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Fear, Hope, and Bread Pudding - Marie Sexton image

I’ve been waiting a long time for this sequel to STRAWBERRIES FOR DESSERT. Marie Sexton is one of my top favorite M/M authors because she pens some incredibly touching scenes for her endearing characters. The Coda series goes down as one of my favorite series, so I had high expectations for this sequel.

Jon and Cole’s relationship all started in STRAWBERRIES FOR DESSERT. To hear my thoughts on that fab book, you can read my review here. Sexton takes that love and builds on it, pushing them towards the next step of their lives. The first line of the blurb is a dead giveaway as to what happens in this novella: “Families should grow, not shrink.”

This is where the fear kicks in. Is this something that they really want? How will this affect their relationship and their lives overall? Will the steps necessary to make this happen crush them with its uncertainty? Sexton goes into details on their emotions, putting heart into every one of these pages. Cole in particular had a hard time in this book.

There is also the presence of Cole’s mother, Grace who comes into the picture after having separated herself from her son. She didn’t attend Cole and Jon’s wedding and that put a major strain on the familial dynamics. Sexton also provides an outsider view in the form of George, Cole’s father. At first, I wasn’t sure how I would like this POV. It seemed out of the blue but in the end, I thought it was a refreshing take that worked well with the storyline. I loved how George’s love for his son shone through every word he said.

The book wouldn’t be the same without the letters to Jared. I’m so glad we got them. They brought greater insight into Cole’s mind and created the ties between characters that made me fall in love with this series in the first place. Though there aren’t any appearances by Zach and Angelo, they are mentioned in the letters briefly.

Now, let me talk about the emotions. As I said earlier, Sexton always writes touching scenes but this novella really packed a punch for such a little thing. The title of the story is quite fitting. You feel the fear and the hope inside both of these characters. You feel the strain on the family dynamic. But above all, you feel the love and that’s what’s most important.

George’s POV needed to happen. Grace’s presence had to be there in order for all of this to work out. Without them, this story wouldn’t have held the appeal that it does. Cole and Jon wouldn’t have felt totally at ease and the ending wouldn’t have been as perfect as it was without it.

Sexton took one of her beloved gems and simply polished it, making it shine greater and become more precious to readers.

*ARC provided by publisher