Cover Image: You Had Me at Hola

You Had Me at Hola

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Member Reviews

I really adored this romance. The setting, the two love interests, and the diversity. Was a welcome addition to the romance canon. I look forward to seeing more from this author.

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Sweet romance, fun cover, I think this is a great summer read. I've been a fan of the author's since I read her Dance Off series. One of the things I loved about that series was its setting at a TV dance competition. In her new novel, Alexis turns her sights to a Latinx TV streaming drama being filmed with Latinx stars, Jasmine from an American soap opera background, Ashton from a telenovela background. Their experiences as actors are similar, and their career goals are similar, with both of them hoping that their roles on this new drama will take their careers to a higher level, and expose them to new fans. The setting and characters were refreshingly different from the usual romance and I was fascinated by the glimpses into the filming of the drama. There were some big differences in their outlooks, though, with Jasmine being almost too open in her personal life and too willing to take chances for love, while Ashton was completely closed off due to a previous bad incident with a stalker and to the big secret he was keeping.

In addition to the main story, there was a story within a story going on as some chapters were written from the viewpoints of the fictional characters, Carmen and Victor, that Jasmine and Ashton were playing. This was an interesting dynamic because IRL, Jasmine and Ashton spent very little time together initially due to Ashton's guarded nature, but at the same time, their characters were spending lots of screen time together so in a way, they were getting to know each other through their fictional characters' story arcs. Initially, I felt like their real life romance came out of the blue, with no buildup, but then I realized that this was very much in keeping with what happens on a TV or movie set, and is one reason why so many actors end up having flings with their co-stars. I thought the author did a good job of portraying this dynamic. Overall, really liked this romance and I'll be looking forward to her next one. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advance copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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There's a joy that's hard to describe when you see your culture, your life experience represented in entertainment.  So seeing two Puerto Rican leading characters living complicated, occasionally messy, yet full lives coming together and falling in love while working together? Ay Dios mio I can't begin to tell you how fun it was to read for me. 
At one point (if you read, you'll know which part), I actually started humming Que Bonita Bandera to myself. I loved that you got to see a bit of that Nuyorican vs. Borinquen experience play out on page, because there is definitely a difference, but it's all the same love and pride for our little island in the Caribbean.  
As for the story, Ashton and Jasmine are two actors chosen to lead a new telenovela-style show on a leading streaming service, and after a messy meet cute, they begin to figure out how to play their character's love story while navigating their own chemical reaction to each other. Things get complicated when feelings get involved, and secrets come tumbling out, but along the way, sweet, sweet romancia sucede (romance happens). :)
As you can probably tell, I was all on board with the Spanish liberally sprinkled throughout this tale, and the central theme of family first is absolutely culturally appropriate. The Primas (Cousins) of Power text thread was a delight.  There's a blunt honesty that only your family can give you that's tempered with love that felt very real and if there's more to come with these primas, sign me up. 
Beyond the cultural accuracy, it's just a damn good workplace romance. The camaraderie Ashton and Jasmine had to develop to make their characters' (Victor and Carmen) romantic scenes work were great opportunities to see their feelings build for each other in "real life." It was fascinating to see the inner workings of a TV show and the way romantic scenes are set up. This is definitely a story within a story, so seeing the parallels between the characters and differences gave a depth to the tale and it's just fun to imagine working on a soap. And that ending to the show!! That's classic soap 101. 
Now, as we got further along, there's a central layer of secrets that gave alot of tension to this tale and made me, on more than one occasion, want to give these guys una bofetada (a slap...preferably upside the head tbh). But I loved that Ms. Daria didn't resolve everything too easily, she played the fallout, and allowed the reader to come around and understand the reasons behind some of those moves, which I appreciated.  My only caveat is if you have a low tolerance for emotional foolishness, your mileage may vary with this.
The resolution to the conflict, and the way the characters got the chance to grow and learn from their mistakes, gave me hope and made their HEA all the better for it. I happily recommend this to anyone interested in a real Latinx romance with a soapy flair. I know I cannot wait to see what's next from Ms. Daria.
**ARC provided by publisher via netgalley for review**

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Absolutely entrancing! This has everything I could want in a contemporary romance and made me laugh aloud several times. The plot was good with enough times that I gasped in concern at a twist or pitfall; the characters were believably multi-layered and messy, as readers got to see their motivations and their flaws. Also, the cover is gorgeous!

