Not Complicated was released earlier this month, which means all four of my Coffee and Donuts books are now available. This feels like a good time to write about what makes this series a series. How are these books linked?
In a lot of series, each book picks up a timeline shortly after the end of the previous book. (I could put in a plug here for Stories From Hartford being a fine example, but I won’t.) The Coffee and Donuts books, however, happen at the same time. They all start on the same day and end on the same day and even share a few settings. This makes the characters occasionally pop up in each other’s stories, even though they don’t know each other.
They do have a few mutual friends. In the opening scene of Said and Unsaid (1), Alexa is sitting with Linda, Suzy and Joyce. Linda is Molly’s mom in Not Complicated (4). Suzy is Maddie’s mom, also in Not Complicated (4). And Joyce is Austin’s grandmother in Sofie Waits (2). Austin even shows up briefly in the first book, then that scene is repeated from his perspective in the second book. (See Excerpt 2 and 4 for details.) Anyone paying attention can pick up a few other places where characters from other books are recognizable. But I also had some fun slipping in some uncredited roles. Here are a few.
From Sofie Waits (2):
[Monsignor Loy] just kept smiling. “You two have been delightful. I must mingle some more now. Have a good day.”
As he moved to a young couple by the donut table, Sofie was left wondering if he meant she and Amber were delightful or his Tuesdays with Amber and Joe.
This scene continues in Said and Unsaid (1), as the young couple by the donut table is Tracker and Alexa.
From A Perfectly Good Man (3):
I made my way through the building to wave at Monsignor Loy before I left. Then I tossed my cup in a trash can by the door and stepped into the bright sunshine of a summer day. There were flowering trees along the sidewalk, the scent of coffee followed me from the parish hall, and a little boy was laughing hysterically on his dad’s shoulders. The idyllic scene was marred by the feeling that I was running away from something and by the uneasiness of not knowing what it was.
The little boy is Emmet from Not Complicated (4). There’s a line in that book that shows him being lifted onto his dad’s shoulders.
From Not Complicated (4):
A pretty woman with a blond ponytail showed up with two fresh drinks. “Griffin got a little tied up and asked me to deliver these,” she said. “Your food should be ready any minute. Can I get you anything else in the meantime?”
“No, thanks,” I said, offering her an appreciative smile. She had an open friendliness about her that was nice to see even if only for a moment.
Molly is at The Sleepy Crab in this scene. The blond woman is Heidi from A Perfectly Good Man (3).
From Sofie Waits (2):
He crossed paths with Monsignor Loy on the sidewalk. “Good morning, my sheep.” The priest smiled and smoothed his beard. “Are you alone today?”
“Looks that way,” Austin said.
“Physically but not spiritually, of course.”
“Of course.” Austin nodded at the correction that was not insignificant. He was trying to rely on God to find a time to talk to Sofie. The reminder helped. It was harder to be impatient with God than with Sofie.
“I hear there’s a bug going around,” Monsignor Loy said. “I hope that isn’t the reason you’re without family.”
“No. They were all fine last night. I’m sure they’re just coming later.”
Monsignor Loy is the only character who appears in all four books. The bug he mentions here is a reference to the one that hits Linda in Not Complicated (4) and Tracker in Said and Unsaid (1) around this time.
From Said and Unsaid (1):
I noticed a couple about to pass us on the other side of the street. They were holding hands. I began to panic that Tracker would think I was wishing I wasn’t holding leashes because I was getting ideas about him holding my hand and he wasn’t thinking anything like that and didn’t have any intention to ever be thinking anything like that and he was probably freaking out about me getting ideas like that when he only wanted to be friendly and hadn’t planned on walking halfway around the city with his lazy, or maybe just old, dog. I needed to say something.
That couple on the other side of the street is Heidi and Tyler from A Perfectly Good Man (3). They notice Alexa, too.
From Sofie Waits (2):
[Austin] passed a couple in the parking lot on his way to his car. He didn’t know what was going on between them and didn’t care, but he felt a slight pang of jealousy because the guy appeared to have the girl’s rapt attention. His life would be a lot easier if he could get Sofie to stay in one place long enough to spell out exactly where he stood with her.
The couple may or may not be a couple. The woman is Heidi from A Perfectly Good Man (3). Who is she talking to after church on the 3rd Sunday?
There are other instances of overlap, but I don’t want to give away all the secrets. Feel free to read the whole series to look for more of them.