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Baldwin Village #3

Man vs. Durian

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Durian is my nemesis. We have a long, painful history. In my opinion, the spiky fruit smells like natural gas and rotten onions with eau de vomit. Bleh.

So when Valerie Chow spills her durian ice cream all over me, I shouldn’t fall in love.

But despite her fondness for durian, Valerie is beautiful and delightfully prickly and stares at me when I take off my soiled shirt. And somehow, this chance encounter leads to me agreeing to be her fake boyfriend to get her mom off her back about her dating life. Her supposed boyfriend is a pediatric resident, but no big deal, right? My job’s in landscaping, but I can pretend to be a doctor.

I’ll charm Valerie and her family, and I’ll figure out why she’s scared of relationships and gave up her career in software development. I’ll even take her to a durian dessert shop. And if I do a great job at being her fake boyfriend, maybe she’ll want me to be her real one…

197 pages, Kindle Edition

First published August 27, 2019

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About the author

Jackie Lau

33 books519 followers
Jackie Lau decided she wanted to be a writer when she was in grade two, sometime between writing “The Heart That Got Lost” and “The Land of Shapes.” She later studied engineering and worked as a geophysicist before turning to writing romance novels.

Jackie lives in Toronto with her husband, and despite living in Canada her whole life, she hates winter. When she’s not writing, she enjoys cooking, hiking, eating too much gelato, and reading on the balcony when it’s raining.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 50 reviews
Profile Image for K.J. Charles.
Author 57 books7,882 followers
October 4, 2020
This was a very soul-soothing read. A wounded, nerve-jangled heroine meets a laid-back-to-a-fault hero, with so much delicious food description I put on two pounds just reading it. Jackie Lau is a go-to author: you're guaranteed real, diverse romance that deals with the kind of issues normal people face and has a lot of fun on the way to the HEA.
Profile Image for Christine.
845 reviews15 followers
August 4, 2019
Despite durian's well-deserved reputation for stink, Man vs. Durian may be Jackie Lau's sweetest romance ever. Peter, with his gentle romantic campaign to win over prickly Valerie despite her love for the disgusting fruit, is definitely one of her sweetest heroes. He simply worships Valerie the way she is, even with all her hangups. Valerie's slow realization, despite her mistrust of men, that Peter makes her feel amazing after a kiss in an alley says it all:
I’m a failed software developer who lives with her parents and works at her friend’s ice cream shop even though I loathe customer service. I invented a boyfriend so my mother would think I was less of a loser. My only ex tried to blame his cheating on me, and yes, I know that’s ridiculous and he’s an asshole, but it’s my only experience with a relationship. Yet here I am. Even though I’m standing in an alley filled with graffiti, I feel like someone’s goddamn princess, a woman who commands the utmost respect.
I'm obviously not a fan of durian but Peter humoring Valerie's love for the stinky fruit despite his utter dislike of it was adorable. Every little thing he does is to show Valerie that he likes her, even with durian involved:
“You’ll be happy to know that I had a breath mint, so I shouldn’t smell like durian.”

“I would kiss you even if you’d just eaten a whole durian.”

“That’s the most romantic thing anyone’s ever said to me.”
If that isn't a guy telling you he'd walk through fire for you, I don't know what is.

Also swoony was Peter's recognition of Valerie's introverted nature. As an introvert, I completely adored Peter setting Valerie up for a day alone in his apartment. I normally love a Grand Gesture in a romance, but Peter is the king of Small Sweet Gestures That Speak Volumes.

Also, here's a shout-out to Peter's patience when Valerie explained to him what she needed in bed. It was a refreshing change from Romancelandia, home of the unrealistic insta-lust, insta-love, and insta-orgasms. That Peter listened and learned to Valerie made their sex scenes wonderfully honest and real.

In short: I really, really don't like durian but I really, really liked Peter.

4.5 stars

Note: I voluntarily read and reviewed this ARC generously provided by the author.
Profile Image for Aly.
2,279 reviews67 followers
May 15, 2021
Valerie used to work as a software developer, but at 26, "thanks" to a cheating ex and a sexual harassing boss, she moved back with her parents and sister and is currently working at her best friend's ice cream shop. Tired of her mother nagging her about wasting her degree and her lack of romantic relationship, Valerie invente a boyfriend named Peter who's doing his residency in pediatry. When she accidentally drop her ice cream on a client named Peter the next day, Valerie take the opportunity to ask him if he wants to be her fake boyfriend.

