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Café Con Lychee

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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 d 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? ​


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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 d 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? ​

30 review for Café Con Lychee

  1. 4 out of 5

    Emery Lee

    Popping in here to do the quick author intro and disappear, but if you like: - M/M interracial romances where both characters are PoC - Asian (Chinese & Japanese) American and Puerto Rican drinks and pastries - Soccer gays - Mutual pining - Almost kisses - Complex family dynamics - Food puns & humor And, of course, - Happily Ever Afters This may just be the book for you! You can find more info and keep up with updates on my website and by subscribing to my newsletter: https://www.emeryleebooks.com/caf%C3% Popping in here to do the quick author intro and disappear, but if you like: - M/M interracial romances where both characters are PoC - Asian (Chinese & Japanese) American and Puerto Rican drinks and pastries - Soccer gays - Mutual pining - Almost kisses - Complex family dynamics - Food puns & humor And, of course, - Happily Ever Afters This may just be the book for you! You can find more info and keep up with updates on my website and by subscribing to my newsletter: https://www.emeryleebooks.com/caf%C3%... I hope you all enjoy the book! And now I'm gonna go chug a boba tea and forget this page exists

  2. 5 out of 5

    Snjez

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This sounded interesting in theory and the beginning of the book seemed promising, but the author's writing style didn't work for me. The characters are two-dimensional and there's almost no character development throughout the story. The author goes to extremes to show what they are like. For example, Theo is full of anger and he is mean to everyone, to Gabi, to his parents, to his brother and to his friend, even when there's no real basis for him to feel that way. He just does. When the charac This sounded interesting in theory and the beginning of the book seemed promising, but the author's writing style didn't work for me. The characters are two-dimensional and there's almost no character development throughout the story. The author goes to extremes to show what they are like. For example, Theo is full of anger and he is mean to everyone, to Gabi, to his parents, to his brother and to his friend, even when there's no real basis for him to feel that way. He just does. When the characters change their mind, it happens suddenly and it doesn't feel natural. One example: Gabi's dad openly dislikes Theo because he is his rival's son, then, in a blink of an eye, he thinks Theo is great because he is excellent at soccer and knows how to cook rice, then he dislikes him again when he learns that he is gay. And so on. I could give similar examples for almost every character in this book. The parents seemed very passive and incompetent and they showed no support to their children. Up to the very end they didn't lift a finger to do anything to save their businesses. That didn't feel realistic to me. Nor did the the way Gabi and Theo organized everything to help them. Their friends weren't any better, either. They all came off as very self-centered and there was some conflict with each one of them. It felt forced and overly dramatic, just like the rest of the story. I haven't mentioned the romance part because it didn't feel like there was any. I didn't feel any chemistry between Gabi and Theo. I think they were more believable as friends. Really good friends, not like the other friendships in this book.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Charlie

    It's simple. When I hear enemies to lovers, I come running. Café Con Lychee came at just the right time. Recently I've been on an insatiable contemporary binge. There is something about sitting down to chill with a contemporary romance that just satisfies me. I was really hoping for a well developed, fun romance, and this book delivered the goods. Theo and Gabi were the most adorable protagonists. I'm so glad that the POV's alternated, as getting inside the heads of both boys was vital for this It's simple. When I hear enemies to lovers, I come running. Café Con Lychee came at just the right time. Recently I've been on an insatiable contemporary binge. There is something about sitting down to chill with a contemporary romance that just satisfies me. I was really hoping for a well developed, fun romance, and this book delivered the goods. Theo and Gabi were the most adorable protagonists. I'm so glad that the POV's alternated, as getting inside the heads of both boys was vital for this love story. They start the novel as enemies. Theo seems to hate Gabi a lot more than the other boy hates him, but both are apprehensive of the other. Their enemies dynamic is mostly centred around the fact that their parents own rival businesses, and neither boy really has a tangible reason to hate the other. I didn't mind this as we've all hated people we've never really spoken to, right? Gabi is incredibly awkward and the perfect contrast to Theo's confidence. I really enjoyed how Theo resisted Gabi's pursuit of friendship, even after agreeing to work together for their mutual benefit. Their relationship felt incredibly tense in the first third of the novel. This definitely felt like a natural choice. Theo was far too confident in expressing his queerness for Gabi to initially handle. I absolutely love enemies to lovers books where just when you think they've made progress, there is yet another set back. It's just such a good way of prolonging the burn. The pacing was mostly well done, and I really appreciated the development of their relationship in such a short book. I do think it could have been a little bit longer, but that was mostly because of how much I enjoyed the story. Their personalities were really different, and I loved reading their different experiences with being queer. Gabi struggles to open up to his parents. Before you come out, especially when you are young and still developing, you're at a really crucial part of your journey. Any kind of homophobic comment or action can entirely shape your journey. It was really heartbreaking to see Gabi have to navigate all of the homophobic comments his father had made, and how his father's rejection of queerness pushed him deeper into the closet. It was lovely seeing Theo's parents push against their family's culture and accept their son. I loved how Theo began to help Gabi see the beauty in being queer. It was wonderful seeing two queer boys learn to love themselves and each other. I love stories where other queer people help closeted folk accept their authentic selves. There was a really touching moment where Theo had to face homophobia 'alone'. That really resonated with me because, back when I was a queer teen in school, I always felt more safe and confident in my queerness when I was around other queer people. No one will protect and defend you like your butch lesbian friend. There is such a beauty in the solidarity we can find in our community, and I loved how this book quietly represented that. I really enjoyed how this book fused two different cultures, and some really important discussions happened as a result. The competing cafe that was putting both of the families out of business was doing a terrible job of representing their cultures, and I loved how by the end of the novel, they fused their differences together to create a greater whole. This story is a celebration of how difference can bring us together, and I really enjoyed how lighthearted it was at times. The representation was superb, and I cannot recommend this enough! This was the perfect mix of meaningful writing and pure enemies to lovers joy! Thank you so much to Harper360ya and the author for sending me an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review! You can follow me on: Instagram Twitter TikTok

