Blurb: Leading Ladies do not end up on tabloid covers.
After a messy public breakup, soap opera darling Jasmine Lin Rodriguez finds her face splashed across the tabloids. When she returns to her hometown of New York City to film the starring role in a bilingual romantic comedy for the number one streaming service in the country, Jasmine figures her new “Leading Lady Plan” should be easy enough to follow—until a casting shake-up pairs her with telenovela hunk Ashton Suárez.
Leading Ladies don’t need a man to be happy.
After his last telenovela character was killed off, Ashton is worried his career is dead as well. Joining this new cast as a last-minute addition will give him the chance to show off his acting chops to American audiences and ping the radar of Hollywood casting agents. To make it work, he’ll need to generate smoking-hot on-screen chemistry with Jasmine. Easier said than done, especially when a disastrous first impression smothers the embers of whatever sexual heat they might have had.
Leading Ladies do not rebound with their new costars.
With their careers on the line, Jasmine and Ashton agree to rehearse in private. But rehearsal leads to kissing, and kissing leads to a behind-the-scenes romance worthy of a soap opera. While their on-screen performance improves, the media spotlight on Jasmine soon threatens to destroy her new image and expose Ashton’s most closely guarded secret.
Review: The beautiful cover, with it's bright colors and unique style, is what first drew my interest to the romantic comedy You Had Me At Hola by Alexis Daria. I knew I wanted something that gorgeous on my bookshelves, regardless of content. In fact, I didn't even read a blurb before adding an autographed copy to my online shopping cart with the independent romance-only bookstore Loves Sweet Arrow on Bookstore Romance Day. When the package arrived I eagerly ripped it open and curled up on the couch to enjoy.
What I got from this stunningly wrapped book was a fun story along the lines of Jane the Virgin which I'd binged last year with my then-roommate. The story, occasionally told through script-like scenes acted out by the main characters, was definitely a fun read, quite different from what I had been reading lately. It did remind me a little of Waiting on Tom Hanks with the whole making a movie and famous actors and quirky side characters (so if you like that book you'll probably like this one). I really appreciated that the main characters were older (thirties/forties) as it was a refreshing break from the so many popular traditionally published novels I'd been reading lately with early-twenties heroes and heroines. Yay for age diversity!
The heroine, Jasmine, is reeling from a very public break up with a famous musician. I appreciated the author's willingness to put to paper Jasmine's awareness of her desire to be loved, no matter by who. It made for interesting character development to have her realize that maybe it isn't just being loved, but who loves you that makes the difference. She wasn't a perfect heroine, and there were times I was supremely irritated by her poor judgment, but she won me over with her imperfections, charm, and drive.
The hero, Ashton, wants to keep his life as private as possible, even if it means distancing himself from his co-stars. I very much enjoyed that, despite his fame as a telenovela actor, Ashton still had insecurities about his advancing age and his place in the ever-changing world of entertainment. It was refreshing to have a hero who wasn't over the top confident, but allowed to be nervous and doubt himself and worry what the pretty heroine thinks of his bumbling. The traumatic event in his past, and the way in which the author wove in some anxiety issues and PTSD, were delicately handled and it was interesting to see Ashton begin to realize that these issues were standing between him and his happiness.
That said, while I loved so many parts of the books I'll admit that I had a bit of a bone to pick with the fact that both these relatively famous--let's say B-level--actors lacked confidence on set and had an abundance of insecurity issues, as it pertained to their careers and costars, that seemed a little at odds with their rising stardom and past history of films/television shows. Paired with their more advanced age I might have expected a little more maturity or professionalism from them--at times, I forgot they were in their thirties/forties because their internal dialogues seemed more like those of an insecure actor just starting out--but then I guess if heroes and heroines were perfect there'd be no way to inject a little drama into the story. Even movies stars must get nervous sometimes.
All in all, this was a cute, easy read. It wasn't electrifyingly sexy or anything like that, but rather more of a sultry vibe with enough drama and charming secondary characters to have me reading it in one sitting.