Return to Cherry Blossom Way
by Jeannie Chin
Blue Cedar Falls - Book 2
Release Date: August 23, 2022
Reviewed by PJ
In this sweet second-chance love story, two opposites discover their once-in-a-lifetime chemistry has only gotten stronger.
May Wu is no longer the shy teen who skipped out of her small North Carolina town right after graduation. Now she’s a successful travel writer who can handle any challenge. Until her latest assignment sends her home to Blue Cedar Falls, where, of course, she runs straight into Han Leung, a.k.a. the guy who got away. How dare he still be so good looking, funny, and easy to talk to?
Han always does the responsible thing, which is why he put aside his dreams of opening his own restaurant to run his family’s business. But when May re-enters his life, he can no longer ignore his own wants and desires. Garden gnomes are stolen, old haunts are visited, and sparks fly between the pair, just as they always did. But Han and May broke up because they wanted vastly different lives, and that hasn’t changed—or has it?
Jeannie Chin's storytelling continues to shine in this second full-length book in her new small-town series. There are so many things I'm enjoying about Blue Cedar Falls. The western North Carolina setting is beautifully described, evoking wonderful memories of days spent winding my way along lush mountain roads, leisurely exploring small, quirky towns. I can easily visualize the festivals, Han's family's Chinese restaurant, the new bar on Main Street, and the Wu family's B&B.
I love the Asian-American representation in Chin's books, placing the Wu and Leung families front and center. It's something that's still an exception rather than the norm in contemporary romance but I'm happy to see that's slowly changing.
Second-chance romance is one of my favorite tropes but thirteen years is a long time. Han's and May's reunion could have easily felt forced or unrealistic, but it doesn't. Chin navigates them through the ups and downs of a reignited relationship with finesse, humor, emotions that feel organic, and believable challenges. Not only are they getting to know one another as adults, they are also each individually dealing with complex family dynamics, career concerns, the life-altering effects of teenage bullying, and dreams delayed. It's a journey of growth for both Han and May. I love the ease between these two, the sizzling chemistry, the fun and sweetness that speaks to their long-time - if interrupted - friendship. But I also appreciate that there are issues needing to be addressed. Kudos to the author for tackling those difficult topics head-on, especially within their family units.
The secondary cast in this book is large, colorful, and necessary. I especially enjoyed Han's friend group, the people who are there for him, supportive but not afraid to be brutally honest when necessary. I love how they support his food dreams (oh my gosh, the food!). Yes, there was a good deal of drooling on my part as I read those scenes. ;-)
If you enjoy small-town romance with humor, heart, emotional depth, and positive cultural representation, give Jeannie Chin's Blue Cedar Falls series a try. Return to Cherry Blossom Way stands well on its own but for a full understanding of the Wu and Leung families, the complex dynamic among the Wu sisters, and the issues facing the town of Blue Cedar Falls, I recommend reading the stories in order.
Book 1: The Inn on Sweetbriar Lane
Novella: Only Home with You
Book 2: Return to Cherry Blossom Way
The third book, The House on Mulberry Street, is scheduled to be released March 7, 2023 and is available for pre-order. It's the youngest Wu sister's best friends - to - lovers story and I can't wait to dive in.
Have you read any of the books in Jeannie Chin's Blue Cedar Falls series?
I love books set in Western North Carolina as it's one of my favorite places. Do you have favorite settings for the romances you read?
Do you have any favorite authors writing Asian-American lead characters in romance?
One person who posts a comment before 11:00 PM, August 26 will receive a print copy of Return to Cherry Blossom Way.
*Must be 18
*Void where prohibited