Peter is a laid-back and confident with who he is (without the cocky factor) man who works for a landscaping company. Any other man would hesitate, say no or think she's crazy when asked by a stranger to play pretend boyfriend after refusing his invitation for a date, but Peter thinks it could be fun and maybe he'll be able to change her mind once she get to know him? He does have a tendency to fall in love easily but what if her trust issues was the perfect excuse for him to wait to commit too? Or maybe they're both kidding themselves?

I still have book 1 left to read but I have to say that in addition to interesting characters with funny/quirky/crazy families, I really enjoy how Jackie Lau explore the intimacy vs. sexuality as well as sexual issues in this series. And I love the hero's personality, how he's doing what he like and doesn't care about other people's opinion but without being unselfish and still be attuned to their feelings.
Profile Image for b.andherbooks.
2,068 reviews900 followers
August 20, 2019
Jackie Lau's next book, Man vs. Durian, is so important. It is a lovely romance between a prickly heroine and the soft, handsome cinnamon roll who utterly falls for her after she dumps durian ice cream on him.

Peter hates durian, but he falls in love with Valerie who could be compared to the fruit itself.
Plus, the sensitive and important discussion of Valerie's need to use lube and a vibrator to achieve orgasm is wonderful to see depicted, especially how Peter listens, learns, and doesn't just expect his sexual prowess to magically change Valerie.

CW for sexual harassment (off page). You can read this story starting on August 27, 2019!

Thank you to the author for the ARC!
Profile Image for Jess.
2,820 reviews5 followers
August 31, 2019
Jackie Lau has sufficiently conditioned me to expect some stupid misunderstanding that breaks the couple up that the heroine and I spent similar amounts of time in dread, wondering what was actually wrong. It was disconcerting.

Anyway, if you're interested in checking Jackie Lau out, I'd really suggest starting with this Baldwin Village series, because they've all been very, very good. The hero of this one is particularly dreamy.
Profile Image for Shannon (That's So Poe).
949 reviews104 followers
May 25, 2021
Perfection, thy name is "Man vs. Durian"! Not only is the title and cover of this book absolutely the best thing I've ever seen, but the story itself is just brought me so much joy! I have a series video review for this entire romance trilogy because it's just wonderful. This third book was for sure my favorite in the series because it has the prickliest heroine and the gentlest, most loving hero. Their interactions are simultaneously hilarious, heartwarming, and very steamy, plus the book deals with a lot of #metoo issues and addresses some of the burdens of sexual performance placed on women. If you want a soft romance that tackles big issues, plus includes the most delicious food descriptions I've ever seen on page, pick this book up!

Content Warnings:
sexual harassment, emotionally abusive/exploitative relationships
Profile Image for Danni.
26 reviews3 followers
August 4, 2019
I loved this book. This is a very light read and it was perfect to sit down with on a weekend and just enjoy.

Valerie is feeling the pressure from her family, after her only big relationship ended the year before and she finds herself scooping her ice cream instead of working in the field she wanted to be in. In order to get them off her back, she informs them that she's dating a pediatrician named Peter. Of course, there is no Peter.

Except the very next day, she accidentally crashes into a man and covers him in durian ice cream. His name is Peter. He's a landscaper though, and he also SUPER hates durian.

But they sit down and talk anyways, and Peter asks her out. She says no, and his response was "oh, okay, well, that's fine." Which was a HUGE relief. Immediately. He just accepted her rejection, and they moved on from it nbd. Valerie does ask Peter to pretend to be her fake boyfriend for a little bit, and he agrees because he thinks it would be funny. He does not bring up the fact that she rejected him again.

One of the things that I loved most about this story is how Valerie has some issues with sex. Peter is slow, and cautious, and never pushes. She has some issues with getting wet, and needs a vibrator to orgasm and at no point does it turn into "she just needed to have sex with the RIGHT guy and now she can get off perfectly every time no toys needed" which was AMAZING. I was afraid it might end up that way.