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A big thank you to netgalley and the publisher for access to this arc.

The blurb sounded interesting and I was excited about the multicultural aspects. But I’m afraid only part of it worked for me.

“You Had Me at Hola” certainly checks diversity boxes – Jasmine and Ashton are both from Puerto Rican families and all of Jasmine’s twelve Nuyorican cousins are biracial. The cast they’re working with on the show are all Latinx and there is one trans character (though he’s not a big part of the book) as well as a non binary assistant. Plus a special intimacy coordinator on set who deals with consent to be sure there are safe spaces for everyone, Ashton, too!

In the past, I've read reviews which mention and had readers complain of how foreign languages are used in majority English language books. Here there is lots of Spanish – some is sprinkled one word at a time in an otherwise English sentence while at other times entire sentences are in Spanish. There is enough context around these to get an idea what is being said and it all felt natural. Yet since I’m not a Spanish speaker, I can’t vouch for this.

I liked the peek into the differences in Latinx cultures. Ashton is Puerto Rican and worried that audiences might not accept him as much as they would a Spanish actor. Raised as a Nuyorican, Jasmine is part Puerto Rican (father) and part Philipino (mother) and mainly spoke English at home and thus, to the surprise of her castmates, doesn’t speak Spanish as fluently as they thought she would. Ashton (real name Angel Luis) also has to deal with colorism in the Latinx community. He tells Jasmine it isn’t as bad as it used to be but he still worries about tanning.

The scenes of Jasmine and Ashton talking about their experiences in soap operas and telenovelas was fun. Both have a love/hate relationship with the vehicles that have launched them but I was tickled that Jasmine’s is still much more love.

At first I liked the idea of some chapters being told as the shooting script and filming of the show. Then the picky details of filming began to bore me. There are a ton of cast characters and crew for the show and it seemed that as each was introduced we had to get a run down of what they looked like and what they were wearing. Not needed. There were also a lot of little info dumps and moments when Jasmine or Ashton would mentally wander off and spend 3/4 of a page thinking about something so that by the time the dialog started up again, I’d lost the thread of conversation.

Then there was the scene where intimacy coordinator Vera was assisting Jasmine and Ashton work out the blocking of the first kiss scene. I think this was meant to be a slow burn sexy scene but instead it became dry and clinical. Blah. After they have to try seventeen takes of The Kiss and still they, plus the entire crew, feel “something is missing,” it seemed a metaphor for how I feel about their romance.

No matter how many times I was told that Ashton and Jasmine thought the other attractive and sexy, they didn’t interact due to Ashton’s fear for his privacy due to his son. He always withdraws from contact with anyone on set as soon as the rehearsal or shooting is done so as to building heat … yeah, nothing. It was not until halfway through the book that they began to spend any real time together and then suddenly BAM it was hot and steamy sexy times that seemed to spring out of nowhere.

The book also suffered from a pet peeve of mine which is lots of repetition and restating what we’ve already been told. Soon I was getting as irritated as Ashton’s father about Ashton’s constant obsession with the past, why he fears for his son, and that he will never let anyone into his life. I got it. I understood it. I understood it the first 4 times it was explained. It made sense but didn’t need to be on the page that many times. Jasmine had issues with her family that led to the way she craved attention and acceptance but these weren’t shown nearly as many times.

The final straw for me was the way Ashton managed to turn everything into how it affected him. The last argument he had with Jasmine cemented the feeling I had that she could do better. Sure Ashton’s handsome and has a darling son. His family are nice and I found myself liking his father better than I liked Ashton. Even the reconciliation scene fell flat for me and I wasn’t convinced he’d done all he could to earn Jasmine’s trust again. In the epilogue we’re supposed to see how wonderful everything is but honestly based on what I read, I’d still be holding my breath were I Jasmine. So good parts and not so good parts averaged to a C for me.

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Jasmine has a lot of issues to work through. Her boyfriend just dumped her in the tabloids. She is starting a new show back home in New York and is trying to hide out from all the negative press. Her family, while she does adore them, also works her nerves. They are constantly pressuring her to return to the East Coast. To make matters worse, her co-star got injured and is being replaced with the hot telenovela star, Ashton.

