Lunar Love

For me, it’s always fun to read a book related to the current season or an upcoming holiday. As the Lunar New Year approached, I decided to dive into Lunar Love by Lauren Kung Jessen. Her debut novel, it just came out this month, and I got my copy from Book of the Month. It’s a cute romance between two Chinese American rivals in the matchmaking business, and as someone who loves all things zodiac, this was exactly what I needed!


Liv is taking over her grandmother’s matchmaking business, in which couples are paired up based on the compatibility of their Chinese zodiac signs. She’s excited yet nervous, but she has a new problem to contend with when a dating app is announced—and it also uses the Chinese zodiac. This could ruin her already suffering business. The man running the dating app, though, is the nice guy Liv recently met: Bennett. The two of them embark on a friendly rivalry with their opposing views on animal sign compatibility. But in the process, they may just match themselves to each other.


Right away, Lunar Love is a sweet and rich story. Olivia (Liv) is devoted to her family: Chinese American on her mom’s side, and white by way of Scotland on her dad’s. Liv has always loved the Chinese zodiac, so she’s been a natural fit working as a matchmaker at her grandmother’s business. Now the business has been passed on to Liv, and while she has her work cut out for her (the business has been in decline lately), she also has the ideas and passion to make it a success.

Until she meets Bennett and learns about his upcoming dating app, ZodiaCupid. It, too, draws from the Chinese zodiac, but it also pairs people based on what’s in their profile and other calculations done by the algorithm. Bennett believes opposites can attract, but Liv only believes compatible signs can be good matches. Liv and Bennett engage in a playful rivalry: whoever can match the other using their own methods wins. And this isn’t just for fun; the winner will get some big promotion that can help their business flourish.

One thing I adored about Lunar Love is the chance to learn more about the Chinese zodiac. Since I was a teenager, I’ve loved the zodiac, both western and eastern. Lunar Love is heavily steeped in the Chinese zodiac, with Liv in particular talking about what attributes different signs are known for and which signs are compatible. Liv is a Horse (just like me!), and she explains the traits that fit her and the ones that are less applicable to her. Bennett is a Rat, which is not a compatible sign for the Horse. Liv is so hung up on this (and on the business rivalry) that she can only think of the negative attributes associated with Rats. She has some prejudices to overcome when it comes to Bennett.

(For those who want to learn more about the Chinese zodiac, Lunar Love includes a handy chart at the end. It lists the book’s characters, their year of birth, their animal sign, and the characteristics that sign has. Horses, for example, tend to be quick-witted, stubborn, and high-spirited. Cool!)

I also love how easy and cute the romance between Liv and Bennett is. Yes, they’re rivals, but they’re not unnecessarily dramatic, antagonistic, or hateful like in other books with this trope. They’re not enemies, just people with opposing views and businesses that could have some overlap in the clients they seek. Even when they want the same baked good, or keep secrets and engage in some sneaky behavior, the truth comes out soon enough and they move on with maturity and grace. I guess what I like is that they act like adults and they’re generally reasonable. They can be playfully competitive, but it’s not taken too seriously.

Watching them each try to match the other with a potential mate is particularly fun. These two just can’t stay away from each other, even if that means crashing a date! They’re adorable together.

Another theme I appreciated was Liv and Bennett’s conversations about being mixed race. Both are Chinese American with Chinese and white parents. Bennett discusses his feelings of impostor syndrome and not feeling “Asian enough” to have a company that draws from the Chinese zodiac. I love that they can bond over their shared experiences and offer support to each other.

Lunar Love is a wonderful book filled with a sweet romance, a fun look into the Chinese zodiac, thoughtful discussions of compatibility and how best to match romantic partners, and delicious-sounding food. It gets emotional at times, but is ultimately a feel-good story between two people who may be more perfect for each other than they seem.

Final Thoughts

I thoroughly enjoyed Lunar Love from start to finish. It’s exactly what I hoped it would be, and it was fun yet thoughtful read. It’s only Lauren Kung Jessen’s first novel, and I already can’t wait to read more from her. Her next book will include the Red Thread of Fate as a central theme and is due out in early 2024.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Get the Book

You can buy Lunar Love here – it’s available as paperback, ebook, and audiobook. If you get it from Book of the Month, you can get Lunar Love in hardcover.

Lunar Love by Lauren Kung Jessen
GenreContemporary Romance
SettingLos Angeles
Number of Pages328
Format I ReadHardcover (BOTM)
Original Publication DateJanuary 10, 2023

Official Summary

Always a matchmaker, never a match…

Olivia Huang Christenson is excited-slash-terrified to be taking over her grandmother’s matchmaking business. But when she learns that a new dating app has made her Pó Po’s traditional Chinese zodiac approach all about “animal attraction,” her emotions skew more toward furious-slash-outraged. Especially when L.A.’s most-eligible bachelor Bennett O’Brien is behind the app that could destroy her family’s legacy . . .

Liv knows better than to fall for any guy, let alone an infuriatingly handsome one who believes that traditions are meant to be broken. As the two businesses go head to head, Bennett and Liv make a deal: they’ll find a match for each other—and whoever falls in love loses. But Liv is dealing with someone who’s already adept at stealing business ideas . . . so what’s stopping him from stealing her heart too?

About the Author

Lauren Kung Jessen

Lauren Kung Jessen is a mixed-race Chinese-American writer with a fondness for witty, flirtatious dialogue and making meals with too many steps but lots of flavor. She is fascinated by myths and superstitions and how ideas, beliefs, traditions, and stories evolve over time.

From attending culinary school to working in the world of Big Tech to writing love stories, Lauren cares about creating experiences that make people feel something. When she’s not writing novels, she works as a content strategist and user experience writer.

She also has a food and film blog, A Dash of Cinema, where she makes food inspired by movies and TV shows. She lives in Nashville with her husband (who she met thanks to fate—read: the algorithms of online dating), two cats, and dog.

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