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Dharma Café by Jessica Freely is a paranormal homoerotic romance.
Years ago, Chef Agatha found an eight year child, Akio Samura, at the doorway of the Dharma Café with a suitcase in hand, frightened and alone. It was apparent that he was of magical decent and possibly the son of an evil sorcerer chef Akio, but mostly she noticed his damaged soul. Samura grew up strong in the knowledge that Agatha would always love and protect him.
Charlie is having the worst birthday ever known. After getting beaten up, his parents threw him out of their house when he told them he was gay. Roaming the streets alone, Charlie found the Dharma Café where he found the dumpster full of more food than any boy could eat. Samura goes out back to find Charlie eating and knows that the food is very dangerous for him. You see, every dish is magically prepared to the needs of each customer and if eaten by someone else it isn't safe. Charlie awakens to learn that he had been very sick needing Agatha and Samura to care for him. Charlie agrees to work at the café much to Samura's dismay until Agatha makes him understand that she needs both of them. Charlie and Samura are attracted to each other, but they are each hiding secrets that could destroy them. Will Samura and Charlie find the courage to trust each other? Can their growing feelings overcome the dangers that lie ahead?
Dharma Café is a wonderfully descriptive story with an intricate and compelling plot. I fell in love with Samura from the beginning when he was introduced as a child hiding in a large pot because he was afraid. It was inspiring how Agatha took him in; giving him the security and love he needed while protecting him from his father. The way Agatha used the café to help other people by using magic to help give them what they needed was inspiring. After Charlie's parents kicked him out of their home when he told them he was gay, unlike most young adults, he was lucky to find someplace safe to stay and people he could trust. While reading this story, the descriptions of Agatha using magic while cooking painted a humorous and incredible picture for me. The conflict between Samura and his father was scary, but the way Charlie's love gave him the strength to persevere was beautiful. As Samura's father's past was revealed, I began to understand what drove him, but that didn't make up for the horrible things he did. This is one story that will stay on my favorites list.
Reviewed by: Teresa