Alice is an absolutely lovely woman, completely comfortable in her transition. She has a career as a librarian that she enjoys, at least one good friend, and what seems like a healthy social life. Things like hormone shots are just a fact-of-life inconvenience, really no different than a diabetic’s shots. He gender doesn’t define her, and she doesn’t obsess over who might know or what they might suspect.
When she first encounters Hank at the coffee shop, their daily flirting is so very sweet. She enjoys being admired, and allows herself to succumb to the fantasy of romance. When he shows up at the library with a coffee to ask her out, she’s so embarrassed it’s cute, but she doesn’t think twice about accepting. Really, for most of the story, K. Lynn plays it straight (pun intended) as a budding romance between a man and a woman.
Maybe that’s why I had such a sick feeling in my stomach when Alice finally decides it’s time to confess her secret to Hank. Those coming out conversations are always hard, but it’s even worse when you’ve waited so long. His response is pretty much what you’d fear/expect, and I will admit to hating him for a few pages. There are so many ways an author can deal with that revelation, and here it’s not a matter of gender at all, but one of trust issues. Hank has been hurt before, and he feels betrayed that she didn’t say anything before now.
Where Coffee Date rises above the tropes is in its final scene. Lynn concludes the story with a difficult conversation that promises a better day tomorrow, but doesn’t force a happily-ever-after. As much as we might crave instant acceptance, I loved the idea that love may not conquer all, but it’s strong enough to allow a couple to work through their issues together.