Title: Better At Weddings Than You
Author: Mina V. Esguerra
Genre: Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Daphne Cardenas is the best wedding planner around, and everyone knows it. That’s why her friend Greg hired her as an emergency replacement one month before his wedding—because he fears his fiancée Helen is falling for the guy they first hired for the job.
Aaron Trinidad is new to the wedding industry but years of conference planning and loads of charm make him good at it. Really good at it. Planning the wedding of his friend Helen should be easy, and it is. To be unceremoniously fired isn’t good for his new career, but the chance to learn from the best might be the silver lining.
Aaron and Daphne have chemistry, but there’s history with Helen that at least one other person considers a threat. Who’s the planner who can fix this impending disaster?
(Part of the Chic Manila series, but can be read as a standalone.)
First things first: I received a digital Advance Reader’s Copy (ARC) of this book as part of my participation in a blog tour hosted by the author herself – this, however, neither affects my opinion nor the content of my review in any way. Many thanks to Mina V. Esguerra for this delightful opportunity!
Let’s get straight to the point, shall we? I definitely did not expect to adore this novel as much as I currently do. I, more often than not, shy away from adult reads because I’m sometimes under the impression that it would be more challenging for me to relate to characters significantly older than me – I mean, I just recently hit my twenties, okay. However, Better At Weddings Than You certainly proved me wrong.
Not only were the characters realistically flawed and wonderfully complex, but also, I found myself strongly identifying with the main heroine. I am in no way a career woman (or at least not yet), but I do share the same tendencies Daphne has when it comes to organization and work ethic – an obsession with schedules, a fondness for spreadsheets, and a compulsion to be somewhat of a perfectionist.
There are plenty of strong-willed and fiercely independent female characters in literature, but what separates Daphne from other remarkably strong fictional females is the fact that she is unapologetically ambitious. She takes what she wants, and she calls things out as she sees them. I especially love how the confidence she projects isn’t all for show; rather, it is genuinely rooted from the certainty she has in herself and in who she is. Hands down, Daphne is empowering.
Every great heroine should have an equally great love interest, and Aaron definitely does not disappoint. Between the two of them, Aaron is obviously the more emotionally attuned one, which makes him all the more endearing to read about. If I tried hard enough, I’m pretty sure I can write a portfolio of sonnets and verses dedicated to how badly I love Aaron. His character just oozes charisma and sex appeal without any trace of arrogance. In some aspects, Aaron may fall under a few stereotypes, but overall, he’s an absolutely refreshing and devastatingly charming male lead.
One of the strongest points of this novel is the manner in which Daphne and Aaron’s relationship is handled. Their transition from mildly hostile strangers to unlikely friends to perfectly matched lovers is so thoughtfully developed that the progression flowed both naturally and almost magically. The chemistry between the two of them is consistently palpable (most prevalently evidenced during the fantastic sex scenes), and their clever banter never failed to keep me engaged.
In line with this, the use of dual perspectives both told in third person narrative aids in nicely piecing the story together and in emphasizing on development – both character-wise and relationship-wise. I found it interesting and strangely intimate to see Daphne in Aaron’s eyes and vice versa. By showing both perspectives, the audience is given a lovely opportunity to clearly watch the story unravel and gradually come together again.
Truthfully, I can go on and on about how much I loved this and how much I enjoyed that, but realistically speaking, I don’t have the time for such indulgences. But I will say that Better At Weddings Than You is the kind of story that I cannot imagine myself getting sick of rereading. In fact, it is my first 5-star read for 2017!
Although this is my first time to encounter her work, I am thoroughly convinced that Mina Esguerra is a brilliant and cunning wordsmith. At first glance, her writing style seems pretty simple, but as I further immersed myself into the story, I’ve come to realize that the ripples her words leave are powerfully profound. Esguerra writes with unparalleled flair, subtle precision, and striking imagery. I look forward to reading many more of her books!
Excerpt from the book:
“This is Aaron Trinidad,” she said to everyone.
“I’m her date,” he said, to everyone.
During a short window of time, between saying hi to everyone already there, and before a new batch of people arrived, he had her full attention again. “You’re free to tell them I’m wrong.”
“Sure, but about what?”
“That I’m your date.”
“Oh.” Daphne was walking backwards, pulling him toward the bar. “But you’re not wrong.”
Review also available: Goodreads