I received a digital arc for an honest review]
A Proposal They Can’t Refuse is the debut novel of author Natalie Caña . A romantic comedy between a Puerto Rican chef and Irish American distiller that had me laughing and crying and all the feelings in between.
Kamilah and Liam’s grandfathers have been best friends forever. Liam and Kamilah grew up together and were best friends themselves until circumstance turned them into two people who tolerated each others’ presence. When Liam’s granda tells him he has cancer, he gives the two of them an ultimatum. Playing matchmaker, the grandfathers, tell them to get married or they both will be selling the family businesses. For Kamilah it’s the family restaurant started by her abuela, for Liam the Kane Whiskey distillery, it’s his late father’s legacy. They will do anything to keep their family’s legacies alive, even if that means faking a proposal . The time forced to spend together rekindles their friendship, but in the end when their secret comes out will their relationship be right back to what it was.
He knew on a gut level that their getting together was inevitable. Something that Fate had in store for them from the beginning.
I loved everything about this one, the banter, the family dynamics, the seamless flow between English and Spanish during conversations, and all the emotion. Right from the start I was dying to know how these to went from friends to prickly acquaintances. The romance lands somewhere in the middle of the friends to lovers and the enemies to lovers tropes. Kamilah and Liam both care more than they want to about each other and cover it up with snark and attitude. Family is the main theme of this wonderful romantic comedy. Both Kamilah and Liam are so proud of their heritage. Puerto Rican and Irish pride pour from the pages. Their business’ both reflect their native legends and folklore, some I had heard of before and some that were new to me, and I loved learning those little gems of their family history.
All their hard work, all their sacrifices, all their hopes and dreams- it all came down to this.
Kamilah is such a vibrant personality who is trying her best to keep her family’s restaurant alive, even though she’s fighting those around her every step of the way. It was a bit painful to watch every time see told a lie or omitted the truth because you knew that it was going to come back to bit her in the butt, and it did catastrophically. She may have been not her best many times throughout the book but she cared and loved fiercely even if she tended to be selfish and immature when it came to those she loved, she always had the best intentions at least.
He forgot everything else, savoring her in the same way she’d save her different foods all day long – slowly, methodically, missing nothing, and enjoying everything.
Liam stole my heart from the moment he showed his vulnerability. That poor boy was hurting inside and put up all his walls and grumpy attitude to protect his already very bruised heart. His backstory with his dad absolutely gutted me. 😭 He may have been depressed but it didn’t stop him from having a close bond with his granda. He also cared so strongly for Kamilah from the start and was quick to defend and support her. He may have not said the words, but you could tell how much he cared in his actions.
“I’m going to taste you. I’m going to savor you like one of my whiskeys, and I’m not going to stop until I’m drunk on you.”
The two of them together had some fantastic banter between them, and I loved all their interactions. Whether they were having a spat, helping each other, or being intimate, there was so much passion between them. The intimacy in the book is a slow burn , with an only one bed situation that results in spooning on night one. It then somehow manages to be steamy but not at the same time, which I know makes no sense, but the foreplay scene is hot, heavy and descriptive but the actual main event is fade to black.
A Proposal They Can’t Refuse by Natalie Caña is a wonderful rom-com with family, meddling grandfather’s, a fake engagement, comedic friends, heritage, banter, fall goodness, love, and forgiveness. I was beyond satisfied with the story from beginning to end and look forward to the next book in the series and anything else the author imagines up.