I wasn't quite on board with some of Valerie's reasoning at the end of the book, but it wasn't a big enough issue to ruin anything for me. I LOVED this book, and highly recommend it. I haven't read the other books in the series, but Valerie's friends are clearly the heroines of said books, so I'm excited to go back and experience their stories for myself.

I have no idea what a durian smells or tastes like, and at this point I'm afraid to check.

I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Profile Image for Emmalita.
505 reviews36 followers
August 24, 2019
As Malin pointed out, I have reviewed a lot of Jackie Lau this year. I discovered her this year. I am a binger by nature. She has a nicely priced back catalog. She has sent me a couple of ARCs. I really like her books. I did receive Man vs. Durian as an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Peter So hates the smell of durian, a Malaysian fruit known for it’s hard, prickly shell, pungent smell and creamy taste. Valerie Chow loves the taste of durian. When they meet, they run into each other and Valerie gets durian ice cream on Peter’s shirt. Peter whips his shirt off. He asks her out, she says no. And then she asks him to be her fake boyfriend. Peter’s stealthy plan is to fake date Valerie until she’s ready to really date him. He is attracted to the way she curses passionately, her smile and the way she closes her eyes when she’s enjoying her food.

Here’s why I stan for Jackie Lau. She creates complicated characters who doubt whether they can have a happily ever after, and then she gives them one in all their difficult glory. I love that she spreads out the difficult characters among her male and female main characters. The grumpy hero is a common and beloved trope in romance. The grumpy heroine is appreciated by a much smaller segment of romance, and we all know that in real life, women are not rewarded for being gruff and grumpy. Lau has created several grumpy, prickly, difficult women who put their love interest through the wringer before recognizing that they deserve and can accept the love that’s being offered. It means so much to me to see these people who struggle with themselves and the world for acceptance, receive that acceptance and love and a happily ever after without becoming different people.

In Man vs Durian, Valerie is the difficult character and Peter is so sweetly easy going. He wants to make Valerie smile and he accepts all of the things that other people have told her make her too much work. Valerie’s previous boyfriend cheated on her and told her she was sexually inadequate. Reading romance novels can give some unrealistic expectations about sex and orgasms, so I appreciate it when an author writes more realistic sex, but still makes it steamy. I loved that Valerie and Peter have some very frank conversations about pleasure. Peter doesn’t feel inadequate because his penis isn’t a magic bringer of orgasms and Valerie starts to feel like less of a failure of a human. Peter is a problem solver. Whether it’s turning a fake romance into a real romance, finding durian desserts for Valerie, or getting his partner to orgasm, Peter figures out a way to do it. Like many anxious people, Valerie is looking for the other shoe to drop and feeling like she doesn’t deserve a good relationship. Seeing Peter willing to wait patiently and Valerie able to move past her anxiety felt like a win for me.

I feel a little odd talking about diversity in romance because my ancestors were the jerks who arrived in North America and claimed it as their homeland. I feel like when I talk about diversity in specific romances I sound like a Nice White Lady. The last thing I want to do is make diversity all about me or sound patronizing, but making things all about me and sounding patronizing are my defaults. We need diverse romance whether I enjoy every romance by every author of color or not. We need it because we need to see every kind of person get their happily ever after and we need a broader spectrum of what happily ever after looks like. I love reading diverse romances, because I get so tired of reading the white woman experience. Unless I emigrate, people will assume that I belong and that my culture is the dominant White Anglo Saxon Protestant culture, and they won’t be wrong. I’ve never had a problem finding women who look like me on the page, though it’s only recently that I’ve started to see women who are like me (anxious, depressed, not great socially) in romance. Jackie Lau shows a spectrum of Chinese Canadian experiences in her books. In some books she talks specifically about the limitations placed on immigration from China, in others she talks about whitewashing and her MC feeling disconnected from her Chinese heritage. Racism is less prominent in Man vs Durian, but parental expectations are highlighted – physician and engineer are more valued than landscaper and ice cream scooper.

