I received this book for free from the author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review + New Release: When Sparks Fly by Ines Bautista-YaoWhen Sparks Fly by Ines Bautista-Yao
Published by indie author on August 15, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
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Twenty-four-year-old photographer’s apprentice Regina has always felt like the plain, dull orange next to the shiny red apple that is her best friend Lana. But then she meets Ben—the first guy to ever break Lana’s heart, and the first guy to ever make Regina feel that he only has eyes for her. As Regina finds herself falling hard for Ben, she also finds herself breaking all the rules of best-friendship. Will she give up the love of her life for Lana, or will she finally realize that she deserves her share of the spotlight, too?

When I signed up to read Ines Bautista-Yao’s When Sparks Fly in advance of a review post to be scheduled on its release day (which happens to be today!), I knew two things: one was that this would be a “sweet” romance rather than a steamy one, based on the author’s style (and by the way I bear no relation to her); the other was that this would likely deliver on some pretty serious feels, again based on reads of other books by the author. Both turned out to be true, but the second delivered on feels I totally didn’t expect!

I’ll be honest and say that while I expected a few counterpoints to the hos-before-bros philosophy I subscribe to, given the blurb, I was not expecting to rage on it as much and for as long as I did. I honestly spent most of the book actively disliking the main character, Regina, and all my notes about her were pretty derogatory! Which is pretty new for me. I felt like she was blaming her clueless if admittedly somewhat self-absorbed friend for the issues and insecurities she adopted on her own, and moreover that she was an emotional coward and traitorous friend (not because she fell for the guy who dumped said friend, but because she refused to come clean).

I was seriously mad at Regina. Here’s a note I scribbled down while reading:

“Could you really consider someone your best friend if she was the cause of your insecurity?” —Give me a break from your whining! Can you consider yourself her best friend if you’re blaming her for your own lack of a love life when you’re the reason guys go for her instead of you? You’re the cause of your own d****d insecurity!

But wait! Things get better!

It was actually only in the last 25 to 30% of the book that I started respecting her as a character and appreciating her. The two things that convinced me were (1) the lengths to which she would go to fix the relationships she broke and (2) the self respect she gained, which was sufficient to help her throw off the rather significant martyr complex she had going on. I have to salute the author for this one, because I went from wanting to stomp on this character’s face and curse her to a realm where she did not have or deserve friends or lovers to thinking she wasn’t so bad after all and admiring the decisions she made after she’d realized her mistakes in thinking and action. Talk about a comeback queen!

What kept me going through the first half of the novel (besides waiting for the ax to fall as far as Regina was concerned) was the supporting cast of characters. I thought Regina’s best friend Lana was a hoot, if an admittedly selfish and occasionally obtuse one. I thought Ben was kind of cute, and a testament to the notion players make the most devoted boyfies. His sister was absolutely adorbz, and I am desperately hoping to see her in her own love story courtesy of the author sometime soon. And I am still totally crushing on Regina’s boss, photographer extraordinaire Paulo, who must, must, must have his own story, else I’m liable to make one up in my head in desperation. I also totally was charmed by the cameos by Only a Kiss‘s Katie and Chris!

Also, I would totally eat at The Sunny Side Up, if it were a real restaurant!

Anyway, I have to say this book led me on an emotional ride that was so full of ups and downs I was surprised not to emerge from reading it in the middle of a carnival. And while I wish there had been some additional proofreading/copy editing done (although given that I read an ARC of this novel, it may well have been done after I got it), it was still a smooth and easy read. I also seriously hope to see books or even short stories featuring the abovementioned characters, because they were painted so richly, it would be a shame not to see them star in their own romances!


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About Ines Bautista-Yao

Ines Bautista-Yao is the author of One Crazy Summer, What’s in your Heart, and Only a Kiss. She has also written two short stories, “Flashbacks and Echoes,” which is part of a compilation called All This Wanting and “A Captured Dream,” one of the four short stories in Sola Musica: Love Notes from a Festival.

She is the former editor-in-chief of Candy and K-Zone magazines and a former high school and college English and Literature teacher. She is also a wife and mom and blogs about the many challenges and joys of motherhood. She has recently launched The Author Project, a section in her current blog devoted to the stories in her head.