How can you tell when you’ve found the perfect woman? Easy, she knows the difference between goop and Goop. For those of you who aren’t in the know, that’s adhesive vs Gwyneth Paltrow’s website. Yeah…I didn’t know that either.
What’s it About?
99 Coffee Dates is the Laguna Beach story of a woman, a man, a beach, a mermaid, and a steaming mug of coffee. Actually, quite a few cups of coffee since it takes a lot of Joe to find the Joe who’s right. Miranda Wells, divorced single girl and coffee lover, starts the 99 Coffee Dates Project with high hopes. But will she find a dream guy among the 99 individuals on her spreadsheet? Or will serendipity play a hand in this dating adventure based on a true story?
The premise of this romance is definitely an interesting one, in that we see the journey one woman takes to find love through 99 coffee dates with different men she’s met online. Believe it or not, this is actually based on a true story from a woman who set out to have 400 coffee dates in the hope of discovering true love. Which she did. In order to make her way through so many possible prince charmings, our female lead, Miranda, is very methodical in scheduling her meet-ups. She usually meets at least 5 different bachelors in one day at her favorite local coffee shop. Goodness gracious, 5 coffee dates all in 24 hours? My personal limit is 2 cups of coffee per day. I’d probably start having heart palpitations from excessive caffeine intake if I followed this woman’s schedule!
Possibles 1 Through 99
While the premise to this novel was undoubtedly unique and entertaining, I can’t say the execution was as successful. In my opinion, the concept of including all 99 dates in one novel just wasn’t the right format. Since finishing this book I’ve been racking my brain trying to think of what would have worked better, and for some reason the only thing that comes to mind would be a TV show or podcast. Cramming all of Miranda’s meetings with her 99 “possibles” into one book started off fun and entertaining, but it didn’t take long before the endless repetition of first date intros, and multiple dates in one afternoon became monotonous and rather tiring. And this was just for me as the reader! I can’t imagine what it would be like as the woman carrying out this little dating experiment. I mean, how would you be able to remember which aspects of your life you’d already introduced to the man sitting in front of you, and which ones you told to your second date of the day 3 hours ago.
An additional aspect of the story line which added a wrench to Miranda’s routine is that we are introduced rather early on to a man who also frequents the same coffee shop where Miranda likes to carry on her coffee dates. Even though the first mention is extremely brief with very little personal information about said gentleman, it’s immediately evident to us as the reader that this guy will inevitably be our leading lady’s happily ever after. At the start Miranda and this other man, Jared, just happen to have a plethora of serendipitous and accidental run-ins, and it takes some time before they even introduce themselves to each other. For a large portion of the novel they simply recognize the other as that random person they apparently see all over town. Eventually they become friends, and I must say I did enjoy watching the progression of their relationship from total strangers to something special. That being said, it was almost too slow of a progression, and it really makes you almost skim the details of these extraneous dates that we simply know will lead nowhere.
The Beautiful Beach and the Realities of Dating
If ever there was a book that should be categorized as a beach read, this would be it. While a large portion of the novel takes place at Miranda’s favorite local cafe, another decent portion presents us with our lead contemplating her choices in life and love along the beautiful sand of Laguna’s beaches. The amount of immaculate detail which goes into describing the sound of the waves crashing against the sand, the sea birds skimming their beaks just above the break of the water, and the majestic juxtaposition of the sometimes violent waves with the peacefulness of the vast expanse of the Pacific was oftentimes poetic. It will make you want to book a beach vacation as soon as possible. Good thing I’m going on a cruise next week, otherwise I would seriously be itching for a trip to the beach ASAP.
Another aspect of this read which I appreciated, especially as a single woman, was the reality of Miranda’s dating life. Throughout her first few dates, I remember raising my eyebrow a few times in suspicion and wonderment considering how well these initial interactions were going. Surely dating can’t be that seamlessly easy? Sure enough, it didn’t take long before some of the weirdos came out of the woodwork, as well as the more unfortunate, yet realistic aspects of dating. From men who brought their mothers along, to others who ghosted her, a man that Miranda showed an interest in but he just wasn’t feeling it, to the men who are just in it for the sex, and finally some who were just downright scary. It shows that online dating is far from easy, even when you attempt to weed out the more questionable characters from the get-go.
#1 Vs. #99
A final aspect of this novel which I would be remiss if I didn’t discuss was the psychological component to Miranda’s love project. A common question which is posed to Miranda throughout the novel is whether or not she’s being almost too methodical and scientific in this approach to dating, especially with her spreadsheet of notes for all of her possible suitors. I’ll admit, at times I even wondered if Miranda was being too, well…cold with this dating “experiment”. She’s a numbers girl, and it almost seems as though she’s trying to breeze through these 99 men as quickly as possible, and might not be giving every guy a fair shot. However, I constantly had to remind myself that she’s actually going about this in a rather smart way. She’s choosing to rely on her gut, and especially the first impression she has with a guy. Having already been through one painful divorce, Miranda doesn’t see the point in having to excuse flaws, or convince herself to give a guy a chance. She’s simply relying on her inner voice to tell her whether or not it’s right. If it’s not? No point in dragging things out, onto the next of the 99.
That being said, I did wonder if subconsciously she would have really been giving all of herself and her attention to the first few men she met compared to those who came along further down the line. I mean, what if the first man she sat down with was wonderful, they hit it off, and there was no longer a need to proceed with the other 98? Or, did she see the first few guys as more of a test run; an introduction to the process of meeting new people? She set out to meet 99 potential suitors, and the dark side of me wonders if she would have shut off part of herself to the possibility of connecting with someone so early on in her experiment. Maybe in the end it really was all a numbers game, and coming into the process further on in the total count of 99 would have increased the chances of a connection? Although coming along too late may have decreased their chances as well considering Miranda may have been pretty burnt out by that point. Meh, what do I know? I’m definitely not an expert when it comes to meeting men online. Let alone 99 of them!
*A copy of this book was provided for an honest review*
Final Impressions: Interesting premise, not the best execution in format. At the midway point especially I was really starting to see the tediousness of date after date after date. And it’s not like we really get a cut-away at any point to say that another 10 dates had passed. We literally get an introduction to each and every 99 possible bachelor. In addition, I think if perhaps we had been introduced to Jared, her ultimate winner, later on in the book it wouldn’t have seemed like all these other dates were such a waste of time. In the end it really makes you question if her experiment was a success considering Jared was never in her list of 99 possibles. However, if she hadn’t set out on this experiment their paths may never have crossed. Does serendipity win out in the end after all?
Smut Level: A few mentions here and there of amorous bedroom activities, but a clean read through and through.
Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $9.99 Kindle Price. Meandering Trail Media. 418 Pages.