Cover Image: You Had Me at Hola

You Had Me at Hola

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Member Reviews

This book reads like a labor of love. There is so much detail put into the setting and the characters and it's done so lovingly at times that it may seem a bit corny. Thing is, that's just how Boricua love is. It's loud, it's boisterous and it's warm to its core.

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Heat Factor: This sauce is spicy
Character Chemistry: Initial awkwardness leads to friendship leads to steam
Plot: Jasmine and Ashton are just running lines! They swear! Nothing to see here!
Overall: This is the wokest book I’ve ever read

Reading You Had Me At Hola was an interesting experience, because it made me question myself and my desires and really look at what I want in a romance novel.

Let’s start with the setting. Jasmine and Ashton are co-stars in a new Latinx TV show. I got major Jane the Virgin vibes, and pictured Ashton as Rogelio de la Vega the whole time I was reading. (He is the best character. Fight me.) Daria portrays an exceptionally positive work environment for her leads, where everyone is accepted and boundaries are not only respected, but explicitly discussed. And I was all about it, because portraying non-toxic workplaces in fiction is one of many tools we can use to normalize non-toxic workplaces in the world.

But then Ashton, our hero, would think things like this:

“He wanted to run back to her. To apologize, to spill all of his hopes and fears where Yadiel and his family were concerned.
But after all he’d said, he had no right to ask her for any more emotional labor on his behalf. They were done. And it was better this way.”

First of all, ugh, this angst. But second of all, him talking about not wanting to put that emotional labor on Jasmine just did not do it for me. Now, I want men (or people in general) in real life to recognize the emotional labor of those around them. And I am not all about the absolute cavemen that Erin loves; in fact, I generally prefer my romantic heroes to have at least some emotional literacy. But I still found Ashton’s emotional attention off-putting. So if I am down for manifesting the world we want to see in some aspects of fiction, why not in romantic heroes? My psyche demands answers!

In short, this book didn’t really work for me for purely personal reasons that I need way more space than a few hours of thinking and a 500 word review to unpack.

On a more objective level, You Had Me At Hola is pretty good. The pacing works - the story clips along with no saggy bits. Jasmine and Ashton have believable chemistry, and also believable reasons for holding back. Jasmine and Ashton have (mostly) supportive families, which is always nice to see. (Aside: speaking of psyches, I’ve discovered that I really appreciate it when romance novels feature protagonists who might be messy, but who have real support from the people in their lives. Not everyone has to be a sad sack orphan with no friends except mice to deserve a happily ever after.) And the diversity of the Nuyorican and Puerto Rican characters and their varied experiences was fascinating without being in your face.

I mostly liked it - I just didn’t swoon.

I voluntarily read and reviewed a complimentary copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. We disclose this in accordance with 16 CFR §255.

This review is also available at The Smut Report. (8/11/2020)

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This was amazing! The relationship between Jasmine and Ashton has its dark moments, and they definitely struggled to come together. I was delighted once they both realized what they wanted and HOW they could be together. There’s a secondary romance of sorts between their characters, Carmen and Victor. That was kinda fun...seeing them develop in their lives and on screen.

It also had a ton of positive friendships which I love in a romance.

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So this novel isn't my first by this author but probably my fave of the three I've tried. There were things I liked that I thought I wouldn't; there were things I did not connect to that I thought I would.

Overall it was a really strong four and I hope she continues to write latinx male heroes for my enjoyment since they're what I don't see any much as latinx women in romance.

Likes:

I loved that Angel-Luis aka Ashton was a single dad. His path to fatherhood kinda sucked but he wore the tag well. I also loved that he was trying to break out into mainstream Hollywood. SInce he had an accent, it was relatively harder for him despite to me, him having a fairly white-presenting appearance, and he just wanted to do more and be seen more to normalize himself and his culture onscreen. I also loved the family dynamics on both he and Jasmine's end. Family was very present, extended included and it was awesome to see someone so family oriented in a romance novel.

I loved that both he and the heroine were in their 30's, as being there myself, it's nice to see people still trying to break out and not giving up because they're no longer in their 20's.