  4. 4 out of 5

    Virginia Ronan ♥ Herondale ♥

    I think I'm beginning to realize that books that have the enemies-to-lovers trope and feature food are kind of my jam and cup of tea?! *lol* This all combined with an LGBTQ+ rep and an intriguing plot actually sounds like a perfect bookish fast food snack. Okay, okay, enough of the food puns! You already know what I mean. XD So yep, I'm definitely going to read this once it gets out. ;-P I think I'm beginning to realize that books that have the enemies-to-lovers trope and feature food are kind of my jam and cup of tea?! *lol* This all combined with an LGBTQ+ rep and an intriguing plot actually sounds like a perfect bookish fast food snack. Okay, okay, enough of the food puns! You already know what I mean. XD So yep, I'm definitely going to read this once it gets out. ;-P

  5. 5 out of 5

    ash | आश ♥ [superache enthusiast]

    i wasn't expecting to get emotional reading this but definitely worth it :D rtc. ---- this is coming out tmrw and im still not over that cover- also soccer gays?? and puerto-rican/asian foods?? asdjklf ---- THE COVER, OML THE COVER !!! i wasn't expecting to get emotional reading this but definitely worth it :D rtc. ---- this is coming out tmrw and im still not over that cover- also soccer gays?? and puerto-rican/asian foods?? asdjklf ---- THE COVER, OML THE COVER !!!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Era ➴

    This was everything I could have wanted when I read the synopsis. Are you shocked that I actually read the synopsis? Because same. But with a cover and premise like that, there was no way I was going to actually forget what the book was about. “​​Look, I’ll admit I may not be this place’s target audience, since I’ve never been very fond of anything with the word “fusion” in it, but what the fuck does “world fusion” even mean, and why do they have to parade around some bastardization of my culture, This was everything I could have wanted when I read the synopsis. Are you shocked that I actually read the synopsis? Because same. But with a cover and premise like that, there was no way I was going to actually forget what the book was about. “​​Look, I’ll admit I may not be this place’s target audience, since I’ve never been very fond of anything with the word “fusion” in it, but what the fuck does “world fusion” even mean, and why do they have to parade around some bastardization of my culture, like there aren’t enough people doing that already?” I was absolutely ready for this storyline. Gay enemies-to-lovers who are forced to work together to save their family’s restaurants? Foods and culture being brought into play? Bubble tea on the damn cover? I lost my shit. It was exactly what I thought it would be with more. I loved following Theo and Gabi as they struggled with their lives, their goals and their sexualities. I loved the way their relationship developed as the plot progressed. I honestly thought I would relate more to Theo, mostly because he was Asian and the family disappointment™. And I did relate to him a ton. But for some reason it was easier for me to read from Gabi’s perspective. “Morning,” I call, and she immediately glances up, like she didn’t actually have anything playing. I tuck a low bow before extending a to-go cup and white paper bag out to her. “Your tostada y café, bitch.” I loved them both. Theo was such a sarcastic asshole in the best way and I loved the angst he always had under the surface of his perspective. He was passionate and determined and very relatably an Asian kid, and the way his storyline progressed in terms of his family just connected with me so deeply. Gabi, meanwhile, was so sensitive and awkward and yet understandable. I fell in love with his struggles and how he only ever wanted to try to please everyone else. He was the perfectionist only child, and that is also my position in the family, even though that usually turns into Family Disappointment pretty quickly. “And everyone loves being practical and making big adult decisions I’m not allowed to weigh in on, like being sixteen means I can’t have any say or opinion on my own life. Like I’m a prop getting tossed around until some adult decides to hit the stop button.” Preach. This book went so much into the struggle of being a teenager, especially of being a child of immigrants. I am both of those things and let me tell you, this was such a perfect representation of how those things work. The mindset, the events, the culture. Everything was done so well. It addressed racism and stereotypes, the struggle to fit in, and how things work within families - estranged relatives and how it feels to live somewhere that isn’t quite home because your parents are from there, but should be home because you were born there. “As much as I hate working at the place, the shop is still important to my family. It’s our legacy, the one thing we’ve laid down permanent roots with. We don’t have all that intergenerational wealth white people take for granted and shit. The shop, our recipes, the relationships we’ve built with customers—that’s all my family has.” “When I was a kid, I thought my parents were everything - my heroes, my role models. But now they’re just the people keeping my prison doors locked. Or maybe they’re both, and that’s what makes things so hard.” The only complaint I have is that there could have been more of the food representation. The way cultures were represented was so perfect, and I loved all the mentions of tradition and food and how all those things play together, but I was a bit disappointed that the cooking aspect wasn’t bigger?? Like, it was very major, since both the main characters work in their family restaurants, but other than some mentions of croquettes and bubble tea, I didn’t get a lot of the involvement. When you have that much gorgeous food artwork on the front cover, I would expect something similar from the pages. I think the strongest part of this book was the way it addressed identity, particularly in terms of queerness. Theo was out and proud about it, but also had to deal with shit for it. Meanwhile Gabi was closeted and had no way of coming out. The way this book explored how they both came to terms with their sexuality and everything that came with those things was just…ugh. Yes. I want moments like these if I ever figure out what my own sexuality is. “I want to be a dancer…I started taking lessons, but I can’t tell my parents. They think dancing is for girls.” Theo laughs at that. “You can’t confine a whole sport to one gender and then insist everyone’s straight.” Honestly, the romance was just so fun. I loved how both the boys had such a tenuous, awkward relationship at the beginning - an enemies-to-lovers romance, but only one-sided, because Theo hated Gabi and Gabi was just generally intimidated by Theo. The main rivalry came from their parents’ restaurants and the competition between them, but the awkward exchanges at school were so funny and perfect at the beginning in contrast to their feelings. “​​It’s entirely possible that I’m just being dramatic, but when I glance at Clara, she has this look like she feels bad for him, and it just pisses me off more. Like, yeah, I cry when I watch those sad puppy videos too, but Gabriel’s not actually a puppy abandoned by his owner. He’s an upper-middle-class Vermont kid whose parents’ business beats ours like ten months out of twelve. It’s not my fault that emotionally, he’s about as stable as a cheap Styrofoam cup.” I loved the way they got to know each other. It was so confidential in this way that made me envy the trust they had in each other. Their relationship development was adorable. Overall, I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone who likes gay romances, diverse representation, coming-of-age, romcoms, and general fun food-referencing contemporaries. In other words, exactly the kind of palate cleanser I needed. “Theo turns to me and grabs my hand. “You spend so much time worrying about what other people want you to be that you never have time to be yourself. Sure, I care what people think, but I’m not gonna let it define me. I’m a screwup, and I’m proud.” “You’re not a screwup,” I say, my voice soft. “You’re iconic.”

