Publisher: Avon Books
Publication Year: 2020
Page count: 384
Rating: 3.5 stars
Rep: Latinx MCs, Filipina MC, single parent, PTSD
Blurb (From Goodreads):
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.
Before I start, can all appreciate how beautiful that cover art is? I am obsessed.
I originally picked up this book because the synopsis really drew me in. Any book that has to deal with Hollywood (or in this case, New York) scandals definitely will catch my attention. In that aspect, this book definitely delivered. There was so much drama and tension in this book, and it was juicy. Both characters get unwanted media coverage for various reasons, and it leads to lots of drama.
The main characters in this book, Ashton and Jasmine, were both fun to read about. I definitely enjoyed Jasmine’s perspective a little bit more, just because I could relate to her. Jasmine has a huge extended family, which definitely resonates with me. She has many cousins and they are all very close. My favorite part of the book was when Jasmine explains her cousins have a “ranking” of the most successful to least successful cousins, and I found this hilarious because my cousins and I do the exact same thing (but call it the “hierarchy”). I just loved the familial aspect of this book. Ashton’s perspective is totally different, because he isolates himself from any new person he meets because of a traumatic incident in his past. Ashton was a bit harder for me to get to know because he was reclusive, but in the end he had some amazing character development.
As for the plot, although there were some juicy, drama filled moments, there weren’t as many as I would have wanted and so it left me feeling a bit bored. This was especially true towards the end; while reading the last 100 pages I was ready for the story to be over. I’m not sure if I wasn’t in the mood for romance, but I definitely caught myself skimming at times.
The other part of the book I didn’t love was the scenes from the TV show that were interspersed throughout the novel. I didn’t care all that much about the plot of the TV shows, and I felt like the author was trying to get us to connect with the characters that Jasmine and Ashton played. It just didn’t really work for me, although I can see how others may have really enjoyed this.
Lastly, I can’t write a review without mentioning the incredible diversity in this cast of characters. Almost everyone in this novel is Latinx, and they come from many different backgrounds. Ashton is from Puerto Rico, and Jasmine’s family is part Filipino and part Latinx. I definitely would love to see more romance novels starring POC and I’m happy Alexis Daria is breaking the norm.
All in all, this book had some flaws but I still really enjoyed it! Leave your thoughts in the comments below!