It’s not rare to read stories of costars who start canoodling off-stage too. But that’s exactly the kind of press coverage Jasmine Lin and Ashton Suarez, leads of a new telenovela being developed by a Netflix-like company, want to avoid in Alexis Daria’s You Had Me at Hola.
Jasmine’s become prime paparazzi fodder after her rockstar bf cheats on her and unceremoniously dumps her. Recently she created a list of rules for turning herself into a Leading Lady. And Ashton’s got a secret life away from the cameras he’d do anything to protect.
Though their relationship starts off inauspiciously, for both of them their new show Carmen in Charge is a way to take their careers to the next level.
But what happens when chemistry & attraction start to outweigh their logical plans? I bet you can guess 🤣.
There’s so much about this romance that had me singing:
⭐️ Two leads who are emotionally soft with each other & genuinely good people.
⭐️ A family-centric romance novel.
⭐️ The breakthroughs Jasmine & Ashton have.
⭐️How much Latinx culture is part of this book. Latinx culture feels joyously incorporated in the romance itself—and as Jasmine and Ashton say, it’s great to see it as central to the decision of the cast and script for the telenovela they’re both starring in.
But when kissing starts happening and a big secret is still kept I literally wrote in my notes “I hope the grovel is freaking huge”...and I was kinda disappointed. Yes the characters are emotionally mature and yes one of them makes a big gesture but I personally feel like the grovel level doesn’t meet the level of the offense appropriately.
(And also like part of Jasmine’s storyline feels somewhat rushed.)
While the ending’s a bit of a letdown for me, I really enjoyed this one and highly recommend it. I’m always on board for an engaging, sexy smooch-fest of a book with two people-not-looking-for-love but finding-it-anyway. Check it out!
You Had Me at Holais available 08/04. Thanks to Avon & Edelweiss for my complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
Chloe Sanderson didn’t want her best friend Annie to write a screenplay based off the IRL pizazz she has with her boss, Nick Velez. But now the play’s becoming a movie and everyone’s wondering if she and Nick are a thing. With real romantic feelings.
Definitely not her, though.
If you like fun and funny romance, I highly recommend Kerry Winfrey’s Not Like the Movies. I don’t know what I looked like when I read this one but on the inside I was very smiley.
Like a good trope? This one has some one bed, some I’m sick-and-he-came-to-take-care-of-me, and even a vague love triangle that’s obviously not going anywhere (the only kind I can handle). Also some workplace romance and opposites attract. It’s a plethora of tropes that Winfrey seemingly joyously plays with.
Chloe’s a queen of kindness, a huge fan of yacht rock, and a devotee of pie—she’s also coping with some big stuff like her father slowly losing his memory due to Alzheimer’s. She has a lot to work through in order to accept a HEA and the book’s pretty one-sided in that it’s her perspective and mostly her fears, wants, and needs.
That’s not a bad thing, though there were times I wanted to hear from Nick some more. He’s a patient love interest who likes Bon Iver and also pushes back when he needs to (huzzah, Nick!). He also adores Chloe with every cell of his body and that’s obvious even when they’re arguing over music. Not Like the Movies covers some heavy topics but if you want something snappy and effervescent—if you want to finish something and think “that was cute!” with gusto—it could be for you.
Thanks to Berkley & Edelweiss for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
Q: what’s one of your favorite places to travel to?
Adriana Herrera’s Finding Joy is the sweetest little treat and then BAM it’s dirty and steamy and . That’s the combo that makes my world go round. Add to that two characters who truly connect on an emotional level & an immersive journey into Ethiopian culture & you can see why I’m smitten.
American Desta Joy returns to Ethiopia—the place where he spent part of his childhood & that’s very special to his family—determined to help others & decide his next step. Soon after he meets the handsome, strapping, & delightfully kind man who’ll be the driver & logistics coordinator on their aid surveys: Elias.
The chemistry between Desta & Elias is immediate. There are some friend feelings & eventually the revelation of some mutual less platonic inclinations. But neither man can be fully who he is or romantically with who he’d like to be with in Ethiopia, something Elias has long been all too aware of.
I loved this book. Finding Joy is romantic and sexy. It also takes on topics like misogyny, the effects of Occupation, & racism because that’s what Desta and Elias are passionate about. Other incorporated subjects include music & YA lit & Ethiopian history & food. It makes for a delectable romance.
My only quibble is that sometimes Finding Joy seems to do more telling rather than showing, but that didn’t bother me so much because while it’s DEFINITELY A ROMANCE, it also feels so travelogue-ish.
This is a beautiful story. It’s also a love song to Ethiopia and to being who you are, loving who you want to love.
Finding Joyis out now. Thanks to the author for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
Q: when you get mad, do you really lay into someone or do you cry? Or both/neither?