  7. 4 out of 5

    Optimist ♰King's Wench♰

    My précis: disappointing. That cover + that blurb had such promise but the words on the inside were woefully inadequate at fulfilling said promise. The premise with the food blending was so cute but even that fell flat and the way they were "making it work" didn't make sense to me. This author is new to me so I've no idea what they normally write but this enemies-to-lovers YA novel was chockablock with melodramatic antics and not a lot of relationship development. Gabi and Theo are enemies largely My précis: disappointing. That cover + that blurb had such promise but the words on the inside were woefully inadequate at fulfilling said promise. The premise with the food blending was so cute but even that fell flat and the way they were "making it work" didn't make sense to me. This author is new to me so I've no idea what they normally write but this enemies-to-lovers YA novel was chockablock with melodramatic antics and not a lot of relationship development. Gabi and Theo are enemies largely due to their parents being restaurant rivals in (what I'm assuming) is a smallish Vermont town. Obviously they fall for each other, though I didn't invest in them as a couple nor do I believe in their longevity which made the ending that much harder to swallow. Theo is the only gay kid at their high school and the school's best soccer athlete. Whereas Gabi is the closeted one who's great at dancing (specifically ballet) and terrible at soccer. Ridiculously, over the top, terrible at soccer. Which should have been clue number one that I was headed to what I'm calling DramaLlamaton, VT. I did not book this flight intentionally. Needless to say, Gabi's terrible soccer abilities aren't the only thing that's blown out of proportion to, at times, laughable degrees. Theo's hatred of Gabi. Theo's hatred of Theo. Gabi's hatred of Gabi. Gabi AND Theo's hatred of all white people. Gabi's belief that everyone hates him. Theo's belief that everyone hates him. Theo's belief that his parents only see him as a disappointment. Gabi's parents. Theo's extended family. You get the gist. I'll stop now. Suffice to say, everything is über dramatic and on the cusp of apocalyptic 97% of the time. The other 3% both of these "teens" are remarkably insightful and intelligent and can even think rationally! Almost like they're not teens. This discrepancy I found both odd and frustrating. And before someone comes at me, I understand teen angst. When it's done well I am a HUGE fan of teen angst, but this reads like contrived dramatics manufactured in an effort to try to add depth to characters that backfired and instead caused them all to be both unlikeable and two-dimensional. Nowhere is this more glaringly obvious than Gabi's parents' change of heart not to mention their rationale for their long-standing homophobia which (again, don't come at me I know people are jerks anywhere) but you live in Vermont! Not the bible belt. So be prepared for an abundance of negativity tonally despite the fact that the most aggressive thing in the whole state of Vermont are Bernie Sanders' mittens and perhaps the sheer number of varietals of apple. Also, be prepared for feelings to change on dime with little to no warning or explanation but most likely tears will be involved. Excuse me, sobbing will probably be involved. Obviously, this read was not for me but YMMV and I will admit the ending was cutesy so for that reason I'll give it 1.5 Stars but I wouldn't recommend this YA read even though the cover is adorbs. An ARC was provided by NetGalley. Thank you!

