Friday, December 22, 2017
#27 [2017/CBR9] "Beginner's Guide: Love and Other Chemical Reactions" by Six de los Reyes
First of all, let me just admit that it took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out that this book took place in the Philippines. I just assumed that it involved an immigrant family in the United States. It wasn't until I was very far along in the book that the author mentioned Manila, and the whole book made a little more sense to me.
NPR's Best Books List of 2016 led me to Beginner's Guide: Love and Other Chemical Reactions by Six de los Reyes. It is a sweet romance with a rather unlikely heroine. Kaya Rubio is at school doing research on Molecular Genetics. Her life is about research and labs. And although she spends a lot of time with her lab partner, Eugene, she is too busy to find any time for romantic interests. "I had abandoned casual and recreational socialization on the basis that the probability of success did not justify the effort and repeated reinforcement that I am undesirable." Unfortunately for Kaya, her family is large, gregarious, and loves to pressure her to find a man. After another tortuous family party, Kaya decides that she will get a date before her cousin's wedding.
So, Kaya steps up to this challenge just as she's faced all the previous challenges in her life: like a scientific experiment. She plans to set up ten dates, evaluate them on a number of criteria and choose the one that is best. She sets up the dates at her local coffee shop, has her friends send some men her way, and gets to work. Her experiment takes an unexpected turn when she begins spending more time with Nero, the hunky, young man who runs her coffee shop, than her dates.
I enjoyed this book. Kaya's obstinate focus and success was rather refreshing. I also loved Nero. He was a great character and a perfect romantic hero. And that might have also been my only problem with this book. I just couldn't see them together. I didn't see it happening--at least not until Kaya became a little more open. I know that's what dream fulfillment in romance novels is all about--where dream men just happen to show up at the perfect time and let you become your best self. I guess it just seemed even more far-fetched in this one.
"The worst that could happen is rejection and heartbreak, and frankly we deal with that everyday already."