Ashton is just trying to maintain his privacy and elevate his career. He is tired of being known as a possible telenovela actor and wants to sink his teeth into more serious roles. So landing this job as the lead male on Carmen in Charge is the perfect opportunity to prove himself. The problem is that his co-star makes him want to break all of his rules.

I really enjoyed this story. This book is an instant grab for me. The author is now officially on my radar. This has the perfect blend of romance, comedy, and bit of low angst for my taste. I started one evening and didn’t stop until the last page.

Ashton has experienced a lot so I can understand why he is guarded. He got involved with another actress and she left him with a child. I think the whole issue revolving his son is a contrived. I get why he didn’t want to expose him to the world but the secrecy was a bit overboard. It created angst where there was no real need for angst.

They did have explosive chemistry. I expected a bit more sweetness in the bedroom but they couldn’t hold back on the passion. They lit up the sheets whenever possible!

The author uses the angsty drama of the acting scenes between “Victor and Carmen” to illustrate the growing connections between Jasmine and Ashton. I love the behind the scenes look at the process of creating a show.

The showcase of the Latinx community is appreciated as the author navigates “colorism”, family, language barriers and even how the drama behind telenovelas. I love love being able to dive into more diverse romances and I can’t wait to read more by Alexis Daria.

~ Samantha

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Quick and to the point: I really enjoyed this! It's a great story with a well-negotiated balance between humor, angst, sweetness, and sexiness. I thought intertwining the <i>Carmen</i> scripts with the rest of the plot was an interesting way to advance the plot and gives the reader a unique glimpse into the mind of the MCs. It doesn't make my personal top-tier shelf because it's more of an emotional love tap than a full-on punch to the solar plexus (keep in mind my personal scale of angst is ridiculously skewed compared to most people), but I love the way Alexis Daria handles these characters' personal baggage and growth. This is a book I would feel comfortable handing to almost anyone to try.

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3.5 stars!

Pros: I loved the overall plot and the incorporation of scenes from the TV show Ashton and Jasmine were filming together. Their chemistry and the smut was also 🔥🔥🔥. I also really enjoyed all of the characters.

Cons: I felt like the plot kind of meandered at times, especially in the second half. Because of that, I felt like the book was “losing steam” a bit as it went along.

Overall, I had a good time with this one and am looking forward to reading more from this author, but it’s unfortunately not a new favorite of mine.

**Thank you NetGalley and the publisher for providing an e-arc in exchange for an honest review!!**

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First, can we just start by admiring this cover? It's gorgeous and incredible and does an exceptional job of catching people's eyes and luring them in. I could likely stare at this cover for hours and be perfectly happy.

Now as for the actual story, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The chemistry between Jasmine and Ashton was evident and sexy, though it took them a minute to find their stride together. Their first meeting was a disaster and watching them awkwardly navigate their first staged kiss was endearing and amusing. Ashton is so used to keeping his life incredibly private and hiding secrets from everyone that he is initially standoffish and makes no effort to connect with Jasmine and the rest of the crew. But as he allows himself to open up more, a sweet and thoughtful man is revealed that you can't help but love. He'll dance with Jasmine in a grocery isle, work on her Spanish with her, and tell dad jokes with a grin. Swoon!

Jasmine is a wonderful character. She has spent so much of her life looking for external validation that she has ended up dating the wrong guys, and her most recent experience has resulted in her private life splashed across the tabloids. Starting this book off, she resolves that she will work to be a strong Leading Lady who is successful and can stand on her own. Watching her find her footing towards this goal while also falling for Ashton - something she swore she wouldn't do - was both relatable and inspiring. On the one hand she felt like she was falling into the same old routine, but on the other she kept reminding herself of her own worth and started putting herself first. I was so proud of her throughout.

