I first learned about author Jasmine Guillory on one of my favorite podcasts, Forever35. After listening to that interview, I ordered her first book The Wedding Date. I was immediately hooked on her fun and flirty style and have read all of her books since.
In case you missed any the first time, here are those reviews:
All of Guillory's stories have a few things in common. First, they are always set in California, usually with a tie to the Bay Area or Los Angeles. Second, all the books are centered around a strong, Black, female lead. And third, each one has a slight connection, like a wink, to a character from one of the previous books.
In her latest, While We Were Dating, the main character is Ben. Ben is the younger brother of Theo from The Wedding Party. For those who were paying really, really close attention, there's also a brief cameo from Nik and Carlos from The Proposal.
In the very first chapter, Ben is pitching an advertising campaign to a famous actress, Anna Gardiner. Anna is charmed by him and genuinely likes his ideas. Afterward, she tells her manager to pick Ben's team, but only if he leads the project.
As you can imagine, while filming the campaign, sparks fly between Anna and Ben. When her father is suddenly hospitalized, Ben leaps into action, driving her over seven hours to his location.
Anna and Ben's attraction grows, but they are still working together, so they have to conceal their interest. That is until Anna's manager decides that having a boyfriend could help boost her public image and increase her chances of landing the role she's vying for next.
I don't want to spoil it for you so I won't say anything more. Of all of her books, this was one of my favorites. It felt like both Ben and Anna had real depth, and things between them got quite spicy.
One of the things I love most about Guillory's writing is the way she describes her characters. For example, on page 45, Ben is talking about his relationship with Theo and he says, "Good alcohol was one of the ways his brother showed love. Also bossy advice, detailed spreadsheets, and alphabetizing things. Very occasionally, blowing off work, but that was only for a true crisis."
When I finished the book, I read the acknowledgements. I always do that, because you never know what fun nugget you'll learn. I found this vulnerable confession from Guillory to be heartwarming. She admitted, "I didn't think I could write this bok. At first, it felt impossible to write a book during a global pandemic, especially a book about love. But then this book became my joy during a very hard year. I am grateful beyond words for everyone in my life who helped me find love and joy and creativity in the hardest of all years to find all those things, and who made it possible fo me to tell Ben and Anna's story."
If you're looking for something light, this book will leave you smiling. I highly recommend it for plane reading!
*Image courtesy of PopSugar.