The Donut Trap by Julie Tieu

Set to release November 2nd 2021

” Jasmine Tran has landed herself behind bars–maple bars that is. With no boyfriend or job prospects, Jasmine returns home to work at her parents’ donut shop. Jasmine quickly loses herself in a cyclical routine of donuts, Netflix, and sleep. She wants to break free from her daily grind, but when a hike in rent threatens the survival of their shop, her parents rely on her more than ever.

Help comes in the form of an old college crush, Alex Lai. Not only is he successful and easy on the eyes, to her parents’ delight, he’s also Chinese. He’s everything she should wish for, until a disastrous dinner reveals Alex isn’t as perfect as she thinks. Worse, he doesn’t think she’s perfect either.

With both sets of parents against their relationship, a family legacy about to shut down, and the reappearance of an old high school flame, Jasmine must scheme to find a solution that satisfies her family’s expectations and can get her out of the donut trap once and for all. “


***I received an arc of this book, ahead of it’s November release, through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. ***

As I read this now, and it’s late May, I want to classify this book as a good beach/park read…though as it doesn’t release until November I’d say it’ll be a great book to curl up with on a chilly fall afternoon.

As much as the summary seems to paint this as a sweet rom-com I definitely see it more as equal parts family and self-discovery with a little romance thrown in. And when it comes to the romance aspect I would classify this as a clean romance…think fade to black.

Personally, I’ve grown quite fond of romance novels that involve the family dynamic so much. Who we are, and how we treat different relationships, is so heavily impacted by how we were raised, and I think it’s an important aspect of love, that a lot of romance stories leave out.

It wasn’t hard to relate to our, 22-year-old, MC Jasmine and her feelings of being afloat with no real direction. Jasmine graduated from college a year ago and has been helping her parents with their donut shop. She feels trapped, she hates working the long hours at the donut shop but she also has no idea what else she’d rather be doing. Always held to high standards Jasmine feels like she comes up short and just wants to show her parents that she’s an adult and can be successful.

Though I really enjoyed this story I was left feeling like I needed more. I would have loved for Jasmine to have a deeper conversation with her parents about her struggles in college…the short conversation they had felt too quick and devout of the emotional intensity she must have been feeling. Granted, there are things that I can speak of but not feel…or feel them but not speak…and maybe that’s how Jasmine felt. Perhaps she could only speak on the subjects by not allowing herself to feel the pain? Though if that were the case I would have loved a sentence or two saying that so it felt more meaningful.

Perhaps I’ve been spoiled by reading so many books, that involve restaurants/bakeries/etc, but I was also left feeling slightly disappointed that there weren’t any recipes at the end of the book. So many delicious dishes and donuts were discussed and we weren’t given a single recipe insert crying emoji. Although with the release still a ways off…I can hope maybe one or two recipes will slip in before print.

Overall I think Julie did a great job on her debut novel and I look forward to seeing what other stories she has in store for us!

Somewhat Spoilery issues I had…

I found having Jasmine’s old high school boyfriend in the book unnecessary. There was already so much going on in Jasmine’s life the entire kiss seemed really out of place and then the conversation they have about it felt too short. With the long history they had in high school I feel like the conversation they had should have been longer as to why the kiss shouldn’t have happened. At first, I didn’t mind him being in the story but the kiss just threw me off, and then their final convo in the book just didn’t feel like enough.

I also really would have loved it if Jasmine had further discussed her ex with her mom. Culturally I know a lot of families who frown upon dating/marrying outside of one’s culture but I felt like Jasmine never allowed her mom to say whether or not she would have approved of their relationship. As an adult, when she’s talking to her mom and telling her about their past relationship I would have loved if they’d discussed whether or not mom would have been okay with them dating.

Another thing that bothered me was Jasmine’s not being upset that Alex had tampered with her laptop. First…out of all the rooms he hid in hers after dinner? And then apparently he snooped enough to know he didn’t like how she formatted her laptop and decided to change some things…and when he admits it she’s not mad?! I just found this extremely unrealistic. Personally, I feel anyone would be upset about someone changing their settings especially if they barely knew them, at the time, and didn’t even ask permission to be in their room.

My final, small, issue with the book was Alex’s ex. All we know is that he has trust issues because she cheated on him and personally I would have liked to know more. I’m more used to romance’s having two narratives so we get that inner male dialogue. As this story has only Jasmine’s narrative I really would have loved for Alex to open up more with Jasmine and talked about his past relationship in more depth.

Published by Noelle Loves Books

Growing up, Japanese and Indigenous, it was hard to find books that showcased stories and worlds that accurately portrayed Noelle’s experiences. Fantasy quickly became her main love, as you could really be anyone, anywhere. As the years went on, and technology grew, Noelle was finally able to see more stories and authors that looked and felt like her. Noelle is open to all genre’s though she can mostly be found reading own voice, fantasy, and romance. Ratings: 5 Stars: Completely blew me away 4 Stars: Loved the story but didn't feel completely blown away by it 3 Stars: Liked the overall concept of the story but either had poor execution, had a lot of plot holes, or was written poorly 2 Stars: I struggled to understand the plot, poorly written, or just had really unlikeable characters along with a poor writing 1 Star: Horribly written, major plot holes, or extremely unlikeable characters and plots.

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