Short Stories 366:362 — “A Big Surprise for Valentine’s Day,” by Jackie Lau

coverI sometimes think the final books in romance series have an unfair advantage, because by the time you get to them, you’re so immersed to the particular author’s world building it’s like pulling on a warm sweater, and so I often find myself thinking “this was the best one!” when in reality they’re all wonderful, but the whole is added to with each part. Anyway, that’s a long-winded way of saying I ended up with a wide-grin on my face by the time I closed this last book in the Holidays with Wongs series, “A Big Surprise for Valentines Day.” I freaking loved Amber and Sebastian.

Amber is the youngest (and only daughter) of the Wongs, and she’s watched her family meddle with the love-lives of her older brothers enough to put a pretty firm foot down about how her family is not going to do that for her. Her version of this is to keep them as much out of the details of her love life as possible—which has her family thinking she used to be much wilder, but has settled down without finding someone. The truth is, Amber has definitely been dating, she’s just had terrible luck and considers herself borderline cursed to find only terrible men to date. So, above her bed, hand-stitched and framed, the plan: “Rule #1: No Dating.”

But that shouldn’t mean she can’t have sex, right? A run-in with someone she knew from childhood, Sebastian—who has filled out and gotten very handsome—in the grocery store could be an opportunity. That it starts when she’s trying to buy condoms and they sort of collide while he’s picking up magnums is all the more meet-cute (or, well, disaster-cute?) and Amber can’t help herself from snorting at his choice of condom size (men, right?), but he pushes back that those are the size he needs and… something sizzles there between them and she’s not looking for a date, so… why not? What follows is a great ride. From Amber’s realization that, yep, Sebastian is not mistaken about his condom size needs, to Amber’s wilful dismissal of anything but lusty thoughts, to Sebastian trying to be the “good son” until he finally stands up to his parents, and to Amber’s friends giving her a not-so-gentle tap with a clue-by-four… it all reads in Lau’s wonderfully paced style, and the dashes of food and humour throughout are fast becoming a favourite.

I got to ask Lau about this final book in the series, and here’s what she said:

I have a trunked manuscript (that will never see that light of day) which opens with the heroine buying condoms because hers have expired, and she runs into someone she knows at the store. I changed it up and had her running into the hero, a family friend, in this novella.

One thing I’ve come across in several m/f romance novels is the heroine thinking “It’s too big, it’ll never fit” the first time she’s about to have sex with the hero…and it always fits. So, I wanted to write a scene in which it doesn’t fit initially, and they need lots of lube and foreplay.

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