Jasmine wasn't bilingual, which I felt was realistic for some Mainland born PRs or latinx folx in general. It made her relatable but cool that they took a chance on her despite her linguistics skills.

I also loved that the transition from filming the show and being out of character wasn't confusing because I feared it would be. It was awesome they had an intimacy coordinator since in tv and film they're fairly new.

Things I didn't connect to:

As a Black latinx woman, I get my hopes up everytime that non-Black latinx folx will care enough about my representation as much as their own. Almost if not all the people had tans, hazel/green/light eyes and white presenting features. There was one "Afro-Latinx" person mentioned, but I noticed he was the only person lazily described as "Afro-Latinx" with no culture or physical attributes described, while every white or non-Black Latinx person was described in strong detail and by their cultures. It's like non-Black latinx folx really don't care about their most vulnerable and don't even try to hide it.

A conversation about colorism was a blink you miss it/missed opportunity that mainly centered on the most privileged characters(aka the least close to Black). I'm going to die on the hill that Blackness is just not something non-Black Latinx folx care about and they'd be content if all the latinx representation looked like Gina Rodriguez. Especially for this project to be a telenovela on a streaming service, that has more freedom than the racist/anti-black Spanish language channels, it just wasn't brave enough for me to challenge anti-blackness and we are just in these times where saying BLM isn't enough.

I also felt Jasmine being part filipino felt a little like a diversity checklist. She went out for SE Asian roles despite her physical appearance; to me that felt like the equivalent of light skinned people being in Black Panther. I would've liked more conversations about her navigating and having to validate both her SE Asian heritage and how that fit into Latinidad. Asian-Latinx folx DO NOT have it easy and they're not warmly celebrated or welcomed like white presenting and mixed-looking Latinx folx. There was something to delve in there that never got fully explored for me. She could've just been PR on both sides and it wouldn't have made her character read any different to me.

For as enjoyable as the book was, while I loved the acting aspect, I didn't feel like Jasmine and Ashton had any chemistry. They rarely went out on dates that didn't end up in nooky and they didn't make strong efforts to learn about one another outside of filming. In fact, 90% of their problems could have been solved with just actually having a conversation that wasn't work related. They suffered from serious lack of communication.

That could've been Ashton's fault because he was so guarded but that leads to my next point. He wasn't warm or charming for me. He felt super normal, which in a book about attorneys would have made sense but as actors, i didn't find him gregarious or warm or leading man worthy at times. Because he was a single dad, I excused his behavior most times but he never impressed me as a reader. Most times outside of physical attraction, it felt like they didn't have real chemistry.

Also because it's 3rd person, I'm pro-1st person. 3rd always feels tell vs show to me, but that could be a me problem. I also wished that their mental health had been addressed in more than the epilogue of the book.

Overall this was a super fun read.

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Adult contemporary romance. Jasmine is an actress recovering from a horribly embarrassing breakup that was splashed through the tabloids. Ashton is a telenovela star trying to transition to bigger projects. The two are co-leads in a new project for a streaming service, Carmen in Charge. The cast and crew are predominantly Latinx, which brings an immediate sense of closeness. But Ashton seems to be holding back. As the two spend more time together on-screen, they start wanting to spend time together off-screen as well. Can Ashton keep his personal life private while being with Jasmine, who seems to attract the tabloids? Is Jasmine just on the rebound or does she have something real with Ashton?

This was a fun peek "behind the scenes" of a TV film set. It was interesting to read about the intimacy coordinator, who choreographed the intimate scenes down to the second. I also enjoyed the Spanish sprinkled throughout.

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I loved "You Had Me at Hola". Jasmine is a soap star, going through an ugly tabloid breakup, who hopes to break into the Hollywood A list. She's making a Netflix reboot of a telenovela with Ashton, a telenovela star who also hopes this will be his big break. The book uses portions of the script to build their romance and build their chemistry. I really enjoyed this book. I'm not always a fan of the story within a story device, but I thought it was used very well here. The only reason I didn't give this book 5 stars is because the hero frustrated me. But overall, the book is excellent! Great dialogue, smoking hot scenes, and good side characters. I hope that Alexis continues this as series and gives some of the cast their own books.

