Which do I read first?

Do the Coda books have to be read in order? Not necessarily. You can either read them in the order they were written, or you can start with any couple (but I recommend reading each couple’s stories in order).

It’s worth noting that I never intended these books to be labeled a “series.” The numbers you see on Goodreads and other sites are the work of overzealous librarians and are not endorsed by me. A to Z is not book 2 of Promises. A to Z is a stand-alone novel. Ditto Strawberries for Dessert. Granted, the novels all have overlapping characters, but each of them was specifically written as a stand-alone. So when you see Strawberries labeled as “Coda #5”, it’s a misnomer. It is its own book. Period. It happens to exist in the same universe as the other novels, but it absolutely stands on its own.

Now, what about the novellas? Three of the four novels (Promises, A to Z, and Strawberries for Dessert) have sequels that are either short stories or novella length, and like most sequels, they work better if you’ve read the first book for that couple first.

Clear as mud?

So, one option is to read them in the order that corresponds with the timeline:

  • Promises
  • A to Z
  • The Promise and The Letter Z (doesn’t matter which one you read first – they take place at the same time)
  • Strawberries for Dessert and Putting Out Fires (also take place at the same time)
  • Paris A to Z
  • Fear, Hope, and Bread Pudding
  • Shotgun

But if you don’t want to read the whole series, or you’re only interested in a specific couple, that’s fine too. The couples’ stories overlap a bit, but you won’t be lost if you choose to skip certain books. It is completely fine to read Strawberries for Dessert without ever reading any of the other books, and yes, you can read Fear, Hope, and Bread Pudding without reading Paris A to Z first, I promise.

Breakdown, in order, by couple:

Matt and Jared:

  1. Promises
  2. The Promise (free short story on my website)
  3. Putting Out Fires (short story, available only from Dreamspinner Press)

Zach and Angelo:

  1. A to Z
  2. The Letter Z
  3. *Paris A to Z

Cole and Jon:

  1. Strawberries for Dessert
  2. Fear, Hope, and Bread Pudding

Dominic and Lamar:

  1. Shotgun

The Coda prequel, Meant to Be – included in the 2019 re-release of Promises – can fit in just about anywhere.

*(Please note that although Paris A to Z is ostensibly about Jon and Cole’s wedding, the book really isn’t about them. It’s Zach and Angelo’s book. If you read it expecting to see a lot of Jon and Cole, I’m afraid you’ll be disappointed.)

For details about the exact timeline, see here.