  8. 5 out of 5

    ❦ jazmin

    Thanks to HarperCollins Canada for providing an ARC of Café Con Lychee in exchange for an honest review. Full review will be shared when the book is released on May 10th :) ⇢Café Con Lychee in under 15 words - Rivals to lovers but with FOOD - Representation, obviously - The best combination of laughs and tears ⇢Thoughts This book was SUPER fun. Rivals to lovers? Where both characters are trying to save their respective family businesses? Such a fun premise. The beginning of the book was fantast Thanks to HarperCollins Canada for providing an ARC of Café Con Lychee in exchange for an honest review. Full review will be shared when the book is released on May 10th :) ⇢Café Con Lychee in under 15 words - Rivals to lovers but with FOOD - Representation, obviously - The best combination of laughs and tears ⇢Thoughts This book was SUPER fun. Rivals to lovers? Where both characters are trying to save their respective family businesses? Such a fun premise. The beginning of the book was fantastic, but I will say that the ending lowered my rating slightly. It felt like things wrapped up a little fast! A criticism that I saw for this book was that it focused too much on negativity and more serious topics, and while I understand that perspective, I have to completely disagree. I think that the discussions of coming out and facing homophobia were incredibly necessary. See, I enjoy most YA contemporary romances. But what makes them really stick with me are those types of things. The stories that may be harder to swallow, but that are so rewarding, and super important to hear. I mean, this book made me cry. That doesn’t happen that often so GO READ THIS. Also, I just want to mention that this is my first book by Emery Lee, and WOW eir writing appeals to me in a way that I didn’t expect? You know how sometimes you enjoy the story but just can’t get into the writing? It was the opposite with this book, the writing was just exactly what I wanted. On my way to read his other books LOL. ⇢Description 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? ✧・゚: *✧・゚:* *:・゚✧*:・゚✧ my carrd ❦ BOOKISH PRODUCTS: USE MY CODE JAZ10 ❦ BOOKMARKS, BLIND DATE WITH A BOOK ETC: USE MY CODE JAZ10 ❦

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kathryn

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. That one star is me being so damn generous. I wish I could wipe out the last 24 hours of my brain so I can forget I ever read this. What the actual hell was this? I’m about to go on a rant so please bare with me. Number one this plot? This was so horrendous. This novel was a mashup of fifty thousand plot lines and tropes and not one of them was correct or clicked. We had a ballet and soccer story line. We had a save the bakeries from the new one story line (which we literally see the new one in l That one star is me being so damn generous. I wish I could wipe out the last 24 hours of my brain so I can forget I ever read this. What the actual hell was this? I’m about to go on a rant so please bare with me. Number one this plot? This was so horrendous. This novel was a mashup of fifty thousand plot lines and tropes and not one of them was correct or clicked. We had a ballet and soccer story line. We had a save the bakeries from the new one story line (which we literally see the new one in like one scene and it’s never heard from again). We had a enemies to lovers (LMAO) story line. We had a race to homecoming story line. And not to mention the coming of age accepting yourself story line. This story was ambitious and wanted to be so many things at one all in a book that is 311 pages. And not to mention that again none of these plots or tropes were ever nailed down. The characters were just doing a whole lot of nothing and boom everything is resolved. Also for the love of all that is good in this world STOP SELLING YOUR BOOK AS ENEMIES TO LOVERS WHEN IT IS JUST SOME WERID ONE SIDED DISDAIN. Number two these characters were atrocious. First of all the parents in this? The most incompetent, stupid, lazy, and bigoted parents. Do nothing to help their situations. Just sighing every other word when their kids rightfully get pissed off with them. Laziest parenting and just down right dumb. The things they said and did were just????? Complete question marks. Everything that came out of their mouth was just horse crap. The friends are honestly the worst people ever. They were so selfish and shallow. Imagine making your friend help you with something you yourself don’t even want to do then get mad when they are focused on trying to help their parents shop not collapse? Like are you dumb? They were so flat and one dimensional and I wanted them to get run over by a truck. And don’t get me started on Theo. He was such an asshole to Gabi for absolutely no reason until like 150 pages when Gabi is like hey I’m gay and Theo’s like oh woah maybe I should? Treat him? Like a human? And then everything’s good for like five chapters then boom weird fight but tells his friend he fell in love with Gabi? HUH?! WHERE?! Gabi is the only redeeming thing about this novel and that’s because I want to protect him. Everyone is so damn nasty to him and the author gives him absolutely nothing to defend himself. Everyone just walks all over him and actually could give two craps about his mental health. I hated every single person but him. Third and frankly last because I hate talking about this anymore that romance. Where was it? Does anyone have a magnifying glass? Maybe it’s really really really deeply embedded in the pages somewhere because it wasn’t in the actual novel. Again Theo has this odd and frankly concerning hatred for Gabi for a huge portion of the novel and then just like treats him like a human? And has like three almost kiss kinda maybe if you squint moments which still were so ??? And then he’s apparently fallen in love? Lmao? Where ? How ? They were more like good friends then anything. This was horrible and I wish I could take my wasted time back. Oh and that lovely predictable ending where the parents are like omg my kids are smart we should join our shops because oh our hatred for each other is stupid as hell because our shops are nothing a like 😒 and then Thomas, Theo’s brother, is like hey come to my drag show and end story??!?? This book was too ambitious for the author clearly.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Iza

