A Proposal They Can’t Refuse

Natalie Caña. Mira, $15.99 trade paper (368p) ISBN 978-0-7783-8609-4

Childhood friends are forced into a fake relationship by octogenarian matchmakers in Caña’s wildly fun and foodie-friendly debut. Chef Kamilah Vega’s life revolves around her family’s Puerto Rican restaurant, El Coquí. So when the gentrification of her Chicago neighborhood puts the restaurant in a tight spot, Kamilah hopes that entering the Fall Foodie Tour will put El Coquí back in the spotlight. Convincing her family is a struggle; her abuelo agrees, but with the condition that she marry his best friend’s grandson, Liam Kane, whom she’s known since childhood. Liam has helped his grandfather run the family distillery, which shares a building with El Coquí, for a decade and is set on winning a national competition. But his grandfather, too, gets in on the setup, and both men threaten to sell the building if the youngsters won’t give each other a chance. To outwit them, Kamilah and Liam agree to a fake engagement—but they’re unprepared for how tangled their lives become and for the feelings that bubble up between them. Kamilah and Liam’s passion for their work and connection to their Puerto Rican and Irish heritage, respectively, shine through, and Caña does a fantastic job surrounding them with vibrant communities. This delightful mix of food, familia, and culture will leave readers hungry for more. Agent: Patrice Caldwell, New Leaf Literary. (June)