February 5, 2013

Book Review: Back to the Good Fortune Diner by Vicki Essex

At First Sight: After losing her apartment and job in New York City, Tiffany Cheung was left with no other option but to return home to Everville, where she's stuck living with her parents, having to work (at least some of the time) at the family's diner The Good Fortune, and with a mountain of debt.

Tiff never wanted to come back to Everville, where she always stood out for being Chinese - even if she wasn't really teased, she certainly was largely ignored by her classmates - and where there is no much to do.

Chris Jamieson was Everville's golden boy - star of the football team and with a college scholarship - but these days his time is divided between running his family's farm, fighting with his father over how to run the farm and fighting with his teenage son Simon over his lack of interest on his future.

When he learns that Simon has failed English, Chris turns to the one person who helped him make sense of Shakespeare when he was in high school: Tiffany, who tutored him and helped him to get that scholarship.

Running into Chris was not in Tiffany's plans, let alone when she's so down her luck and he's still as handsome as he ever was and her crush on him never really went away. Agreeing to tutor his son was not in her plans either but at least its a job where she doesn't have to wear a hairnet.

Besides, it's only a temporary thing, and the moment she gets another job in New York City she's moving back, and Chris's sudden interest in her is not changing her plans.

Second Glance: I read Back to the Good Fortune Diner because for the SBTB's book club and all in all it was a pretty good read.

I enjoyed the setting - upstate New York - and the tid bits both about farm life and running the diner. I genuinely liked Chris and his son Simon and a host of other characters like Tiffany's brother Daniel and his girlfriend Selena and their grandmother. I loved the grandmother, she reminded me of my own.

But the book did have a flaw: Tiffany. Tiffany was so not a likable character, she was so ashamed of her family and of her heritage - she eventually comes to better terms with it, but it was too little too late for me - and I couldn't see what Chris saw in her. She was a bit of a snobby bitch when she first comes back to town.

The parts where I liked her the most were when she was tutoring Simon, but the rest of the time I didn't like her. Also, her dream to work in Publishing but you never really get a sense of why, and you don't see her enjoy her job so that whole part of the book felt a bit like a cope out.

Not exactly a minus but Daniel and Selena's story took over a lot of the book, it wasn't bad - it was actually pretty interesting - but it did take away from the main couple. Also, I didn't like Tiff and Daniel's parents either. 

Bottom Line: When all is said and done, I liked Back to the Good Fortune Diner, and I really enjoyed Mis Essex's style of writing, but I didn't like all aspects of the story the same, I didn't like the heroine and I would have liked a little more romance for the main couple. I will probably read this author again, though. 

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