**I received an ARC from a giveaway from the publisher (thank you, Penguin Teen!). These are my honest opinions, and in no way was I compensated for this review.**
Book: A Taste for Love by Jennifer Yen
Release Date: February 2, 2021
My Rating: 4 stars
Rep: ownvoices Taiwanese-American protagonist, love interest, and side characters; bisexual Taiwanese-American side character
Summary: For fans of Jenny Han, Jane Austen, and The Great British Baking Show, A Taste for Love, is a delicious rom com about first love, familial expectations, and making the perfect bao.
To her friends, high school senior Liza Yang is nearly perfect. Smart, kind, and pretty, she dreams big and never shies away from a challenge. But to her mom, Liza is anything but. Compared to her older sister Jeannie, Liza is stubborn, rebellious, and worst of all, determined to push back against all of Mrs. Yang’s traditional values, especially when it comes to dating.
The one thing mother and daughter do agree on is their love of baking. Mrs. Yang is the owner of Houston’s popular Yin & Yang Bakery. With college just around the corner, Liza agrees to help out at the bakery’s annual junior competition to prove to her mom that she’s more than her rebellious tendencies once and for all. But when Liza arrives on the first day of the bake-off, she realizes there’s a catch: all of the contestants are young Asian American men her mother has handpicked for Liza to date.
The bachelorette situation Liza has found herself in is made even worse when she happens to be grudgingly attracted to one of the contestants; the stoic, impenetrable, annoyingly hot James Wong. As she battles against her feelings for James, and for her mother’s approval, Liza begins to realize there’s no tried and true recipe for love.
After first hearing about this book when it was announced, I grew even more excited to read this book after reading a sample, especially for the setting! And it did not disappoint. A Taste for Love was an adorable contemporary with a fun plot and a cute romance.
For the past few years, Liza has been fending off her mother’s attempts to set her up with a “good match.” Then she agrees to help judge her mom’s annual junior baking competition in an attempt to convince her parents that she’s serious about wanting to pursue baking as a career; however, there, she realizes that all of the contestants are potential matches that her mom picked. One of them is James, a boy she met a few months ago and whom she keeps crossing paths with because her friend starts dating his cousin.
I will say that the baking competition plot doesn’t start till about halfway throught the book, but this is a short book so that wasn’t necessarily a pitfall. The first half is more dedicated to building up Liza’s relationships with her parents, particularly her mom, and her sister. We also see Liza and her friend Grace meeting and hanging out more with James and his cousin Ben.
The competition was fun! I usually hate books that are centered around cooking or baking because I just cannot stand long descriptions of food. However, this book avoided that and I actually liked the food descriptions.
I also really liked the characters; Liza is headstrong and stubborn, and I really related to her relationship with her mom. Grace is supportive, and I really liked her scenes. At first, James came fof as rude but you gradually come to see that he’s more of a Darcy character. I also loved that we got to see a lot of Liza’s parents, which is fairly unusual in contemporary YA.
The romance was cute! I think the book vaguely follows Pride & Prejudice, so it has dislike-to-love, mostly because Liza thinks James is stuck-up at first. Also, she knows that he pretty much exactly fulfills her mom’s requirements for a “good” boy to date, so she refuses to like him more. But naturally, they grow to know each other more.
A Taste for Love was an adorable contemporary filled with descriptions of pastries that will leave your mouth watering. I liked the characters, and the romance was so cute. If you like Pride & Prejudice retellings and/or To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, I definitely recommend A Taste for Love.
About the Author: Jennifer Yen is a Taiwanese American author of young adult and adult fiction. She draws much of her inspiration from her Chinese and Japanese heritage.
Her debut novel, A Taste For Love, will be published by Razorbill (PGH) in Spring 2021, with a second book to follow.
Jennifer lives in Houston, Texas with her adorable rescue dog. She spends her days healing the hearts of others, and her nights writing about love, family, and the power of acceptance. She believes in the magic of one’s imagination, and hopes her stories will bring joy and inspiration to readers.
If you find her wandering around aimlessly, please return her to the nearest milk tea shop.