by Jackie Lau
Series: Holidays with the Wongs #1
Also in this series: A Second Chance Road Trip for Christmas, A Fake Girlfriend for Chinese New Year
Publisher: Jackie Lau Books
Publication Date: October 8, 2019
I received an advance review copy of this book from Publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
Advertising executive Nick Wong enjoys living in Toronto. He loves late nights partying and taking women back to his penthouse. And so it is with great reluctance that he returns to his boring hometown of Mosquito Bay for Thanksgiving.
This year, however, is even worse than usual. His interfering parents and grandparents, frustrated with the lack of weddings in the family, have invited blind dates for him and his three siblings. Nick’s brother Greg has been set up with Lily Tseng, who just so happens to be Nick’s latest one-night stand, the one he can’t get out of his mind.
Although Nick has never been interested in settling down, Lily has him reconsidering. Perhaps he’s good for more than a single night of sex, dumplings, and bubble tea after all. But first, he has to get through this painful weekend with his family and convince her that she should be with him, not Greg…
I’m a pretty big fan of Jackie Lau’s books. They’re funny, intrinsically Canadian, and usually feature lots of delicious food (Nanaimo bars are the standout here). This novella feels a little fluffier than usual, but I still loved it.
Nick was glad to escape his small hometown of Mosquito Bay, and the only thing that keeps him coming back is holidays with his family. This (Canadian) Thanksgiving, however, they’ve taken meddling to a whole new level by inviting dates for Nick and his brothers. An awkward situation that’s made even worse when he discovers his brother’s “date” is the one night stand that he can’t quite get out of his head. In the wake of her dad’s death, Lily has been trying to be more spontaneous – she even made a list to help her! Part of that is having a one night stand, and when she meets Nick at a bar, she thinks he fits the bill perfectly. But seeing him again at Thanksgiving ends up with them falling into something that she’s not sure is a relationship – or if she even wants one with him.
“No one had ever said her name the way he did. Like there were so many subtle flavors in it—in her—that she’d never been aware of before.”
Despite it being a novella, the characters are thoughtfully written. I sympathized so much with Lily’s self-doubts about being boring and stuck in a rut. On the other hand, Nick’s the consummate rich playboy who compares being in a relationship to the suffocating feeling he felt growing up in a small town. Despite – because of? – their differences, their chemistry is amazing. Where this book really stands out is the side characters (especially Nick’s mom). Ms. Lau writes the most amazing families, loving and messy and pushy in equal measures.
As for cons, the pacing is a bit uneven. Everything flows smoothly until after the actual Thanksgiving trip is complete. Most of the conflict afterwards consists of Lily’s worries about their relationship – or lack of one – but it’s all wrapped up quickly when she shares her feelings with Nick. I appreciated the great communication, but at the same time, it lacked the punch of the usual romance big final dark moment, so the story felt like it fizzled out.
Overall, while I enjoyed the book, I wanted a bit more from it, and would rate it around 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 (because yummy food!). If you’re looking for a fun, light holiday read, this fits the bill!