(I was provided an ARC in exchange for my honest review.)

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Excellent book with excellent pacing! Loved the characters and the plot and how it balanced humor with more serious topics. If you liked "Jane the Virgin," I highly recommend this book!

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This book was such a delight. It dealt with issues of family, and belonging, dreams, and ambitions, and finding love where you least expect it, right when you need it most. I loved it, and this new-to-me author's words.

Jasmine Lin Rodriguez needs a break. After her breakup with a rock star is splashed all over the tabloids, she needs to get away from LA for a while. Luckily, the new show she's about to star in is filming in NYC, her hometown. All her family is there, including her 2 best friends and cousins, her primas of power, and she could really use them right now. Plus the production has a full Latinx team of cast and crew and she's very excited to see what the show can be. Then, she finds out about a last minute casting change for her love interest, and the replacement is none other than her grandmother's very favorite telenovela star, Ashton Suárez.

Ashton really needs this gig to be his big break. When he got killed off of his last show, he was scared about what might happen to his career. Then, the last minute offer for this role pops up, and he just knows this could finally be his big ticket to Hollywood. But, he and his costar need to have awesome chemistry, and make America fall in love with them, which might be hard after he spills coffee all over her the second after they meet. Plus, he's hiding big secrets that he doesn't want anyone to know about, so he avoids the press at all costs, even though it often means distancing himself from the rest of the cast and crew.

Ashton and Jasmine had so much great chemistry, but he kept holding a piece of himself back, and because of that, they weren't connecting on screen as well as they could be. But, once they actually started to get to know each other, it made all the difference in the world. Ash isn't great with opening up to people at all, but especially not new people. Jasmine wears her heart on her sleeve, and has hardly ever met a hot guy she hasn't severely crushed on. She trusts, and falls for men, too easily and gets her heart bruised each time. Ashton can't trust anyone with his secrets, and takes his family's financial burdens solely on himself. They both really had to work hard to get past preconceived notions about each other, and find a way to be happy together. Meanwhile their characters are having a second chance romance at the same time, which was like a story within the story.

The side characters here on the cast and crew of the show were fun, and both Jasmine's and Ash's families were so great. I adored Jasmine's relationship with her primas of power, and how they were always there for each other: with support, with hard truths, and with alcohol. What more could you ask for from your friends?? Especially when they're also family.

I loved the whole background of Jasmine and Ashton's characters, coming from both telenovelas and American soaps. As a long time watcher of General Hospital myself, I loved a little peek behind the curtain of the industry. It made the story that much more fun for me, and sucked me in right away. It was such a smart thing too, to have the show plots become a part of the book in the way they were.

I highly recommend this fantastic story of not knowing what in the world you're looking for, and finding it anyway. This book was sweet, and funny, and steamy, and it definitely won't be my last from this author!

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Thank you to netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an e-arc!

4.5 stars

After a messy breakup that made her a tabloid-favorite, Jasmine Lin puts together a "Leading Lady" plan that dictates her to not depend on a boyfriend for her happiness. But when she's cast in a telenovela revival that should be a great jumping-off point for her career, she's forced to reconsider that plan after meeting her co-star, the telenovela legend Ashton. The two soon kindle a secret romance, but how long will they be able to keep their relationships and personal lives secret?

You Had Me at Hola was a super captivating read! It was a very refreshing take on an often monolithic genre, with an ensemble of almost exclusively characters of color. I enjoyed learning more about the characters' cultural backgrounds and that affected their values throughout the story. The romance was amazing, Jasmine and Ashton had so much chemistry and that made the sort of insta-love plotline believable. The story-within-a-story was excellent, I totally wish the show they were filming was real (take hints, Netflix!). All in all, a fun, quick read and I will definitely be looking more into Daria's writing!

