REVIEW: What You Wanted (Chic Manila 5) by Mina V. Esguerra

I LOVED THIS BOOK. LOVED IT LOVED IT LOVED IT.

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To be honest, it isn’t easy for me to like guys in books, but Damon? He made me smile so much. He is such a nice guy, that scene where Damon took off and bought Andrea all the things she needed after she spent the night and the triumphant look he had when he got ALL the things she wanted? MELTED ME IN A PILE OF GOOEY MESS. I like how serious he was, and how present; and he was the one who sort of realized, early on, that it was Andrea he wanted.

Andrea, the heroine, is trying to find where she fits in, after being not so subtly dumped by her not exactly boyfriend slash best friend the morning after their not so public romantic weekend together that no one knows of. (Thad, while I’m sure was well meaning, was an asshole. He assumed things about Andrea—assumed he knew her better than she did herself, assumed this wasn’t what she wanted, even after she said it was—basically laying the blame on her and making it seem like he was doing her a favor by breaking it off with her, that their friendship was better off not being clouded by sex or love blahblah, and I absolutely abhor when guys do that.) I liked that Andrea kept calling her sister the “manang”, and while I’m not fond of those jabs, especially between siblings, I know Andrea calls her sister that as a term of endearment, where Andrea is, in a way slightly awed and jealous of the fact that her older sister is such a good girl, compared to her (heck, compared to most girls). Andrea doesn’t really sleep around much per se, but she has had her fair share of men, and that is already one too many, compared to her sister who only slept with one and married him. But Andrea realized in the end that it doesn’t matter how you get there, but that you got there with the person you wanted the most.

I didn’t think I’d like Andrea, but I did. She’s a sweet girl. She was a little lost, as far as meaningful relationships are concerned; but she is confident, knows who and what she is. And while she isn’t one to boast about her qualities, she doesn’t regret them either. She might sleep around but she doesn’t overdo it. She might make rash decisions but she’s got a calm, collected head on her shoulders, and she has control over her life. I liked that. I like that she likes her life, even though sometimes it leaves her wanting. I like how okay she is, despite this thing with her not really ex, Thad. I like that she was sure of herself, a little afraid of not being afraid of things, trying to find where she fits. Things hurt but she doesn’t dwell on them much, doesn’t do the whole drama thing. She confronts things eventually, and lets things pass, even this thing with Thad. I really liked that scene of them in the car. It was honest without being overly dramatic. Sometimes you love a person and they suck at receiving that kind of affection. It hurts but you don’t let it define you, it isn’t the end of the world. And that’s what I like most about Andrea. She has that capacity—she isn’t cold or aloof or god forbid, in denial—she just has this capacity to handle situations and push through with life, and I admire that. Same goes with that scene in the bar and right after. Things could have gone very differently, but she isn’t that kind of person.

Damon too was trying to get over someone, someone he definitely did not have. Someone who strung him along for 2 years. An Ice Princess, who ran him hot and cold. And while at first I think he liked the chase, he soon grew tired of it, and stopped running and bumped into Andrea instead.

Love sneaked up on Damon and Andrea, I suppose. It wasn’t a grand, love at first sight all-consuming kind of thing, and I liked that. Miss Esguerra captured that perfectly. It was there in the sort of quiet build up; something that hovered over them until they decided to stop running and collided with it. The friendship was there and I loved it. It’s always the little things that make a relationship work. And they were hurt and honest with each other, and started from there. Damon was different for Andrea, and Andrea was different for Damon, which made them quite perfect for each other. They were steady and true and real, and chose each other in the end. They worked for it. They earned it, and that’s what makes it more poignant. Miss Esguerra’s writing captured their journey to love in the most believable way. It’s something we can relate to. It might not be the fairy tale we all wanted, but it does seem like something we might need to read.

I could say this about every Mina Esguerra book, but What You Wanted is probably my favorite book of hers. I love the way Miss Esguerra writes. She made me love local authors. My relationship with local romance authors started with her books and it has been going on and on since then. I love the way she encapsulates the living breathing hustling life of modern chic Manila, while grasping the more articulate way international romance authors breathe life into their stories. It’s for an international market while staying true to the culture and love and importance of the locality of the setting. And that right here is what I find most amazing—that her writing, being that good, seems to be seamlessly woven into the backdrop of our Metropolitan busy life. Her writing exudes ease and comfort while being set locally. The way she writes love stories too, are always so timely, intricate, and infused with humor and the quaintness of having a Filipino family. The supporting characters play their part perfectly. You can’t really hate any of them, because they seem so human, so real. These are the kind of people you know in real life.

This book is a must read for anyone and everyone. It’s tight, timely, and has just the right amount of Happily Ever After.

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