When Noah Denning stands her up on prom night, Wendy Liu decides to transform herself from shy wallflower to total badass. She also decides to avoid Noah at all costs — not too difficult when he moved to New York to become a public prosecutor. But when Jane, Noah’s younger sister and Wendy’s best friend, gets married, Wendy has to deal with being around Noah again. Worse, even after seventeen years apart, even with her kickass career as a high-powered Toronto attorney and her determination to stay romantically unattached, Wendy realizes that her childhood crush never really went away, and that her feelings for Noah are stronger than ever.
There are so many things I love about this novel. First, I have a soft spot for any romance with an Asian heroine, and I have an even softer spot for short Asian heroines who don’t always wear towering heels. (At one point, Noah notes that their bodies don’t quite mesh perfectly by book and movie standards — rather than her chest meeting his chest, her chest met his sternum, which I found cute and relatable.)
I also love that both Noah and Wendy are super successful lawyers, and that a lot of their sexy banter comes from discussing court cases. There’s a great scene where someone asks Wendy how she can be a defence lawyer and sleep at night, and Noah jumps to her defence by pointing out how, as a prosecuting attorney, he’s grateful whenever a defence attorney reveals a crucial piece of evidence that proves the client’s innocence and prevents Noah from inadvertently sending an innocent person to jail. Along with their obvious physical attraction to each other, they also very clearly respect each other’s intelligence, and I love that about their story.
Finally, I love how their relationship makes them confront their own personal issues — Wendy’s fear of being left alone, and Noah’s inability to let go of his role of responsibility within his family. While the romance was nice, the parts that really made the book for me were Noah’s relationship with Jane and Wendy’s relationship with Jane, Gia and Elise. I love the scene where Wendy confesses her misgivings about Jane’s fiance Cameron, and her further confession that her feelings had little to do with Cameron himself and more to do with her own fears of how Cameron may take over her spot in Jane’s life. I also love the banter between Jane and Noah, and I especially love the emotional scene later on when she tells him something she’d never shared before about her own feelings over their father’s death, and Noah realizes he hadn’t been as responsive to his sister’s needs as he thought he’d been.
The one snag for me is partly due to how strong these secondary relationships were in the story, and how I sometimes felt Wendy and Noah’s feelings for each other were getting in the way of these other relationships. A huge part of their romance is their intense rivalry — Wendy offers to pay for pre-wedding drinks and Noah insists on being the one to pay; Noah and Wendy fight over who gets to pay for Jane’s dress; Noah and Wendy make a bet about who throws the best bachelor/ette party. It was likely meant to be cute, but so many times, I wanted to tell both of them to grow up, stop bickering, and think about Jane for once. The bachelor/ette party weekend was particularly annoying, as they executed plans based on their rivalry more than based on what Jane and Cameron actually want. At one point, Noah’s jealousy over a stripper has him sabotaging Wendy’s plans in a horribly awkward way, and good on Jane for calling him out. Holiday does a great job of contextualizing their actions, so I understand why they acted the way they did, but it was still annoying.
Overall though, I did enjoy this story. Wendy and Noah have great chemistry, and I love how Holiday shows the progression of their feelings for each other — and their realization of these feelings. I also loved the scenes involving fake New York backdrops and Pez dispensers — gestures that were (to be honest) cheesy and over-the-top actually meant something to this couple. They contained inside jokes and childhood icons, and so scenes that could’ve just been silly and fun balls of cheese were actually full of heart, and showed why this couple was so perfectly right for each other. It’s a fun and fantastic story, and I loved it.
Thank you to Forever Romance for an egalley of this book in exchange for an honest review.