ARC Review: Keeping the Distance by Clarisse David

Series: I Heart Iloilo #1
Release Date: February 6, 2017
Rating: 5/5
I volunteered to review an ARC.
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No bets. No fake relationships. Just a very real one that has to be kept under wraps.

Seventeen-year-old Melissa wants to dye her hair cotton candy pink and focus on her ukulele instead of Physics. But she can’t. As the daughter of a Catholic school principal, living up to her model student image 24/7 is a must. Something’s about to give under all the pressure. She only hopes it isn’t her.

Getting involved with a troublemaking basketball player is the last possible thing she needs…

Lance is used to getting what he wants. With a pretty face he uses to full advantage and his role as co-captain of the basketball team, the easy way is the only way he’s ever known. Until the day he notices the prim Melissa he’s known forever is actually hot and decides to ask her out. He has no idea he’s about to learn the lesson of a lifetime.

Not getting what he wants might exactly be what he needs…

Heads up fellow romance book lovers, Clarisse David’s books are something to watch out for!

Set in the heart of Iloilo is Saint Agnes Catholic Academy where senior high students Melissa Ortiz, daughter of the school principal, and Lance Ordonez, the co-captain of the school’s basketball team and all-around bad boy study. In the same class. Seated next to each other. Lance wonders why Melissa won’t give him the time of the day. So he goes on full blast for her to notice him even when they know each other since they’re seven years old. Oh, did I mention Melissa hate Lance’s guts? Yep.

It took a while for me to warm up to Lance because of his seemingly annoying, cocky self. He plays that kind of field, throws his dad’s money around because he can, doesn’t even study hard, doesn’t have a care in the world about his ex’s feelings. Okay now that I corrupted him enough for you to kind of hate him (but please don’t–not 100% at least?), let me tell you how lonely he is behind the bad boy mask. His dad doesn’t live with him (managing a construction business takes that much of time), his mom isn’t around and his only sister is studying abroad (they are very tight, Lance and his sister). Despite of this, Lance is such a funny guy and can take things seriously if he wanted. It wasn’t very long that I finally admitted he was going to get my seal of book boyfriend approval by the end of the book. The guy totally had the swoony moves and words that thawed my frozen heart. His transition from being the cold-hearted jerk that he was to this guy who won my heart by doing all the things high school style for Mel was admirable.

Melissa who loves all things in pastel colors, 7-11 Slurpee, the ukelele she plays so well, on the other hand, is the typical perfect daughter (or trying to be?). You know, obeys her parents even when she feels like she needs to step up and speak her mind, follows a curfew, tries to fit in the mold of perfection her father’s imposed on her because she’s the principal’s daughter above all else. And her father knows Lance is bad news for her. Not that she doesn’t know that. Still, because of her dad’s attempt to groom her to someone she’s not, the claws of rebellion start to show. Not in a way that she went from good girl to bad girl, no. But it was there and that made her do things her dad wouldn’t be proud of.

The story brings out all the high school feelings and real-life scenarios of people their age. The enemies-to-lovers trope that’s going on for Lance and Mel was really believable considering they pulled pranks on each other and then switch to throwing punch lines (the author totally injected that Filipino humor and I loved it!) that had me grinning. The things that they did for one another were absolutely charming. You wouldn’t believe that they could do it. (Not sex, duh.) I’m talking about how each of them did things out of the box for the other. Like that’s something they wouldn’t even do to other people. The pacing from hatred to breathlessly in love took enough of time–not rushed, not too long. Not even boring. Even the Filipino family values were properly conveyed giving the story a warmer feel.

I loved how Mel stood up for herself and mostly because of Lance (see that guy is a good influence when he wants to be). She needed to learn that lesson the hard way and I was glad she made the choice to do it. I would also like to mention how the author went against the norm of guy grovelling for the girl (though I love it when they do lol). For the record, I’d like to think Mel had to do it since she was the one holding back while Lance was all-in. With that, I think it was very brave of Clarisse to stretch that particular romance boundary.

While this was all Mel’s story, Lance’s vulnerabilities when it came to his family were also revealed but not quite resolved. The story hinted that Lance didn’t have that kind of relationship with his dad. I would’ve liked for the author to deal with that, too, like I don’t know, a conversation between them perhaps? That doesn’t affect my perfect-star rating, though. I just pointed it out in case the author missed that part of Lance.

Overall, the story is not only romantic, fun and beautiful (and kind of heartbreaking) but also is oozing so much charm because of the lovely characters (secondary ones included–Jace, Hunter, Cam). You need to read this if you’re into a quick romantic read without comprising on the plot.

P.S. I think Clarisse has just earned the right to be in the spotlight of YA romance authors that I highly recommend, who are also my auto-click authors, next to Ines B. Yao and Mina V. Esguerra on top spots because their stories, this one is not an exception, feel like home.

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