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Fantastic! This was such a fun rom-com to read, and I loved seeing some Latinx representation! I am such a fan of Jasmine, she is a vibrant and strong-willed heroine and you really feel for her during her more emotionally vulnerable moments. I was not a big fan of Ashton in the beginning, he felt kind of old and too stuck-up, but it didn't take long for me to warm up to his character. He and Jasmine's relationship developed naturally and their sex scenes were steamy! I loved her and Ashton's close connections to family as well; I'm Latinx, and family is so integral to our culture, so I loved that their families were predominantly featured.

I understand enough Spanish to translate the Spanish language moments, but Daria did a great job of "translating" the Spanish for someone who doesn't know the language. And so important that the Spanish wasn't italicized! I really liked the juxtaposition of the two story lines between Jasmine and Ashton and their TV characters; it was well-done and I liked getting that insight into the process. Overall, I really enjoyed this one; definitely one of my favorite romances of the year!

This is my first romance by Alexis Daria and I am so excited to read more of her work!

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Happy Belated Book Birthday to You Had Me at Hola! It was out yesterday, and I was lucky enough to get an ARC from @netgalley to read.

Jasmine and Ashton are starring in a telenovela on the equivalently of NetFlix. Jasmine has spent most of her career in American soap operas and is coming off an embarrassing break up with a famous musician. Ashton is the king of the traditional telenovela and is super private about his private life. When the two become more than co-stars, the sparks fly and so does the drama!

I loved this twist on a workplace romance! Jasmine’s and Ashton’s families and heritages play a big role in the book. I love Jasmine’s cousins and her grandma! I thought it super fun - read it!

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A soap opera star and a telenovela hunk come together in this sexy romance novel by RITA Award-winner Alexis Daria. All Jasmine Lin Rodriguez wanted was to hit the big time while leaving her messy breakup in the past. And Ashton Suárez just hoped to kickstart his career while keeping his personal life private. Instead, these two leads in a streaming bilingual romcom can’t keep their eyes off each other and their private rehearsals lead to a romance splashed across the pages of the gossip mags. Will they let their passion conquer their fears? This book will have you saying dame más!

Okay, I hope that was correct, I speak German, not Spanish! But seriously, this was a fun and steamy book in what I hope becomes a series. ('Primas of Power,' anyone?) Jasmine and Ashton star in 'Carmen in Charge' – an adaptation of a telenovela – and after eventually getting over an awkward first meeting, sparks fly. This book features Latinx characters and sprinkling of Spanish (translated contextually for those of us who don’t speak el lenguaje español). Mixed into the plot are scenes from the show with Carmen (Jasmine) and Victor (Ashton). Add to that some (well-intentioned) meddling family members, a stalker, and a secret love child, and you’ve got a plot worthy of a telenovela. If this book is indicative of Daria’s skill, I look forward to reading more!

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Let me just state that I absolutely love this cover. This is a new to me author and I really enjoyed the premise, storyline and the characters. The characters were charming, funny and very family oriented which I loved. I did get the feel of the attraction between the characters but not the chemistry.

You Had Me at Hola is a quick and easy summer read that you'll enjoy.

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You Had Me at Hola about Jasmine, a rising access and Ashton, a star actor who are the cast opposite each other as leads in a telenovela.

Though they keep getting off on the wrong foot, Ashton and Jasmine find that their chemistry and connection may not just be an act. Of course, things are far from straightforward as they try to navigate a private relationship as public figures... are they meant to be, or was mixing business and pleasure a big mistake?

This book was so much fun to read and also had a number of important things to say about everything from representation and diversity in the workplace, consent, gender roles, and cultural norms.

While there were a lot of great thinking points Alexis Daria managed to keep the book fun and fast-paced, flashing between the actors' interaction and their characters' scenes. The book's characters were easy to love ... ( And hard not to swoon over, in Ashton's case) and even the minor characters were well developed and fun to hear about.

This is definitely the steamiest book I’ve read, but it worked and never felt gratuitous.

Many thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collins for the advance copy!

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You Had Me at Hola is a fun, sassy, and flirty romance that made my Latinx heart so happy. Alexis Daria gives readers two Latinx characters that are talented, witty, and so lovable. I couldn't help but smile and swoon the entire time.

