5/5 stars I LOVED IT SO MUCH YES
Better at Weddings Than You
Mina V. Esguerra
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.)
As a firm believer of Weddings Are Things I Should Not Be Thinking About Anytime Soon, I was not too excited to learn that this new book from Mina Esguerra would be about Wedding Planners. But then, I met Aaron Trinidad.
Hot–scorching hot, rather–tatted and long-haired Aaron Trinidad. And I’m like, yes yES WHERE DO I SIGN UP?
I’m not really sure if this still falls under New Adult. Both Daphne and Aaron are in their 30’s, having some parts of life figured out but still unsure on a lot of things. I enjoyed reading their story a lot maybe because there is some sense of relief I found in reading how, despite the difficulty of maintaining a career, they were doing as best as they could.
Of course, I am only reading this from the perspective of a twenty-something still lost in life, so I could only imagine the exhaustion they have from trying various things in life. And you can really sense this exhaustion and cynicism from Daphne.
Having gone through a lot of failed setups and blind dates and despite her success in her career, Daphne views the world in cold, unfeeling eyes. And she knows it. She knows how tired she was from the dating scene that she stopped it altogether, as also shown by the metaphor of giving up pork but that’s a topic for later.
It’s very ironic to see a wedding planner finding love, or the search for it, almost bland and tiresome. And from her own words, yes she makes happily ever afters happen but it doesn’t even occur to her to apply it to herself.
But. It also makes sense. I can almost imagine just how fed up she was that she had to give it all up together. Again, I still have the naivety of a twenty-something reading this book. And this is such an eye-opener for me. How yes, at some point we do get to give up on some things in life. How we stop caring altogether and I can imagine how liberating that must be.
I especially loved the part where Daphne was talking to Aaron how unfair the double standard for men and women are when it comes to dating and settling down. Yes, it really is unfair. And pair that up with how disappointed Daphne was with her choices in the Dating Game and suddenly, things get a little too real and dark.
As a woman, we still get this societal expectation and I guess at some point, we still carry the guilt of pleasure and satisfaction that is exacerbated by the expectations of a society who believes in institutions that are intrinsically repressive. Daphne mentions at one part of the book how weddings are not really for everyone, that it’s great if you’re doing it because you want it for the things it says it stands for — love, loyalty, trust. But not everyone goes into it with that same level-headedness.
And that’s true. Going back to society’s expectations on women, we have always been led to believe that sex and pleasure can only be accessed after the matrimony of marriage. Kudos to you if you subscribe to this belief wholeheartedly. But on the other side of the coin, we humans are sexual beings. As much as men have needs, we females also have them. And it needs to be acknowledged more often.
I’m not sure if I am reading too much on this but I guess how Aaron was almost the perfect partner for Daphne was a little disconcerting. It was great for Daphne. Aaron was a most accomplished lover by great lengths. But I guess the irony in here is that no one, aside from the two of them, thought that they’d be together, let alone hook up. Even weirder how some of Daphne’s friends seemed to think she was slumming it down with Aaron when in her experience, it was winning a jackpot.
And I guess the point I am making here is, to echo the book, a relationship is really just you and your partner. Not anyone or everyone else. At the end of the day, it’s just you two. I kept on thinking about A Midsummer Night’s Dream while reading this, because of the clusterfuck of everything. And I guess there is some truth from it. There’s a lot of mess and drama from Greg and Helen’s end that seems to exist less in Daphne and Aaron’s. If they are foils to each other’s couples, then wow. That is some great writing!!! But of course, Mina has always written great stories. ❤
I feel like this book is just the best yet. I’ve only read about three or four books of hers, but this book is just flawlessly written and has a depth that was as entertaining and enjoyable as it was real and woke AF. That perfect weaving of a story with the right amount of smut is just so on point on this book. I loved every second I spent reading this book.
Have you read this book yet? Share your thoughts with me in the comments below! You may also post your own review at this book’s Goodreads page.