    arc provided by the publisher via netgalley in exchange for an honest review! I requested this in hopes that the author's writing, characterization, and plots would have improved from what I saw of Meet Cute Diary. But sometimes you read a summary and you can already tell an author has bitten off too much for themselves, which is kind of what I figured was about to happen with a rival-bakeries-soccer-ballet-homecoming-save-family-business-fall-in-love plot. Some people can balance that many movi arc provided by the publisher via netgalley in exchange for an honest review! I requested this in hopes that the author's writing, characterization, and plots would have improved from what I saw of Meet Cute Diary. But sometimes you read a summary and you can already tell an author has bitten off too much for themselves, which is kind of what I figured was about to happen with a rival-bakeries-soccer-ballet-homecoming-save-family-business-fall-in-love plot. Some people can balance that many moving parts and others cannot. Cafe Con Lychee buckled under the pressure and unfortunately came out half-baked on every level. Furthermore, this book isn't what has been promised at all. I try my hardest not to review books based on what I expect going in. But if you are reading this book based on the “enemies-to-lovers romcom” premise, just know that not a single one of those three elements made it into this book. I was already skeptical because the bookternet has watered “enemies-to-lovers” down so much, and I think authors have been pressured to market their books as such for sales. I get it. I don't think "enemies-to-lovers" belongs in contemporary anyway because enemies, to me, is a very specific mutual feeling that usually involves violence and heroes and villains. When one hates the other out of obligation and miscommunication and the other is clumsy, struggling, and actively wanting to be friends, it's pathetic-to-lovers at best. The romance: dry. I can't think of a single moment in this that was romantic, except for maybe the homecoming proposal at the end. I'm not sure what either of them saw in each other. Gabi's romantic journey with Theo seemed to be largely influenced by his own needs, mostly for attention. Gabi’s desperation for even one person to like him, down to analyzing his food delivery time so Theo wouldn’t hate him, makes his relationship with Theo seem more like a need than a want. Gabi and Theo would have made much more believable friends, and that's definitely a safer route given the ending... which I won't spoil, but makes the idea of them breaking up later on hilarious and stressful to think about. And finally, comedy: most of the few and far in between comedic moments were completely overshadowed by Gabi's POV being one of the most depressing POVs I have ever read in my life. Gabi was just broken and it genuinely hurt to read about this kid with barely any friends, support, or hope for what he actually wants in the future. I saw a thread from the author that said this book would be sad, and I said okay, I'm no stranger to some heavy topics in a rom-com. However, this was the tone for the entire book. I don't think Gabi had a chapter until maybe literally his last one where something wasn't going wrong or he wasn't being hurt. It's really hard to keep up a romcom with that tone, and the writing did not succeed. Ultimately, the narrative and details didn't make much sense to me. There was so much about this book that took me right out of it. I don't think every book has to be completely accurate, and I can willingly suspend my disbelief in order to enjoy something. I think there are some things an inexperienced teenager reading this could gloss over, but other things are just random and make no sense, enough that taking the events seriously becomes hard. For a sampling of questions: how on earth has Theo sat behind Gabi since 3rd grade? Has every single homeroom teacher gone with an alphabetical seating chart and the exact same desk layout? How is it that the Moris and Morenos are in direct competition when their shops are so different? How does a school with no football team and the shittiest soccer team have the budget for parade floats for a pep rally? How in the hell is the e-commerce website set up? How did no teachers notice kids constantly leaving for "homecoming activities" and coming back in with food?? (As a small disclaimer, I can’t comment on the race rep as I am not Chinese, Japanese, or Puerto Rican, but I had no complaints about the gay rep. In fact, it was lovely to see a POC/POC gay relationship! I just want to be clear that none of that is what my review is about and none of those aspects informed my review. I am purely focusing on the plot and writing.) Honestly, I would have been okay keeping all of this self-contained if I hadn’t been granted this arc on NetGalley (Thank you, Harper Collins 😥 but at what personal cost). I'm not saying I wouldn't recommend this. But if you're looking for an EtoL romcom, though, know that this book is probably not what you thought you were signing up for. If you're looking for a heavy, depressing book that deals with family pressure, homophobia, race issues, and chronically shitty friends, though? You may enjoy this a lot more than I did.

  11. 4 out of 5

    bright.books

    Really nice Queer YA novel with enemies (although it was one sided but) to lovers rivals set in high school. It was so entertaining and i couldn’t stop smiling. I liked the characters, even tho there wasnt any crazy character development because the book is short, which tbh could be a little bit longer to take time to develop their relationship and their personalities. Theo was SOO MEAN sometimes I was like: Omg he could be best friends with Regina George for SURE Overall I liked the story very mu Really nice Queer YA novel with enemies (although it was one sided but) to lovers rivals set in high school. It was so entertaining and i couldn’t stop smiling. I liked the characters, even tho there wasnt any crazy character development because the book is short, which tbh could be a little bit longer to take time to develop their relationship and their personalities. Theo was SOO MEAN sometimes I was like: Omg he could be best friends with Regina George for SURE Overall I liked the story very much, totally recommend

  12. 4 out of 5

    Cassandra

    Um PUERTO RICAN BAKERY. Enemies-to-lovers? The title? I'll take a café con leche condensada with a side of this book please. Um PUERTO RICAN BAKERY. Enemies-to-lovers? The title? I'll take a café con leche condensada with a side of this book please.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Drakoulis

