Any reader that doesn’t live under a rock knows that romcoms are in. According to me, they were always in, just disrespected. Surely not anymore. Enter Alexis Daria’s You Had Me at Hola. If you love telenovellas, every romance trope under the sun and hot main guys being cute dads, look no further. Daria has delivered it all.
Romance and romcoms have always been that bitch to me, but in a world on fire I seem to have found myself incapable of reading anything else. Especially if it’s not as hot as the stories Daria gives readers with her array of characters, sizzling chemistry and great plots.
Fresh off of winning a daytime Emmy, protagonist Jasmine Lin has just been cast in a new tv show by Screenflix – the fictional version of Netflix – as part of a reimagined telenovela made for western audiences. It’s a big deal, especially for Jasmine who is trying to break out of the soap opera game and into more mainstream entertainment platforms. The same goes for her hot co-star and onscreen love interest, Ashton Suarez. Ashton is a veteran of telenovelas, having played some of the most iconic characters that have been both heartthrobs and villains, only he’s tired of that.
“Daria’s ability to perfectly depict a sexual and romantic attraction between two people is done with an expertise that is seldom seen”
Ashton’s dreams have always been to make it to Hollywood, and to provide for his son, father and grandparents. Also incredibly private about his personal life, he finds it anxiety-inducing to be seen in public with Jasmine, who’s last breakup was splashed all over the tabloids.
From the moment they meet, the chemistry between the two is palpable and soaring. Daria’s ability to perfectly depict a sexual and romantic attraction between two people is done with an expertise that is seldom seen. She picks up on body language, eye contact and the emotional responses they elicit. The type of chemistry that buzzes beneath your fingertips, and sends a shiver down your spine. The type that makes your mouth go dry and also cringe at embarrassment over how you’re reacting.
Sorry, but not everyone has that talent.
The one problem Ashton and Jasmine have? Zero chemistry on screen. When they kiss for a scene, it’s with a dawning realisation that the space between them is empty of any build up and chemistry between their characters. To my amazement as a reader, Daria is able to perfectly highlight the distinction between real life chemistry, and flat on-screen chemistry. When the two interact behind the camera, it’s stilted, a wall stands between the two that makes it difficult for them to navigate their roles as love interests.
“Daria sets the stage for the best build up of tension that you will ever see come to fruition on the page”
Both are quick to understand that it’s because neither one really knows each other. Ashton keeps to himself and his dressing room, and Jasmine is essentially a pariah when it comes to celebrity gossip – so time together until that point has been a strict no-go for Ashton.
However, both actors know what’s at stake. A Latinx show – the first of its kind for the platform – could do wonders for both their careers and the Latinx community. Both are aware of the scope of the impact a show like this could have, and of the opportunities it could provide people who look like them also entering the world of film and television.
So, they resolve to rehearse lines together, and my ladies, theydies and gaydies Daria sets the stage for the best build up of tension that you will ever see come to fruition on the page. Grocery shopping together, attending events where they have to pretend they’re just friends, and the hottest sex scenes a reader could come across in this genre.
“Understanding love on an intellectual scale, as Jasmine does, means you crave it more. But it also requires you to understand how to give love to yourself”
For the most part, their romance is kept secret. Ashton cannot risk the safety of his family and son, and Jasmine has specifically set out to prove she is a Leading Lady who will never need the security of a man. As a reader, part of me wanted to wrap my arm around her shoulder and softly say ‘it’s okay babe, he’s hot, you don’t have to pretend.’
Yet, this is a crucial point in Jasmine’s development as the story progresses. Jasmine is a babe in love with being loved. The concept of it is both magical and alluring; understanding love on an intellectual scale, as Jasmine does, means you crave it more. But it also requires you to understand how to give love to yourself.
This journey runs simultaneously with her development of romance with Ashton, as she navigates what is blossoming between them, the reader witnesses her reevaluating how she has handled relationships in the past. We have front row seats to her fear of reliving previous break ups, and how she focuses on the opposite happening. This is assisted with the support of her cousins, and best friends, Michelle and Ava. Who are individually different to one another, but with enough familial chemistry that they’ve spent years perfecting in order to work.
“All in all, You Had Me at Hola makes for heartwarming read, boasting well-rounded characters”
While Ava is slightly softer and prefers a light approach, Michelle is unafraid of delivering home truths that are hard to hear. They are both traits that assist Jasmine in understanding where she has gone wrong in the past, and are never judgemental if she makes mistakes. She is welcomed with open arms, and the type of love only your closest cousins can give.
Family plays a large role and with good reason. When it comes to romance, a lot of how a protagonist navigates relationships comes with how she has interacted and viewed relationships within her own family. Not all books are able to highlight this correlation enough to set the foundation of a protagonist’s character. Daria, however, makes it look almost easy.
The same is applied to Ashton, who’s family is smaller in scale to Jasmine’s, but no less nosey. The desire to be directly involved in their life choices runs deep on both sides, and provides a sweet, frustrating and comical atmosphere whenever scenes with them are on the page. All in all, You Had Me at Hola makes for heartwarming read, boasting well-rounded characters.
Daria has set in motion a potential series of characters within this universe. She has built a world and family surrounding them that is so solid, as a reader I felt I could almost touch it. Alexis Daria, you’re the GOAT.