Cover Image: Once Upon a Sunset

Once Upon a Sunset

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Member Reviews

Diane learns that the story she was told about her grandfather was just that. She travels to the Philippines to discover the truth. While there she discovers relatives, love and her true self.

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I love Tif Marcelo and I loved her last book, but unfortunately for me, this was a DNF for me. I couldn't get pulled into it the way I usually am. I had to stop about 25% of the way through.

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3.5 stars

This was a decent if not world-shaking read. Washington D.C. ob doc Diana is at a personal crossroads. She has gotten sideways with the posh clinic where she works for having the temerity to put patient needs before profits. And her boyfriend is trying to win her back after two-timing her and she is not interested. To top things off, her somewhat bohemian mother has moved in with her.

As her mother Margo prepares to take off on a bucket list trip with friends, Diana finds some old family letters that hold a shocking secret -- her mother's father, always believed to be a WWII casualty, actually survived the war and started a second family in the Philippines -- even though he knew her grandmother was stranded single and pregnant.

Through a series of plotting unlikelihoods, Diana and Margo both end up in the Philippines and meet their grandfather's wife and their cousins and nieces and nephews. Here's where it got dicey for me. I was never entirely convinced that this second family would welcome interlopers with open arms, particularly since there was a will and a large amount of property and money involved. And maybe they are all just superior human beings, but there was very little resentment, bitterness, jealousy or even awkwardness. Really? The ending wrapped things up quickly and too neatly given that there not just one but two romances between two people who are destined to live thousands of miles apart.

Not a bad read, but didn't hold up well in terms of credibility. Thanks to the publisher and to Net Galley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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Once Upon a Sunset is a beautifully written story of a mother and daughter, Margo & Diana.
These two are as opposite as you can get. An unexpected trip to the Philippines sets the scene for a poignant story about family , their secrets, heartaches, heartaches and starting over and even when it is time to let go.

This story was well written with complex fleshed out characters.

Tif Marcelo is quickly becoming one of my go to authors for women's fiction.

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4.5 stars

I read Tif Marcelo for the first time last year, The Key to Happily Ever After, and thought it was super fun and a very satisfying read! I was obviously eager to get my hands on her latest release to see if the magic continued going strong!

I was especially eager to ‘travel’ to an exotic location in this one. The author is Pilipino and since this book is set in the Philippines, I thought her culture and experiences would really shine in this book.

I also really liked the idea of a closely guarded family secret that the main character embraces the adventure of those secrets so obviously this was a book I was really really looking forward to for early spring.

Diana Gallagher-Cary is at a tipping point. As a Washington, DC, OB/GYN at a prestigious hospital, she uses her career to distract herself from her grief over her granny’s death and her breakup from her long-term boyfriend after her free-spirited mother moves in with her. But when she makes a medical decision that disparages the hospital, she is forced to go on a short sabbatical.

Never one to wallow, Diana decides to use the break to put order in her life, when her mother, Margo, stumbles upon a box of letters from her grandfather, Antonio Cruz, to her grandmother from the 1940s. The two women always believed that Antonio died in World War II, but the letters reveal otherwise. When they learn that he lived through the war, and that they have surviving relatives in the Philippines, Diana becomes determined to connect with the family that she never knew existed, though Margo refuses to face her history. But Diana pushes on, and heads on a once-in-a-lifetime trip that challenges her identity, family history, and her idea of romantic love that could change her life forever. (summary from Goodreads)

This book is marketed as a mother/daughter self discovery novel with romance. In my opinion, I think there was less romance than I was expecting. I mean I wasn’t disappointed at all by that, but I did feel like it was more mother/daughter/family history/self discovery rather than romance. The romance part played a minor roll for me.

As with her previous novel that I read, I found Marcelo’s writing skills superior and well crafted/developed! I loved how well she writes, the descriptions of the Philippines were captivating and interesting and the family secrets were riveting with little twists along the way. The characters are colorful and vibrant. I loved getting to know each of them and I especially liked Diana. I know a lot of readers really enjoyed the free spirited mother Margo, but for me I connected with Diana more.

I think that Marcelo really captured the complicated relationship between mother and daughter so well and I think that many women will appreciate the complexity of the story and the realness of their dynamic.

While I really loved this read I think the only thing I had hoped for was a little more romance. I get it, the romance wasn’t the focus, but everything I saw highlighted that this was a romance mixed with mother/daughter/family secrets plot, so I was expecting more romance. I didn’t care if the story didn’t have the romance element but the fact that it was marketed as such implied there would be more. That’s obviously not the author’s fault perhaps the publisher was hoping to reach or appeal to a larger audience but either way if you are going into this one thinking it will be full of romance, it is not. But you should still read it all the same because the story is well written and nuanced!

