From the author of Meet Cute Diary comes a delectable rom-com that’s brimming with zest and a sprinkle of sweetness. A must-read for fans of Casey McQuiston and Julian Winters.
Theo Mori and Gabriel Moreno have always been at odds. Their parents own rival businesses—an Asian American café and a Puerto Rican bakery—and Gabi’s lack of coordination has cost their soccer team too many games to count.
Stuck in the closet and scared to pursue his own dreams, Gabi sees his parents’ shop as his future. Stuck under the weight of his parents’ expectations, Theo’s best shot at leaving Vermont means first ensuring his parents’ livelihood is secure.
So when a new fusion café threatens both shops, Theo and Gabi realize an unfortunate truth—they can only achieve their goals by working together to cook up an underground bakery operation and win back their customers. But can they put aside their differences long enough to save their parents’ shops or will the new feelings between them boil over?
Theo and Gabi don’t think they have much in common, and their decision to work together is borne of desperation to save their respective family’s restaurants. Neither of them expects to catch feeling for the other, so it’s such a delight to watch their dawning awareness.
The fear of expulsion for being caught running the underground café is perhaps a bit unfounded, but that seems to be their primary focus. There are more important factors they should have been taking into consideration, and they soon learn that even with the best of intentions, actions have consequences.
The irony of a “fusion café” threatening both boys’ family businesses and them teaming up with their own spin on the fusion genre did not escape me, but if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, I guess. Their creativity and innovation was fun to watch, especially given their antagonism towards each other at the beginning of the book.
The romance aspect is a bit of a slow burn since Gabi is in the closet for most of the book, but as I mentioned in my first paragraph, it’s so sweet to see them realize that they don’t despise each other.
I would recommend Café Con Lychee. This is the second of Lee’s books that I’ve read, and I’ve enjoyed them both. Even though both families’ businesses face closing down, there’s not a looming sense of dread throughout the narrative. After all, the protagonists are still teenage boys and while they are serious in their endeavor to help their families, they don’t go about it with a looming sense of dread. Readers should be aware that there are some homophobic attitudes from both families, but everything ends on a positive note. I can’t wait to read Lee’s next book!
I received a digital ARC of this book from HarperCollins Children’s Books/NetGalley