by Jackie Lau
Series: Baldwin Village #2
Also in this series: The Ultimate Pi Day Party
Publisher: Jackie Lau Books
Publication Date: May 21, 2019
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:
I hate ice cream. Ever since my fiancée left me at the altar and skewered me in her bestseller “Embrace Your Inner Ice Cream Sandwich: Finding the Positive You in a World of Negativity,” I haven’t been able to stomach the stuff.
Unfortunately, my five-year-old niece is a budding foodie and her favorite place in the world is Ginger Scoops, a cutesy Asian ice cream shop. Since I’ve been looking after my niece a lot lately, I’ve spent too much time there, sipping black coffee, refusing to eat ice cream, and trying not to look at the owner, Chloe Jenkins. Chloe is obnoxiously cheerful, and I can’t stand her.
Naturally, I end up kissing her.
But I’ve sworn off women after the fiasco with my ex-fiancée, and I’m convinced I’m no good at relationships. Still, with Chloe I’m tempted to do the impossible: give love and ice cream another chance…
Content warnings: View Spoiler »
There’s three things I’ve learned to expect from a Jackie Lau book. First off, there’s going to be delicious food, whether it’s Tim Horton’s donuts, dim sum, or durian ice cream (ok, that last one might be debatable!). Second, there’s going to be lots of humor, often very wacky humor. Third, there’s always an exploration of some serious subject – depression, introversion, or, in this case, biracial identity – that’s handled thoughtfully and with respect. This one fits the bill!
“So, yeah, I got skewered in an international bestseller that encourages people to find their inner ice cream sandwiches.
Can you blame me for hating ice cream now?”
Drew hates ice cream. It’s not that he’s always hated it, just after his fiancee left him at the altar and wrote a bestselling book about how he “melted her inner ice cream sandwich,” he can’t seem to look at ice cream without being a little queasy. Since the end of that relationship – and its dissection in his ex’s book – Drew hasn’t dated. So the last person you’d expect him to be interested in is Chloe, the owner of an Asian ice cream shop, who he meets while babysitting his foodie niece. Repeated trips prove that there’s a spark there, though, but can Drew overcome his fears of melting Chloe’s ice cream, and does Chloe want to risk distracting herself with someone who can’t seem to decide if he wants to be in a relationship?
“Is this just because I’m amazing in bed?”
“Oh, for God’s sake,” she says. “Stop being so insecure and cocky at the same time. I don’t know how you manage that combination.”
Chloe views herself as frivolous – what else would you call someone who opens up a very pink and very cutesy ice cream shop? – so she’s the perfect foil for grumpy Drew. She’s used being busy with the ice cream shop as her reason for not dating, but it’s actually mostly because she struggles to feel connected to anyone. She’s biracial, and after the death of her Chinese mom, she’s felt like she doesn’t fit in to her white family and abandoned by her aunt, who’s really the only remaining relative on her mom’s side. Her (white) dad doesn’t understand why she left dental school after her mom died and has instead opened the ice cream shop. Even worse, Chloe feels like he doesn’t accept her Chinese-ness and never accepted her mom’s. One of her favorite memories with her mom was eating ice cream at the beach, so opening an Asian ice cream shop is partly a tribute to her. I really enjoyed the thoughtful exploration of biracial identity. Growing up, I was taught to be colorblind, and it took a while for me to understand why that’s so harmful. I thought Chloe’s explanation to her father was very well done.
That covers the serious part, so what about the fun stuff? Well, Chloe runs an ice cream shop, so of course there’s so much delicious ice cream (Hong Kong milk tea! matcha cheesecake!), and even some pairings with Sarah-from-the-first-book’s pies. OK, actually, there’s a lot more food, but my brain pretty much stuck on all the delicious ice cream. As for the humor, well, a self-help book about figuring out what cookies and ice cream make up your inner ice cream sandwich? Plus, Drew’s niece is great for some laughs, especially after he gets roped into painting a unicorn at her birthday party. Who doesn’t love a unicorn with a heart on its butt that’s named after cheese?
Overall, another wonderful book by Ms. Lau! The next one in the series is going to star Valerie (who also works at the ice cream shop) and apparently durian.