    A very frustrating and underwhelming book. The blurb and the cover suggests it is a cute and sweet story, with baked goods, a rivalry and a whomesome romace. Nope. I can't recall another book in which so many characters are utterly unlikeable. The parents? Terrible, all four of them. From needlessly strict, bossy and condescending to downright bigoted, treating their kids like property or free labor, with zero care about their emotional state. And the sloppy redemption arc in the last part of A very frustrating and underwhelming book. The blurb and the cover suggests it is a cute and sweet story, with baked goods, a rivalry and a whomesome romace. Nope. I can't recall another book in which so many characters are utterly unlikeable. The parents? Terrible, all four of them. From needlessly strict, bossy and condescending to downright bigoted, treating their kids like property or free labor, with zero care about their emotional state. And the sloppy redemption arc in the last part of the book doesn't really correct anything. Gabi's friend Meli? Obsessed with something trivial, acting as if her friends are her employees, with the emotional capacity of a teaspoon and a very selfish definition of "being supportive". The main characters themselves? Theo is acting like a jerk to everyone. He is rude, dismissive and hostile for the better park of the book. Gabi needs therapy, he is semi-depressed, has terrible friends, doesn't stand up to his family even when they cross multiple red lines. On top of that: -the romance was very dry. There were no sparks, no butterfulies, no real connection. I never felt the characters falling in love. -the author has no idea how football (soccer for Americans) works. There are no "points". If you can't kick the ball, you aren't in a high school team (not even in an elementary school team). You don't shoot with your toes. -I really didn't like the term white girl being used as a scorn. And I'd usually just consider it an unlucky moment from the author, but this author uses this sort of expressions in this exact manner on social media. Not impressed. The plot was also barely believable, a school where students can just waltz in and out of every class in the pretext of organizing a party (this Homecoming event)? The only thing done right was Gabi's coming-out journey, and the presence of Justin. And an enemies-to-allies/friends storyline between Theo and Gabi (because the romance element was lackluster). Everything else is...messy.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Anya Smith

    Loved the ADHD and anxiety rep in this

  15. 5 out of 5

    - ̗̀ jess ̖́-

    Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with an ARC! I haven’t been reading much YA or contemporary lately, but this enemies to lovers fusion food queer rom-com definitely caught my eye enough to take a chance. And if you’re looking for a fun, food-filled rom-com that will make you hungry, then you’ve come to the right place … enemies to lovers, though, not so much. Our two protagonists are Theo Mori and Gabriel Moreno, the sons of two rival businesses. Theo is hot-headed and the Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with an ARC! I haven’t been reading much YA or contemporary lately, but this enemies to lovers fusion food queer rom-com definitely caught my eye enough to take a chance. And if you’re looking for a fun, food-filled rom-com that will make you hungry, then you’ve come to the right place … enemies to lovers, though, not so much. Our two protagonists are Theo Mori and Gabriel Moreno, the sons of two rival businesses. Theo is hot-headed and the star soccer player; Gabriel is anxious and sticks to the sidelines. They’re polar opposites in every way, but forced to work together to save their family businesses. I liked both of them well enough — they’re both two sixteen year olds being crafty out of desperation and familial pressure, which I could empathize with. Even though the romance is advertised as enemies to lovers, it’s really a one-sided dislike to lovers, so I found that aspect really underwhelming. I liked the slow burn, though, and that we saw their relationship to each other change (even if it felt faster than it should have been). I also liked the coming of age part with both boys finding themselves getting to know more about each other. If you’re looking for a fun queer rom-com, Café con Lychee is definitely something to look forwards to.

  16. 5 out of 5

    micah ➳ canonicallychaotic

    i loved this sO MUCH!!!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Blue

    The way this book made me cry on a plane 🥺, I’m fine, everything’s fine, haha, loool.

  18. 4 out of 5

    cel ✼ readwithcel

    this was so much fun?!? ACTUALLY A BANGER

  19. 5 out of 5

    laurel [the suspected bibliophile]

    This book has my whole heart. What a delight each sentence was, and the way Lee weaved the plotlines was just *chef's kiss* A Romeo & Romeo storyline that comes together to bring enemies together against gentrification and whyte appropriation. A coming out and coming of age book all about family and friends and finding yourself. Full RTC. I received this ARC from NetGalley for an honest review, but ended up listening to the audiobook from my library (highly recommend the audiobook!) This book has my whole heart. What a delight each sentence was, and the way Lee weaved the plotlines was just *chef's kiss* A Romeo & Romeo storyline that comes together to bring enemies together against gentrification and whyte appropriation. A coming out and coming of age book all about family and friends and finding yourself. Full RTC. I received this ARC from NetGalley for an honest review, but ended up listening to the audiobook from my library (highly recommend the audiobook!)

  20. 5 out of 5

    Mimi

    Man, this book bummed me out a bit. The premise is great and this definitely needs to be on your list if you like enemies-to-lovers books that focus on the enemies part. But there's just a lot of negativity in here (obviously for a lot of good reasons) and I wish there would have been a bit more light moments to balance out all the negative shit these two protags have to deal with on a daily basis (from their families, their peers, their so-called friends, their own internalized issues etc.). I k Man, this book bummed me out a bit. The premise is great and this definitely needs to be on your list if you like enemies-to-lovers books that focus on the enemies part. But there's just a lot of negativity in here (obviously for a lot of good reasons) and I wish there would have been a bit more light moments to balance out all the negative shit these two protags have to deal with on a daily basis (from their families, their peers, their so-called friends, their own internalized issues etc.). I kept having to set down the book because it made me sad, frustrated, annoyed..which shows it's great storytelling on Lee's part but you definitely need to be in the right headspace to read this one.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Grapie Deltaco

