Author: Alexis Daria
Narrator: Seraphine Valentine
Audiobook Length: 10 hours 27 minutes
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 is the first novel in the Primas of Power series. This story features prominent soap opera actress, Puerto Rican and Filipina Jasmine Lin Rodriguez, and telenovela star, Puerto Rican Ashton Suarez, who meet when the two of them are set to star in a new series, Carmen in Charge. Before beginning the novel, I immediately loved that both main characters were POC, but from different backgrounds and experiences and explored lantix inspired media. At the beginning of the novel, Jasmine is going through a very public break-up after being dumped by her famous pop star ex-boyfriend in Los Angeles. She returns home to New York where she begins working on a new tv series. Ashton, on the other hand, has his family back in Puerto Rico, who are still trying to put their lives back together after Hurricane Maria. He has a son, Yadiel, who lives there, and has been kept a secret from the public for the sake of his career and safety after a stalker fan broke into Ashton’s home when Yadiel was a baby.
For the duration of filming for the show, many of the crew, including Ashton and Jasmine, stay at the Hutton Court Hotel. I loved this set-up as it was a nice way to have the characters near each other outside of filming to create that proximity situation to bring them together. I loved the progression of Jasmine and Ashton’s relationship from colleagues to friends to an eventual couple. Both are initially closed off with the other but slowly become more vulnerable over time. The novel includes Jasmine and Ashton’s scenes from Carmen in Charge, which mirror many of the situations and themes in their real lives.
The issues each character is going through are a little off-balance, but it did add to the realism of the story since relationships rarely have people with the same backstories. Jasmine has esteem issues that stem from her place as a middle child, so she seeks out external validation. While relatable, for me, Jasmine’s was a lot milder than Ashton’s. He had a lot more going on in his life with PTSD and anxiety stemming from an issue with a past stalker, the safety of his son, his career, and the assistance he provides to his family. I did not mind the skewed balance, but I just wish Jasmine’s part was explored in more depth. She has difficulty with becoming fully bilingual and trying to put her life and career on track, which is all very interesting, so I just wanted a little more exploration of these elements. Both Ashton and Jasmine are interesting characters, so I had difficulty choosing between them and loved their progression as a couple.
Overall, the basic outline of the story is like many others as it is female learning to love/trust again and a guarded male with a mysterious past; however, the details make this story stand out. Jasmine and Ashton were likable and had great chemistry. While their romance progressed nicely, I do wish there were more interactions between them before fully transitioning into a romantic relationship. As is, it is believable based on the character traits, but needed a little more for a reader to fully connect, at least for me. This story was an entertaining and sweet romance and I cannot wait to read about the other two Primas, Jasmine’s cousins, Michelle, and Ava, in the next two novels!