And now, let’s talk about Jackie Lau and food. I love food. I will plan my day around cooking one meal. Who am I kidding? I will plan my week around cooking one meal. Going out to a restaurant requires at least an hour of research. I love food. I want to cook food, eat food, read about food, talk about food and think about food. I am still mad about the time a friend’s husband told me risotto and pilaf were essentially the same thing. Like, if I attend his funeral I will bring it up mad. I hope it comes up at my funeral mad. Jackie Lau is, sadly, not going to come out with a cookbook featuring all the amazing food her characters have eaten. Her characters though are almost as obsessed with food as I am. Valerie and Peter seduce each other with food and I am here for that.

I’ve only tried durian once and was put off by the smell, but I will try it again just for Valerie.

To recap:

* difficult main characters
* diverse characters and perspectives
* food

And that, dear readers, is why I stan Jackie Lau.
Profile Image for Paige.
830 reviews82 followers
March 17, 2021
3.5 stars rounded down.

Not quite as good as the other two — it got repetitive with the heroine’s insecurities, and the constant reminder of the scent of durian was a bit of a turn off. Overall, a cute, fun, fast read. Definitely recommend this series, and this author, if you’re looking for a hit of something sweet.
Profile Image for Christina (A Reader of Fictions).
4,220 reviews1,651 followers
May 20, 2020
Cute. Probably my favorite of the novels in this series, as it handles the nth hour breakup a bit differently. Peter's super sweet and thoughtful, which is great, though I did get a bit tired of the constant durian. Cheesy at times, but a sweet, quick read.
Profile Image for Zimmy W.
596 reviews7 followers
May 22, 2022
This was such a mushy, sweet book I'm obsessed!! Everything about it was perfect, and now I want to try durian (and smell it haha).
Profile Image for Eli.
106 reviews2 followers
August 19, 2019
I love the Baldwin Village books and was pumped when I heard that Jackie Lau was releasing one featuring Valerie and a man who hates durian. This features the fake dating trope with two Asian-Canadian leads and a very sweet hero that understands our heroine’s needs and doesn’t judge her for them. I really enjoyed this book. Lau has an amazing voice and makes it easy to connect with the characters and see their side.

While this may be the third book in the Baldwin Village series, it can be read as a standalone. There are follow ups on the couples from the other two books as they make appearances and help their friend, our main character.

Valerie works at her best friend’s ice cream shop after quitting her software design job following sexual harassed by her boss and ended her relationship with a cheating boyfriend. She doesn’t trust men anymore when it comes to dating and is a very grumpy and sarcastic character. She believes that some things are too good to be true and doesn’t want to burden her friends with her problems and allow them to help for most of the book.

Peter is a landscaper, a serial monogamist, and is a sunshine character when compared to Valerie’s grumpiness. He’s a third-generation Asian-Canadian and his parents are both very carefree after living very strict lives under their parents and don’t follow the typical stereotypes. He falls in love quickly and is one of the sweetest characters I’ve ever read.

That meet cute! They meet by literally bumping into each other and Valerie spills her durian ice cream all over him. Soon, they are fake dating to satisfy her mother pestering her to get a new boyfriend and stop her from setting up dates.

I loved Peter. He agrees to fake-date Valerie because he’s interested in her and is hoping he’ll convince her to make the dating real. He’s very sweet, remembering small things that she mentions and brings her thoughtful gifts. He gave her free reign of his apartment while he worked so she knew what it was like to live alone for once, finds durian-themed restaurants, and slowly gets her to trust people again. He doesn’t push when she doesn’t want anything and isn’t ashamed to use sex toys to get her off.

Something that I don’t see many romance novels talking about it how difficult it is for some people to get wet or that they can only orgasm when using a vibrator. Sex doesn’t always have to be perfect and many people are different.

It explore the #metoo movement and how sexual harassment pushes women away from pursuing their STEM careers and how many people still encourage rape culture and not believing victims. I felt that it was handled very well and was believable in the way it was addressed and happened. In one scene, she talks about how some men that come in to get ice cream believe she’s flirting with them even if she does nothing to seem interested.

I received an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
103 reviews15 followers
August 4, 2019
I received an e-ARC of this book from the author for an honest review.