    *Thank you, NetGalley, for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review* I adored this book in spite of how much it pulled me back into my high school years. In this story of messy and highly emotional teenagers, Lee explores complex family dynamics, ethnic cuisine as it pertains to white consumption, and learning to seek out queer joy in the face of overwhelming alienation. Theo is snarky and angry at the world while Gabi is constantly overthinking everything and feeling down about himself. *Thank you, NetGalley, for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review* I adored this book in spite of how much it pulled me back into my high school years. In this story of messy and highly emotional teenagers, Lee explores complex family dynamics, ethnic cuisine as it pertains to white consumption, and learning to seek out queer joy in the face of overwhelming alienation. Theo is snarky and angry at the world while Gabi is constantly overthinking everything and feeling down about himself. Theo is battling constant frustration with how his ADHD affects his school performance while Gabi bottles up his emotions and passions to avoid bringing negative attention from his parents. They’re stressed out all the time and overwhelmed regularly. On top of those stressors, a new white-owned “fusion” café has opened up in town and is pulling customers away from the authentic ethnic cuisine produced by the boys’ families. Oh! And Theo hates Gabi’s guts for being bad at soccer and coming from a rival café family. I would lay down my life to protect these boys. They represent some of the sweetest and most painful aspects of being a teenager, but it’s in that honesty that I found myself appreciating them the most. They stressed me out and made me want to throw my e-reader across the room before immediately making me giggle over lines like: “bold of him to assume I know what amphibians are” and “your tostada y café, bitch.” This goes very high up on the list of books I wish I’d had when I was younger. CW: misogyny, toxic masculinity, homophobia, brief moments of internalized homophobia, discussions surrounding racism + cultural appropriation

  22. 5 out of 5

    kate

    SO CUTE. SO FUN. It's got enemies to lovers, a foodie rivalry, adorable protagonists, explorations of sexuality and coming out from two differing perspectives, complex family dynamics, pining and so much delicious food. Funny, heartwarming, moving and utterly adorable, this is a trope filled (in a super fun, rom-com movie way), sweet and fun read and one I highly enjoyed. TW: homophobia, racism SO CUTE. SO FUN. It's got enemies to lovers, a foodie rivalry, adorable protagonists, explorations of sexuality and coming out from two differing perspectives, complex family dynamics, pining and so much delicious food. Funny, heartwarming, moving and utterly adorable, this is a trope filled (in a super fun, rom-com movie way), sweet and fun read and one I highly enjoyed. TW: homophobia, racism

  23. 5 out of 5

    Anniek

    This is definitely a heavier book than Meet Cute Diary, but Emery's writing is so fun that it balances everything out really well. And I can't help adoring eir characters, I love them so much! This is definitely a heavier book than Meet Cute Diary, but Emery's writing is so fun that it balances everything out really well. And I can't help adoring eir characters, I love them so much!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Gordon Ambos

    CW: homophobia, bullying It is beyond me how books like this are still written in 2021. I could write a page-long rant about all the things I disliked, but I'm not in the mood today. I wasted too much time on this anyway. What I will say is, that I am SICK and TIRED of gay teens being miserable, having bigoted parents and falling in love with horrible people (hi, Theo). Theo is one of the worst characters I have ever encountered. He is mean to everyone around him for no good reason. He is also stra CW: homophobia, bullying It is beyond me how books like this are still written in 2021. I could write a page-long rant about all the things I disliked, but I'm not in the mood today. I wasted too much time on this anyway. What I will say is, that I am SICK and TIRED of gay teens being miserable, having bigoted parents and falling in love with horrible people (hi, Theo). Theo is one of the worst characters I have ever encountered. He is mean to everyone around him for no good reason. He is also straight up BULLYING Gabi for the majority of the book... how was I supposed to root for their relationship? Every single character was super unlikeable and I did not care for any of them. The only thing I liked about this book was the writing style and the cover (so gorgeous!) I did not enjoy Emery Lee's debut and this one was even worse. I will not pick up any more of eir books.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer MacMullin

    TW: homophobia, casual racism I wasn’t really a fan of Meet Cute Diary, but I wanted to give this author another shot because this sounded good Unfortunately, it was not 😅 An issue I had with MCD was that the main character was annoying and self absorbed and awful, so I hoped Cafe Con Lychee wouldn’t be like that The book is told from two POVs and Theo was the absolute worst. Theo was just flat out mean to everyone for most of the book. Like, not just to Gabi, but to his own parents, to his best fr TW: homophobia, casual racism I wasn’t really a fan of Meet Cute Diary, but I wanted to give this author another shot because this sounded good Unfortunately, it was not 😅 An issue I had with MCD was that the main character was annoying and self absorbed and awful, so I hoped Cafe Con Lychee wouldn’t be like that The book is told from two POVs and Theo was the absolute worst. Theo was just flat out mean to everyone for most of the book. Like, not just to Gabi, but to his own parents, to his best friend, to his brother. I wanted to slap this kid Gabi, on the other hand, I liked! Though his shitty taste in friends is questionable 😅 Meli was unlikable from the first interaction for me, but when things start getting really rude, we’re supposed to believe she’s ‘just stressed over homecoming and usually not like this!' And Vivi also does a crappy thing (but it was an accident!! It just slipped out when I was trying to hurt her because she hurt me!!🙄) The book is being promoted as YA romance but the romance is so dry and there’s zero chemistry. Theo is a massive jerk and I don’t see much, if any, growth from him throughout the book. I also found the whole food delivery during school thing unrealistic af. Like how did the teachers not notice multiple kids getting pulled out of class ‘to discuss homecoming’ and then returning minutes later with food and/or drinks?! So yeah, Yikes, I guess this author is really not for me 😬 However, I can see lots of people enjoying this, so don’t let me scare you away. I’ll definitely be passing on my copy to someone else who will hopefully find this more enjoyable than I did Thank you to HCCFrenzy for the ARC in exchange for an honest review