In Farrah Rochon’s The Boyfriend Project, Samiah Brooks and two other women become viral celebrities after the man she’s dating turns out to be dating them all. They resolve to focus on themselves for six months, which as we all know means she will soon find the love of her life.
Samiah’s “love” is Daniel Collins, a “nice guy” who *is* nice and also an agent trying to uncover who at her company is up to nefarious deeds. He can’t reveal who he really is and as they both fall deeper, that becomes more and more of an *uh oh.
Like others have said, the romance between Samiah and Daniel is sweet and sexy and it’s so exciting to see a Black STEM heroine getting her HEA. I love how Samiah opens up to Daniel about the challenges of being a Black woman in her field, especially when, as she says, her name is Samiah and not the “nonethnic name” someone might assume it to be when they see S. Brooks.
My biggest issue with the book is the deception plot itself. Farrah builds up Daniel’s self-torment and moral dilemma so beautifully that I was kinda taken aback by what happened (and how), especially given how much Samiah’s talked to Daniel about how important her job is. The grovel feels so good in some ways and a little insufficient to me in one regard—but honestly, that might be a me thing.
All things considered, I really enjoyed this take on a STEM heroine who’s kicking butt and taking names, about to set the tech world on fire (how many cliches can I use here?), and living her best margarita and friend life. (The answer is three).
The Boyfriend Project is available now. Thanks to Forever Pub, Grand Central Pub, and Netgalley for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
4.5⭐️. Tropes: f/f, age gap, workplace Q: what’s a book set in Hollywood that you love?
I flew through the pages of Meryl Wilsner’s Something to Talk About rooting for Jo & Emma but also not feeling like my heart was held hostage by a stoically evil mastermind with nothing to lose & that made for a wonderful reading day. I’m highly recommending this adorable, funny, astute book that also feels pretty darn hopeful.
Jo Jones, a writer & producer on one of tv’s hottest shows, tells her assistant Emma Kaplan that she’s coming with her to the SAG Awards. The press turns a red carpet moment between them into a tender moment between a couple, & suddenly both women are battling invasive interest from paparazzi, friends, & family about their supposed love life. But they don’t even think about the other that way...right?
Something to Talk About puts a welcome spin on the age gap, boss-employee romance. Jo is not willing to let her attraction make Emma feel any kind of way in the workplace & this leads to some back & forth between the two that is at times a little annoying (kiss already!) but that I ultimately respected. Emma is her employee & that boundary means something to Jo.
Luckily for them they won’t have that dynamic for long, & that was another aspect of the romance I loved: both female leads’s ambition. As a Chinese American, female child actor & then writer/producer, Jo has faced her share of discrimination, & this was before their red carpet episode put a newly intense focus on her love life. But she’s taking on a major franchise. And Emma’s attached to Jo & her job but she’s not afraid to go after what she wants. Through it all they support each other generously & fiercely (do not come for either of them!)
The way that they finally realize their feelings, the way that they finally act on them, makes for the slowest of the slowwwww burns, and encouraging them along is a truly fantastic cast of secondary characters, including Emma’s sister Avery.
The ending chapter feels the slightest bit abrupt but the Epilogue is one of those perfectly fitting endings that left me feeling replete with those HEA feelings. . . CW: sexual harassment.
Something to Talk About releases on 05/26. Thanks to the publisher & Edelweiss for my complimentary ARC; all opinions provided are my own.
On a basic level Yaffa S. Santos’s A Taste of Sage calls to me: enemies to lovers set in the creative & delicious restaurant world, with some magical realism elements thrown in the mix. And let’s go ahead and give a round of applause to the person(s) who designed the cover because it’s a vibrant slice of happiness.
But unfortunately the more that I read of this upcoming release, the more I was confused by its execution, taken out of the story in the passages where narrative subtlety is lacking, & ultimately pretty shocked by a direction the plot takes.
Lumi cooks a spontaneous daily menu of Dominican food at the restaurant she’s just opened. At a catering job she meets famed chef Julien Dax, who arrogantly—& w/out knowing her identify—insults her food to her face. Oops.
Shortly thereafter Lumi’s restaurant goes under & she ends up interviewing with Julien. Lumi gets the job after a very brief interview & has to figure out how to put up with the uber traditional, conceited jerk who rubbed her the wrong way from the get-go. For his part, Julien feels a strong attraction for Lumi but it’s up for debate whether he’ll be able to tear down her walls.
Food is more than a profession for the hero & heroine in ATOS; there’s a lot of love for it and for the act of creativity that Lumi nurtures with her plates. Full recipes are even included throughout the book. There’s potential in Lumi’s and the book’s overall devotion to food & in Julien’s later care of Lumi.
But I didn’t feel like I really emotionally connected with the characters, even when they were at their lowest, & on the whole ATOS feels emotionally thin to me. This romance just isn’t for me.
graphically described burn injuries
ATOS is out on 05/19. Thanks to Avon Books & Edelweiss for the complimentary ARC; all opinions provided are my own.