I'm feeling a little conflicted about thoughts on this book. I went into it thinking it was going to be a really fast-paced, thrilling hold up in a cafe and what I got was a slightly deflated version of that expectation.

Hello everyone!

I'm back with another book review, Ten After Closing by Jessica Bayliss. Thanks so much to Thomas Allan Books for sending me a copy of this book for an honest review, as always, all opinions are my own.

This book follows Scott and Winny, the two main protagonists and POVs for the story. Scott is an employee at Cafe Flores and is working as many shifts as possible to help his mom out with the bills after his abusive, alcoholic father got laid off. Just when he thought his day couldn't get any worse, his girlfriend breaks up with him at work just before closing. Winny, upon hearing about Scott's breakup, is torn on whether or not to confess her more than friendly feelings toward him and stops by his work before they close. Ten minutes after the shop closes, with Scott, Winny and a handful of others inside, the first shot goes off.

I think my biggest problem with this book was that I felt like I was jumping into the middle of a story. There was some sort of backstory with Winny and Scott that eventually developed later on but seemed like it was eluded to enough to be a more major part of the story. I also felt like a lot of the backstory that we get later on wasn't super relevant to the story I thought I was going to be reading (i.e. the holdup). I think it should either have been a contemporary 'romance' with a suspenseful moment or just a suspenseful story without the backstory (while I understand it is supposed to make me feel for the characters, knowing more about them, I ended up not really caring about them).

The story itself was told in present "X minutes after closing" and past "X minutes before closing" timelines, as well as alternating perspectives for both Scott and Winny AND third and first-person perspectives (third in the past timeline and first in the present). I often have a hard time connecting with third-person perspective stories, especially ones with jumping timelines like this one, and unfortunately, this book was no exception to that. I had a hard time keeping the first-person perspectives separate, they were in a similar situation and had similar voices.

I also think another issue I had with this book was that it gave too much away too soon. We find out who is holding up the place, their connection to the owner, etc. These details add to the story but they also take away from the suspense and instead of growing, it just becomes more and more likely that they'll get out of their alive. I don't know that there was one moment where I was genuinely concerned about their safety - it was that low-stake.

The romance between Scott and Winny seemed - odd. I think I just had trouble understanding where they were at in their relationship/friendship before and then by the end, it didn't seem likely that they'd end up together because they had zero chemistry. I think it also didn't help that despite the fact that they're supposed to be high school seniors, they sounded like children.

Overall, I suppose I didn't like this book as much as I thought I would. I don't usually like being so negative but I want to give an honest opinion. This all being said, however, just because this book didn't work for me, that doesn't mean it won't work for you.