I was intrigued when I heard about this anthology. I’ve really loved reading already released and some upcoming romance class books (i’m slowly trying to work my way through the ones already out there) so I was pretty interested in this one as it features six stories set in six different provinces in the Philippines.
Only the Beginning By C. P. Santi
First things first, the hero has dimples! i’m a sucker for them ok 🙂 Dimples aka Martin and Andi first meet when she basically interrupts his speech with her outburst at a meeting, and they meet again when she’s visiting her dad’s grave.
I love how aspects of the culture are revealed in there. Andi goes to visit her dad’s grave and we get this nugget of info:
“I wore Nanay’s ring— the one with a diamond in the middle— because it was common knowledge that the sparkle of precious stones kept evil spirits at bay.”
Now Andi and Martin have to work together. She as his liaison and the reaction to this is priceless. My fave thing ever is watching budding relationships through text messages. I love that! Because this is my reality. If someone went back through all my texts you would certainly see the growth of my relationships with people who became great friends, or more 😉 There was banter and cuteness in ample supply between these two! My fave things 😀
As their relationship grows, so too does Andi find the connection with her province rekindled.
“It was fascinating. I’d lived in Jimenez most of my life, but I was seeing it with fresh eyes.” “All those little things I’d taken for granted had helped shape me.”
This definitely made me want to get to know my island more, and just take some days, a few weekends even and explore. Because sometimes we never see the gems that are right there until we see it through another’s eyes. I really enjoyed this. A really cute read. 4/5
Also, if you’ve read this author’s story in the Maybe This Time antho, this little gem will make you cackle, for reasons
“Caught Tonying and Rina here before too.”
Father Danny strikes again LOL
Letters About A Boy By Ines Bautista-Yao
Told in written letters format this story is about Tin-Tin’s crush on Nicolas. Through the letters Tin-Tin writes to her cousin Annette we see the passing of time: as she’s at college, graduates etc Even though it’s her cousins she’s writing to, it still had this great pen pal feel to it, as after emails become a thing Tin still enjoys actually penning her letters.
We get to see Tin and Nicolas living their own lives, in different places, sometimes their lives intersects when they return home but it’s only after Tin has to return to her province (Bacolod) to take care of her mother that they truly reconnect. Nicolas is back too, working on the horse farm and it’s almost like he’s seeing her in a new light for the first time. Noticing little things.
I’ll admit Nicolas only started to grow on me then. Before I wasn’t sure of him, as I couldn’t see the connection right off. They were off living their own lives after all, but the horse ride, his singing. He took Tin’s mom to her therapy session (*cue me falling hard) it’s really the little gestures that seal the deal for me. Finally we get to see just what made Tin like him so much. 🙂
It was pretty funny the more confident Nicolas gets in winning Tin over, the more frazzled she becomes. Poor Tin hehhee. And then we get Nicolas’ POV too! via his letter to Tin listing all the things he loves about her, and that was that. An adorable friends to more story.
Drummer Boy By Chris Mariano
Reina runs into Ben at the Ati-Atihan festival and…
“Her brother’s best friend was incredibly tall…”
Another thing i’m a sucker for the bro’s best friend trope so this hooked me immediately, and we get hints that maybe there was some sort of flirtation there years ago at her 18th birthday. So right off I wanted to know more about these two.
We get to learn these intriguing details about the festival and it reminded me of our Carnival with its street music and crowded streets. I love how the festival itself felt like this other character, after all it’s pretty central to Reina’s and Ben’s story.
This one was fun and colourful and hilarious, especially when Reina’s brother basically invites himself along to the date Ben had set up, thus throwing a little wrench into Ben’s plans. Ben doesn’t let that stop him though, and he manages to get the girl in the end anyhow 😉
One Certain Day By Jay E. Tria
This one is set in Hagonoy and features All Saints’ Day and the boy next door trope. I swear all these tropes are my faves 😀
Here we get to learn about how the dead are mourned. I love seeing this tradition unfold, learning the little tidbits about it
“It’s weird isn’t it? How someone’s death can bring people together.”
This resonated with me. I have a large family and most times we only all come together when someone passes.
So all Saints’ becomes Alice and Son’s thing. They sit next to each other while their families hold their vigil and the deceased’s grave. I didn’t see that ending turning out the way it did but you know what? it worked. Not everything works out the way you hoped, but sometimes you just have to try and know. Alice took the plunge and kissed Son and while I was rooting for her, the fact that maybe friends is all they’ll be is good too. It didn’t ruin their friendship and I’m glad. Although, this is sort of a look at young Son’s life, and while I haven’t read the novels with him and his band yet I see Son’s story hasn’t yet been told. Maybe there’s hope for these two yet? >.>
Once Upon A Bully By Georgette S. Gonzales
Hot new neighbour that turns out to be old classmate? Yes please. BUT it turns out Bridgette used to bully poor Miguel years ago. We get to see this via a flashback. One that had me cringing because we know how cruel children can be at times and Bridgette was awful to him basically tormented this poor kid.
Bridgette agonized over what she’d done all those years ago and was rightfully embarassed when they met face to face again but Miguel, oh Miguel stole my heart for sure
“He stared at her like they had just met and that he was waiting to get to know her. No anger, no judgement, no bitterness. And it was that last bit that got to her.”
I was glad we get Miguel’s POV as well. He held no ill will for Bridgette and in fact had a crush on her. I loved him because he isn’t this self-assured, confident guy with women. He’s so awkward, stammering around B while trying to ask her out. I loved that! Awkward heroes are also my kryptonite. 😉 More awkward heroes please and thanks!
Back to the Stars By Agay Llanera
Child hood friend trope. Another fave. (These authors are in my head with these trope i swear !!) And yup this story has to be my fave in the whole anthology. No I know it is! It is my fave for sure!
My word, the author’s writing style, i loved it so much! Descriptive with some really great lines, I wanted to highlighted so many things:
“It was as if the sun had missed me too much, and it couldn’t help planting kisses on my skin.”
Again i found myself falling for the love interest. Wency was truly a great character. Definitely my top guy out of all the ones in this anthology.
“He had a way of quieting the storms inside me without saying word. Just his presence— solid and steady— was enough.”
He was so sweet and kind. I really adored this guy.
I have to admit Leah got on my nerves, especially where Corinne was concerned so I was glad Wency called her out for calling Corinne “that man-crazy airhead.” Wency said she’s changed, and she has had to, to keep up with the Manila pace I guess. But in spite of that I did think they fit.
And that ending, so good, so perfect. I really wished this story were longer lol
Overall there were aspects of each story I enjoyed, some more than others but a really interesting, fun read