A Proposal They Can’t Refuse is Natalie Caña’s debut novel; and it’s phenomenal. This novel perfectly blends Irish and Puerto Rican cultures in a novel about friendship, scheming grandfathers, and falling in love.
It also features the perfect oh no, they were roommates and bed-sharing trope!
Kamilah Vega dreams of modernizing her family’s restaurant and entering it into Chicago’s fall foodie tour. Kamilah’s Papo, grandfather, owns the restaurant and makes a deal with her; he’ll support her changes if she agrees to marry Liam Kane, her childhood best friend.
Liam Kane has been in love with Kamilah since they were children, but after the death of his parents and his grandmother, he has retreated into himself and has decided to focus on his whiskey distillery. Then Liam’s Granda tells him he has cancer, and he wishes to see Liam married to Kamilah before he goes.
If Kamilah and Liam refuse to go along with their grandfather’s scheme, they will sell the building that houses both of their businesses. But shortly after becoming roommates, Kamilah and Liam give into their age-old attraction but will they be able to make it as a real couple when there’s so much history between them.
A Proposal they Can’t Refuse balances emotional, romantic, and fun. This read has a light-hearted premise until you begin reading the story, and the grief, longing, and self-doubt punch you. This is jarring in a book with such a cute cover, but I quickly forgot about these complicated feelings as I continued reading.
The love story between Liam and Kamilah does not take much time to unfold. The two have known each other since they were children, so they only really take the time to familiarize themselves as adults. And while I was drooling with Kamilah over the peak of Liam’s muscles, there was an underlying sweetness to their interactions.
This story takes place during Fall and as we know, Fall is my favorite season. Kamilah and Liam decide to head to a pumpkin patch for their first date. Of course, they are also working on exploring the different flavors relevant to their businesses, but this chapter is full of adorable apple picking and fall activities. It does take an emotional turn towards the end that seemingly appears out of nowhere because Liam is still grieving.
As previously mentioned, this novel does hit you with some emotional punches. And those punches come in the form of Liam and Kamilah’s trauma. Liam witnessed his father’s passing and harbors guilt and anger at the memory. While Kamilah struggles trying to fix everything herself. She gave up culinary school in Paris to stay with her family when her grandmother passed and lied to everyone about it. And she continues to stretch herself thin by creating new recipes, fake dating Liam, and helping him with the distillery.
The pair are a mess, and because they’ve known each other for so long, they know what buttons hurt the most. And when the third act break up comes between them. They are both heart broken by it.
This novel has a lot of culture and heart in it. Both families are from two distinct cultures, but because of the grandfather’s long friendship, they became fused into one. Liam picked up Spanish from the Vega’s, and Kamilah picked up the culture from the Kane’s. For example, one of my favorite scenes in this novel is when Kamilah gives Liam a Claddagh ring. And Liam wears it in a way that symbolizes that his heart belongs to Kamilah!!
Additionally, Liam’s a painter and takes a lot of inspiration from the Irish legends his grandmother taught him as a child.
I love reading about interracial relationships in novels, and I feel that A Proposal they Can’t refuse pulled this one off flawlessly. The culture of both protagonists is distinctly present and written in a way that does not feel forced or fake.
Now, where does this story fall in the spice scale? It’s somewhere between two and three jalapenos. There’s one explicit sex scene in this story. The sexual relationship between both characters is just stated rather than detailed. But the one scene is pretty hot.
I am adding this story to my latinx romance faves because it has all of my favorite elements and manages to set this story during the fall time! Instantly hooked! I recommend it as everyone’s next latinx read, and I hope Natalie Caña continues to write more! Because she just became one of my favorite romance writers.
CW: cancer, grief, death of a parent, abandonment, mental health
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