Jasmine is everything Ashton thinks he doesn't want in his life (with all her publicity and the fact that she is his costar) but it turns out she is just what he needs. They work so well together, but they also have a lot that they need to work through in terms of personal baggage. I loved this book with its humor, the chemistry between the leads, and the sexy times between Jasmine and Ashton. However, I did lose some steam when I got to the conflict of the book because I have a hard time when conflicts revolve around secrets and miscommunications. I also thought that Ashton was a bit out of line with some things he said while in the midst of that conflict. However, having never been in that situation myself, I can't say that I wouldn't do something very similar. With that said though, if I take out my initial bias when it comes to this type of conflict, I feel like the characters' reactions to what happened fit with who they were and was overall handled well. I also think that Jasmine and Ashton put in a lot of effort after this moment to make sure that they become stronger as a couple and as individual people, so it balances out.

All that being said, this read was probably 4.5 stars for me, rounded up because I acknowledge that I have some biases that might have affected my enjoyment. From the way Daria referenced Jasmine's cousins' dating lives, I felt like this was a lead in to a new series, but so far it appears to be a stand alone. I just want to be on the record as saying that I would be thrilled if Ava and Michelle got their own stories.

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Jasmine Lin has just been dumped. Again. But she’s absolutely determined that this is the last time, and as she’s about to start filming a brand-new romantic comedy series for one of the biggest online streaming services out there, she’s established a few rules to make sure she doesn’t fall for any more famous men. But when a last-minute casting change has her playing opposite sexy telenovela star Ashton Suárez, she’ll soon find that sticking to her promises is going to be a lot more challenging than she thought.

This was by far one of my favorite rom-com reads of the year thus far. Jasmine and Ashton were such endearing, messy, believable characters, both bringing such rich backgrounds and experiences to the story. I absolutely loved Jasmine’s cousins - and can’t wait to see the sequels that Alexis is bound to whip up highlighting those two - as well as Ashton’s family (especially Yadiel). I also thought it was fantastic that the story not only featured such a diverse Latinx cast but also brought in a variety of gender identities and expressions, as well as important discussions about consent.

My only criticism would be that the epilogue felt like it was trying to wrap up too much all at once, especially bringing in the Jasmine and Ashton had been seeking post-Esperanza’s party. While I thought it was great to discuss the need for such therapy, especially in regard to Ashton’s continued fear and anxiety, it felt very sudden thrown into the story in that way.

All told, this was a 4.5/5 star read for me, and I’m beyond excited to see what Daria puts out next!

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Hola Indeed!

My love of soap operas began when I was little and watched them with grandma while my mom went to pick up my sister from school; my grandma called it our time. My tenth grade Spanish teacher Señora Barrientos assigned us telenovelas to watch to improve our listening skills, and I was hooked on the story lines! So when I saw that You Had Me at Hola features not only a soap opera start but also a telenovela star I was sold!

Jasmine and Ashton both hope that starring in a Latinx centered rom-com for the biggest streaming service will boost their careers. They also both hate the media attention that comes with being in television. And they both have rules about sleeping with costars, but rules are meant to be broken!

There is so much that I loved about this book, from the dual love stories of Carmen and Victor on camera and Jasmine and Ashton off camera to my FAVORITE trope being done perfectly to the beautiful exploration of family! I also adored the normalization of bilingualism (writers of Latinx characters shouldn’t have to translate every Spanish word or phrase used), trans acceptance, and the use of personal lubricant during intimate scenes.

It was also so refreshing to see character at work and working!!! So often they have these really cool jobs that they are always just heading off to, leaving, or taking a break from.

I desperately hope we get more of the Carmen in Charge family and/or the Primas of Power!

I received a complimentary review copy of this book but all opinions are my own.

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Hello Fellow Readers,

As a child I remember my abuelita had one rule and that was no talking during her telenovelas. Since she was the one who took care of me at the time I typically would have to watch them with her. When I read the synopsis for this book I knew I had to read it, and while it's not as outlandish as some telenovelas I've seen, some of which were mentioned in this book (I'm talking about you Maria de la Bario), I really loved this book.

Jasmine was such a sweetheart, but also a Jefa queen, and Aston was just so cute. The romance was great from the beginning, and wasn't insta-love which is a huge plus and the attraction you feel between the two was so palpable. This was a book about two people falling in very real love, and I really loved the small moments where they just get to know each other. By the time it got to the steamier moments, I was so in love with them as a couple.

