Tag Archives: Korean-American

The True Love Experiment by Christina Lauren

Standard
The True Love Experiment by Christina Lauren

Lauren, Christina. The True Love Experiment. Gallery Books, 2023. 416 pp. ISBN 9781982173432 $27.99

****

Wisecracking, fearless romance novelist Felicity Chen, the best friend sidekick made of charisma, witchcraft, and bad judgment from The Soulmate Equation, has lost her mojo, and agrees to star in a reality dating show on her terms: the gents have to represent popular romance archetypes, and none of this forced proximity secluded crap, she wants her friends and family to have input and insight, just like in real life. The eight Heroes assembled represent tattooed bad boy, hot nerd, and vampire, but it’s the sexy British producer Connor–a total Cinnamon Bun–that Fizzy clicks with. It’s rewarding to see the novelist and Tinder queen thrown for a loop over feelings that she’s never experienced before. The ante is upped when the men all take River’s cutting-edge matchmaking genome sequencing test with GeneticAlly. The audience will vote on who Fizzy should end up with, and then the match results will be revealed. Will the science or heart rule?

More tension is created as Fizzy continues to fight writer’s block, Connor is actually a documentarian who doesn’t want to be producing reality television, he doesn’t do short term and she only does short term; her family doesn’t take her work seriously and she’s still perceiving pressure to settle down, get married and have a baby. And then, Fizzy is the one who makes a terrible error and has to win back her man. Some of the ground covered is that while we are influenced by our pasts, past actions do not have to define us. There’s also not so subtle commentary on continued derogatory attitude thrown at the romance genre.

Family and friends remain important in the story and character development. One of the best parts for me was the reappearance of grumpy hot nerd River, who keeps walking into rooms to her his wife or Felicity utter something outrageous…and walks right back out again. Connor’s daughter Stevie and Jess’s daughter Juno bond over hot boy band Wonderland. Felicity’s brother Peter is getting married, and since she has an agreement to not see any of the potential matches outside the show, none of the competitors can be her plus one…but Connor can, and does. The glamorous and expensive festivities that blend traditional and modern Korean customs add background and rich multicultural detail.

The dating adventures are entertaining, and the relationship between Fizzy and Connor balances both hot and sweet; the combination of funny banter, smart writing, juicy detail, and swoony romance are what we’ve come to expect from Christina Lauren, and this one does not disappoint. The drama at the live season finale and big reveal is palpable and perfectly paced and executed.

I received a free advance reader’s review copy of #TheTrueLoveExperiment from #NetGalley.

Heart and Seoul by Jen Frederick

Standard
Heart and Seoul by Jen Frederick

Frederick, Jen. Heart and Seoul. Berkley, 2021. ISBN 978-0593100141 352 pp. $16.00

****

I love the title and the cover of this book so much, but I do not think it qualifies as a romance novel. Rather, it is about identity and finding one’s true course, and is better categorized as fiction with strong romantic elements. Hara, a Korean woman adopted as a child by white parents, doesn’t know much about the story of her birth and heritage, just that she was abandoned. She didn’t fit into white culture growing up and avoided many things Korean to fit in. When she learns that her birth father has recently passed away, she decides to go to her homeland to pay her respects… and maybe to try to track down her mother with the help of a good friend who seems to desperately want to help Hara avoid being taken advantage of. A meet-cute at the airport comes with a whiff of romance, but It’s Complicated.

Hara is a strong character who takes risks and experiences real growth, as well as betrayal that she has to come to terms with. The writing is strong and details vivid, I really enjoyed the cultural elements of the novel and details of Seoul, and the attraction between Hara and Boyoung. I haven’t read anything else by the author so I had no expectations for content except the cover illustration, and without a HEA or HFN ending, it’s just not a romance… unless there will be a sequel?

I received an advance reader’s review copy of #Heart&Seoul via #NetGalley.