I'm kind of obsessed with Mina V. Esguerra's romances. They have the steamy, romantic vibe of something you would find in Avon's line-up, only most of her books are set in the Philippines and feature Asian heroes and heroines. I first found out about this author through one of my friends who saw me reading a Six de Los Reyes book and told me about #romanceclass, and the circle of Filipino writers who wrote romances under this hashtag.
The Chic Manila series is a chatty, modern set of romances featuring progressively-minded women who work, who are trying to navigate the obstacle-laden field of relationships in addition to figuring out who they are as people and what they want out of life. The best way to describe these books is as a coming-of-age story for adults in their late-twenties/early-thirties.
BETTER AT WEDDINGS THAN YOU features a hero and a heroine who are both wedding planners. Aaron is pretty small potatoes and gets most of his clients through his sister. His current job is with his childhood friend, Helen, but her husband-to-be, Greg, is firing Aaron because he's afraid Helen is in love with him. Daphne is Aaron's replacement, and one of Greg's friends. She's a little leery of the whole situation, and also of Aaron, but because Aaron has all of the details up to this point, they end up deciding to collaborate and save the wedding.
Obviously, this being a romance, the two of them end up falling for each other. This leads to some very sexy scenes; this is definitely one of the steamier Esguerra books I have read - not that I'm complaining. But Esguerra romances are fraught with last act crises, and Aaron's and Daphne's burgeoning romance isn't exempt from this. Daphne's been burned too many times before and isn't very interested in romantic relationships. Aaron is an ex-playboy who's starting to realize that he wants to settle down, but he isn't quite sure what to do with a girl like Daphne. And then there's Helen - Helen, who is a total piece of work and deserves a whole subreddit of her own on r/Nicegirls.
Screw you, Helen.
I really enjoyed BETTER AT WEDDINGS than you. I've liked all of the Esguerra books I've read to varying degrees, but this was definitely one of her best. I love reading romances when the heroines have jobs, and are good at their jobs, and it was so great to read about Daphne being as passionate about her work as she later becomes about her love life. And it's also really cool to see a hero with a job that wouldn't be traditionally considered macho or manly (i.e. wedding planning). He was also very nice and 100% not about that cad life. I was able to ship the two of them without any guilt.
If you like sweet romances with strong women and positive messages about work, sex, and love, I really do recommend these books.
4 out of 5 stars
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