This book is one of my favorites of the year. It’s the third in a series that I haven’t read, and I loved the side characters. I will definitely be reading the first two books.

Valerie had a bad year. Her boyfriend cheated on her and she had to quit her job due to sexual harassment. She’s working at her best friend’s Ice Cream shop where she meets Peter. Peter is a landscaper who hates durian. Valerie spills durian ice cream all over Peter, and it was an excellent meet cute. Peter asks Valerie out and she turns him down but asks him to be her fake boyfriend. Then they both catch real feelings.

I had so many favorite things about this book: 1. The excellent communication. 2. Peter’s appreciation of Valerie — supporting her without pushing. 3. All the food! And finally, Valerie can only orgasm with certain stimulation, and she is NOT “fixed” by Peter’s magical man parts! He has to learn how to please her and what works for her, and he is a VERY eager student.

I give this book five heart-eye emoji stars! My highest rating. haha. I loved this book and I already can’t wait to read it again. Jackie Lau has such a great voice and awesome characters. I cannot recommend this book highly enough!

Profile Image for Elena Johansen.
Author 5 books28 followers
May 9, 2021
I think I might like this one best of the whole series, but it's still got its issues.

Same basic complaints as with all the others: no subtlety in the presentation, both leads tell you precisely how they feel at all times, really hammering down on the foodie-ness, tired of hearing about durian (as opposed to pie in the first novel and ice cream in the second.)

My extra complaint about this plot specifically is that Peter is basically perfect, and while I certainly like my romantic heroes to be decent human beings, the central conflict of Valerie's "he's too good to be true and I am a crazy mess so this can't work out"--well, that doesn't work so well when the hero is actually flawless. Because what is Peter's flaw? The only major one the story presents is his lack of career ambition, and that's just not a big deal, because it's not like he's a total slacker who couch-surfs his friends' places because he doesn't have a job or a place to live. He has both of those things. So he doesn't want to be a high-powered businessman and make a million dollars a year. So what?

And the story basically has that same attitude, that it's okay not to make your job your life, and I approve. But as the other half to Valerie's complicated issues surrounding workplace sexual harassment, family stuff, career stagnation, etc., Peter's half of the story seems pretty weak, depth-wise. I thought maybe the plot was going to play up a commitment-phobic aspect to him, since it mentions how he's had so many girlfriends over the years, which at first I thought meant he would be super picky and never satisfied with anyone, hence the high turnover rate. But it's painted more as a need for him to always be in a relationship, simply because he likes being in them, he loves falling in love. Which is a pretty benign view and hard to argue with. Again, he's basically perfect.

And that's what kept this from being a perfect read for me. I've accepted that I'm not a huge fan of Lau's general writing style, though I do like (for the most part) her characters and plots, I just wish the narratives weren't so flat and obvious in presentation. So while I'm probably not going to make much effort to read her other works, I do think overall they're good romances that readers are more likely to enjoy than not, and I'd definitely recommend them for foodie people (despite what I feel is phrase overuse related to food in each novel--the novella doesn't suffer from this same problem, as its premise is not food-related.)
Profile Image for Kristi (foxtail_too).
17 reviews6 followers
August 12, 2019
I received an e-ARC of this book a couple of weeks ago, and waited for an open weekend afternoon so I could really indulge. I really enjoyed it as much as I expect to. Some of the things that made it special were the slow pace of the romance and the most excellent hero, the food (of course), and revisiting some of the other Baldwin Village characters. As usual, the food descriptions made me wish I lived in a more cosmopolitan area so that I could try some of these amazing dishes. And I definitely need to visit somewhere with a ice cream shop that carries some of these flavors!

Valerie's issues (cheating ex and a ruined career following sexual harassment) were certainly believable and Peter's patience and the ways he found to show her that he cared for her were sweet and romantic.

I wasn't going to talk about the sex thing, but since other reviewers have, I will too, because it made a huge impression on me. I read a lot of romance and have read many well written and hot sex scenes, but the sexual relationship in this book was more real to me that any I'd ever read. I am so tired of magic man parts ALWAYS bringing the heroine to orgasm. Valerie is honest about what she needs, and Peter doesn't feel like he's less of a man if it takes more than his magic parts to satisfy her.

