West Coast Love by Tif Marcelo. Pocket Star. 2017.
I really enjoyed the last book in this trilogy of food themed romances centering Filipina heroines! I have been waiting for Vic’s book since the first book (I fell for her as a character very early on), though especially after the second book, and I was so pleased I liked it so much. It was a comfort to me on a hard day.
This more than any of the other books feels like an older NA. Vic is young, a social media manager and a successful food blogger, and trying to figure out her next steps after she got catfished by a man she thought she was in love with. She hasn’t been able to blog, and she feels lost, so she jumps at the chance to host a reality TV show that’s road trip based. There’s just one catch: its all about BBQ, and she hates BBQ. Joel is equally lost and trying to find direction, and was hoping to be the host of the very same show, only they hired him as cameraman instead. He’s pissed that Vic got the job, because he adores BBQ as much as Vic hates it and thinks he should have been hired. This is such a classic NA hate to love romance arc, that’s as much about them figuring out their direction and goals as it is about them coming together as a couple.
This has some lovely other elements to it, as the characters have a history, of a hot one night stand that was supposed to stay that way but can they keep their hands off each other? The BBQ and TV elements are both hilarious and sweet, the 8 day marathon is a fabulous whirlwind, and I fell hard for the secondary characters, especially Joel’s sister, and Tara, the TV show’s director. I especially liked the moment where Vic takes Joel to her family’s restaurant. I loved seeing the characters from the other books again, and loved watching this couple try to find their footing in that new setting.
I admit, I love BBQ and would have loved a book that centered it that wasn’t so descriptively anti-BBQ. It was a great premise for a story, but it didn’t make me hungry, which is what I look for in a food-themed romance. I don’t favor stories that center heroines who are mostly not doing things they are competent at, especially if the hero is very competent at those very same things. It makes for dramatic rivalry but it’s a difficult read for me because of the power dynamic it sets up. That got disrupted some in the course of the novel, which I was grateful for.
The pacing is lovely, if a bit of a whirlwind. The characters are compelling and grabbed me right from the start. I was rooting for them, and really enjoyed the fact that I could not see how it could work out, how they could get their happy ending, what that might be. Loved going through the twists and turns and taking that journey, trusting it would happen. When it did, it felt right. I was glad for that.
- Filipina heroine
- It’s implied by the cover and his last name that the hero is a person of color, but I don’t believe that it is stated in the text, and ethnicity is not specified.
- Filipina author
Content Warnings (in white, highlight to read)
Sex on the page. Alcohol use. Minor character is cheating on their spouse.
- Source of the book: ARC from the publisher via Netgalley
- I have had slight contact with the author on Twitter.
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