I enjoyed this book filled with the glamorous (and dramatic) world of telenovelas. It was a delight to read, and also very steamy at times. It’s also one of the most diverse romance books I’ve read in 2020, making it a wonderfully refreshing read.
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.
You Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria is about two rising entertainment stars of the Latinx community, Jasmine and Ashton, looking for their big break. These two get cast together on a telenovela titled, “Carmen in Charge,” and things start to heat up on and off the screen between the two leads. While the trouble and then the romantic sparks ensue, I found myself drawn in by the writing and romance, and I adored the accurate representation of Latinx culture. It was an element that you could tell the author took diligent time developing. There are a lot of great moments discussing the importance of Latinx representation in Hollywood, along with nice family moments that play an important role in the story.
Jasmine is fiery, honest, genuine, and just loves hard. She’s trying to prove herself and moves to New York for her new gig while also escaping (and healing from) her humiliating break up that was splashed all over the tabloids. She falters at times (making her human AND frustrating), but she’s aware of her flaws, and tries her best to heal her heart while also looking for a clean slate and fresh start-albeit, more difficult than she first realizes when she meets her new co-star.
“Jasmine did trust easily, and look where it had gotten her. She could see now it was a direct response to feeling ignored and misunderstood by her parents and siblings. It was why she’d readily given her heart to every semi-attractive man who’d even shown her an ounce of attention. She sought her parents’ love by securing romantic relationships, because in her family, that was what made you a success. But that wasn’t healthy. And trust wasn’t meant to be given in one lump sum. It was earned, little by little.”
Ashton is handsome, hardworking, charming, loves his job and family, and is also a bit frustrating (but what man isn’t?). He has secrets and works hard to keep his life private, but is ready to make his Hollywood dreams a reality hoping his new acting gig will finally get him the spotlight he needs, but what will it cost to keep people interested while also trying to keep some semblance of a professional relationship? It’s a tough balance, but that’s what makes this novel fun as he tries to resist his tempting co-star, sometimes making this book feel like an enemy-to-lovers, but not quite.
Although the plot sometimes felt slightly unrealistic, I enjoyed reading two type of love stories at the same time. You get the fictional relationship in the telenovela, and also the sparks that fly between Jasmine and Ashton off screen. It’s the chemistry between these two that kept me wanting to read this book to the very end. It was humorous, romantic, and next level hot. I found myself rooting for both storylines.
Overall, romance readers and fans of telenovela adapted shows like, Jane the Virgin and Ugly Betty, will love this Latinx rom-com filled with wonderfully high doses of culture, wit, sexiness, and fun.