As stated above, I received an ARC in return for my honest review.
Profile Image for Jacki.
1,137 reviews47 followers
September 20, 2019
Despite the fluffiness, this romance took on so many important issues. Here's a short list of what it addresses...
-workplace sexual harassment
-emotional abuse
-women getting shamed for having different sexual needs than what we're told is normal (normal is not normal!)
-family pressure
-job shaming

I'm not sure how Lau managed to hit all of those points and simultaneously write about so many different durian desserts, but she straight up did it. Also, the hero is awesome beyond words, and I loved that he was reliable but not super driven like the heroine. Romance heroes are almost always unimaginably wealthy and successful, which is understandable in the Regency era when women needed good providers since they weren't allowed to be people themselves. For a lot of us today, though, the bank account is not the priority. Peter is able to give Valerie what she needs emotionally through thoughtful actions, he appreciates her as a person, and their bond does not magically change her like in so many other romances.

It wasn't perfect--the sexy times weren't super well-written, and I wanted Valerie to find an answer to her workplace dilemma that went a little more outside the box. Like, she could have developed an awesome ice cream app for her friend's business and then parlayed that into getting back in the tech waters.

Still, great hero, great hook, nicely done.
561 reviews13 followers
August 5, 2020
This was so cute and had two of my favorite tropes, cinnamon roll hero and the sunshiny one is in love with the grumpy one. Even better, in this case it's the hero who is sunshiny and the heroine who is a bit prickly. Peter was a swoony cinnamon roll, just head over heels for Chloe as soon as he meets her, even though she accidentally runs into him and spills her durian ice cream cone all over his chest and he HATES durian. He's so into her that when she asks him to be her fake boyfriend and pretend to be a pediatrician (he's actually a landscaper) temporarily to get her mom off her back, he agrees without hesitation even though 2 minutes prior, she turned him down for a date. How could you not fall in love with a guy like that. Chloe has had a difficult year is afraid to trust this great guy, but Peter is nothing but understanding, seeing through her defenses immediately to the gooey mushy center of her. Add in lots of food porn as well as some fantastic, sex positive scenes that upped my rating to a 4.5. This book cements Jackie Lau as one of my favorite contemporary romance authors.
Profile Image for Viper Spaulding.
2,858 reviews18 followers
August 25, 2019
Such a sweet, if somewhat prickly, love story

What a wonderful opposites-attract romance! Peter is laid-back, outgoing, amiable almost to a fault. Valerie is guarded, a bit closed off, and wary of men in general. She invents a fake boyfriend when her mother won't leave her alone, then when she meets Peter (and turns down his request for a date) she realizes he's close enough to the details of her lie that he could pose as the fake and hopefully satisfy her mother's incessant meddling.

The story drew me in right from the start. Peter gently breaks down Valerie's barriers, showing her her value and giving her the safety and security she needs to risk her heart again. It was very sweetly done, and I instantly felt like these characters were real people with real-life problems. Even the careful attention to their bedroom activities was refreshing. Plenty of details, sure, but with a realistic approach that didn't offer magic solutions.

Even the "big reveal" where the fake relationship is exposed was restrained and heartfelt. The story ends with a terrific HEA that respects all the personal growth made by both characters. I voluntarily reviewed an ARC of this book.
Profile Image for The Pink Heart Society.
32 reviews19 followers
January 16, 2020
Rated: 5 Pink Hearts Reviewed by: Ali

Fake relationship alert!

Yes, Jackie Lau's latest is a fake relationship and those of you have read her books before, know this is a trope she has mastered. Big time. And Man vs Durian is no different.

But this book is about more than just the deliciousness of Peter pretending to be Valerie's boyfriend whilst putting up with her love for durian, it's much much more. Lau takes on orgasms in a big way - there's no magic penis here. Valerie struggles to orgasm and it's not something Peter feels inadequate about, or makes her feel bad for. There are discussions in this book that need to be read.

Additionally, we have a grumpy heroine. I love a grumpy heroine. The grouchiness combined with a sweet, sunshiney hero, makes me so damn happy.

These are complexly drawn characters who truly deserve their Happy Ever After - with or without durian.

