Thursday, 16 December 2021

#CBR13 Book 55: "Donut Fall in Love" by Jackie Lau

Page count: 366 pages
Rating: 4 stars

Disclaimer! This was an ARC from Netgalley. My views are my own, and I had already pre-ordered the book before getting the advanced reader copy.

Ryan Kwok is grateful for the opportunities he's been given. While his latest movie, a romantic comedy, isn't getting the ravest of reviews, he's fully aware that it's unusual enough for rom coms to star Asian actors and he's lucky to have gotten the chance as a romantic leading man. He'd also like to be famous for more than his abs (which someone's started a Twitter account on behalf of). He's hoping to take some much-needed time off in Toronto, though, supporting his sister who just had her first baby, coming to terms with the loss of his mother, and trying, somehow, to reconnect with his father, who never seems to want to talk or fully acknowledge his grieving children. 

Lindsay McLeod is working hard to figure out new flavours and keep customers coming to her donut bakery, while her best friend/business partner is away on honeymoon. Her mother insists on bringing her dates to the bakery, to the embarrassment of both Lindsay and said awkward suitor, not to mention Lindsay's brother, who still shares a home with their mother. Lindsay certainly does not need some clumsy oaf crashing into her and knocking over two dozen of her speciality matcha tiramisu donuts, completely ruining hours of hard work. She doesn't care how handsome his smile is or how apologetic he seems. 

Ryan's agent suggests that he do a celebrity episode of the popular show Baking Fail, and he agrees because it was one of the shows his mother really used to enjoy watching. He doesn't want to make a complete fool of himself on air, however, so he's clearly going to need someone to give him some baking lessons. Who better to ask than the very attractive, yet prickly bakery owner he'd love to have an opportunity to see again? If she's giving him baking lessons, Ryan will have a chance to see her regularly and get a chance to get to know her better.

I feel so very guilty about this review. I got the ARC months ago, and finished the book in October, just before its October 26th release date. Only now am I getting round to actually reviewing it, which isn't in any way ideal. The even worse part is that I really enjoyed the book. Jackie Lau is quickly becoming one of my favourite contemporary romance authors. She combines likeable leads with great chemistry and usually excellent banter, absolutely amazing descriptions of food and beverages, there's always a fun supporting cast and usually an undertone of something a bit more serious to keep the books from being too frothy and forgettable. 

In this book, the more serious subplot is the way both Ryan and Lindsay have to process grief from losing a parent. Ryan's loss is a lot more recent than Lindsay's, but since her mother is now dating regularly again, she's still forced to come to terms with the death of her father. Ryan is also struggling with how to forge a new relationship with his father, without his mother there to act as an emotional bridge. Add to that worrying about his sister, who really seems to be having a hard time as the mother of a new-born boy, Ryan has more than enough things on his plate without also having to worry about being mixed up with other Canadian Asian actors on social media, and concerns that his career isn't going as well as it might because audiences just won't accept an Asian leading man in anything but an action movie.

This is a lovely romance, and I very much enjoyed it. I'm sorry that work stress, depression, corona, and familial responsibilities have kept me from posting a review until now. My normal warning about reading Ms. Lau's books while hungry applies - you WILL want donuts or other sweet treats when reading this book. 

Judging a book by its cover: While Ms. Lau normally self-publishes her romances and tends to be pretty good about finding good stock photos to illustrate her covers, this book is traditionally published and therefore has the pretty common cartoony illustrated romance cover instead. While I'm sometimes not a huge fan of these, this one is very cute. I love the background colour, the positioning of the characters and the playful swirl of the no-doubt delectable scent of the donuts on Ryan's tray. 

Crossposted on Cannonball Read

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