Friday, 5 June 2020

#CBR12 Book 24: "The Ultimate Pi Day Party" by Jackie Lau

Page count: 236 pages
Rating: 4 stars

Official book description:
If there’s one thing that might get my dad, a retired math teacher, to visit Toronto and have a real conversation with me for the first time in seventeen years, it’s a big nerdy Pi Day party. And hopefully this party—and seeing the tech company I built from nothing—will finally be enough to impress him and make him forgive me for everything I did when I was a teenager.

But it’s got to be a really great party.

That’s where Sarah Winters comes in. She owns Happy As Pie, a sweet and savory pie shop, and wants to get into catering. She makes an amazing lamb-rosemary pie, cherry pie, lemon-lime tart…you get the idea. She’ll provide the food and help me plan the party, nothing more. No matter how much time we spend together, I’m not going to fall in love with her.

At least, that’s what I tell myself…

Josh Yu has worked very hard to become successful. He's now the CEO of his own tech company in Toronto and employs a lot of people, but he feels like his achievements are meaningless, since he lacks his father's approval. Josh's dad, now a retired math teacher, has given him the silent treatment since he was in high school and accidentally got his girlfriend knocked up. Josh's girlfriend chose to have an abortion and is now happily engaged to someone else. Josh's mother and sisters all love and support him, but his dad still literally refuses to acknowledge him, even when he's home for the holidays. Pi Day was always a big deal for his dad, so Josh wants to arrange a Pi Day party for his company, and invites his parents to come visit him.

Josh hires Sarah Winters to cater his party. She owns and runs a small pie shop in Baldwin Village in Toronto. While she's dreamed of branching out into catering, Sarah's shop is as of yet mainly a bit infamous because someone bought a banana cream pie there that they used to throw at a politician. Sarah also feels like she has something to prove to her mother, who didn't really like that Sarah was going to move to a big city and risk everything by opening her own pie shop. Catering Josh's party will be a great opportunity for Sarah, although also the biggest event she and her employees have ever had to prepare for.

Sarah and Josh are pretty much instantly attracted to one another and get adorably flustered in each other's presence. There are several scenes where these two, who are both very good at what they do, bumble and get discombobulated by the presence of the other. Like most of Lau's other romances, there's a lot of delicious food descriptions, in between people falling in love with one another. Sadly, it takes Josh a bit longer to understand that just because his father is a withholding idiot, it doesn't in any way mean that Josh is unworthy of affection or deserving of love. Just because his dad is a bit toxic, doesn't mean that Josh hasn't felt love and approval from the rest of his family. It made me sad that it took him so long to get over the emotional scars his dad caused him.

The thing I liked the most about the book was probably Sarah's developing friendship with two other women who are setting up businesses in Baldwin Village (and will clearly be the heroines in the next books in the series). Sarah has moved to Toronto from a small town and while she has her employees, she's rather lonely and has been so busy establishing and building her pie shop to really make any new friends. So seeing her meet supportive, like-minded women was nice.

I was lucky enough to get this book for free (Lau every so often makes one of her books available for free for a limited period). While it's not the best of her stories that I've read, there were a lot of positives and it did make me really crave some pie.

Judging a book by its cover: While shirt-less beefcake cover models are pretty standard on contemporary and paranormal romance covers, you very rarely see hot, shirtless Asian guys featured. That makes this an unusual cover, and in this, like in all other aspects of romance, diversity and representation are important. Not sure why the CEO of a tech company would stand around randomly shirtless at night, but it's a good image, so I'm not going to complain too much.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read.

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