Ariadne Hui thrives on routine. So what if everything in her life is planned down to the minute: that's the way she likes it. If she's going to make partner in Toronto's most prestigious law firm, she needs to stay focused at all times.
But when she comes home after yet another soul-sucking day to find an unfamiliar, gorgeous man camped out in her living room, focus is the last thing on her mind. Especially when her roommate explains this is Choi Jihoon, her cousin freshly arrived from Seoul to mend a broken heart. He just needs a few weeks to rest and heal; Ari will barely even know he's there. (Yeah, right.)
Jihoon is kindness and chaos personified, and it isn't long before she's falling, hard. But when one wrong step leads to a shocking truth, Ari finds herself thrust onto the world stage: not as the competent, steely lawyer she's fought so hard to become, but as the mystery woman on the arm of a man the entire world claims to know. Now with her heart, her future, and her sense of self on the line, Ari will have to cut through all the pretty lies to find the truth of her relationship…and discover the Ariadne Hui she's finally ready to be.
This is a book that probably wouldn't have landed on my radar had I not received an email from a publicist whose opinion I value. She loved it, thought I might love it, and sent me a copy. Celebrity romcoms aren't books that I typically gravitate to and I freely admit that I know next to nothing about the K-pop industry so this one would have likely slipped on past me without a look. I am so glad it didn't. I gobbled up this book in one greedy gulp, wanting it to never end.
RomComs have evolved over the years as anyone who reads them can attest. Yes, there's humor in this book but there's also much more. For Ari, there's the stress of a career she hates, the weight of fulfilling her father's expectations, the heartache of a broken relationship with her sister, and the navigation of an industry where she will always be an "other," which only makes her work that much harder to succeed. She basically has no personal life...until she's thrown off stride by the unexpected arrival of Jihoon. Where Ari is focused and driven, with sharp edges, Jihoon is shy and endearing, more in touch with his emotional side. But don't mistake that for a lack of depth or drive. There are many layers waiting to be revealed within this man and his surprisingly complicated life.
Chu skillfully guides her characters through a gradual, relatable evolution, complete with complex family dynamics, soul-searching career decisions, heart-opening romantic connection, necessary character growth, and compelling, world-stage challenges, laying it all out in a way that completely immersed me, the reader, in their world. I laughed, cried, ached, and celebrated right along with them. I wanted so badly for these two people from different countries but, really, different worlds, who complement one another so beautifully, to find a way to move forward in happiness and creative fulfillment, individually but also together. Spoiler alert: they do, but you'll have to read the book to discover how it all comes about.
Lily Chu now sits firmly on my must-buy author list. I've already downloaded her debut, The Stand-In and am looking forward to whatever she writes next. This is an author with a bright future.