My bad, my bad, I know this week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic is really “Ten Books I’ve Added To My To-Be-Read List Lately” but I have recently added sooooo many books to my TBR list that I found it hard to choose! So I thought I’d narrow things down by creating a list of 10 romances by local (Philippine) authors I’ve recently added to my must-read list. Note that my actual must-read list from local authors spans many more books than just these 10 (and I hope to cover at least a few more of them before the end of the year) but these are reads released in the past few months that I mean to get to sometime soon.
1. Another Word for Happy by Agay Llanera
I’ve been warned to have tissues on hand when I do get around to reading this coming out story from one of #RomanceClass’s feels queens. The admonition has been duly noted, and I expect I’ll pick this novel for a rainy day read sometime soon.
What does it take to come out of the closet? Since he was thirteen, Caleb has always known he’s gay. Now a college freshman, he falls in love for the first time. If it’s true that love conquers all, then will Caleb finally find the courage to reveal his secret?
In this tale about family, friendship and self-discovery, find out how Caleb discovers the path to the freedom he’s always longed for. Here’s a hint: it involves doing things outside his comfort zone, such as joining a spoken word group!
2. Dare to Love by C.P. Santi
C.P. Santi is one of the authors with multiple books in my TBR list. And her latest read, featuring an architect and an anthropologist (if nothing else, the occupations of the main characters would have me wanting to check out this book) definitely sounds promising.
Restoration architect Giada Manahan’s heart has begun to resemble the adobe walls she loves. At least that’s what her friends say. But Gia knows better—she’s just being cautious. After all, as a single mom, her kids are her first priority.
But one drunken night, her friends push her into a trippy crystal healing ritual. Gia thinks it’s a joke … until a few days later, she finds a half-naked stranger in her bed.
Hot, tatted anthropologist Alex Roces is exactly the kind of guy Gia should avoid. But when they end up sharing a house, Gia finds Alex’s charms increasingly difficult to resist.
Will Gia continue to keep the walls around her heart? Or will she finally give in to its demands?
3. If the Dress Fits by Carla de Guzman
BBW for the win! Carla de Guzman is one of my favorite Filipino authors because she has a way of bringing the ambiance of her stories to life. I look forward to reading this book not just because I’m a fan, but because the main character sounds a lot like someone I can identify with.
Martha Aguas kind of has it all–she’s an accountant who loves numbers, an accident-prone puppy that loves her, and the perfect wardrobe.
Yes, she wears a dress size 24, her bras don’t fit and she’s never had a boyfriend, but so what?
It becomes a big deal when her perfect cousin Regina announces her engagement to Enzo, the only boy she’s ever loved (he doesn’t know, so don’t tell him!) Suddenly Aguases from all corners of the globe are coming for the event, and the last thing Martha wants is to be asked why she still prefers her lattes with a waffle on the side.
Thank god for Max. Goofy, funny, dependable Max, who finds himself playing the fake boyfriend at the family festivities. But why does it feel like only one of them is pretending?
4. Iris After the Incident by Mina V. Esguerra
I’ve been hearing a lot about the feels in this read from #RomanceClass guru Mina V. Esguerra. Plus, hot neighbor action! So I’m pretty much sold. This book is already in my Kindle just waiting to be read.
Which moment has defined your life so far?
Whether she likes it or not, Iris’s life has been divided into two: Before the Incident, and After the Incident. Something very private was made very public, and since then life has been about recovering from being shamed, discovering her true friends, and struggling to find a new normal.
Two years into this new life and she finally connects with a guy again. He lives in the apartment down the hall, he’s hot, and he doesn’t look at her that way. He doesn’t know what happened. But he also won’t give her his name, not right away—which has to mean he’s got something to hide too.
Iris wants to start over. Should she do that with the only person who will understand, or is this the same idiotic decision that got her in trouble in the first place?
5. Just for the Summer by Justine Camacho-Tajonera
I actually edited one of Justine’s first romance stories, which she wrote under a pen name. So my interest in this writer’s latest romance, which she’s published under her own name this time, is both personal and professional. And it looks like the perfect read for my next beach trip, not to mention the fact that it’s set in a town not too far from where my family has a beach resort.
Cassie already knows that Joey Garcia makes no promises. He was the cautionary tale told in college. But when he says, “Come with me to Dumaguete for the summer,” on a whim, she says yes. It’s the summer Cassie is turning twenty-three, and she thinks she’s old enough to make mistakes and young enough to recover. Besides, Cassie has always worked hard to get what she wants. For once, it looks like this is going to be easy.
So when she shows up prepared for a wild getaway little does she realize that they’re actually heading for his hometown . . . for a wedding. Her summer fling is turning out to be all kinds of awkward, from sleeping arrangements to family introductions. But heck, if Joey can be cucumber cool about it then so can she.
