A Taste for Love by Jennifer Yen
Publication Date : February 2nd 2021
Publisher : Razorbill
Genre : YA / Romance / Contemporary
Pages : 304
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.
*** Note: I received e-copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to PRHGlobal for free copy. ***
A Taste for Love was cute YA Romance that revolved around Liza trying not to be caught in potential Asian boyfriend trap set by her mother. It was about East Asian culture and tradition, family relationship, meddling parent and making them see their kid is big enough to choose happiness, friendship, passion, following dream, and love.
Writing was lovely, beautiful and fast paced. It was first person narrative from Liza’s perspective. Her voice was relatable and realistic. I will not make it lengthy by describing book, synopsis gave perfect description. I loved beginning.
“It is truth universally acknowledged that a mother in possession of great wisdom must be in want- nay, in need- of a daughter who will listen.”
I was instantly hooked reading that brilliant modified first line of Pride and Prejudice and Liza helplessly staring at that word plaque made by her mother, Mrs Yang, who thought if she was Mrs Bennet all those girls of Mrs Bannet would have been married in half time and she was determined to prove it in real life with Liza. I definitely agreed to Liza, even the fictional characters couldn’t be safe from her mother so how could she.
It was fun to see how Liza would reject all handpicked contestant, get out of trap her mother had set for her, what was James’ story, how their growing feeling will turn out by the end of competition, and if Mrs Yang would approve James and understand her daughter’s wish, passion, and feelings.
All characters were realistic and relatable. I loved Liza’s friends- Grace and Sarah. Mrs Lee, Ben, and contestant of competition were all fun to read. Family dynamic was well portrayed. Mrs Yang was typical Asian mother who kept criticizing Liza on her looks, diet, in whatever she did. No doubt Liza wanted to rebel and not to date guys of her choice and criteria. But I liked how Mrs Yang worked hard for bakery to give her children better future, I could understand her as mother up to some extent, and loved her for understanding Liza near the end of the story. I liked reading how Liza’s sister Jeannie supported Liza. Arguments and conversations between them was realistic. Liza’s father Mr Yang was supportive and lovely on his own way.
Liza was kind, compassionate, caring, and responsible. She was loyal friend and loved her family. I rooted for her from the beginning and felt for her. I wanted to give her big hug on reading her frustration towards her mother and her tactics, being compared to her sister, criticized at every point, and being forced to choose career she wasn’t interested in. I could relate to her and I agreed to her thoughts. What her mom was doing was unfair and partial but I admired her for handling her mother and her criticism so well and tried to be good daughter even though she didn’t like some things, helped her parents and for being open to her sister. Her passion for baking was great to read all her bakes made me want put aside book and devour some baked confectionaries. I loved her for supporting her friends and standing up for them.
James was broody, stoic, handsome Asian hero. He didn’t make good first impression and was rude in that first meeting. There was mysterious air around him which made him intriguing. As story progressed, we see there was more to him. He was perfectionist, caring, and loyal friend and loved his cousin, Ben, like real brother. I didn’t like how he reacted and jumped to conclusion and broke many heart around climax but I was glad to see he listened to Liza and even asked for forgiveness and made things right.
I don’t know if I should say it’s Pride and Prejudice retelling or not. There were quite resemblance and fans of P&P would love reading that- There was Mrs Bannet like Mrs Yang who kept meddling in her daughter’s life, Mr Darcy like James, his best friend and cousin Ben who was very much like Mr. Bingley and Ben and Grace made pair like Jane and Bingley- but A Taste for Love had its own charm and story with baking competition which was best part of the book. I loved all description of mouth-watering East Asian food, restaurants, café and tea shops, Chinatown of Houston, and some amazing places of New York.
I enjoyed reading Liza’s relationship with her family and her friends. It was perfectly balanced with romance. Romance was neither slow nor rushed. It started after almost 40% but until that story built up great character background and I enjoyed James and Liza’s many chance encounters. It was dislike-to-lovers arc. I enjoyed reading flirting, drama, misunderstanding, miscommunication, breakup and apology. It was so lovely and cute.
Climax was surprising. I could see tension between Ben, James, Nathan and Mrs Lee throughout the story but I couldn’t figure out the reason behind it. I liked knowing what created that tension in this part. Jeannie’s reaction was natural but I liked how she agreed to listen to full story. Mrs Yang’s development was great. James won my heart in and after final round of competition. End was sweet, lovely and cute.
Overall, A Taste for Love was heart-warming, delicious and fluffy Asian YA Romance with lovely characters and entertaining plot.
What do you think about the book and review? Have you read this book or any book by the same author? Which is best YA Romance you read this year so far?
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