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I can think of very few things that feel as satisfying and wonderful as when you’ve been waiting patiently (or, in my case, impatiently) for a book and you finally read it and it’s everything you hoped it would be. With You Had Me at Hola, it was everything I hoped it would be and then some.
After a very messy and public breakup, Jasmine Lin Rodriguez is sick of seeing her face splashed across the tabloids and wants to focus on her newest project, starring in the new bilingual romantic comedy for the country’s biggest streaming service (basically, a Netflix original). Carmen in Charge has the potential to really help Jasmine’s career take-off and she doesn’t want anything to get in the way or distract her. A last-minute casting change complicates things, however, when Ashton Suarez is cast as her new romantic lead.
Having just been killed off of his last telenovela, Ashton is worried that Carmen in Charge is his last chance at resurrecting his career. Like Jasmine, he’s not interested in any distractions—and he’s also got his young son and family in Puerto Rico to think about—so the last thing he wants is to get involved with someone who’s splashed all over the tabloids. Despite both of their desires not to get distracted, from the moment the two of them meet, their connection seems absolutely inevitable.
If you only read one romance this year (although, why would you?), read You Had Me at Hola. Again, I don’t know why you’d limit yourself to one romance, and I’d probably ask if you’re okay, but I say this to really hit home how special and wonderful You Had Me at Hola is. It is well written, engaging, steamy (seriously, the chemistry between Ashton and Jasmine is some of the best I’ve ever seen!), and so lovable.
I also loved how Daria alternated between the main story between Ashton and Jasmine and then scenes from Carmen in Charge. The scenes from Carmen in Charge were relevant and pushed the story forward in a way that allowed both Ashton and Jasmine to grapple with their emotions and conflicts while also struggling to separate the show from reality. It added this extra dimension that really set the story apart from its contemporaries.
Daria also did a phenomenal job at integrating diverse representation in a very natural and organic way. For example, there’s a non-binary character that is introduced in a very casual and normal way (as it should be!). And of course, the problematic representation of and lack of opportunities for Latinx folks is an important aspect of the story.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This has not impacted or influenced my opinions.