The Proposal – Jasmine Guillory (Review)

When Nik Paterson goes to a Dodgers game with her boyfriend, the last thing she expects is for him to suddenly propose to her on the Jumbotron. Not least because he can’t even spell her name right…

Also at the game, Carlos Ibarra and his sister Angela witness her swift refusal, and quickly rescue her from the prying eyes of 45,000 baseball fans and the camera crew that just showed up.

After the video goes viral and Nik’s ex starts harrassing her, Carlos becomes a valued friend, confidant, and extremely fun rebound. Although both Carlos and Nik aren’t looking for anything serious, can either of them ignore that their feelings are getting stronger?

This is the second book in Guillory’s series, with the hero in this one being the LA-based best friend of The Wedding Date‘s Drew. I was happy to find out Carlos was the focus of the next novel because he’s a charming and fun addition to The Wedding Date and clearly worthy of his own story.

As quite an obsessive person, whenever I find a romance author I like, I tend to try and read ALL their books at once. It’s also a good way to note certain authors’ patterns of how they tell their narrative. For example: with some authors, you can predict right down to the page number where each sex scene or argument will happen, simply because the narrative shape is always the same. Having read all of Guillory’s novels, it still suprises and impresses me how much she doesn’t do this. All her novels are paced differently and have very different main characters, even if she’s working within the same world and genre parameters each time. This allows her heroines and heroes to all exist alongside each other without any sense of clashing because each individual and relationship is quite different.

One thing that is consistent across all her novels is the inherent strength and agency of all her female characters, whether they are the heroine or not. She showcases a wide range of female strength: never limiting and always inclusive. Consent is portrayed throughout as not only essential, but actively sexy. Carlos is an especially good example of this, checking in with Nik at every stage of their relationship and exemplifying the underlying respect for women that characterises Guillory’s heroes. I find that her books give me not only the cosiness of a romcom plot, but also a little feminist boost which is always a joy.

Nik is awesome, and she is presented (after the titular proposal debacle) within a really great female friendship group. Her friends are well-drawn and pleasingly independent of each other and both worthy of their own novel, as is the group’s foray into self-defence classes. Each character is presented with enough backstory to show that they are also living their life and not just stuck in a waiting room next to the main action. That’s why this series works so well as an interconnected universe (The Guillory Cinematic Universe if you will, or GCU): every single person in the books has the potential for a spin-off so Guillory never needs to signpost who could be the next couple to focus on. Each book exists because of course it does; everyone gets to be the main character of their own story.

The descriptions of food in all her novels also always stand out for me. In The Proposal, Carlos and Nik’s taco date is absolutely a highpoint. Quite apart from making me extremely hungry, it was a really fun way of establishing the characters and how they interact fairly early on, cementing their relationship in a very believable encounter. This continues in all their interactions over food, from helping Nik’s friend with her emergancy cupcake delivery, to Carlos make risotto after a long day, or the pair of them making enchiladas from scratch for Carlos’ family. Their relationship builds on the insight these food-fueled interactions provide into their lives, creating a sensual atmosphere that goes beyond their sex-life.

The Proposal is a great follow up to The Wedding Date and even Reese Witherspoon thinks you should read it! You can buy it here!

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