This romance follows two actors, Ashton and Jasmine, as they work together on a new show called 'Carmen in Charge.' Ashton is in his early thirties and is known for working on many telenovelas. This is his chance to break out and be in a mainstream show that would finally give him the recognition he deserves. Jasmine has had a couple of roles in soap operas and couldn't pass up on this leading lady role. Jasmine is dealing with a very public breakup so vows to never date a costar. That won't be that hard since Ashton likes to keep to himself.

Their first meeting is memorable, to say the least. ;) Jasmine and Ashton want to do their best and stick to their 'rules', but as they get to know each other that becomes more difficult. Jasmine is so refreshing and unlike any other woman, he has met. And Ashton is so dreamy yet down to earth.

I loved that Alexis Daria made family such an important factor for both parents. As a Latinx person, that is what we love most. Family is everything. No matter how supportive or unsupportive Jasmine's family was she would do anything for them and that is the same for Ashton. The 'Primas of Power' added so much laughter and sass to the book and I absolutely loved it.

One of my favorite parts of reading the story was seeing Jasmine and Ashton get more comfortable with stepping out of their comfort zones. At the beginning of the story, Ashton liked to stay to himself because he didn't want the paparazzi in his life, but by the end of the book, he is bonding with the cast, slaying it at karaoke, and getting closer to Jasmine. Jasmine also grew so much. She finally understood her self-worth, acknowledged her talent, and realized that she didn't have to have a 'Leading Lady Plan' to be successful.

I give You Had Me at Hola 5 stars. It is a fun and sweet romance with the perfect Latinx spice! I appreciated this book so much because it reminded me of my roots. The familial aspect of the story reminded me of spending time with my primas, tias/tios, abuelos and watching telenovelas with my abuela. I know my abuela would approve of Ashton! I wish that this book could be turned into a Netflix show or movie! I know I and so many would watch it! The writing is fantastic and engaging. I highly recommend this book to romance readers and Latinx readers!

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This is an incredibly cute romance/romantic comedy for anyone who has ever been fascinated or even vaguely interested in the melodramatic world of soap operas and telenovelas. I’m not big into romances set in the context of show business but I was really interested in reading this because this was billed as a romance featuring Latinx characters and that’s not something you see often. And it totally delivered on the Nuyorican and Puerto Rican representation and other forms of diversity. I find it incredibly important that romances like this exist that don’t have to center Caucasian characters or a Caucasian character to be valid and mainstream. This novel features Latinx people of various backgrounds, generations and Spanish speaking abilities and it was an absolute delight to read.

The premise is that soap star Jasmine is co-starring in a new adaptation of a popular telenovela with Ashton and despite their unfortunate meet cute and Ashton’s standoffishness, there is plenty of chemistry. But with a reputation for falling too hard too fast all the time splashed about in the tabloids, Jasmine is trying to stick to her Leading Lady Plan- after all Leading Lady’s don’t jack up their chances of industry domination for a man. Meanwhile Ashton is keeping dramatic secrets that could affect his career and everyone’s perception of him.

This was really delightfully written. I love how the author made space for different genders (including a non-binary character), different races, different Latinx experiences and space for characters to be strong and yet still sweet in their vulnerability (Jasmine, anyone). Despite being a romance that is making a statement for Latinx representation in creative industries (and romance novels), it is very easy and breezy, not at all preachy and very true to the story. I enjoyed the parallel story of Season 1 of the soap opera as much as I did this actual book. I would totally watch that show. I also loved that this never fell into the realm of feeling like the characters were too good to be true, saying and doing everything perfectly and according to the manual of general enlightenment. They felt like real people and this felt like a proper feel-good book. I loved the themes of family and of female friendship and of duty. If anything, I would have liked a bit more of that between Jasmine and her parents/siblings and Jasmine and her cousins but this also felt real in how it was written. You don’t always resolve all issues with your family. This was so good I breezed through this in a day and could hardly put it down (even read it during a meeting). I highly recommend this for a nice, breezy, fun read.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Avon Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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As a lifelong fan of telenovelas, I was instantly hooked on Alexis Daria's novel. First, can we talk about the cover? A gorgeous, sensual cover with two POC/Latinx looking devastatingly beautiful: CHECK. A plot with all the twists and turns? CHECK. Enemies to Lovers (my absolutely favorite trope) : CHECK! Alexis Daria had me hooked from the first chapter. She crafts a story with heart, family, and love at the center-- as well as a plot that is totally juicy.

