‘A Proposal They Can’t Refuse’ by Natalie Caña: A flavorful, trope-filled extravaganza

Our A Proposal They Can’t Refuse book review covers meddling octogenarians, all your favorite tropes, and a love story for the ages.

I’ve been reading more and more romance lately because it seems to be the perfect escape for the world we live in right now. There’s something to be said for that building of tension, the subsequent release, and the knowledge that there’s a happy ending waiting for you on the final page.

When I was first pitched A Proposal They Can’t Refuse by Natalie Caña, I already knew I was going to love it. Friends-to-enemies-to-lovers? Yes, please! Fake dating and a fake engagement? You bet. Only one bed? That is quite literally my favorite trope of all time.

What makes or breaks a book isn’t the tropes, however, but the characters. Luckily, this cute little rom-com also contained my favorite dynamic—feisty ball of energy and brooding grumpy-pants. There was simply no way this one was going to flop for me.

First up, we’ve got Kamilah, who works a thankless job at her family’s Puerto Rican restaurant. They’re all run ragged trying to keep it afloat, and she’s got big plans to enter it into the Fall Foodie Tour to drum up some business.

The only problem is that the restaurant is in dire need of a face-lift, but her parents refuse to update the menu or the interior in any way. They want to keep it traditional, and as much as Kamilah tries to convince them she’ll stay true to their roots, they won’t budge.

Throughout most of the book, I had trouble sympathizing with Kamilah’s family. They called her selfish, but all I saw were selfless acts. They wanted her to simply do what she was told, but how could she, when she believed it was the wrong call?

I loved Kamilah’s energy, the way her mind worked, and the passion she had for cooking at the restaurant. I was often frustrated with her relatives (as you’re meant to be), and had to keep in mind that family dynamics differ from culture to culture and family to family.

Quite a few of the players in this game learned a hard lesson, not just our main heroes, and at the end of the day, everything worked out and everyone got on the same page. I don’t have as much patience or forgiveness in my heart as Kamilah does, but that’s what makes her such a great character.

proposal they can't refuse book review

On the opposite side of the aisle is Liam, the grumpy Irishman who works in his family’s distillery. He’s got the cold and brooding demeanor down pat, but inside, he’s a soft and gooey marshmallow—exactly the kind of guy you can’t wait to see open up to the person of his dreams.

Liam’s got his own set of problems before Kamilah even enters the picture. He’s got a chip on his shoulder because of his dad, he and his grandfather don’t have the same approach to their business, and he’s got to figure out how to become a people-person if he ever dreams of taking over one day. Which might happen sooner rather than later, considering his grandpa just told him he’s got cancer.

While Kamilah and Liam are the main characters in this book, their grandfathers are the stars of the show. I can’t write this A Proposal They Can’t Refuse book review without giving both of these men a serious shout-out.

See, Kamilah and Liam used to be best friends back in the day, but after a botched prom date, they parted ways on less than amicable terms. Over the years, they developed an animosity for each other. Not only are they polar opposites, but they know each other intimately. That means they understand how to push each other’s buttons.

Their grandfathers, on the other hand, are still best friends, and boy do they get up to some trouble. Have you ever met an old person who knows they can get away with pretty much anything because, well, they’re old and who’s gonna stop them? That’s pretty much the attitude Abuelo and Granda have, and they use their power in interesting ways. The best way to describe them would be chaotic good—emphasis on chaotic.

Abuelo and Granda can see what no one else can, so in order to give everyone what they want, they come up with a solution: Kamilah and Liam must date, get engaged, and get married. If they do that, their grandfathers won’t sell the building that houses their business and might even help the kids make their dreams come true.

It’s a hilariously outrageous premise, but I loved every second of it. The fact that Kamilah and Liam were blackmailed into doing this made the tension between them even more palpable. And when they finally started to realize they didn’t hate the other person as much as they thought they did? Delicious.

I found myself giggling throughout this book, both at the grandfathers’ antics and at the sweet moments these two shared. For a relatively small book, it’s packed with Puerto Rican culture, Irish mythology, food and whiskey appreciation, familial drama, and, of course, lots of love.

As these characters grow closer and overcome their issues—both external and internal—you’ll find yourself rooting for them as individuals and as a couple. If this A Proposal They Can’t Refuse book review tells you anything, it’s that you’ll find as much substance as you do sweetness in this adorable novel.

Oh, and if you’re the type of person who enjoys sticking with a family to see who else gets a happy ending, then you’ll be glad to know the end of Proposal sets us up for some future love stories, as well.

‘A Proposal They Can’t Refuse’ hit store shelves on June 7, 2022

Buy A Proposal They Can’t Refuse by Natalie Caña from Harlequin, Bookshop.org, Book Depository, or Amazon. You can also add it to your Goodreads list.

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