(3.5 rounded up to a 4)
Lunar Love by Lauren Kung Jessen is a debut contemporary enemies-to-lovers romance. We follow our main character with first-person point-of-view.
Olivia is excited to take over her grandmother’s matchmaking business, Lunar Love, until she learns of a new dating app that has turned the traditional Chinese zodiac into more “animal attraction.” To learn more about her competition, she decides to use the app to find its creator, Bennet. When they both end up on a podcast together, they wager they’ll find a match for each other using their respective resources, and whoever falls in love loses the bet.
It felt very appropriate that I finished this pretty close to the Lunar New Year.
Overall, this was a really cute closed-door romance. I loved a ton of the side characters, especially Olivia’s grandmother Popo, and the Chinatown setting and their family business seemed very lived-in. The chemistry between our leads is solid and they have adorable banter throughout the novel.
This read like a debut, and the author’s use of tense felt really awkward to me. This gets a bit better in the second half of the book, but while I was reading the first half it was pretty jarring to me. I ended up taking a lot more time to read the first half, but once I got over the midway point my reading speed picked up.
Sometimes Olivia seemed like she was written younger than she actually was. She is a very stubborn person and was kind of repetitive in her complaints and observations. This is another thing I chalk up to this being the author’s first published novel. I also didn’t really love that Olivia decided to lie about who she was when trying to learn more about the person behind the dating app.
I like that there are several recipes included in the back of the book, since both characters love food and there are many mentions of traditional Chinese cooking throughout the novel. I definitely plan to try some out!
Tropes in this book include: Asian American MCs, mixed-race MCs, enemies-to-lovers, slow burn, closed door, opposites attract, secrets and lies
CW: lies, death, grief
I received a copy of this book to review. All opinions contained herein are my own.