Being dumped bu your ex in the tabloids would be a lot for anyone, but for Jasmine, it is totally devastating. She is trying to get her career off the ground. Ashton is a little older and his career has stalled so he really needs this new series. At first, faking chemistry to boost the show seemed force but they naturally fell into it. I alos love the fact that it was as if we were reading two books in one: The story of Jasmin and Ashton and then their characters, Victor and Carmen. (Ugh. I wish some network would greenlight a show like this for real). I also enjoyed Ashton as a dad in the story which seemed to not be an obstacle in their growing love for each other. Also, the diversity within Jasmine's own family highlights the diversity within Latinx communities

My only negative: the ending felt a bit rushed but all in all, it was an enjoyable read..

If you are a fan of Ugly Betty, Jane the Virgin, and all of the telenovelas on Telemundo, then this is definitely the book for you!

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After finding herself in the tabloids over her personal life, Jasmine Rodriguez resolves to put aside the drama of relationships and focus on herself and her career for the time being. She's ready to film a new bilingual romantic comedy in New York City, and to make a name for herself while doing so. When leading telenovela star Ashton Suarez is added to the cast at the last possible moment, and he spills coffee all over her, it doesn't feel like everything's going to plan. For Ashton, he's a nervous wreck because he really wants to break into a new market and prove he's not getting too old to be a heartthrob. They don't hit it off right away, and because their chemistry has been thrown off on set, they must rehearse together to kindle some on-screen magic. As they spend more time together, the script begins heating up, and so too do their hearts. Jasmine's afraid of being thrown to the paparazzi wolves again, and Ashton's hiding his own secrets, but will these reticent love birds be brought together in the end?⁣⁣
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The humor was so great here, and though I hadn't read anything from Alexis Daria before, I'm glad I dove into this romance-at-the-telenovela story! So much of this rang true and authentic to the Latinx family experience, and these two actors' families were great supporting characters as the leads dipped their toes in the waters of romance against their better judgment. I loved the attention to detail and the small touches and caresses that evolved into something altogether steamier and more intense as I turned the pages. I grew up watching and enjoying telenovelas, and this book was like being transported to one I could imagine even as the two actors created a romantic setting all their own. The cover illustration is pure gold, and the story kept me laughing and enjoying Jasmine and Ashton's antics through to the end. There's plenty of Spanish used in the book to great effect, and I'd love to read more books like this. Keep 'em coming, Alexis!⁣⁣
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⭐⭐⭐⭐.5 rounded to 5 stars!

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Steamy. Sassy. Sweet. Alexis Daria this was SO fun! Sizzling chemistry. Spicy banter. Quick... where is the fire extinguisher because this book is on FIRE! Cheesy, I know, but so is some of the fun Telenovela dialogue in this book... So I couldn’t help myself. Jasmine and Ashton meat on the set of a Telenovela being produced by the hottest newest streaming company. Jasmine is excited for this new role, but she is still dealing with the aftermath of her recent very public break up. Ashton is hoping this is the role that will propel him to the next level he’s got big dreams, but he also has a secret to hide. Jasmine and Ashton have instant chemistry, but neither of them are in a place in their lives for a serious relationship. After all... leading ladies don’t fall for their costars.

