Friday, 3 April 2020

#CBR12 Book 16: "A Big Surprise for Valentine's Day" by Jackie Lau

Page count: 116 pages
Rating: 4 stars

Official book description:
Amber Wong has landed her dream job at the Stratford Festival, and life is looking good. Sure, she hasn’t had sex in so long that her condoms have expired, but she’ll just pick up some new ones, along with some discounted Christmas chocolate, at the grocery store.

And that’s where she runs into Dr. Sebastian Lam, the son of her parents’ close friends, whom she hasn’t seen in years. He’s moved back to Ontario, newly single, and… Oh my God. He’s really hot.

The attraction is mutual and no-strings-attached sex is the perfect arrangement for both of them, since Amber has sworn off dating after a string of terrible boyfriends.

But what if their families find out they’re spending time together and start interfering in their lives? That would be a disaster.

Even worse? If they develop feelings for each other, given a relationship is the last thing Amber wants right now…

In this, the fourth and final of Jackie Lau's novellas set around holidays, the youngest Wong sibling, all of whom were set up on disastrous blind dates by their mother and grandmother during A Match Made for Thanksgiving, finally finds her HEA, with one of her older brother's best friends, no less. Ms. Lau really is working to get all the popular tropes into her novellas. Neither Amber nor Sebastian are looking for anything serious, and meet by chance at a convenience store. There is clearly an attraction between them, and they decide that since they are both single, they may as well enjoy some no strings attached fun for a while - which of course gets a lot more complicated the more time they spend with one another.

- This book is super sex-positive. There is not a hint of slut-shaming at any point. It's not often, even in romance, that you get the presence and enthusiastic use of sex toys in more than one scene, but more importantly - they use lube! I literally cannot remember EVER coming across the use of lube in smexy times in a contemporary romance between a man and a woman, and I've read a LOT of romances. There was an even article on Smart Bitches a few months back complaining about the complete lack of this in romance. So yay for that!
- Points for having a very well-endowed hero and acknowledging that it's going to cause some challenges and that considerations need to be made in the bedroom department. Very realistic, super unusual and extremely refreshing to read. The book gets an extra half a star just for that.

What I really liked:
-That Amber does crafting like cross-stitch and crochet (sometimes to hilarious results) and enjoys baking shows.
- That Sebastian is a very imaginative and considerate lover, who understands that being blessed in the pants department requires care and preparation.
- That both protagonists always make sure they have the enthusiastic consent of the other.
- The food descriptions, like always (although boba tea is disgusting. Blech, semolina ball - fight me!)

What I didn't like so much:
- The interfering and nosy relatives on either side. I get that it's a feature and that it in many ways was one of the obstacles that Amber and Sebastian had to work through, but by book 4, the zany grandmother just got on my nerves and much of the rest of the older family members, on either side of the couple just made me cringe and want to skim the parts where they showed up.
- Sebastian's mother was completely out of line and her judgmental attitude towards Amber made me want to slap her.

Jackie Lau continues to write comforting, satisfying romances between adults who know what they want and aren't afraid to communicate with one another. There is very little drama here, just a sweet, well-developed love story.

Judging a book by its cover: Yet another cute, cartoony cover, with delicious baked goods and associations to breakfast all around. The hero does make the heroine a very sweet and special breakfast, and I'm glad the cover designers went with donuts rather than boba tea as the thing to focus on, image wise.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read.

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