Seoulmates by Susan Lee
Published: September 20th 2022 by Inkyard Press
Rating: ★★★★ (4)
Genre: Young Adult // Romance, Contemporary
Quick Thoughts: A wholesome friends-to-lovers romance with K-drama theatrics and a strong message about finding your identity in a world that tells you the opposite.
About The Book:
“The perfect childhood friends-to-lovers story—full stop.” —Christina Lauren, New York Times bestselling authors of The Unhoneymooners and The Soulmate Equation
Her ex-boyfriend wants her back. Her former best friend is in town. When did Hannah’s life become a K-drama?
Hannah Cho had the next year all planned out—the perfect summer with her boyfriend, Nate, and then a fun senior year with their friends.
But then Nate does what everyone else in Hannah’s life seems to do—he leaves her, claiming they have nothing in common. He and all her friends are newly obsessed with K-pop and K-dramas, and Hannah is not. After years of trying to embrace the American part and shunning the Korean side of her Korean American identity to fit in, Hannah finds that’s exactly what now has her on the outs.
But someone who does know K-dramas—so well that he’s actually starring in one—is Jacob Kim, Hannah’s former best friend, whom she hasn’t seen in years. He’s desperate for a break from the fame, so a family trip back to San Diego might be just what he needs…that is, if he and Hannah can figure out what went wrong when they last parted and navigate the new feelings developing between them.
“A deliciously swoony romance.” —Helen Hoang, New York Times bestselling author of The Heart Principle
“A smart, funny book not to be missed!” —Emiko Jean, New York Times bestselling author of Tokyo Ever After
“Pitch-perfect.” —Rachel Lynn Solomon, author of Today Tonight Tomorrow
Seoulmates ticked so many boxes for me. Friends-to-lovers is my favourite bookish trope, for one. Reconnecting after time apart ticked another. Family oriented? Another yes. So when I was actually offered to read it as an ARC, you best believe I was elated.
Hannah Cho had life all figured out. She was going to have the best summer with her boyfriend Nate, for a start—something that quickly becomes apparent is not going to happen when he randomly breaks up with her, claiming they have nothing in common. He loves K-Pop, K-Dramas and is obsessed with finding out who his idol is from newfound favourites, whereas Hannah isn’t even remotely interested about exploring it. She’s neglected the Korean part of her Korean-American identity in a better guise to fit in, which she’s now sort of seeing was redundant, especially when Jacob returns.
Jacob Kim was once Hannah’s best friend in the world. They had been close all their lives, right up until he left for a life as a K-drama actor three years ago. But when the Kim’s come to stay with the Cho’s for the summer—Jacob desperate for a break from the constant stress of fame and carrying the weight of supporting his family—things between Hannah and Jacob are resurfaced. It’s frosty at the start. Hannah feels like everyone always leaves her, like Jacob once did—and her father, and even Nate—so warming back up to him is hard. But when they shift into a new direction altogether in the summer heat of San Diego, Jacob and Hannah are figuring out just how meant to be they are—and exactly how to make themselves, and families, truly happy.
Overall, Seoulmates came into my life in a cute sweep of warmth and heart, quickly becoming a turning-pages-all-day kind of read. Hannah was a character that wasn’t your stereotypical, overdone soft girl that forgives and forgets easily—she held her own and was a true bad-ass. I loved that we saw a soft side to Jacob, though, and how genuinely sweet he was to Hannah and his family. The POVs were really well done and I could easily distinguish the difference in tone and motivation, which is really hard to achieve. I’d say the beginning 40% was quite slow and then got exciting and moved very fast, very quickly, but that didn’t really stop me from wholeheartedly loving it. I would’ve also loved to see Hannah’s relationship with her other friends explored more. This beautiful book was, at it’s core, a wholesome friends-to-lovers romance with K-drama theatrics and a strong message about finding your identity in a world that tells you the opposite. Four stars!
Susan Lee has built a career as a Human Resources executive at successful startups such as Spotify and Warby Parker. Her biggest job takeaway: we are all, for the most part, ridiculous. And she channels this into her writing of light-hearted, quirky novels about the oftentimes hilarious human condition. Susan is a 2018 PitchWars alum, a 2019 & 2020 PitchWars mentor, a 2019 Romance Writers of America Golden Heart® winner, and an avid K-pop and K-drama fan. Her bias is V/Taehyung, which for those in the know, explains it all.