This was such an engaging electric story with some definite heat. Jasmine was such a fabulous character I just adored her. I also loved her cousins Michelle and Ava and I am really hoping that they will also get their own stories. Loved Jasmine’s big Puerto Rican family and all the culture throughout the story. Ashton came across a little awkward to me in the beginning of the book, although he did grow on me by the end. What I did like about him was how devoted to his family he was. BUT even though Ashton wasn’t my flavor of Margarita he was definitely jasmine’s and the chemistry really worked between them. I do however wish the connection between them was a little deeper, but I’m sure that will come in time. The audiobook was narrated by Seraphine Valentine Who did an excellent job. She definitely spiced up the book with her wonderful narration, especially when it came to the Spanish words. Love this romcom and I’m excited to see what is next from Alexis Daria!

This book in emojis 📸 🎬 🔥 🐍 ☕️ 🎂 🍹 🍕

*** Big thank you to William Morrow and Harper Audio for my gifted copy of this book. All opinions are my own. ***

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4.5 stars — In so many ways this was a typical romance — I could see the conflict coming from a mile away. But in other ways it was something altogether new and different — the challenges that each of our characters faced, their quirks, were wholly unique. And in the end, both aspects played out perfectly for me and I loved it!

I feel like no author ever outright writes characters with the kinds of flaws that existed for Jasmine and Ashton — and as such I loved that. Jasmine was this lost middle child looking for love and attention from every guy she met. That’s not unusual, but when do you see that represented in a heroine? Those kinds of characteristics are looked down upon, and yet they’re entirely valid. And through Jasmine we see how much it can fuck a person up, even if at the core the person is a kind-hearted good person. She’s smart, savvy, determined…but not without her scars from her family. And I loved that in general her family was actually a good family, they just had their flaws as well. It’s not always black and white, good and evil. Sometimes families can hurt even when they don’t have bad intentions. In fact, that’s the norm. I just loved the way that was presented. And I appreciated seeing Jasmine struggle with it, struggle with her self-worth, struggle with finding balance in her life, learn to love herself and be content just as she is, without exterior validation. And so it made me cheer when she did semi-accomplish that. She was not without her stumbles. It does make for a strange bedfellow to a romance novel — because you want her to get there, but you also want them to get together. And I thought Ms. Daria balanced that well.

Ashton, on the other hand, was filled with so much fear and anxiety. I loved how vulnerable and real that made him. So often we get these toxic ideas of masculinity in our heroes, and Ashton was presented just as he was — sexy and sweet, but with a lot of weight on his shoulders. I also loved that we got to see this guy who loved being a Dad, even as he struggled with balancing that part of his life as well. So often we see women struggling to balance career and family, and we got to see the other side of that with Ashton. He made some huge bumbles in this story, but I still felt for him. And even through Jasmine’s eyes, we were reminded of how long he’s lived with these secrets, and how much it has affected his life…she helped me be more forgiving, if that makes sense.

And they were fire together. I loved seeing them unable to resist the pull, even though neither of them was looking for a romance — quite the opposite! They had great chemistry, and I just wanted them to find their way together so badly.

There were a lot of elements of…forward thinking? in this story — some side characters that added to the diversity (a brief appearance of a non-binary individual, a fellow actor who was trans). And my favourite was wholeheartedly the addition of the intimacy coordinator, Vera! I loved seeing that process play out, and how it really helped the actors. I think normalizing that is fantastic, and it was exciting to see its addition.

I also loved seeing how much having this mainstream latinx show affected our characters — how to see themselves represented in normal lives and romances instead of as stereotypes really got to them. I loved seeing all the different flavours of latinx through the characters as well — and exploring some of the issues that they deal with (colour issues with Ashton, lack of bilingualism with Jasmine).

It was basically this adorable romance that I would have loved no matter what, sprinkled with a beautiful mix of issues that I’m not used to seeing represented. I want more.

As a side note: there were a lot of Spanish phrases in this story — sometimes they would be translated through reaction thoughts in our characters heads (like “I can’t believe he’s telling me to <blah>”), and sometimes not at all, but you can muddle through with context. But if you’re like me and NEED TO KNOW exactly what was said, may I introduce to you the Google Translate app! I seriously just pointed the camera at my Kindle and it translated in real time. Not always perfectly, but for someone who can’t stand not knowing every detail, it was a fabulously handy tool. Highly recommend.

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