Title: You Had Me at Hola
Author: Alexis Daria
Pub. Date: August 4th 2020
Pages: 384 Pages
🖤ARC provided by author in exchange for an honest review🖤
Jasmine Lin has just experienced a messy public break-up & can’t seem to escape the tabloids. At the start of this story, she’s relocating back to her home city of New York because she’s been cast for the role of a bi-lingual telenovela star. As leading lady of “Carmen in Charge” Jasmine will have the chance to represent a goal driven successful Latinx woman. Jasmine is Puerto-Rican/Filipina & can admit that often times she falls in love with being in love. This has led to many break-ups in the limelight & now it’s time to refocus her attention on her career. She’s come up with a small set of rules she’s only shared with her sisters in order to stay on track & put love on the back burner. For Jasmine the only challenge she expects to meet is that of having to speak solely Spanish for the role. As a Nuyorican, Spanish is more of a second language that she picked up on the fly. With her hands full she doesn’t expect to have her recent set of self imposed rules to be challenged by her hot co-star Ashton Suárez…
Ashton Suárez born and raised on the island of Puerto-Rico is looking to finally land a break-out role that could potentially lead him to the big screen. Often times cast as the male love interest in telenovelas, he’s hit a bit of a rough patch when he was killed off much too soon in his last role. Ashton is also bi-lingual & his biggest challenge can often be his accent because it has hindered him from much bigger productions in the English language. Ashton is also goal driven but he isn’t free of baggage having PTSD after being stalked by a fan. Ashton has a rule of his own, no dating the co-star due to some very personal reasons from his past.
I don’t know about you but 2020 has led me to start keeping a list of all the small blessings that come my way. This year I’ve discovered a few Latinx authors whose writing style feels like home. Alexis Daria gave me a walk down memory lane with this book. As a kid I had no choice but to watch telenovelas with my grandmothers & I LIVED for the over the top dramatics! haha! Now, it’s been quite a few years since I’ve watched one but You Had Me at Hola took such a nuanced approach by giving it a modern day outlook. These characters receive on the set coaches to help them with boundaries & comfort levels when it comes to physical touch. There’s tons of communication, this cast & crew operates more like one big family. This is something Jasmine has NEVER experienced. Seeing all different Latinx cultures on the set & Queer love represented by the staff makes her feel at home. This is what drives her to want to help make Carmen in Charge a break-out hit. Of course she does get side-tracked when she meets Ashton who seems to be super clumsy around her. There’s instant attraction & chemistry but both believe the other not to be interested.
I enjoyed seeing the on the set/off the set interactions between our MC’s because Daria threw in snippets of the lines for Carmen in Charge. We get a whole side story about the characters they’re cast to play & it was interesting seeing Jasmine & Ashton draw parallels between their fictional characters in the telenovela. There’s also a strong presence on behalf of the supporting characters who are the families of our MC’s. We get Spanish in the text that isn’t italicized but instead flows organically & beautifully which made me feel like they could’ve been my own family. There’s talk of stereotypes placed upon the Latinx communities & how that can affect certain career paths for both men & women in the industry of entertainment. There’s also talk of how this is something they take seriously because they’re sort of trail blazers in the Latinx community who can create opportunities for others such as themselves. There’s definitely a higher bar set for people of color & with that comes a lot of responsibilty to bear. What I also appreciated was that our MC’s were self aware of certain behavior patterns they needed to work through in order to change. Therapy is mentioned in a positive light & co-dependency as a toxic trait is addressed & also worked through. Last but not least I LOVED seeing Latinx people of color falling in love, crushing their goals & bringing that passion that makes us so proud of our cultures. Alexis Daria has made a fan out of me!
P.S. for those of you who are wondering…those steamy scenes we all live for in our romance books…they broke the chart!!!! I’ll leave it at that 😉
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