Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Date of publication: May 9th, 2023
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Chick Lit, Adult, Canada, Adult Fiction, Asian Literature
Trigger Warning: Racism
Who is Ariadne Hui?
• Laser-focused lawyer diligently climbing the corporate ladder
• The “perfect” daughter living out her father’s dream
• Shocking love interest of South Korea’s hottest star
Ariadne Hui thrives on routine. So what if everything in her life is planned down to the minute: That’s the way she likes it. If she’s going to make partner in Toronto’s most prestigious law firm, she needs to stay focused at all times.
But when she comes home after yet another soul-sucking day to find an unfamiliar, gorgeous man camped out in her living room, focus is the last thing on her mind. Especially when her roommate explains this is Choi Jihoon, her cousin freshly arrived from Seoul to mend a broken heart. He just needs a few weeks to rest and heal; Ari will barely even know he’s there. (Yeah, right.)
Jihoon is kindness and chaos personified, and it isn’t long before she’s falling, hard. But when one wrong step leads to a world-shaking truth, Ari finds herself thrust onto the world stage: not as the competent, steely lawyer she’s fought so hard to become, but as the mystery woman on the arm of a man the entire world claims to know. Now with her heart, her future, and her sense of self on the line, Ari will have to cut through all the pretty lies to find the truth of her relationship…and discover the Ariadne Hui she’s finally ready to be.
When my phone flashes a notification, I’m primed to be irritated before I even see what it is. It’s been a busy morning, and my eyes were so dry my eyelids stick together when I drag my gaze away from the moniter.The Comeback by Lily Chu
Ariadne Hui is living what she thinks is her best life. She is a lawyer at one of the most prestigious firms in Toronto and thrives on routine. That changes when her roommate (and best friend) invites her cousin to stay for a few weeks. He had a bad breakup in South Korea and needs a place to lay low while he heals. Her roommate forgot to tell Ari, and she freaked out; she came home to a strange man sleeping on her sofa. But, as she got to know Choi Jihoon, she realized he was a sweet man who had been badly hurt. Soon, Ari falls for Jihoon. But Jihoon isn’t precisely who Ari thinks he is, and she is shocked to find out who Jihoon is. With rumors and lies swirling around her, can Ari cut through everything and see what she has? Or will she give everything up because she can’t handle who Jihoon is?
The Comeback is a fast-paced book that takes place mainly in Toronto, with Ari traveling to Seoul towards the middle of the book with Jihoon. She spends a couple of chapters there before traveling back home. I was thrilled that the author had some of the book set in Seoul, but at the same time, I was a little disappointed. There needed to be more travel (which I get because of Jihoon’s KPop idol status) around the country. I did like that the author took us to some off-the-beaten-track places in Toronto. It made that city more appealing and made me want to visit.
There are trigger warnings in The Comeback. They are:
- Racism: Hana, Jihoon, and Ari are subjected to overt and not-so-overt racism throughout the book. Some of the best examples come while Ari is working at the firm. The white daughter of a woman who is friends with the partners is picked over Ari for cases. That woman is tone-deaf regarding Ari’s race (she is Chinese), and there is a conversation with another coworker that Ari overhears talking about her race.
The main storyline of The Comeback centers around Ari, her journey of self-discovery, and her relationship with Jihoon. At the beginning of the book, Ari is a workaholic lawyer doing everything to make a partner in her firm. But, it was very apparent early on in the book that it wouldn’t happen. The overt and not-so-overt racism (looking at you Brittany and Meredith) was sad and even sadder that Ari thought she had to deal with it quietly. She found joy in planning trips, and she was good at it. But she felt she couldn’t do it as a job because she needed to follow in her father’s footsteps. I did feel awful for her because of all that pressure she kept putting on herself. It took Jihoon scaring her and then living with her to open her eyes to the fact that there might be more to life than her job. And it wasn’t until after Seoul, when her boss fired her for dating a KPop idol, that she realized she could do what she loved. Her relationship with Jihoon was based on a lie, and then Jihoon told her to keep it a secret. She did the right thing the last time she broke up with him.
I like Ari, even if she did come across as a rigid workaholic at the beginning of the book. It is explained that she felt that if she did what Ari loved (planning trips), she would let her father down. She also was furious at her sister for leaving her with that burden. Her relationship with Jihoon was a huge turning point for her character. I didn’t blame her for being angry or not knowing what she wanted when having a relationship with him. She also understood the need for secrecy. But when everything blew up (because of a picture) and what Jihoon said to take care of the backlash, I was on her side. I would have done the same thing as she did. What Jihoon did was demeaning and gave their relationship zero value. But, in a way, it did work for her. She was able to get out of that toxic work environment and start a career that she loved. She could heal from Jihoon’s actions and accept that higher powers controlled him. Of course, I wasn’t a fan of what she did next, but I figured it would happen sooner or later, with this being a romance novel.
I liked Jihoon a lot. He had spent almost his whole life under a microscope and was suffering from burnout. So, he jetted to Canada and ended up crashing with Ari. In the beginning, he was the perfect blend of innocent and worldly. He loved talking about his shoe and earring collection (at this point, Ari had zero clue he was in a KPop band). He tried to do things himself but failed massively (turning Ari’s bathroom blue was freaking amazing). My only issue is that he lied by omission. When his cover was blown (in a grocery store, of all places), he had to tell Ari who he was. He didn’t tell her until she was forced to leave her home and go into hiding. Then he left for Seoul. When Ari met him there, he explained more about his life (he had zero downtime, everything was scheduled). He also told her he didn’t want to be in the band anymore (neither did his other bandmates), but their contract held them. Then Jihoon and Ari are spotted as tourists, and everything goes to hell. Jihoon told Ari that he would take care of everything and for her to trust him. I didn’t like him at this point in the book because of what Jihoon did. He broke Ari. But he also set her free (if that makes sense). The daily emails (along with the apology) were a step in the right direction.
I liked Jihoon and Ari’s romance, even if it started with a lie and was kept secret until Seoul. You could tell that Jihoon adored Ari and that Ari adored him back. It was sweet. I liked that the author kept the sex scenes PG-13. There was a lot of kissing with the chapter ending and the next one beginning with them in bed. And let’s not forget the sexual tension between Ari and Jihoon. You cut it with a knife during some parts of the book.
The end of The Comeback felt rushed. I liked that Jihoon and Ari got their happy ending. But I didn’t buy that the band’s rabid fans did a 180 when it came to their relationship. It didn’t make sense to me (considering they hated her). That was my only quibble. I did love the epilogue!!!
I recommend The Comeback for anyone over 16. There are nongraphic sex scenes (lots of kissing), mild violence, and language. There are also some scenes of overt and not-so-overt racism.
Many thanks to Sourcebooks Casablanca, NetGalley, and Lily Chu for allowing me to read and review The Comeback. All opinions stated in this review are mine.
If you enjoyed reading this review of The Comeback, then you will enjoy reading these books:
Other books by Lily Chu