Series: Cider Bar Sisters #1
Published by Jackie Lau Books on September 8, 2020
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
When small-town engineer Amy Sharpe inherits a house in Toronto, she decides it’s the perfect opportunity to start over and go back to school. Away from the family that takes her for granted, away from the ex who expected so much and gave little in return.
The new Amy enjoys wandering around the city and frequenting bubble tea shops, German beer halls, dim sum restaurants, and coffee bars serving Japanese pastries. She has a roommate with the same name as her favorite fictional character, and a group of friends who meet at a cider bar every couple of weeks.
The new Amy is also in lust with her brooding, tattooed next-door neighbor, Victor Choi, who is far from friendly but looks really hot cutting the grass without a shirt. Too bad the grass doesn’t grow faster.
As she starts telling him about her daily adventures—and as a little kissing in the garden becomes a regular activity—Amy begins to feel more than lust. But she fears she’s falling into her old patterns in relationships and refuses to let herself be underappreciated again.
Is Victor really more than a hot fling? And what’s he hiding behind that grumpy exterior?
Whew. Happy New Year, everyone! I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to see a year end as I was this year. I let the general shittiness of 2020 get to me more than I’m comfortable with, but I’m letting myself be ok with it. I’m choosing to see the positive where I can. I’ve gotten to spend a ton of time with my dogs (maybe too much; there’s a chance Archie will never let me leave the house again), Mr. Smut hasn’t traveled since February of 2020 (also a positive and negative. I genuinely like and love my husband, but I also enjoy when he travels because I can watch my Bridgerton-type shows and horror movies on the big TV, treat myself to sushi every night, and generally spend time alone, which I need to function), and we’ve saved a bunch of money by not dining out, traveling, buying gas in the cars, etc. I’m trying to spend more time looking at those things and less time looking at the rest of it. Sometimes I can even succeed.
I actually read this book last year, in September when it came out. I’ve just been so unable to focus enough on writing reviews that I have a ton to catch up on, and this is one of them. I really want people to talk about this book, because I loved it.
Amy and Victor were so cute. Folks – seriously, they were adorable. I know that Victor was trying his damndest to be brooding and grumpy, but he failed miserably. He was adorable, much to his own chagrin.
Amy was so close to the line between as adorable as Victor and entirely too twee, but she managed to stay on the right side of it. I loved her. She’s bright and sunny, and refuses to let the general shit get her down, but she’s a realist, too. She recognizes what’s going on, she just chooses how she’s going to deal with it, and chooses to deal with it by not letting it make her into a person she doesn’t want to be. She’s in STEM, and some of her sunny personality is a direct rebuke of the crap she has to put up with in her daily work.
Fortunately, she gets to know a great group of women who all have similar jobs and get together to relax and give each other support and advice. I was so glad that she found them, because the one thing she was missing when she moved to Toronto was a group of friends just like this. Her roommate was a good start (a roommate who was randomly named after Amy’s favorite urban fantasy heroine, so basically a match made in heaven) but I was so glad for her to find these women. And I’m very happy to know (or at least assume) that most of them will be getting books as well, so I can get to know all of them better.
And holy wow – I absolutely loved getting to explore Toronto through Amy. I’ve been to Toronto, but only once or twice, for a day or so, and not for at least 20 years. Now I want to go back. I mean, I’ve wanted to escape to Canada for the last several years, and this really cemented for me that it’s Toronto I want to move to.
The food in this book – I mean… THE FOOD. It was as good as the romance. Fortunately for me, Amy likes food as much as I do, and she tried all of it. And described it in detail. I loved it. That’s one thing about Jackie Lau’s books that is consistently a joy to read. I swear I can smell the food she describes through my Kindle, and I want to eat all of it. I wish there was a way to know before I read the book what food I would be salivating over so I could Uber Eats it and eat it with the characters. Actually – I’m going to work on that. That’s my brilliant app idea.
Watching Victor eventually fall to Amy’s charms was so soothing. I know that’s a weird way to describe it, but it really was. He just wanted to be left alone to sit and brood in his house, but then here came Amy with her ladybug umbrellas and her polka-dot dresses and she just refuses to let him. He never crossed the line into being so grumpy that he was actually an asshole, and I appreciated that Jackie Lau was able to walk that line. Some readers love heroes who go over to being full on dicks, at least at the beginning of the story, but I’ve never appreciated that. Like – if a guy is that big an asshole, why would you stick around long enough to change him and see his softer side? Maybe I’m just not the patient – I can accept that and be ok with it. We all like what we like.
But – all this rambling to say that I really like this book. According to my spreadsheet, I read it in 2 sittings, and I think that’s only because I started it late at night and physically couldn’t force myself to stay awake to finish it. It’s easily done in one sitting. And I very much recommend that you do.