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Friday, February 29, 2008

Friday Flashback

From April 2003:

Playing With Matches. Contemporary romance.

I've been recommending this book. All four stories are just wonderful. The stories are about Asian-American heroines with matchmaking families. An interesting premise that made me wonder why we don't see more romances with Asian characters---or other ethnic groups besides western European, for that matter. Maybe this book will help pave the way for more, because even with the cultural details that fill the stories, falling in love, and meddling families don't have cultural boundaries.
  • "Romancing Rose" by Cathy Yardley.

    This first story is about Rose Parker. Her grandmother is worried that Rose's children won't know anything about their Vietnamese heritage because Rose herself doesn't know much, so Grandmother keeps setting Rose up with Vietnamese men in the hopes that Rose will marry someone who will keep their heritage alive for their children. Frustrated, Rose makes a bargain with her grandmother--she'll learn about Vietnamese culture, and Grandmother will stop matchmaking.

    What could be just a cute story takes on added depth when the man at the cultural center takes offense at the idea of being used to help Rose avoid her heritage. The characters become very real, and there's a lot of emotion packed into just 75 pages, with enough space left over for a funny suprise twist near the end.

  • "Dragon for Dinner" by Katherine Greyle.

    Su-Ling Chen's mother had a dream that the right man for Su-Ling would be a dragon, which she interprets as meaning he will be born in the year of the dragon. Su-Ling takes another tack to avoid her mother's matchmaking. When her mother has a blind date waiting for Su-Ling at the restaurant where they're celebrating her father's birthday, Su-Ling instead pays a man in a leather jacket (coincidentally with a dragon on it) to pretend to be her "loud, obnoxious date." He goes along, but turns out to be her niece's teacher.

    The humor that fills this story masks a serious story underneath, as all good humor does--a story about the importance of family, and what really makes a rebel. I ended this one with a lump in my throat and a smile on my face--what more can I ask for?

  • "The Spice Bazaar" by Sabeeha Johnson.

    This story is one of arranged marriages and mistaken identities. Nalini's family goes further than just setting her up with blind dates--these blind dates are all potential husbands. But Nalini has been dragging her feet for three years and the pressure is mounting. Finally, she meets Dilip and sparks fly. They fall in love, and she's ecstatic until she discovers that the man she knows as Dilip is actually Lokesh, and that Lokesh's family has arranged a marriage for him in India.

    As with the other stories in this anthology, the characters are vividly drawn, and Lokesh's joy at falling in love tinged with the realization that they were both promised to others and that he would almost certainly lose Nalini once he told her the truth and the guilt over his deception was especially poignant.

  • "Love.com" by Karen Harbaugh.

    Amy's mother doesn't restrict her matchmaking efforts to her family like the other relatives in this anthology--she's responsible for so many matches that she's earned the nickname "the Blind Date Empress." Unfortunately, despite her success in matching couples, her daughter remains frustratingly single. To foil what Amy is sure will be another of her mother's matchmaking schemes, Amy jumps at the opportunity to take a website-designing job in Seattle.... and right into her mother's trap.

    This time, both parties have been set up, and when you have a couple who arrange a sparring match with each other shortly after meeting, you just know sparks are going to fly.

There you have it--not a dud in the whole book. Now I just want a companion cookbook, as the many dishes mentioned in the stories are making me hungry.

You can see the entire thread, including discussions with the authors, here.

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Darla - This is one of the book you have given to me. It still sit in my TBR pile. I haven't yet read them, but I tell myself I will....

I agree with you about, why don't we see more romances with Asian characters. I have read couple of them and hope to see more :)

Thanks for reminder and the flashback review :)
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