Book review: 'The Fortune Cafe' melds fortunes and romance in new novel

By Melissa DeMoux

For the Deseret News

Published: Sunday, June 8 2014 5:00 a.m. MDT

Updated: Friday, June 6 2014 4:02 p.m. MDT

"THE FORTUNE CAFE: A Tangerine Street Romance," by Julie Wright, Melanie Jacobson and Heather Moore, Mirror Press, $11.99, e-book $4.99, 280 pages (f)

Imagine a Chinese restaurant where the fortunes from the cookies all come true. This intriguing idea is the premise of “The Fortune Cafe,” a three-part sweet romance created by a trio of storytellers.

The first installment of a coming series of Tangerine Street Romances, “The Fortune Cafe” snakes the luck of three dynamic women into a collage of romantic stories. Presented in three parts, authors Julie Wright, Melanie Jacobson and Heather Moore each spin a tale that lightly intersects the other’s characters as they cross paths at a Chinese restaurant.

In part one, created by Wright, a Utah native, Emma is a quirky but lovable waitress who began serving at the Fortune Cafe to escape from her mother, who is mentally ill, severely demanding and sometimes cruel. Despite ambitious dreams, Emma feels worthless and unimportant. When an unusual customer brings chaos to the dining room, Emma wonders if a friend from her past might be the love of her future.

Part two, written by Jacobson, who lives in Southern California, dabbles in the life of Lucy, who is forever lucky and is on the brink of a fairy tale wedding. However, when her treasured jade necklace breaks during lunch at the Fortune Cafe, she worries that her luck may have run out. As life unravels around her, she finds support and strength in an unexpected and very unlucky friend from next door — which may be her best luck yet.

Stella runs a jewelry shop in Utahn Moore’s contribution, part three of the book. Despite being a successful student, Stella returns home to run the eclectic shop when her mother is crippled by diabetes. Having recently broken up with her longtime boyfriend, romance is out of the picture until a handsome stranger wanders into the store one night. When a late night feast of Chinese takeout encourages Stella to be brave enough to look for love, she might find the courage to take a chance.

This book is fun, and the idea behind it is creative and entertaining. The curl of the individual works as they twine around each other gives the novel a cohesive feel even though the stories are distinct and self-contained. The characters are vulnerable and raw, giving them a genuine air.

"The Fortune Cafe" contains no swearing or sexual content beyond kissing, and there are occasional mentions of social drinking. It is a clean and enjoyable book for any romance reader. The authors are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but there aren't any Mormon themes or characters.

Melissa DeMoux is a stay-at-home mother of six young children who lives in West Valley City, Utah. Her email is mddemoux@gmail.com, and she blogs about her adventures in motherhood at demouxfamily.blogspot.com.

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