6. Kate, Finally by Yeyet Soriano
This author is someone I first met during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) a few years back, and since joining a workshop I helped facilitate last year, she’s gone on to self-publish four novels. Kate, Finally is her first romance read, so I’m pretty stoked about this!
After six sizzling nights with hot IT consultant Layne Sto. Domingo, writer Kate Borromeo realizes she really sucks at love. She’s thirty-five, she just recently moved on from a destructive unrequited love situation with her longtime love and best friend, only to end up in bed with someone who isn’t going to give her what she wants.
So when gorgeous corporate finance wiz Rob Salcedo, Kate’s first love and best friend, turns over a new leaf and finally proposes marriage to her, promising to make up for all the hurt he caused her, Kate accepts and prepares for the wedding of her dreams.
But when Layne waltzes back into her life, seemingly ready to finally let her into his heart, it appears the universe has other plans for Kate.
Or does it?
7. Keep the Faith by Ana Tejano
Ana is another writer I met through NaNoWriMo; she was one of the first people to encourage me to try noveling back when I first did the challenge in 2006. I just recently learned this volume (like her Fall Like Rain) was drafted during NaNoWriMo as well. I’ll admit I was a little dubious about this read at first, as I’m not too big a fan of Christian romance, but hearing an excerpt at the recent #FeelsFest convinced me this is a must-read!
As a community development worker, Faith was quite familiar with heartbreak and recovery after all the time she spent on disaster relief missions. So when her five-year relationship ends right before she left for a mission trip to a typhoon-stricken town in Iloilo, she tries not to make a big deal out of it. How can she be broken up about a breakup when she’s with people who literally lost everything?
But now that she’s back, all Faith wants is for her life to go back to normal and have people stop looking at her with pity. Never mind that she still has a lot of questions about the breakup, or that she feels a tiny ache every time her ex comes up in conversations. She’s okay now, and happily distracted by Nico Tamayo, the attractive new guy at work.
With new possibilities in the horizon, Faith thinks she is well on her way to moving on. But when her past comes calling back to her, will all the good things in her present be enough to keep her on the path? Or will she finally learn that there was more to heartbreak and recovery than what she knows?
8. No Holding Back by Kate Evangelista
Book 2 in Kate Evangelista’s Dodge Cove series involves a Eurotrip as well as a romance. It’s an M/M love story that’s clean but, I’m told, heavy on feels, although something the author said to me a while back about her experience writing this novel inspired me to put this on my list: “It’s not about a boy falling love with a girl versus a boy falling in love with a boy. It’s about a person falling in love with another person. It’s a human experience.”
A romantic European vacation is the perfect excuse to let go in this highly anticipated sequel to No Love Allowed by Kate Evangelista.
Everyone knows that Nathan is in love with his best friend, Preston…Everyone except Preston. Nathan has always accepted that Preston was too focused on his swim training to worry about love. But Preston is heading off to train for the Olympics soon, so if Nathan wants his chance at love, he has to speak up now. But saying “I love you” is surprisingly difficult, even for someone as confident as Nathan. Maybe a whirlwind vacation in Europe could help? But… what if it doesn’t work out and he loses the best friend he’s ever had?
9. When She Fell for the Billionaire by Suzette de Borja
I listed Suzette de Borja among my #RomanceClass authors to watch for a reason, and that’s because she never fails to deliver on both the sweet and the sexy. I figure her latest read, which starts a brand-new series, is no different. It’s been out digitally for a while, but I only recently learned about it and picked up a print copy.
Anxious to get answers about her past, Sabrina Connelly is desperate to attend the royal wedding. The perfect opportunity comes in a beach encounter with sexy billionaire Luca Argenti, cousin to the princess bride.
Frightened and thrilled with his pursuit, Sabrina proposes an outrageous deal – a casual, holiday hook up in exchange for a slot in the royal guest list. Believing she’s a gold digger, the Italian agrees to the exchange. He gets a vacation fling. She scores an invite.
But Luca Argenti makes it hard for Sabrina to stick to her end of the bargain. A few days in his arms and she’s already in danger of falling for the hot billionaire. Keeping things casual would protect her from heartbreak, but she fears it’s already a little too late and resistance is futile.
10. Wired Differently by Chris Mariano
The blurb for this read just made me instantly intrigued as I’ve been finding myself more and more interested in sci-fi romance lately. So this trio of stories promises to be a treat!
A woman heads to Hanoi to deal with her (very) long-distance relationship
A popular dating app faces a bug that keeps matching the wrong people up
An aid worker plays God at the end of the world
Romance and science fiction collide in these stories about eclipse chasers and med reps, copywriters and call center agents, lovers and heartbreakers. Here, characters are called to make difficult choices in worlds that are like and unlike ours and, in the choosing, discover the many ways that love can be stranger than fiction.
Got any more reads to recommend? Leave a comment, I’m always happy to lengthen my to-be-read list!