BeatNikki’s Cafe by Renee James


When a vile, hate-spewing thug attacks the people she loves, trans woman Nikki Finch knows what she must do to protect them.


Nikki Finch is a successful transgender woman with a thriving Beatnik cafe and a comfortable life until the first summer of the Trump presidency sets off a wave of violence against minorities. Nikki’s carefully curated world is shattered when a neo-Nazi thug attacks her business partner. She comes to his rescue, but her efforts launch a chain of events that imperil her and everyone she loves, especially her angst-ridden daughter, Morgan. Nikki will do everything she can to keep her loved ones safe, but as her civilized options begin to evaporate, she is left with no choice but to go places she’s never gone before.

Kill or be killed. It should be a simple choice. But it’s not that simple for Nikki Finch—it would have to be a cold-blooded murder and she’d have to get away with it. It could work, but what kind of example would she set for her daughter?  

“Renee James has done it again and even upped her game. Relationships as tough as they’re tender, a plot as subtle as it’s satisfying, and writing with snap and heart in equal measure are all on the menu atBeatNikki’s Café. A wonderful novel with just the right blend of our harsh world and a break from it all.” —Catriona McPherson, author of A Gingerbread House and In Place of Fear

“Renee James’s BeatNikki’s Café asks: What does it mean to be trans and parent a sixteen-year-old at a time when trans people are under the constant threat of violence, disrespected by public institutions, and offered little support? James’s brilliant and compulsively readable answer is warm-hearted, fierce, tender, and frank, where her characters, most of all Nikki, our intrepid lead, reveal their flaws and passions and surprise us with startling change. This important novel offers a fresh perspective on parenthood and adds to the growing list of vital trans voices writing today. Not to be missed!” —John Copenhaver, award-winning author of The Savage Kind

“In BeatNikki’s Café, the picture Renee James draws of her community is as nuanced as it is fascinating. The book’s primary focus, though, is not that, but its beautifully-drawn characters and the choices they make. With the courage to grow together and apart, these all-too-human people shine through the situations life —and they themselves—put them in. Nikki’s voice is terrific, and her hostile teenage daughter is cringe-perfect. Highly recommended.” —SJ Rozan, bestselling author of Family Business 

Renee James is a confessed English major and out transgender author who is also a spouse, parent, grandparent, and Vietnam veteran. She took up fiction writing after a long career in magazines. She has published six novels and a biography along with short stories under various bylines. Her novels include the Bobbi Logan trilogy (Coming Out Can Be Murder, A Kind of Justice, and Seven Suspects), which depicts the life and times of a Chicago transwoman after gender transition.      


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