Like many of the other romance lovers out there, I watched the Crazy Rich Asians movie when it was released, so I jumped at the opportunity to check out more of the author’s work. Unfortunately, I could tell right away that this story was not really for me. There are a lot of characters to keep track of, the romance is underdeveloped, and most of the humor fell flat for me. If you’re already a fan of Kwan’s books, then this might read better for you, but I just couldn’t get caught up in the story.
Normally, this is where I would give you a little tease about the plot, but… that blurb gives away WAY more than I usually do. That covers about 90% of the book right there, because the Capri section is about 40% of the book and everything else happens in the back half. This is much more chick lit than romance, with several characters to keep track of and a relationship that is woefully underdeveloped. If you loved the insights into class and race that are a big part of Crazy Rich Asians, then you’ll find it here, but without a likable heroine or a compelling (normal) relationship, it’s a lot less relatable.
If you’re a reader who loved the Crazy Rich Asians novels and want more of that world, then it’s likely that you’ll still enjoy this new book. But if you’re new to the author and are looking for a love story that you can get lost in, I think you’ll be left wanting. Lucie and George’s relationship is so surface level that I just don’t see it overcoming years apart, a family-approved fiancé, meddling friends, or a heroine who isn’t strong enough to stand on her own two feet. I received an ARC via NetGalley and am voluntarily leaving a review.
Release Date: June 30th
“Kevin Kwan’s new book is his most decadent yet.” —Entertainment Weekly
The iconic author of the bestselling phenomenon Crazy Rich Asians returns with the glittering tale of a young woman who finds herself torn between two men: the WASPY fiancé of her family’s dreams and George Zao, the man she is desperately trying to avoid falling in love with.
On her very first morning on the jewel-like island of Capri, Lucie Churchill sets eyes on George Zao and she instantly can’t stand him. She can’t stand it when he gallantly offers to trade hotel rooms with her so that she can have a view of the Tyrrhenian Sea, she can’t stand that he knows more about Casa Malaparte than she does, and she really can’t stand it when he kisses her in the darkness of the ancient ruins of a Roman villa and they are caught by her snobbish, disapproving cousin Charlotte. “Your mother is Chinese so it’s no surprise you’d be attracted to someone like him,” Charlotte teases. The daughter of an American-born Chinese mother and a blue-blooded New York father, Lucie has always sublimated the Asian side of herself in favor of the white side, and she adamantly denies having feelings for George. But several years later, when George unexpectedly appears in East Hampton, where Lucie is weekending with her new fiancé, Lucie finds herself drawn to George again. Soon, Lucie is spinning a web of deceit that involves her family, her fiancé, the co-op board of her Fifth Avenue apartment building, and ultimately herself as she tries mightily to deny George entry into her world–and her heart. Moving between summer playgrounds of privilege, peppered with decadent food and extravagant fashion, Sex and Vanity is a truly modern love story, a daring homage to A Room with a View, and a brilliantly funny comedy of manners set between two cultures.