**I received an ARC from the publisher through Netgalley. These are my honest opinions, and in no way was I compensated for this review.**
Book: Lunar Love by Lauren Kung Jessen
Release Date: January 10, 2023
My Rating: 3 stars
Rep: biracial (Chinese, white) protagonist and love interest; (mixed-race Chinese-American author)
CW: mentions of death of a parent (mother), sudden death of a character
Summary: This sweet, enemies-to-lovers debut rom-com filled with Chinese astrology will undoubtedly prove to be a perfect match with readers of Helen Hoang, Jasmine Guillory, and Helena Hunting.
Always a matchmaker, never a match…
Olivia Huang Christenson is excited-slash-terrified to be taking over her grandmother’s matchmaking business. But when she learns that a new dating app has made her Pó Po’s traditional Chinese zodiac approach all about “animal attraction,” her emotions skew more toward furious-slash-outraged. Especially when L.A.’s most-eligible bachelor Bennett O’Brien is behind the app that could destroy her family’s legacy . . .
Liv knows better than to fall for any guy, let alone an infuriatingly handsome one who believes that traditions are meant to be broken. As the two businesses go head to head, Bennett and Liv make a deal: they’ll find a match for each other—and whoever falls in love loses. But Liv is dealing with someone who’s already adept at stealing business ideas . . . so what’s stopping him from stealing her heart too?
Truthfully, I didn’t start Lunar Love with any high expectations. I thought it sounded cute and something nice to read. That was about what I got, I guess. Lunar Love was enjoyable enough but personally didn’t work for me.
Olivia Huang Christenson is poised to take over her grandmother’s matchmaking business. She’s well-versed in everything that makes a match, including Chinese zodiac compatibility. When she finds out about a new dating app centered around the Chinese zodiac, she can’t help but feel a little put out, especially once she meets the creator, Bennett. They strike a deal to prove who’s the better matchmaker, although as time goes on, it’s clear that the person they’re looking for might not be that far away.
I should preface everything I’m about to say with: I’m very picky with my romances, particularly in the adult genre. Something about the writing in a lot of books just doesn’t appeal to me, and I’ve never been able to pinpoint what it is. I do think this book will work out for other people, but overall I was just really bored with it. By the time I got halfway, I just wanted to get to the ending already but it just kept dragging on.
I did like the characters for the most part. It’s clear that Liv just wants to do right by her grandmother, which pushes her to be so rigid about tradition. Bennett was just different enough from her to irritate her, but they clearly connect over a lot of things, including wanting to stay connected to their Chinese heritages.
I’ve been told that 3 stars seems too high for a book that I feel very little about, but I did think it had its moments! There was just so much though that I felt apathetic about / was irritated by. Like, how is Bennett the hottest thing in the start-up world right now when his app honestly doesn’t stand out in any way? Overall, I think people would enjoy Lunar Love for a focus on the Chinese zodiac and how we can uphold tradition in new ways without letting go of the old. It just didn’t work for me in the end.
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About the Author: Lauren Kung Jessen is a mixed-race Chinese-American writer with a fondness for witty, flirtatious dialogue and making meals with too many steps but lots of flavor. She is fascinated by myths and superstitions and how ideas, beliefs, traditions, and stories evolve over time.
From attending culinary school to working in the world of Big Tech to writing love stories, Lauren cares about creating experiences that make people feel something.
She also has a food and film blog, A Dash of Cinema, where she makes food inspired by movies and TV shows. She lives in Nashville with her husband (who she met thanks to fate—read: the algorithms of online dating), two cats, and dog.
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