Originally reviewed September 2019
Profile Image for Amanda.
578 reviews62 followers
August 26, 2019
This might be my favorite in the Baldwin Village series so far. While it does deal with some serious themes with Valerie’s background—she left her previous job after her boss sexually harassed her and was kind of blackballed when trying to find a new position—the romance itself was lower angst. Valerie finds it hard to trust, but Peter is absolutely the sweetest man. He’s just really kind and GOOD and Valerie finds that almost “too good to be true.” I love a fake relationship trope but their relationship turns real fairly quickly. Another great instalment from Jackie Lau. Oh, and with lots of food, as usual.

(Note: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.)
Profile Image for Marianne.
2,399 reviews
October 6, 2019
Man vs. Durian was a another lovely read by Jackie Lau. Once again, I loved setting and the food, but I also really enjoyed the time spent with both Valerie and Peter's families. I found Valerie to be incredibly sympathetic, and I really liked Peter, though, like Valerie, I found him too good to be true. Which is, I think, a problem many people have with "good people." Deepthi's comment about Peter as a good "starter boyfriend" and measuring stick was really on point for how sometimes people don't know how they should be treated.
Profile Image for Lauren.
848 reviews5 followers
January 17, 2022
Jackie Lau is such a go-to comfort read.

Peter So is such a cinnamon roll/durian bun of a hero. Valerie (I forgot her last name!) is a prickly heroine. Their fake relationship easily transitions to them falling in love. Peter's easygoing-ness meant almost no conflict between the lead characters, and mostly meant Valerie reckoning with her past while learning to allow herself to fall in love again, while Peter is supportive and wonderful.

I needed this book right now.
Profile Image for Krista.
260 reviews8 followers
August 26, 2020
Ahhhh I loved it so much! Happy book sigh when I finished but also sad that it was the last in the trilogy. Reading about someone pretending to be a doctor was extra entertaining for me personally, but that's just the cherry on top. I glommed the whole trilogy in a row but I think this would be fine as a stand-alone, as it's the style where each book is a different couple.
Profile Image for Jocelynne.
38 reviews2 followers
February 28, 2021
A lovely end to the series

Another sweet, engaging installation in the Baldwin Village series. It's not only the charming characters and the brilliant meet cute, but the relatable humanity Lau brings to each story that makes this such a delightful read. I absolutely stayed up until dawn finishing this. Worth it for the tired morning to follow!
Profile Image for Adam.
538 reviews4 followers
July 30, 2021
Funny, charming, and sweet.

A low-stakes but good energy contemporary romance novel. Both leads were quite believable, complete with excellent inner monologues. I also enjoyed Lau's excellent food writing, as she balanced verbs and adjectives with a deft hand that left you hungry for whatever people were eating.
Profile Image for Kimberley Stafford.
325 reviews3 followers
April 17, 2022
Lovely Story

I tend to use the word “lovely” when writing about Jackie Lau’s books, because that is what they are. Lovely and compassionate with great food and spicy encounters. Valerie and Peter are a good example of a couple who learn to fill in areas where the other may be lacking, but to accept each other just as they are. A happy way to spend a Sunday reading.
Profile Image for J. Thrall.
Author 1 book5 followers
May 2, 2022
So Tasty

Peter So makes a great book boyfriend, Valerie is the kind of grumpy heroine you root for, and now I need to try durian pancakes. Fun, quick read (readable out of order—I bought this book on sale and wasn’t lost. Now I’ve bought book one in the series and can’t wait to dive in).
Profile Image for Aisha.
251 reviews1 follower
July 28, 2019
Let me start by saying I tried to delay the ending of this book for some many different reason. I love the main characters of the book they are lovable and well developed. The story of a fake boyfriend turned real was very enjoyable. The book is totally worth the read don’t pass it up.
Profile Image for Shawna (endemictoearth).
1,721 reviews18 followers
January 16, 2020
Peter might be my favorite Jackie Lau MC, which is saying something, bc they're all pretty great. He's thoughtful and sweet and just the right amount of persistent. He shouldn't be a cinnamon-roll unicorn, he should be the standard. More Peters, please!
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