Neither of these two are perfect so of course they hit a major roadblock. Their argument and falling out was a little ridiculous with Aston just so emotionally closed off and stubborn, while Jasmine reacted reckless and selfishly, but I am so glad for their families and their meddling so the too can take their heads out of their...yeah.

Daria's writing and character really captured my heart, that when the epilogue rolled around I was so sad to see them go because I wasn't ready to release them. Also, I found it very refreshing to actually see Latinx characters speaking Spanish, not just some words but full blown sentences! This made my heart soar even more. May I suggest a sequel with either Michelle or Ava as the leads? They deserve a happy ending as well.

Overall, a really great romance with steamy scenes and family antics.

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Cute and super hot summer read.

What I loved about this book?
-the super steamy and explicit sex scenes
-the immediate connection between the characters (thank God there was no dragging cat and mouse game)

What I didn’t like:
-how the “bump” on the road to this love story was not believable. The starring actors of Carmen In Charge were not A-listers. Yet, they were constantly harassed by the press and paparazzi’s, they had to preserve their private lives, had to deal with stalking fans and TMZ-like websites digging for dirt.. I kept asking myself whether I was reading a love story between two Hollywood superstars or were they really just telenovelas celebrities as described in the book –-big difference between the two. This was a bit far-fetched, Consequently, I rated it a 3-star instead of a 4.

I recommend it to anyone looking for a fun and sexy read by the pool this summer.

Thank you Net Galley and HarperCollins Publishers for this e-galley in exchange for my honest review

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You Had Me at Hola is one of my favorite reads of the summer. Filled with strong Latinx characters, laugh-out-loud humor, and a touching romance, this book should be on your must read list.

Jasmine is fairly well-known from her work in soap operas, but it’s her relationship and very messy breakup with a rock star that’s keeping her in the headlines. Hoping to move on and up, she’s set to star in a new bilingual rom-com on a major streaming platform. Having lived her adult life in California, she’s back home in New York working on the show. Her romantic lead is Ashton Suarez, her grandmother’s favorite telenovela star.

Ashton is feeling a bit dejected after he was killed off of his last show. At almost forty, Ashton dreams of becoming a Hollywood star and sees this new show as a springboard to fame. However, he has secrets that must stay buried and doesn’t like the media attention Jasmine brings to the show.

Jasmine and Ashton are rom-com gold. From their “meet cute” failure when he accidentally spills coffee on her to their candid conversations and private rehearsals, it is evident to the characters and readers alike that Jasmine and Ashton have something special. What’s great about the way the story is written is how the author shares scenes from the TV characters’ POVS as the actors are filming; we see Carman and Victor, rather than Jasmine and Ashton. It gives readers insight on how the pair grow close (gaining feelings) because of being submersed into their roles.

Even though You Had Me at Hola is light and fun, there are darker moments and real hurt as the couple evolve and secrets come out (because you know they always do!). This is what makes a good story great: we see all sides of the characters; they are three dimensional. I cried some ugly tears at one point.

Another wonderful thing about the story is Jasmine’s relationship with her family, especially her cousins. I love how Jasmine realizes she has a problem crushing on handsome men, and instead of hiding the fact she’s crushing on Ashton, she looks to her cousins for help. And when her cousin texts “turn off your phone” she just does. She knows her cousins have her back and trusts them completely.

You Had Me at Hola is smart, funny, and an entertaining romance with a strong female lead and a diverse cast of characters. I strongly urge you to pick this one up!

My Rating: A- Enjoyed A Lot

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An amusing own voices romance that explores the complex dynamics of family, career ambitions, and the darker sides of fame. Jasmine Rodriguez, a soap opera actress, is thrilled at the chance to take a turn as a leading lady in a new show. More exciting is the opportunity to star opposite telenovela heavyweight (and her abuela’s favorite actor) Ashton Suárez. Both are career driven and focused on making this show a success. But their growing attraction might just take everything off the rails.

High drama and strong character development make this book shine. Latinx characters and culture get a well deserved spotlight and the inclusion of LGBTQ and gender non-binary characters doesn’t come across as tokenism. I personally would have preferred the interlude chapters showing scenes from “Carmen in Charge” to be written in a script or teleplay format rather than standard prose, but that’s a small quibble. This was my first time reading Alexis Daria, but it won’t be the last. I look forward to recommending this to romance readers at my library, especially fans of Christina Lauren.

