Heat Factor: There’s a bunch of sex around the halfway point
Character Chemistry: Believable in a real-world kind of way, but not sparkling
Plot: Ryan takes baking classes from Lindsay in preparation for appearing on a celebrity baking show. They develop a connection, but can Lindsay handle dating a movie star?
I read most of this book in the middle of the night during a bout of insomnia, and that experience really highlighted for me what I like about Jackie Lau’s books. When I pick up one of her books, I know exactly what I’m going to get, and that’s soothing.
For those of you who haven’t read Lau, here’s what I know I’m going to get: I know I’m going to get a mix of comedy and tough stuff (in this case, grief over the death of a parent and some anti-Asian racism and a secondary character really struggling with the post-partum life). I know that the protagonists are going to start off their relationship with a tropey premise (in this case, celebrity baking lessons) but then work through their bumps by communicating with each other. Even when one character freaks out (in this case, Lindsay, because the media attention she starts getting as Ryan’s girlfriend is hard) and maybe even runs away, that character will come back and apologize and explain their feelings. No grand gestures and groveling, just putting in the work. I know I’m going to get many descriptions of food. And I know that there will be some kooky family funtimes, and also probably some trauma around families that the main characters need to process (in this case, both of these components show up in Ryan’s relationship with his father—and his father’s new Twitter account).
To speak more specifically to this book, Ryan is an up-and-coming movie star, whose big rom-com is in the process of kind of flopping. He’s also taking a mini-hiatus to support his father and sister in the wake of his mother’s recent death (which seems to be his way of processing his grief). When he first meets Lindsay, she doesn’t recognize him, and scolds him for ruining a batch of donuts, and he finds the dynamic refreshing enough that when he decides he wants to get better at baking, she’s the first person he thinks of to give him lessons. Ryan and Lindsay have cute banter and spend a lot of time baking together—so if you like details about baking, but at a pretty basic home cook level, that part is a particularly fun read. (They’re not building chocolate sculptures or anything, just learning the basics of making cupcakes.) They also bond over dealing with the death of a parent, which I thought was a nice touch in developing the connection between the leads, especially since the grief bit is not heavy-handed. Overall, the relationship is pretty cute, and builds up in a pretty natural way, from acquaintances to friends to lovers.
Here’s where the insomnia bit becomes important. The prose is really direct; I never have to interpret what’s going on, because the narration is telling me. For example:
“You’re amazing,” he murmured, and she felt like she was the most amazing freaking woman on the planet. She was so glad she could make him feel like this.
This is an extreme example of Lau telling us exactly what’s going on in Lindsay’s head, but I think it really encapsulates what I’m getting at with the directness of the prose. I know exactly what Lindsay is feeling, and I don’t have to work too hard to get there. In other words: this book was perfect for the moment I needed it.
I will admit that this is not my favorite Lau book. She generally self-publishes, and this book was brought out by Berkeley—which means that this book is a bit longer than her usual fare. In this case, it felt saggy. Her books are generally really tightly focused on the couple, and the extra word count here was spent fleshing out some secondary characters in ways that I didn’t feel added much to the story.
With that said, Donut Fall in Love delivered exactly what I needed in the moment I needed it. And that’s what I want in a romance.
I voluntarily read and reviewed a complimentary copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. We disclose this in accordance with 16 CFR §255.
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