Review by Gabrielle

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“His left hand comes up along the side of my face, the tips of his fingers gently tickling my cheek, and it feels like my skin is on fire as he brushes it. His face gets closer to mine, and the space between us is dwindling.”

This super-sweet YA romance will give you all the feels.

Sometimes bitter rivalries can brew something sweet.

Theo Mori wants to escape. Leaving Vermont for college means getting away from working at his parents’ Asian American café and dealing with their archrivals’ hopeless son Gabi who’s lost the soccer team more games than Theo can count.

Gabi Moreno is miserably stuck in the closet. Forced to play soccer to hide his love for dance and iced out by Theo, the only openly gay guy at school, Gabi’s only reprieve is his parents’ Puerto Rican bakery and his plans to take over after graduation.

But the town’s new fusion café changes everything. Between the Mori’s struggling shop and the Moreno’s plan to sell their bakery in the face of the competition, both boys find their dreams in jeopardy. Then Theo has an idea—sell photo-worthy food covertly at school to offset their losses. When he sprains his wrist and Gabi gets roped in to help, they realize they need to work together to save their parents’ shops but will the new feelings rising between them be enough to send their future plans up in smoke?

The last year has seen an absolute explosion of queer love stories being published and I am so here for it. Finally! 

I really enjoyed this book. It is so angsty, you can practically feel the hormones coming off of it in waves. Both Gabi and Theo felt like realistic characters to me and I loved their dynamic and chemistry. They have a real Romeo and Juliet thing going on with being sworn enemies because of their parent’s competing businesses. They couldn’t be more different in personality, but when they realize they have more in common than they thought, the sparks start to fly.

One aspect of the story that I really appreciated is how both boys feel like they are letting down their parents. Theo because he isn’t like his older brother – dutiful and successful in college; and Gabi because he is gay and he doesn’t feel his parents would approve. As a parent myself, it’s always so heartbreaking to read situations like this, but it is such a huge reality for so many teens. Emery handled these relationships beautifully, showcasing the complexities of families.

The food in this book is on point. With Gabi and Theo’s family restaurants, there are a lot of delectable sounding options. If you love food descriptions, you are going to love this, although I had to laugh at some of the offerings at the fusion cafe. Very interesting mash-ups of international foods. I don’t doubt that they actually exist out there somewhere though and that people are lining up to try them and paying a fortune for the privilege. I liked how Emery highlighted the appropriation of such businesses and the impact they can have on the genuine, family-owned shops.

Overall, a satisfying and worthwhile read.

Thank you, Harper Collins Canada for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.