Short Stories 366:286 — “A Match Made for Thanksgiving,” by Jackie Lau

coverI realize this is the middle of horror month, but allow me a brief departure for Canadian Thanksgiving. And by “brief departure” I mean “fun and sexy novella from Jackie Lau.” “A Match Made for Thanksgiving” kicks off Lau’s holiday-themed quartet about the children in a single family, and the matchmaking parents and grandparents who really, really want them to hurry up, settle down, and have kids, already. We meet Nick Wong, a high-powered type living in a penthouse in Toronto (so, y’know, wealthy and high-power) who is originally from Mosquito Bay, Ontario (so, y’know, not the kind of place with penthouses) and he enjoys his life. He has one-night-stands at the end of his work-weeks, hangs out with buds, enjoys the vast array of restaurants available in Toronto, and in Toronto, he doesn’t feel so completely different. Toronto has all those wonderful traits, none of which his (predominantly white) small hometown can offer.

That one-night stand part comes into play right off the bat when he bumps into Lily Tseng at a club, and overhears her quite literally asking how hard is it to get a one-night stand, anyway? He offers, she accepts, and they have a fantastic night—one he can’t quite shake off, for some reason. When Nick is asked home for Thanksgiving, he figures it’ll be a quick overnight or two, and a good chance to clear his head of that night with Lily, which is still lingering, only his family has played matchmaker and it turns out they’ve brought guests to dinner, including Lily. Except Lily is a date for his brother. And it turns out she’s the daughter of a good friend of Nick’s mom. And… well.

What follows is a wonderful rom-com ride, with Lily admitting she was trying to get out of her shell and act impulsively and differently because of a bad break up with a guy who felt she was “boring,” alongside Nick realizing he is thinking of Lily way too much for a one-night stand (and is he actually jealous of his older brother, because that’s never happened before). The family scenes are hysterical, and while there’s a bit of angst between the two—Lily not feeling “enough” in many ways for Nick’s lifestyle, Nick not sure how to deal with these new feelings of settling down he’s not contended with before—at no point does the novella go so bleak as to ruin the upbeat, rom-com vibe. I really enjoyed it, and bounced right to the next in the series.

I got to meet Jackie Lau at a Romance Writers meeting in Toronto a while back, so I snuck her a “where did the idea come from?” e-mail, and here we go:

I enjoy writing about holidays, partly because I love writing family, and holidays are a great time to bring family together! There are a bunch of romances centered around American Thanksgiving, but I’d never read one about Canadian Thanksgiving, so I decided to have a go at it.

I am biracial (Asian mother, white father), and it’s rare to find romances with biracial characters whose parents are still alive and together. So, I wanted to write about biracial characters whose parents are happily married.

The Wong siblings were raised in small-town Ontario, and they all have a slightly different relationship with their hometown—only one of the four of them still lives there—as well as their racial background, though this isn’t the focus of the books. Although I’m from Toronto, my husband is from a small town near my fictional town of Mosquito Bay, so that was part of my inspiration for the setting.

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