Happy New Year
Lunar Love by Lauren Kung Jessen
2023 Frenzied Bibliophile Challenge Category: Book of the Month Selection
Rating: 4/5 stars
Will you like this book? You might if you like:
Multigenerational family situations
Learning something about the Chinese Zodiac (I knew nothing!)
Desserts (don’t read hungry!)
A good cry from your romance novels
This seemed like a good January BOTM pick with the start of the Chinese New Year (2023 is the Year of the Rabbit). It was a bit of a slow start for me, initially I didn’t connect with Olivia, but as she interacted more with her family and friends, Jessen flushed her out into a very believable, well-rounded character. I tend to like romances with dual perspectives; I like to know what is going on in both the characters' brains, but sometimes it is fun to read a romance where you are guessing along with the heroine.
In this one, though we don’t have Bennett POV, it is so obvious he is smitten. Olivia has to work through some issues and get over her fear of falling in love, but Bennett is so adorably there for her. As far as heroes go, he is what I would call a cutie-patootie. He is so earnest and the revelation about how he came up with his dating app and his fascination with the Chinese Zodiac is touching.
For me, the best stories incorporate the characters' family, friends, co-workers, etc. None of us exist in a bubble and those relationships impact how we approach relationships.I loved how Bennett and Olivia both struggle with the feeling that they are not Chinese enough and Jessen gives us a glimpse into what it feels like to be seen as other, even in your own community.
This is the type of book I love, first because it is a romance and those are my favorite, but it also brings me along to a world I know very little about. I certainly didn’t know anything about the Chinese zodiac, other than the very basic understanding that each year has an animal attached. As someone very interested in the Western zodiac signs (hello super Virgo here), this gave me a fun rabbit-hole (see what I did there?) to go down. I loved the scenes in the bakery and the description of the various food (bonus points for the recipes in the back - I love when authors do that)