Her Favorite Rebound
Sierra Wu is thirty-four, divorced, does not want children and is a constant disappointment to her family. They are horrified that she quit her engineering job (that she hated) to run a small greeting card store (that she loves) four years ago. Sierra is used to living a pretty small life, so the last thing she expected was being swept off her feet by Colton Sanders, the billionaire (think Jeff Bezos type). They’ve been together for a year, and despite his reputation with women, it’s going well, but she has yet to tell her family. There’s only one tiny problem: Jake Tong. A former friend and employee of Colton, the irritatingly handsome Jake tells Sierra to break up with Colton for her own good. She refuses, of course. Why should she trust Jake? But as she continues to bump into him, the attraction between them grows, and she starts wondering if he’s right about Colton, and then she must decide what to do.
I thoroughly enjoyed Jake and Sierra together. They work well as a couple and watching Jake live up to his promise to treat Sierra well soothed some very scratchy places in my heart. This book’s plot could be a tough sit, but Lau threads the needle carefully. Sierra and Jake begin the emotional side of their relationship while she’s still in a relationship with Colton, but by placing boundaries – and Jake accepting those boundaries – Sierra can take her time, and take the reader with her, through the process of ending one relationship and starting another. Even if she thinks its just a rebound, when it’s been obvious that there is much more here, it just had less than great timing.
This book is all about characters working through their emotions (not that it doesn’t have some of Lau’s signature steam). Sierra’s relationship with Colton isn’t good, but it is also fulfilling a need for Sierra at the time. Through much of the book we are with Sierra as she unpacks what her relationship with Colton is, what her emotions about him are, can he be trusted, and is she happy. That question about happiness also extends to her family, who are quite awful overall. But the things she never has to question are if her work makes her happy, or if she’s attracted to Jake, and if he sees her in a way others don’t. We’re also with Jake as he is struck with seemingly instant love for Sierra the moment he sees her across the restaurant. He spends time deciding if that is even possible, and can he manage to demonstrate his emotions to her by respecting her boundaries – especially when he knows he can’t trust Colton.
The other major emotional beat here is worth and family expectations. Jake is recovering from working for Colton and tarnishing his soul in the pursuit of money. He is making amends for having helped a billionaire earn more at the expense of others. But he doesn’t feel he’s a good enough person, still, to be happy and at every turn his brother confirms that back to him. Sierra is made so miserable by her family by their expectations of who she should be that she has learned to accept less, to not need much of anything at all. She must find that she is worth happiness and someone who sees her as she is and is proud of her for becoming the person she wants to be.
Between those two things Jake and Sierra are a well-matched pair and this book works through the various things that are keeping them apart, and then the things that are keeping them from truly being together once they start a physical relationship. So why not more than four stars? The pacing in the chapters felt a bit off – sometimes hardly any time passed, sometimes weeks passed. I found myself wanting more of what we didn’t have on page, and for that reason I can’t rate this one any higher. But this is a story I am glad to have read, and that I’m glad Lau tackled writing. She works through getting her characters to let go of the shoulds, and that’s something many of us need to see reflected in what we read.
I received Her Favorite Rebound as an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review.
It publishes March 29, 2022
A Very Beery New Year
While working my way through my ARC of Her Favorite Rebound I remembered that I had another novella in the series waiting for me as a newsletter exclusive. Feeling in the mood for more Lau I settled in to run through this 54-page story and am I ever glad I did.
A Very Beery New Year brings us to Thursdays at Leslieville Craft Beer where software developer Gerald Nakamura goes after work to “socialize”, which by his definition involves sitting at a bar, surrounded by a room full of people reading a book. The bright spot of this ritual is when he exchanges a few words with the cute bartender, Kelsey Rye. For her part Kelsey is finding that she looks forward to Thursdays at four when Gerald walks through the door and finds herself attracted to the slightly gruff but ultimately kind man. As the months go by, their conversations get longer, and her excited rambling makes him smile – or they would if that was a thing he did. They start texting and getting to know each other but Gerald and Kelsey both doubt the other wants anything more than what they have – which one will be the one to be brave, and take the next step?
I loved this one, it’s a delightful Grumpy/Sunshine studded through with so much great mutual pining (this one is low steam, but gives great innuendo) while also doing one of my favorite things in being told episodically over a year. I think Lau’s novella length works are my favorite of hers, she nails the pacing of these dead on. She also gives us just enough exposition to know these characters, we’ve met Kelsey in the Cider Bar Sisters Book Three, The Professor Next Door, but Gerald is new to those of us reading through the series. He is a major Grump; he could easily veer into unlikeable. But because Kelsey sees him for how much that Grump exterior surrounds a kind center, we as the reader get to as well. My heart was made happy whenever Gerald quietly supported Kelsey, by unquestioningly supporting her need to be estranged from her parents or telling her that she never has to be sorry for telling him a thing she’s excited about, no matter how many words it takes. I could easily have read another 200 pages of these two, but I’m also glad Lau capped it here. I suggest getting your hands on this one if you can, it’s a good one. (4.5 stars, rounded up.)