Hello friends! Vera here, and I’ve brought you two Hollywood romance novels I really enjoyed back in August. They gave me lots of comfort and made me happy as hell, which is why I wanted to share them with you today. I think we can all use a bit of those things right now. 💛
You Had Me At Hola by Alexis Daria
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.
I picked up You Had Me at Hola in an attempt to find something light and fast, and I got exactly that! This romance was such a delight that presented us with two main characters who have real fears and hopes, most importantly related to their career and public image. Here’s the thing, I saw someone interpret Ashton and Jasmine’s fear of their relationship going public as “immature”; after all, shouldn’t experienced actors be okay with speculations about their love life? I don’t think so, especially because both characters have valid reasons for wanting to steer clear of the media attention a relationship between them would bring.
Ashton is extremely careful to have a bland public image; he wants to protect his son and doesn’t need journalists digging into his life. Dating beautiful, rising-star Jasmine would not fit into his plan, particularly when the media has been obsessively reporting on Jasmine’s recent breakup. As for Jasmine, it is exactly because of the media attention she received that she wants to stay single – as the blurb tells us, she has set some very clear rules for herself, all of which she believes are necessary for her to succeed.
My only issue with the novel – besides the telenovela scenes being a tad cheesy – is that I think the main conflict between Aston and Jasmine could have been handled in a better way. While most of the novel was a nice, even ride and the actual ending was well-done, the big conflict towards the end was ridiculous and I didn’t like the way Jasmine handled it. She has shown herself to be a caring person who wanted this full Latinx production to do well for the sake of her own career and for everyone else on set. The idea that she would act in the way she did because of her personal conflict with Aston felt out of character to me.
Even so, You Had Me At Hola was a great reading experience. I grew extremely fond of the characters, and I loved the novel’s emphasis on family, which is something that meant everything to both of our main characters.
Something to Talk About by Meryl Wilsner
Hollywood powerhouse Jo is photographed making her assistant Emma laugh on the red carpet, and just like that, the tabloids declare them a couple. The so-called scandal couldn’t come at a worse time–threatening Emma’s promotion and Jo’s new movie.
As the gossip spreads, it starts to affect all areas of their lives. Paparazzi are following them outside the office, coworkers are treating them differently, and a “source” is feeding information to the media. But their only comment is “no comment”.
With the launch of Jo’s film project fast approaching, the two women begin to spend even more time together, getting along famously. Emma seems to have a sixth sense for knowing what Jo needs. And Jo, known for being aloof and outwardly cold, opens up to Emma in a way neither of them expects. They begin to realize the rumor might not be so off base after all…but is acting on the spark between them worth fanning the gossip flames?
Content warning: sexual assault, workplace harassment
Ah, we’ve arrived to one of my favorite books of the summer! After the initial excitement of an F/F romance being published by Berkley died down, I became quite scared of Something to Talk About. It sounded fantastic, don’t get me wrong, but it had a pretty low average rating, which I – for better or worse – always pay attention to. Thankfully, Becky read and loved this title, which prompted me to prioritize reading it.
After reading it, I looked into why people dislike it and while I can see why many could find this novel boring, I don’t agree with that. Something to Talk About is a slow-burn romance where it takes quite a lot of time for our protagonists to realize their feelings for each other, much less act on them. I like this about the book, as it was a nice respite from most romances where the characters have a fast, powerful connection, but it may not be everyone’s cup of tea.
Besides writing a soft romance, the author clearly did tons of research on Hollywood and thought long and hard about how to present certain topics in the novel, such as work place harassment. The atmosphere she created felt true to Hollywood, and I appreciated the way she highlighted the good, the bad, and everything in-between about the film/tv show industry.
Overall, Something to Talk About was a relaxing, adorable romance novel that highlighted the importance of friendship and family, while also showing that not all family members will have your best interest at heart. I loved the slow, subtle changes in the protagonists’ relationship, and I can’t wait to read the author’s future works.
Have you read either of these novels? What did you think of them? Do you enjoy Hollywood and celebrity romances? Why/Why not?