Ever since I started blogging for Arctic Books, I feel like I’ve been yapping about #romancecless already. Now, for those who don’t what the hashtag is for, I came up with this post for you! I had loads of fun brainstorming for this post, and I honestly can’t wait to hear from those who I will be able to persuade to check out the involved books. Today, I’m so honored to share with everyone my first-hand experiences with the community, the authors, and the stories involved with this iconic class.
Who could better explain this wonderfully diverse community than by the Filipina author who started it all, right? So in the words of Ms. Mina V. Esguerra:
The #romanceclass community of authors is a group that came out of the free class I ran in 2013, meant to encourage Filipino readers of chick lit and contemporary romance to start writing and publishing their own stories. “romanceclass” was the hashtag used to informally discuss things with each other over Twitter, and it stuck. That time, 100 people signed up, and 16 authors completed a contemporary romance novella. They’ve since gone on to write more, publish, get publishing deals…and we continue to support each other on social media and everywhere else.
More authors have since joined us, through more classes, or just from interacting with us online. We’ve set up romanceclassbooks.com to showcase what the authors are writing and publishing. Most of us are indies, but even the traditionally-published authors need help getting the word out about their books. But we do this for each other because we read each others’ books anyway and it’s a natural thing, to share books you enjoy.
Personally, one of my most favorite part of the community is the initiative of the authors to host events and invite performers to live-read from the books that are being published by #romanceclass. This is a unique, and efficient way of marketing the books that they sell, and I can assure everyone just how refreshingly entertaining, and swoon worthy attending these events really are. So far, I’ve attended three events and I’m truly looking forward to attend more in the future.
If you want to check out some of my recaps for these #romanceclass events, I’ve published one for the February 2017 Bitter x Sweet event, and one for the April 2017 Feels Fest. (Click on the links to be redirected!)
And just in case you want to find out why I’m a huge fan of the community, and why I continue to support the authors and the stories they publish, here are a few live-readings that I consider my favorites:
Look them up on Goodreads:
- If The Dress Fits by Carla De Guzman
- Another Word for Happy by Agay Llanera
- The Bye-Bye Bouquet by Chi Yu Rodriguez
- My Imaginary Ex by Mina V. Esguerra
- Waiting in the Wings by Tara Frejas
JM’s Top Ten Favorite #romanceclass Titles
#1. Keep The Faith by Ana Tejano (Check out my review here!)
As a community development worker, Faith was quite familiar with heartbreak and recovery after all the time she spent on disaster relief missions. So when her five-year relationship ends right before she left for a mission trip to a typhoon-stricken town in Iloilo, she tries not to make a big deal out of it. How can she be broken up about a breakup when she’s with people who literally lost everything?
But now that she’s back, all Faith wants is for her life to go back to normal and have people stop looking at her with pity. Never mind that she still has a lot of questions about the breakup, or that she feels a tiny ache every time her ex comes up in conversations. She’s okay now, and happily distracted by Nico Tamayo, the attractive new guy at work.
With new possibilities in the horizon, Faith thinks she is well on her way to moving on. But when her past comes calling back to her, will all the good things in her present be enough to keep her on the path? Or will she finally learn that there was more to heartbreak and recovery than what she knows?
#2. Like Nobody’s Watching by Tara Frejas (Check out my review here!)
It’s all fun and games until someone catches feelings.
If there’s something Pio Alvez is good at, it’s pretending to be someone he’s not. On stage and on-screen, the actor has mastered the art of becoming the characters he plays, and his new role should be no different. After all, how difficult would it be to pretend to be smitten with a beautiful, intelligent go-getter like Audrey Alonzo?
Perhaps it’s more difficult pretending not to be.
#3. Waiting in The Wings by Tara Frejas (Check out my review here!)
At twenty-three, theatre actress Erin Javier has yet to fall in love or kiss a boy offstage, away from the klieg lights. She is the perfect leading lady—whose heart men would fight for, win, and protect—unfortunately, only until the curtains fall and the lights go down. In real life, Erin is a certified NBSB whose heart has been hoping for a song to dance to.
But when two (two!) men enter from stage left and right, Erin is confused. Who deserves to take center stage in her heart—Mr. Theatre Royalty whose attention and displays of affection make her pulse race, or a good friend whose steady support has helped steer her to success and fulfill her dream?
#4. Beginner’s Guide: Love and Other Chemical Reactions by Six Delos Reyes
Falling in love is a chemical reaction.
Just ask Kaya Rubio, twenty-five year-old Molecular Genetics graduate student and research assistant. Fed up with her spinster aunts’ relentless reminders and unsolicited advice regarding her Single Since Birth status, she designs a scientific, evidence-based methodology to find her a suitable partner in time for her cousin’s wedding. As any good scientist knows, any valid experimental design requires a negative control. Enter the most unsuitable candidate for a potential boyfriend: the messy, easygoing, café owner Nero Sison. Her null hypothesis? Going out with Nero would establish her baseline data without catalyzing the chemical reaction she seeks.
