I’ve read some literary fiction and YA books in between, but the fall has once again been all about contemporary romance for me. Two of the books below are wedding-centric, while the third is a much anticipated sequel in one of my favorite contemporary romance series.
My Rating: 4.25/5 Stars
My currently adult contemporary and contemporary romance mood met my love for books featuring weddings recently with Diksha Basu’s Destination Wedding. Tina’s family and her best friend are spending a week in India for her cousin’s wedding. I wouldn’t say there’s a central conflict or plot to the book, but the novel explores so much about Tina and co.’s relationships with other people and to India. Despite its fascinating and sometimes luxurious setting, Destination Wedding is more of a quiet read, focused on character development and self-discovery. I know this might not be every reader’s cup of tea, but I personally really enjoyed it!
You may know that I’ve been super wary of any Crazy Rich Asians comparisons lately because the past few books that I’ve read with the CRA comparison just haven’t held up. Destination Wedding is by far the first book I would recommend to anyone looking to have those Crazy Rich Asians feels once again. Destination Wedding obviously takes place in a different culture, and I admit that is slightly less glamorous than CRA, but the book provides a look at poverty in India. The writing style between the two were so similar, between the satire and comedy (there were so many funny moments and funny one-lines from Tina’s dad, Mr. Das), and the third person perspective. The sections of each chapter are usually dedicated to one character, but will pull away for a brief paragraph or two about a side character there.
I don’t think I necessarily had a favorite character, but there were never any chapters that I wanted to rush through because I didn’t like the character of focus. I feel like I did want more from Tina and her romantic’s endeavors, but I loved being able to explore her relationship with her heritage and her parents. I also feel like the novel gave such an inside look at India – the book mostly takes place in New Dehli. There was so much I never knew about the culture and traditions there, and honestly, the poverty and pollution. If you’re someone who craves character-driven books and doesn’t mind a more literary fiction-type reader, I definitely recommend checking Destination Wedding out.
My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Alexa Martin’s Playbook series is one of my all-time contemporary romance series, following female leads who date football players who play for the fictional professional team, the Denver Mustangs. The series was originally only going to be 3 books, but now we have a fourth, Snapped! I’m honestly hoping there will be a fifth book involving one of my favorite Lady Mustangs (think WAGs), Vonnie. Anyway, Snapped follows Elliot, who’s recently been hired as a publicist for her and her dad’s favorite team, the Mustangs. Having recently lost her dad, Elliot needs a distraction, but having to become the one-to-one publicist for the Mustangs’ star quarterback, Quinton, isn’t exactly what she had in mind. Quinton has gained national attention for blocking the League’s logo on his jersey and kneeling during the national anthem.
All the Playbook books cover serious issues involving football, specifically CTE and injuries, and personal issues the female leads face, which often involves past trauma and loss. Snapped is definitely the most serious and socially relevant of the four books, with a ton of discussion surrounding race. We’ve seen kneeling during the national anthem in the NFL, and Elliot struggles with how she feels about Quinton’s action as a biracial woman who’s felt like she’s never belonged. I thought Alexa Martin provided such a relevant commentary. There is a certain politician involved who mimics someone in IRL politics – I didn’t think their role was exactly necessary to the story, but it didn’t ruin it for me? Outside of race and politics, there is also a ton of discussion on the treatment of retired football players and the lack of support they receive from the league. This is an issue I wasn’t previously aware of, and I appreciated how Alexa Martin incorporated it into the story.
As per usual with the Playbook series, I really enjoyed Quinton and Elliot’s relationship. I don’t think their my favorite couple in the series, but I really liked their relationship development. It was honestly so much fun to be back in the world of the Lady Mustangs and HERS. I forgot how much I missed Vonnie and Brynn – like I mentioned above, I would LOVE a book all about Vonnie and I sort’ve want to go back to Brynn’s book, Blitzed.
My Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
After absolutely loving Jasmine Guillory’s most recent release and the latest book in The Wedding Date series, Party of Two, I decided to go back to the beginning of the series with the first book. The Wedding Date follows Alexa and Drew, who get stuck in an elevator together in a hotel. Alexa and Drew’s chemistry is obvious from the minute the start talking, which leads Drew to ask Alexa to pretend to be his fake girlfriend for a wedding that weekend.
The Wedding Date had so much that I’m beginning to understand is a trademark of Jasmine Guillory’s: two leads who are killing the game in their careers, for the most have their lives together, serious discussions ranging anywhere to politics, race, and beauty standards, food, and yes, some steam in between it all. I follow Jasmine Guillory on Instagram where she shares so much amazing food she’s made, and I definitely see the foodie love through her characters. Alexa in particular has an affinity for doughnuts, and Jasmine Guillory’s books never fail to make me crave a good burrito. The wedding date set up was pretty fun to read, but the book does go well beyond Alexas and Drew’s fake dating.
I think what didn’t work for me in The Wedding Date is that Alexa and Drew spend most of the book figuring out if they should be a real couple for reasons that aren’t made super obvious to the reader. I didn’t mind that the wedding took place early on in the book. I feel like most books set up for the ‘unique setting’ within the book’s synopsis to take place somewhere in the middle or near the end, but Alexa and Drew’s wedding date takes place pretty early on in the book. After that, the two alternate taking trips back and forth and spending weekends with one another. The two both struggle to put a label on their relationship, which now reflecting on the book, doesn’t make that much sense to me because there’s no doubt that they have feelings for one another and they actual make long distance work pretty well.
Overall, I enjoyed The Wedding Date because I think Jasmine Guillory creates new tropes that we don’t often see in romance – two leads that don’t need rescuing and are owning it in their careers-, but I know it won’t be a super memorable romance read for me.
Have you read any of the books I mentioned above? Do you have any contemporary romance recommendations for me? Share in the comments!