Back to the Good Fortune Diner by Vicki Essex

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Title: Back to the Good Fortune Diner
Author: Vicki Essex
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 304
Source: Library, ebook

I’m not embarrassed to admit that I’m a bit of a romance junkie. Maybe I fell in love with romance because I read Cosmo and Sweet Valley High as a young adult. I think I feel comfort in the conventions that a romance novel provides — boy meets girl, they have a whirlwind romance (or they don’t get along at first), they fall in love and then something dramatic happens and then they fall back in love. Anyways, I’ve grown accustomed to reading romances that involve two Caucasian characters. But recently, I read a novel by Vicki Essex that featured a mixed-race couple — a woman who is Chinese and a man who is Caucasian. I rarely read this type of pairing and it drew me in.

Tiffany Cheung couldn’t wait to leave Everville, New York for the big city when she was a teenager where she never felt like she fit in. In an unfortunate turn of events, at the age of thirty-two she is forced to move back home with her parents after she loses her job.

Chris Jamieson gave up his dream of going to university when his high school sweetheart got pregnant. Since then, he’s gotten divorced, has been raising his teenage son on his own, keeping his father fed and working hard to promote his organic farming business. When he hears that his high school tutor is back in town, he enlists her help to tutor his son with summer school. They both agree that this is a temporary situation because she doesn’t plan to stick around. Her entire life is back in New York City.

What struck me as odd was even after they fell in love, she didn’t plan to stick around even though she’d basically had a major crush on him since high school. During the flashbacks, it always seemed like they had a strong connection. Chris is definitely what gave this book life. He was open and caring despite his cranky, somewhat racist father and his grumpy teenage son.

Usually, the female character is what I love about romances but Tiffany often struck me as cold and uncaring. What I liked about Tiffany was that she knew what she wanted and wasn’t afraid to get it (career wise, anyways).

Other than Tiffany, her grandmother really stood out for me. She had such a strong personality and reminded me a little of my own grandmother.

Despite some of the more annoying plot lines — Tiffany rags on her brother for working with their family and his girlfriend and she moves back to New York — I will probably read more from Essex, especially if it features more mixed-race coupling. I only wished there was more romance.

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