by Jackie Lau
Series: Kwan Sisters #2
Also in this series: Grumpy Fake Boyfriend
Publisher: Jackie Lau Books
Publication Date: July 10, 2018
I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
As CEO of Fong Investments, I’m a busy man. In fact, my family claims I’m an obsessive workaholic, and when they force me to take two weeks off, I have no idea what to do with myself.
While brooding over an espresso, I meet Courtney Kwan, a biomedical researcher who savors the little things in life. And, suddenly, an idea strikes me—I will pay this woman to teach me how to enjoy my vacation from work.
Soon, I find myself doing crazy things like baking cookies, reading for pleasure, buying a phallic cactus, and falling in love. But Courtney is dealing with some serious issues of her own, and I fear that when I return to work, I won’t be able to give her what she needs, and I’ll lose her forever…
While I loved this book just as much as the previous one (and in some ways more), this isn’t as lighthearted as the first. Courtney has treatment-resistant depression, so a good chunk of the book is about her mental health, which was a bit triggering for me and I’m certain will be for many other people as well. It’s told from both main characters’ first-person POV, and while it’s the second in a series, it could easily be read as a standalone.
“This is what I want,” I say. “For you to spend the next two weeks teaching me to enjoy the little things in life, a skill which I believe you have mastered and I know nothing about.”
“You want me to be your manic pixie dream girl.” She bursts into laughter. “You want me. To be your manic pixie dream girl.”
Julian is the (as the title says) hotshot CEO of his family’s financial company, and he feels the pressure to make the company even greater. It’s funny to note here, though, that in this case, the pressure is entirely self-driven. In fact, the book starts with his family ambushing him in his office and insisting that he takes a two week vacation! He reluctantly agrees (after a series of hilarious threats), and then shortly realizes he has absolutely no life outside of work, and he’s not particularly interested in his younger brother’s idea of fun, either (Orgies. His idea of fun is orgies), so he ends up in his favorite coffee shop. When he spots the beautiful Latte Lady, as he calls her, inspiration strikes – he’ll hire her to teach him how to slow down and enjoy life. Courtney is befuddled by Julian’s ridiculous offer and on the point of refusing, when she realizes the money could help out her sister. Courtney has a form of depression that returns like clockwork every five years, and she’s due for an episode in the next few months. She’d originally planned a trip with her sister during that time to lessen the effects of the depression, but her sister had to recently beg off due to money issues, money that Julian’s now offering to give her. Julian fully expects that he can just take a few days off and then sneak back to work, or, at the most, take the two week break and then go back to his workaholic ways with renewed energy. But as he spends more time with Courtney, he realizes he’s changing, and as they fall into a relationship, he thinks that maybe, just maybe, she might be the one…
“I’m buying it for you. I shall call it Joey.”
“Dunno. Just looks like a Joey to me.”
That makes no sense. “I will not let you buy me a phallic cactus named Joey.”
Well, there’s a sentence I never thought I’d say in my life.”
And my gosh, are Courtney and Julian adorable together! Sex is too emotionally fraught for Courtney, so she can’t just have a fling, and she doesn’t want a relationship because her last boyfriend dumped her after experiencing one of her depressive episodes. Julian’s opposed to a relationship because he knows he simply works too much to have any time for anything else leftover. Their relationship starts out so cutely with them enjoying long walks, pastries, and yes, buying phallic cactuses. I loved how they showed Julian’s reaction to Courtney’s depression – he immediately jumps into Mr. CEO Fixer mode, looking up drugs and therapies and treatment, basically making mistake after mistake after mistake – and the resolution of their conflict over it. I thought that portion was extremely well done and rang very true for me. Courtney’s depression – like a lot of people’s depression – basically colors every aspect of her life, even when she’s not having an episode, and I thought this was one of the few books that really got that and showed it well.
“Asian mothers aren’t supposed to tell you that you’re working too hard. They’re supposed to tell you that you’re not working hard enough.”
The secondary characters are great as well. We get to see Courtney’s sisters (including Naomi from the first book) again, but it’s Julian’s family that stood out for me. His family (including his hilarious grandma) insist on sticking their noses in and checking on his vacation, more so when he insists Courtney isn’t his girlfriend. I loved his family, especially his brothers, and am seriously hoping for a continuation of the Kwan Sisters series with the Fong brothers.
Overall, another amazing book from Ms. Lau and I can’t wait for whatever comes next!