in Vegas and Cole called Jonathan to introduce himself and ask him out the next time he was in Phoenix. Strawberries for Dessert shows their very rocky start to a solid relationship as they both deal with the massive changes in their lives: Jonathan’s father and his dead-end job, and Cole’s relationship with his mother and his neuroses about settling down, being enough for one man and being a gypsy spirit tied to one place. In Paris A to Z, all three couples convene in Paris for the wedding of Jonathan and Cole, and we get caught up on each relationship.
Fear, Hope and Bread Pudding starts not too long after their wedding and takes the couple through the next few tumultuous years of their lives. The sequel that we were all waiting for after Cole ended Strawberries… with the secret “I’ve always wanted to be a father”, starts with the two men planning their family. Creating a family is more to the two than just wanting a child to care for. Cole was completely alone in the world before he married Jonathan, estranged from his socialite mother and ungrounded from any real roots. Jonathan always felt immense guilt for taking away his father’s possibility of grandchildren, but mostly he wants to please Cole, who he knows would be an incredible, doting father to any child. With all of Cole’s money at their disposal, they immediately set the adoption process in motion.
Their lawyer lets them know up front that the process can be full of heartbreak and take years to conclude. But Jonathan and Cole don’t really understand what waiting means when they’re perfect applicants and are already decorating their nursery. After months and months the absence of a child and the presence of an empty room start to loom over Cole. His excitement over becoming a father is wrapped up in his need to create stability for himself and in some way make up for the damage in his relationship with his own mother. Jonathan is firmly on Cole’s side. But Jon’s father understands things from a different perspective, and his meddling creates a whole new dynamic in their growing family… if they can finally find someone willing to give them their child.
Sorry, that was way too long!
This sequel surprised me in a number of ways. First, I was always going to love this, just because it’s a story about Cole and Jonathan and shows us where their lives are going after we saw them last. But how Marie wrote their story surprised me in a few ways, foremost with Jon’s father taking a large part of the POV in the middle section of the book. At first I was quite unsure of what she was doing with that, but I grew to love it and understand the perspective that he could offer, even though it took time away from Cole and Jonathan. It was a real gamble, but I felt like it payed off.
I think that if I had not read Strawberries… right before this book that I may not have liked it as much. Part of the problem is that this story is actually quite short and reading the first book with this couple helped me with feeling like I got to spend enough time with them. Make no mistake, though. I’m not saying that this story needed more. There is quite a large progression of time and a quick pace that made this novella feel really full of plot and time with the characters.
So yes, without a doubt I recommend this one. If you haven’t ever read the Coda series, or Strawberries for Dessert (which you could technically read without the other books), then you should run to pick them up. It’s one of my favorite m/m series out there. And this book is a continuation of a story that I already loved.