But when Kaya’s recorded results refuse to make sense, she is forced to come to the conclusion that there are some things in life that are simply, by nature, irrational and illogical. And that sometimes, chemistry doesn’t always happen inside a lab.
#5. Only A Kiss by Ines Bautista-Yao
When she was nine-years-old, Katie knew she wanted Chris to give her her first kiss. It wasn’t because she was in love with him (no way, he was her best friend! Besides, she was in love with his fourteen-year-old big brother), it was because she could make him do anything she wanted.
Besides, it didn’t really mean anything. It was only a kiss after all.
But then things started to change. They grew up. They parted ways and went to different high schools. And other girls and boys—well, just one particular boy—came into the picture, throwing their lives upside down.
Told from the alternating points of view of Katie and Chris, this love story between two best friends will tug at your heartstrings and leave you thinking how the simplest things can mean so much.
#6. If The Dress Fits by Carla De Guzman
Martha Aguas kind of has it all–she’s an accountant who loves numbers, an accident-prone puppy that loves her, and the perfect wardrobe.
Yes, she wears a dress size 24, her bras don’t fit and she’s never had a boyfriend, but so what?
It becomes a big deal when her perfect cousin Regina announces her engagement to Enzo, the only boy she’s ever loved (he doesn’t know, so don’t tell him!) Suddenly Aguases from all corners of the globe are coming for the event, and the last thing Martha wants is to be asked why she still prefers her lattes with a waffle on the side.
Thank god for Max. Goofy, funny, dependable Max, who finds himself playing the fake boyfriend at the family festivities. But why does it feel like only one of them is pretending?
#7. Promdi Heart: Hometown Love Stories by Georgette S. Gonzales, Agay Llanera, Chris Mariano, C.P. Santi, Jay E. Tria, and Ines Bautista-Yao
Take a quick tour of the Philippines with six hometown love stories.
Visit Jimenez, Misamis Occidental where a priest might just set you up with a man whose dimples are to die for.
Visit Silay, Negros Occidental and get on a horse alongside hunky, hazel-eyed Negrense royalty.
Visit Kalibo, Aklan and find yourself in the arms of a cute drummer boy who just happens to be your kuya’s BFF.
Visit Hagonoy, Bulacan and spend All Saint’s Day next to a distracting boy who promises to write you a song.
Visit Vigan, Ilocos Sur and meet the hot man you used to bully when he was a shy, chubby boy.
Visit Pundaquit, Zambales and find love in a bronzed fisherman whose eyes hold depths you’ll want to explore.
#8. Dare to Love by C.P. Santi
Restoration architect Giada Manahan’s heart has begun to resemble the adobe walls she loves. At least that’s what her friends say. But Gia knows better—she’s just being cautious. After all, as a single mom, her kids are her first priority.
But one drunken night, her friends push her into a trippy crystal healing ritual. Gia thinks it’s a joke . . . until a few days later, she finds a half-naked stranger in her bed.
Hot, tatted anthropologist Alex Roces is exactly the kind of guy Gia should avoid. But when they end up sharing a house, Gia finds Alex’s charms increasingly difficult to resist.
Will Gia continue to keep the walls around her heart? Or will she finally give in to its demands?
#9. Keeping The Distance by Clarisse David
No bets. No fake relationships. Just a very real one that has to be kept under wraps.
Seventeen-year-old Melissa wants to dye her hair cotton candy pink and focus on her ukulele instead of Physics. But she can’t. As the daughter of a Catholic school principal, living up to her model student image 24/7 is a must. Something’s about to give under all the pressure. She only hopes it isn’t her.
Getting involved with a troublemaking basketball player is the last possible thing she needs…
Lance is used to getting what he wants. With a pretty face he uses to full advantage and his role as co-captain of the basketball team, the easy way is the only way he’s ever known. Until the day he notices the prim Melissa he’s known forever is actually hot and decides to ask her out. He has no idea he’s about to learn the lesson of a lifetime.
Not getting what he wants might exactly be what he needs…
#10. My Imaginary Ex by Mina V. Esguerra (Check out my review here!)
Here’s what happens when you play pretend.
When Zack asks Jasmine to pretend to be his ex-girlfriend, she gamely agrees, thinking it would be fun. A few years later, she still has to keep convincing people that they were never together! Then one day, she finds out he’s getting married—to someone she’d just met once! All of a sudden, things aren’t so clear-cut anymore. Can Jasmine sort out her feelings (sometimes, she can’t even tell real from pretend when it comes to her and Zack) before it’s too late?
Have YOU read a #romanceclass title before? If so, then let me know what you think via the comments section. If not, then I’d love to give you a recommendation!
JM is a 21 year old blogger from Manila. He has a degree in Hotel and Restaurant Managment mainly because it was too late when he discovered that literature and publishing is his true calling. He enjoys reading contemporary and fantasy novels as much as he enjoys playing video games and baking pastries. You may find him on Twitter, Instagram, and on Goodreads.