Kamilah Vega is desperate to convince her family to update their Puerto Rican restaurant and enter it into the Fall Foodie Tour. With the gentrification of their Chicago neighborhood, it's the only way to save the place. The fly in her mofongo—her blackmailing abuelo says if she wants to change anything in his restaurant, she'll have to marry the one man she can't stand: his best friend’s grandson.
Liam Kane spent a decade working to turn his family’s distillery into a contender. But just as he and his grandfather are on the verge of winning a national competition, Granda hits him with a one-two punch: he has cancer and has his heart set on seeing Liam married before it’s too late. And Granda knows just the girl…Kamilah Vega.
If they refuse, their grandfathers will sell the building that houses both their businesses. With their futures on the line, Kamilah and Liam plan to outfox the devious duo, faking an engagement until they both get what they want. But soon, they find themselves tangled up in more than either of them bargained for.
If you buy only one summer beach read, make it this one. OMG. I was laughing from page one. By page 10, I looked to see if there were any other books by the author I could glom as soon as I finished this one. I learned this is her debut. I’m putting her on my auto-buy list. I cannot wait to see subsequent stories about the Vega family–especially about Saint, the broody older brother. *swoons*
This has a delicious gumbo mix of tropes: friends to lovers, second chances, meddling family members, competing businesses, a fake engagement, and I’m sure many more I’m forgetting at the moment. But they’re all the tropes I most adore (minus the rake and the wallflower one). Both the hero and the heroine were intensely lovable and relatable, what with their love and dedication to family as well as their secret shames that were keeping them from going all in with relationships and their careers.
Aside from the hero and heroine, who I loved, my favorite characters were the grandfathers. I know some readers love books with precocious children or poor stray dogs that get a second chance, but me, I'm about the old people. With one caveat: so long as the old people don’t die. Treat the old people like you’d treat a dog in a book: Don’t. Kill. Them. Off. That said, I love “old people” characters because they’re sneaky…and grumpy (sometimes)...and they cause such trouble. These grandfathers did not disappoint. Oh, my, were they sneaky and grumpy and shenanigan-causing. One minute I’d be laughing and the next I’d be crying…beautiful.
The more I read, the more I could see this was a debut book–because I feel in many debut books, you can sense how much heart is in it. While I would agree, every book an author writes has their heart in it–I have to say, the first book, it’s definitely a “leave everything in the ring and on the page” kind of heart, and that was this book. It was poignant, heart-stirring, and emotionally satisfying. And it was hot. The sexual tension between this couple nearly scorched my book proof, let alone any sheets they were on. And it felt hot without feeling overly graphic as well, so kudos to Ms. Caña there as well. I know sex scenes, like humor, can be very subjective for readers (i.e. too much? Not enough? Clinical? Too vague?)--but I felt she made the scenes feel organic and authentic to the romantic arc of the characters. Well done. I dog-eared a few pages for the hubby later.
My only complaint? Ms. Caña can’t come out with book 2 soon enough for me.