Rating: 4 stars
Buy Link:
Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Novel


Ellie works a tech marketing job and is currently about to present her pitch — Operation Wolf — in the hopes of landing a promotion. She has a good team, a demanding boss, and Kyle, her boyfriend, who … really doesn’t seem to want to spend time with her. His excuse is because they both work for the same company, even though they both work on different teams and there’s nothing against lateral relationships. Today, on the day of Ellie’s big presentation, Kyle dumps her.

This at least gives Ellie a good reason to go with her parents to PakCon. Ellie’s mom and dad run a modest food company, Hagop’s Fine Armenian Foods, and are hoping to use PakCon as an opportunity to extend their reach into a few more stores. It’s there Ellie meets Vanya, a beautiful woman with a charming smile whose company and attention are disarming and comfortable. They’re both Armenian and both of their parents make Armenian food — though Vanya’s are more about modernization, while Ellie’s family are more traditional. Unfortunately, both of their families hate one another.

Ellie didn’t know she’d be playing Romeo to Vanya’s Juliet! Things are made even more interesting by PakCon’s big sponsored event where the winner has a chance to have their product featured in a Super Bowl commercial. Both families enter, but only one of them can win, which means the pair have to hide their burgeoning romance, while each doing their best to prove their family’s food is the best.

Ellie is the narrator of this story and, to be honest, isn’t the most likable character. She wants to be more involved with her parent’s business, but her interest seems to be in changing what they have to something she thinks is better. While she may be right, her parents are less interested in changing things than they are having their daughter be a part of their lives. Ellie loves her parents, which is evident in every moment the three of them are on page, and looks on with approval and pleasure as she sees that Vanya is just as devoted and loving to her own parents.

As the food contest goes on, Ellie is shirking her actual work more and more, caught up in the excitement of a new romance, a challenge, and being a valued part of her parents’ world — as well as trying to figure out why her mom and dad so dislike Vanya’s parents. Ellie only seems to really put effort into her work when she has to, leading to late nights stressing over Operation Wolf, and putting at risk an important meeting with a possible client of her parents.

Both sets of parents in this book are wonderful. Devoted partners and loving parents, all four have such great personalities and chemistry together. Unfortunately, that chemistry isn’t always apparent between Ellie and Vanya. Vanya seems to be custom made for Ellie, and when the third act conflict happens, I was firmly on Vanya’s side. What happened may not have been intentional, but it happened and it was hurtful. Ellie made all the right motions, apologizing where she needed to, but she — like her parents — shows her love more through action than through words.

When the resolution happens, I found it to be disingenuous and didn’t think it was entirely earned. It felt as though the romance, while the initial driving force, was the secondary plot, with the contest and the family rivalry taking center stage. That’s not to say that’s a bad thing, but it did leave Vanya feeling like an afterthought, sometimes. Still, the writing was good, the dialogue was snappy, the parents were a highlight, and I had a fun time reading this book. If you’re looking for loud families, food, and something bright and cheerful to read, give this a try!