I loved the authenticity of this book, not just with the characters but with the setting. Pick this one up if you love family secrets and the complexity between mothers and daughters!

Book Info and Rating
Kindle Edition, 352 pages
Published March 3rd 2020 by Gallery Books
Free review copy provided by publisher, Gallery Books, in partnership with Tall Poppy Writers/Bloggers in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced.
Rating: 4.5 stars
Genre: womens fiction, contempo lit

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I’ve been slowly trying to read more works by Filipino authors. Tif Marcelo is a new to me author whom I stumbled upon while on Goodreads and Netgalley. While reading the synopsis for Once Upon A Sunset, I knew this book was something that I definitely wanted to read.

Told in dual POV interspersed with corresponding letters between Diana’s grandfather and grandmother during WWII, this is a story of self-discovery, uncovering family secrets and learning about your roots. What happens when everything you thought you knew turns out to be a lie? Diana is the take charge, always has it together type, while her mother, Margo is a little bit more carefree. They’re both coping in their own different ways after their grandma Leora’s passing. As they stumble upon old letters, it drives Diana to go back and find out the truth about her family. And so starts her and her mother’s quest to the Philippines.

The inevitability of responsibility and the topic of caregiving hit close to home. To name a few, I loved how the book tackled topics such as healthcare, military relationships and the effects of war on said relationships, and IDENTITY. What part of a person is Filipino? American? Which parts do we gain from our parents?

There were some gripes I had with the book. I wasn’t particular fond of the romance(s) as they felt bland and annoying. I felt like the story could’ve done without it as I cared more about the history of the family and the family interactions. Some of the text dialogue felt a bit jarring as it seemed like parts of conversations were missing? Maybe that was due to editing mishaps but it did affect my reading experience at times. It’s hard to explain without spoiling anything but I also felt like moments where certain interactions happened and how things unfolded between family members felt hard to believe.

Overall, I liked the read. And I really appreciated the story Marcelo put together. Definitely relatable and definitely something I’m sure a lot of people go through.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for providing me an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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Although the book started strong for me, I lost interest halfway through. Also, I was expecting more romance and less family drama, so I felt let down about that.

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This book really snuck up on me as one of my favorites reads of the year so far. The story follows Diana and her mom Margo as they learn about their family history after a lifetime of thinking of their family as just the two of them. I loved the differing points of view from which the story is told and the inclusion of the letters between Leora and Antonio. I will be recommending this book to others. Thanks to Gallery Books and NetGalley for the advanced copy in exchange for this review!

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Once upon a sunset was one of those novels that grabs your attention and once you’re finished reading it you wish you knew these characters in person so that you could follow their lives and this was a wonderful first introduction to this author.

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I really hate to say this because I find author Tif Marcelo to be such a delightful human being both in person and on social media but I'm starting to think her books aren't for me. I always like the idea of her premises a lot and I love the way she incorporates Filipino culture but something is always missing in the execution and the writing itself. I felt that way about The Key the Happily Ever After and that my reaction again with Once Upon a Sunset. In her latest novel, we meet Diana Gallagher-Cary, a hardworking OB/GYN at a prestigious hospital, who makes a medical decision that forces her to go on a short sabbatical. While this is happening, she's also grieving her grandmother, her long-term boyfriend just broke up with her, and her free-spirited mother is currently living with her which has caused a bit of friction. It's a lot to deal with already but then life throws her yet another curveball: she finds a box of letters from her grandfather to her grandmother from the 1940s but she and her mom were led to believe he died in the WWII. These letters reveal that he not only survived but they have relatives in the Philippines. Her mom is understandably hesitant to do anything as she processes the news but Diana just steamrolls ahead. She's determined to travel to the Philippines to reconnect with her long-lost family. It ends up becoming a journey about family, her relationship with her mom and more importantly, herself. And I loved all those themes but so much seemed to happen at a superficial level. I wanted to know Diana better and delve more into her mom's life, who I actually found way more interesting and emotionally connected to. I just felt things were happening too fast in the last quarter and it came across rushed.

What's a spot in the Philippines that you want to visit? | Palawan, hands-down. I've been dreaming of that place for years so hopefully one day I'll make that trip happen.

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Two strong, independent, successful women have their lives turned upside down and travel to the Philippines with the hopes of finding relatives that they never knew they had. Diana and Margo have a wonderful and realistic daughter/mother relationship. While Diana works as an OBGYN, coming home to her dog and a house under renovations, Margo is retired and has many followers on Instagram. They live together, argue like mother/daughters do, but they also support and love each other without any questions.
As Diana follows her heart and tries to learn more about a grandfather she never knew she ends up learning more about herself. She opens herself up to new adventures, new family members, and new relationships. Diana doesn’t push the friends she has away, she instead embraces their support and looks to them for advice as she moves forward in her life. I am in awe of how strong she is, even when she is stumbling, and how much she is willing to push herself out of her comfort zone to find the answers that she really wants.