  26. 5 out of 5

    Shannon

    This cover makes me want boba

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kneena xx

    2.25, maybe It was so aggressively, violently mediocre. So predictable, we all knew what was going to happen at the end, what the climax and the “things fall apart moment” was going to be. I was bored out of my mind, and so completely aware that I was reading individual words on a page—I couldn’t picture anything. Theo and Gabi had literally zero chemistry. The way their relationship developed made no sense, in my opinion. And I would forget whose perspective I was reading from because they both 2.25, maybe It was so aggressively, violently mediocre. So predictable, we all knew what was going to happen at the end, what the climax and the “things fall apart moment” was going to be. I was bored out of my mind, and so completely aware that I was reading individual words on a page—I couldn’t picture anything. Theo and Gabi had literally zero chemistry. The way their relationship developed made no sense, in my opinion. And I would forget whose perspective I was reading from because they both had the exact same voice, it was impossible to tell which pov I was reading. Also, their friend dynamics made no sense. What they would get mad about… and how their fights happened?? I could not keep up with Justin’s mood changes about how much he loves Theo and then hates him and never wants to speak to him again, then how much he loves him. Meli was so annoying, but Gabi was honestly kind of the worst to her?? Like I did not feel bad for that man for getting completely scolded he deserved it. They both seem so toxic and like they actually hate each other. And I hate the coming out to everyone and living happily ever after ending. Gabi was not ready to come out, and it’s so blatantly obvious that he’s pretty much forced into it because he’s guilty?? I guess. I felt so bad for him, and the homophobia was also so ever-present and really disgusting. And obviously homophobia is a real thing and should be talked about, but this felt so over the top and started to really take away from the story when it’s shown so much and is almost justified. Really did not enjoy that aspect. To give something more positive about this book, though, was that I did like how Theo’s family dynamics developed. They all sort of healed together and really made an effort to work things out. I was a bit teary eyed when Thomas and Theo finally talked, and when Theo’s dad lent his suit jacket to Gabi. But yeah, did not enjoy this one—and honestly, would not recommend it.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Raegan

    Very frustrating and lackluster. We don't know much about either main character. Theo's hate for Gabi seemed unjustified (he calls him names & is nothing but rude). It didn't feel like an enemies to lovers book. Gabi didn't like how Theo acted, but he went about his business. For 2/3 of the book, nothing happened. Everything important happened in the last 50 pages, and it was predictable (not a fluffy or funny book). The phrase "white girl" was used a few times (around pg. 34) for the waitress. Th Very frustrating and lackluster. We don't know much about either main character. Theo's hate for Gabi seemed unjustified (he calls him names & is nothing but rude). It didn't feel like an enemies to lovers book. Gabi didn't like how Theo acted, but he went about his business. For 2/3 of the book, nothing happened. Everything important happened in the last 50 pages, and it was predictable (not a fluffy or funny book). The phrase "white girl" was used a few times (around pg. 34) for the waitress. The only thing Theo could see was her skin color, and it made it seem like it was a bad thing. Hopefully this'll be the last time I read a book with immature high schoolers involved. No amount of Boba talk could make this book average. (view spoiler)[ It appeared that Theo just wanted to be with Gabi at the last second because it was "forbidden," convenient, & would stoke his ego. And Gabi wanted to be with him because he saw qualities in Theo he didn't have. Also, because of his low self-esteem. Not a good match. (view spoiler)[ (hide spoiler)] (hide spoiler)]

  29. 4 out of 5

    ✨Tatiana✨ { She Who Reads Ya Books }

    “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 an “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? Thank you so much to the publisher for an ARC of this book. This in no way affects my review. This book is a super fast contemporary read, with the perfect mix of rivals and food. This was exactly what I was expecting when I first read the summary. Rivals to lovers? SOLD! I absolutely loved how their relationship changed and grew. Also the fact that one of them was grump and the other was literally a ray of sunshine? Their relationship was so cute. I liked the healthy transition between rivals to friends too. Gabi IS SO ADORABLE 😭. Like no joke he is a ray of sunshine. I loved his positive demeanour. Also the fact that he always brought out the good in Theo 🥹… I’m not crying you are. Theo was really perfect for this story. I loved his point of view, showing how he viewed the world. Showing how hard he was trying, but could never live up to impossible standards he’d made for himself… he was just so complex I loved it. Besides them, the other characters all felt really flat. I didn’t feel like any of them actually added stuff to the plot. Also all the miscommunications made me mad. There was so much that could’ve been resolved if THEY HAD JUST TALKED!!! This book is great if you are looking for a fast contemporary read, with cute main characters.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ayla

    idk this was good but felt a little flat and bland and I wished there was more food descriptions rtc

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