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If I tell you I loved this book, it won't convey how much I actually loved it. I couldn't put it down. I just had to have more of Jasmine and Ashton in my life. This book was a perfect mix of things I love and thing I need more of in my life and it was absolute perfection.

I grew up watching novelas so the setting of this book just felt super nostalgic. Jasmine's family reminded me of my own. Family gatherings full of people yet finding your "people" among them. Especially in times like right now where family gatherings are just not a thing, this definitely made me wistful for the next time my cousins and I can next gather around the kitchen table while hiding from everyone else. There's just something about seeing Latinx characters and families that made my heart so full.

I am a huge sucker for a behind the scenes kind of story. In this book we go behind the scenes of this new show Jasmine and Ashton are in and I loved all of it, the interaction with cast members, the prep that goes into each episode, I also definitely loved getting little bits of the episodes mixed in with the chapters.

Now, on to why we're all here, the romance. The romance was perfection. It's the kind of love that happens slowly, yet entirely too fast. Ashton and Jasmine are both drawn to each other right away, but Ashton keeps this kind of mysterous mask on at all times. I do love that we get his POV cause I feel like if we hadn't he definitely would have come across as a bit of an asshole for a bit. I loved watching both of their vulnerabilities and how they help each other and support each other through them.

I just loved this book. Every second of it.

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I was super excited to be approved for this novel especially after seeing all the great reviews. But, honestly, this to me felt like one of those books that is pushed hard by the publisher and touted as something new. I liked the book, it was fun and a little steamy, but it brought nothing new to the table. I would label it a quick, steamy romance.

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This book is sweet, sexy, and romantic. Jasmine is a great, sympathetic lead trying to enjoy her success in a family that doesn’t recognize it. Ashton is a sweet, kind guy who shuts himself off to protect his family and himself.
The end is satisfying and earned, and the is a realistic depiction of a big family, as well as loss, and vulnerability.
Real emotional intimacy coupled with sexual intimacy make Ashton and Jasmine a great couple.

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Jasmine is making the leap from soap operas to a drama on a streaming service. She's ready to become a Leading Lady and make jefe moves. Ashton is making the leap from telenovelas to the same show, ready to become a household name outside of telenovelas. But he's keeping a secret, and the tabloids love Jasmine, yet their attraction is strong.

So much of this book is about the importance of family - how it can drive us crazy, but how it can make us whole. Jasmine's family is large, and her cousins are her best friends. Ashton's family is much smaller, and he's suffering some PTSD from a traumatic incident with a stalker seven years ago. Each brings their issues to their relationship.

Much of the book takes place in and around the set of "Carmen in Charge," the show they're shooting for a Netflix style streaming service (and I ended up with the Charles in Charge theme song in my head frequently while reading). It's a fun setting, which offers opportunities for comedy - notably their meet-cute.

The cast is filled with Latinx characters from many backgrounds, and Spanish is used in the text. My 20 year old HS knowledge got me through most of it, and the translate function on my kindle got me through the rest, so it remains accessible for those of us who are mostly mono-lingual.

I really enjoyed Jasmine and Ashton. They're both trying to resist, trying to do what they think is best, but they can't resist each other. And it gets very steamy indeed.

I got teary at the end of the story. I hadn't expected it, but the last few chapters were so fulfilling and sweet that it filled my heart.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own..

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People like to talk about how romance is a feminist genre, and that's true in certain cases — but this is a book I would thrust into someone's hands for a perfect example of what that means. Inclusive, sexy as hell, feminist, refreshing, you name it and this book's got it. There's a moment when Ashton screws up (because of course, misunderstandings abound), but rather than go to Jasmine after he's already said some harsh things, he decides to himself that he won't force her to perform any more emotional labor and that he'll give her some space to process her feelings. More of THIS in romance, please! It was so, so good and I couldn't read it fast enough; is it just me or is there some tempting sequel bait in here between Jasmine's cousin and her agent Riley? Seconding others in saying that this is one of my favorite romances within 2020's releases, and I look forward to reading more from Daria as an author!

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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