Margo is more cautious. While she lives a fun retired lifestyle, she is cautious about opening up a history that is not what she expected or was told. She is not sure that knowing about her father, who she was told died long before he did, is something that she is willing to open her heart to. Her amazing friends, who are working on their combined bucket-list, support her and push her to find out about her past and be there for her daughter.

Once Upon a Sunset is the second book by Tif Marcelo that I have read and I am excited to see what she writes next. With each of her books I have met amazing characters, been introduced to wonderful settings, and read a perfect story.

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What an enjoyable read! Once Upon A Sunset was the perfect book world to escape into. I really enjoyed the development of Margo and Diana as individuals and also as mother and daughter. They have a very authentic push and pull, attraction and annoyance, love and exasperation in their relationship. The mystery of what actually happened to their father/grandfather definitely captured my interest and I enjoyed discovering the truth along with the characters. Once Upon A Sunset is a delightful celebration of family, heritage, forgiveness, and love.

This was my first book by Tif Marcelo but I will definitely be picking up more! Her previous release, The Key To Happily Ever After sounds like another really fun read!

Thank you @gallerybooks @netgalley for an ARC of this title in exchange for an honest review {partner}.

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ynopsis: After the death of her grandmother, Diana Gallagher-Cary and her mother stumble across a box of letters written from her grandfather to her grandmother dated in the 1940s. They are shocked when these letters reveal that her grandfather, in fact, had survived the war and had been living with his family in the Philippines. Determined to connect with the family she never knew existed, Diana embarks on a life-changing trip.
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Thank you to @netgalley and @gallerybooks for the ARC copy of this fabulous book -I absolutely LOVED it! The main character is Diana, an OB-GYN MD living in DC who returns to the Philippines to discover the truth of her family secrets. This book really resonated with me... as a nurse, mixed-race Pacific Islander and someone who grew up in the DC area curious about my roots, this story hit really close to home for me. I found many things to be very accurate about the medical field and learning about family lineage and I appreciate this story being told. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
If you’re a fan of WWII, historical fiction or romance, you will love this book! I love that Tif Marcelo highlighted on the struggles of immigrant Filipinos in America and the horrors of war with Japan. I definitely recommend this book and it is out TODAY! . ⠀⠀

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Diana has caused some trouble at the hospital where she is a physician. So, she is “sort of” on a vacation. After her mother, Margo, discovers some old letters from WWII, Diana decides to take a trip to the Philippines.

Give me a family mystery any day and I am sold. I have enjoyed all of Tif’s books. This one has some of the best characters. I loved Diana’s mother. She was a mess. She and Diana had some great exchanges and conversations. I laughed out loud at some of their antics.

This is a heartwarming tale about family and love. I did think part of this story was far fetched especially when the family money comes into play…you must read this to find out. But, it is a very good, quick read! Grab your copy today!

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Once Upon a Sunset by Tif Marcelo is a wonderfully heartwarming novel about family, love, acceptance, forgiveness, and finding yourself. This book also is about how your past (or finding out your true past) doesn’t define you.

Diana finds herself at a crossroads in her life when she is placed on leave from her job at a hospital in D.C. after a situation occurs while she is at work. With her job in question, her relationship ending, she and her mother, Margo, find letters from her grandfather, Antonio, to her grandmother during WWII. What they thought was the fate of Antonio, actually is found to be false. They find out he actually did not perish and that there are surviving family members in the Philippines.

Diana decides that there is no better time to explore this part of her life and travels there to find the answers that she needs: who is she, where did she come from, what really happened, who are these long-lost relatives?

The descriptions of the beauty of the landscapes were breathtaking. I could feel the beauty radiating from the pages. I would love to travel there.

I enjoyed the subplots of the new relationship that Diana experiences, the mystery and intrigue of what really happened and why, as well as the transformation of not only Diana but also of her relationship with her mother. It was at times raw and emotional. I felt for both women (Margo and Diana) and could see how both viewpoints were reasonable yet so different. I am happy that they were able to work through these issues to come out at the end stronger with themselves and each other.

This was a fast read (only because I could not put it down) and I was able to finish this in two days (with a few less hours of sleep that were happily sacrificed).

I enjoyed the characters, the destination, the flow and pacing of the book as well as the plot. I enjoyed the ending as well.

A great read not just for a little romance, but also for anyone that enjoys a little historical fiction, and mother-daughter relationships.

I am now going to look for additional books written by Ms. Marcelo.

