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  • Romantic, Deeply Felt

    NOT ANOTHER FAMILY WEDDING has everything I’d hope for in a romantic comedy—the wedding mishaps, the big crazy family, the woman trying and failing at managing the chaos, and happily-ever-after friends-to-lovers. <SIGH!> This stands out, however, because the characters are deeply human, and I found the love scenes heart-shattering, ego-shattering...just beautiful. I love the heroine, Natalie, because while she’s throwing all this energy into fearing what her family could do wrong, she’s unable to manage her own emotions at a critical point. And I love the hero, Connor, because he’s not the typical ‘alpha’ male. He manages to be supportive and not steal limelight, while still being a multi-dimensional character with his own arc. And I really appreciated Lau’s style, which is the anti-thesis of ‘big’ cliché scenes. The attraction comes in flickers, rather than a stagy Hollywood ‘Meet Cute.’ The end is heartfelt and satisfying without being a ridiculous, implausible ‘Grand Gesture,’ and you sense these people are going to be happier and together longer because it has been subtle and gradual, understated rather than over-the-top. Just loved it. Promptly bought the next book in the series about Natalie’s cousin Iris. Can’t wait!

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  • Authentic characters in an enjoyable romance!

    Jackie Lau covers a lot of ground in her latest romance, a friends to lovers story full of family wedding drama. Natalie asks her long time university friend Connor to be her plus one at her sister Rebecca's wedding. Family weddings have always been fraught affairs with something happening to create a memorable day, sometimes funny, sometimes not. Natalie has a white mother and a Chinese father and their respective families weren't thrilled with their union. Their prejudices and racial biases exist to this day. Natalie knows that there will be the inevitable disagreements and just wants someone there to be her moral support. When Connor agrees, they also find that in close quarters there's a new attraction, leading to a sexy affair. But Natalie knows from experience that her not wanting to have children is a deal breaker when it comes to relationships. Do she and Connor have a chance at a happy ending? I really enjoyed this story. It's rare to find a romance where the female character has no plans to have kids. It's also rare to find one where the heroine has had an abortion (this may be the only story I've read in this regard) from an unexpected pregnancy. That's part of Natalie's history, brought up simply as a matter of fact and part of her determination to remain childless. When Natalie's sister Rebecca was born (Natalie is 11 years older) their mother went through a long period of post partum depression and Natalie became her sister's caregiver for much of the time, until her mother, and eventually her father (who hadn't wanted a baby) took over their proper parental duties. It left her frightened of the effects of PPD, and not wanting the responsibility of another child. She enjoys being around children and relates to them well, so long as they are not going home with her at the end of the night. Connor has his own issues with children, and is also not unhappy that his first marriage ended with them being childless. He's a great uncle to an energetic toddler but doesn't feel his life will be bereft without kids. In this way he's a perfect match for Natalie. But Natalie is so used to being rejected for her views on children that she's afraid to share them with Connor and spoil the bubble of sexy fun they've created for themselves at the wedding, even as other events are happening around them that make her question marriage and long term relationships. Along with the typical wedding stress, the challenges of dealing with racist and homophobic relatives make for some uncomfortable situations. Natalie's brother is married to a wonderful Chinese man but that wedding has also brought out the less savoury aspects of their family. Natalie's paternal Chinese grandmother has become more accepting since the death of her husband and provides some of the more humorous moments in the story. The author does an excellent job of showing both cultures, the historical challenges of being immigrants to Canada and combining Rebecca's biracial heritage in her wedding celebration. Natalie has a lot to deal with at this wedding, including relatives questioning her unmarried and child-less state and even though Connor is just a friend (and then more) he is a great buffer to help her realize that her feelings are valid and normal and that she has value as a person on her own. The romance is pretty sexy amid all the drama. It's Connor who falls first and wants to take a chance on something more, and Natalie who has doubts. But in the end she's willing to risk her heart for the man who is willing to stand by her side. Jackie Lau continues to write with an authentic voice and I am looking forward to more from her. Also, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the great cover choice! It's wonderful to see the characters well represented.

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