Great book! 5/5 stars

Thank you NetGalley and Gallery Books for this ARC and in return I am submitting my unbiased and voluntary review and opinion.

I am posting this review to my GR and Bookbub accounts immediately and will post it to my Amazon and B&N accounts upon publication.

(B&N under Rachel_Denise01)

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Diana’s life isn’t going exactly the way she planned. Her long-term relationship ended, her Mom, Margo, has moved in with her, and a judgment call has her on a leave of absence from the hospital where she is an OB-GYN. While going through her Mother’s things, Margo discovers letters that upend everything she thought she knew about her parents and the father she thought died in WWII. Not one to do nothing, Diana jumps into finding out what happened to her Grandfather, uncovering a family they never knew in the Philippines. Margo and Diana disagree on what to do next, but ultimately both travel to the Philippines to find their roots and try to understand why Antonio Cruz never came home to his daughter and the love of his life.
Margo and Diana are opposites in the way they approach life, but both are looking to understand who they are and where they fit in their lives, the Filipino culture, and their new-found family. I enjoyed the way Tif Marcelo wove the different strands of the story together and created a cast of interesting and complex characters. The story was told in the alternating viewpoints of Diana and Margo, and it was illuminating to see the way each approached life and their relationships. I also liked seeing how each character grows and changes as they move through the novel as they realize it’s okay to try new things and open up to new people and relationships. Marcelo’s descriptions of the Philippines made me feel as if I was there with the characters.
ONCE UPON A SUNSET is a heart-warming and delightful novel that kept me turning pages as I raced to the end.
#GalleryBooks #NetGalley #OnceUponASunset #TallPoppyWriters #BloomReads #TallPoppyReviewer #TallPoppyBlogger

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Ob/Gyn Diana works at a prestigious hospital, but when she puts the well-being of an uninsured patient above the whims of a celebrity, the ensuing social media storm results in an unanticipated leave of absence. At the same time, her mother Margo discovers that the father she’d never met may not have actually perished in World War II as they always believed. With her house under renovation and time on her hands, Diana travels to the Philippines to meet the cousin she never knew she had.

Although her grandfather is now long deceased, she learns he’d built quite a business empire before he died. But why did he desert her grandmother, who he professed to love, when he knew she was pregnant? Diana’s stepgrandmother, Flora, is surprisingly happy to meet her. Her other cousin, Joshua, is suspicious of her motivation—and justifiably so. Diana and Joshua’s growing attraction for one another is a concern for both of them, even if they are not blood relatives.

Diana, Margo, Flora, and Colette are all very likable characters. I never grew to trust Joshua, and the reason the grandfather had nothing to do with Margo seemed contrived, but despite these flaws, Once Upon a Sunset is an absorbing story. #OnceUponASunset #NetGalley

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DNF at 16% - this is probably impacted by my misunderstanding of what the book would be. Based on the cover and my knowledge of the author, I anticipated more of a romance. This is women’s fiction centered around a mother/daughter relationship and discovering more about their family. I am not feeling connected to the story and going to stop here. Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for the advance review copy.

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This richly-layered and immensely touching tale of family, friendships, and love is another winner from Tif Marcelo. I'm honored to have been given the opportunity to read both an early draft and an advanced copy of the final version. Both solidified my respect and admiration for the author of such engaging reads as Once Upon a Sunset.

At the forefront is the complicated relationship between super-analytical Diana and her social media-savvy mother Margo. Both are still reeling from the death of Leora, the third female lead of the book whose secrets affected her descendants' present and future in ways neither of them imagined. Their separate quests to find answers to  individual questions about identity and purpose eventually brought them closer to each other which is as satisfying an ending as any happily-ever-afters out there. That both also found romantic love in the process makes this an all-around enjoyable read.

Set in both the US and the Philippines, Once Upon a Sunset presents aspects of Filipino-American culture that only someone who belongs could articulate. There's plenty of delicious food, a smattering of Filipino language, and a bit of intricate family setup. And then, there's the matter-of-fact acknowledgment of the Filipino migrants' contributions to many US historical causes, particularly to their service during World War II through the character of Antonio Cruz.  That's something that is seldom celebrated in publishing to the point that it adds to the sense of erasure that the minority group to which both Tif and I belong to experiences. For this solid piece of representation, I give this book top marks.

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This was a super cute story!!!

Initially, I was thinking this was going to be a romance but it was more a family story which I loved!

I loved how the author ties the story between a mother and a daughter. It was a nice to see a story involved in the hospital setting. I also really loved the Philippines setting in this one... which made the story at a faster paced for me :).

I was hoping to have a bit more romance in this one but overall, super sweet story!!

4 stars

Thank you so much to Netgalley and Gallery for the arc in exchange for an honest review.

Pub date: 3/3/20
Published to GR: 2/29/20

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