Jasmine Guillory’s The Proposal was one of my most anticipated books of the year. I enjoyed The Wedding Date and was looking forward to where Guillory would go with Carlos. The taste we were given of a botched public proposal whetted my appetite further.
When freelance writer Nikole Paterson goes to a Dodgers game with her actor boyfriend, his man bun, and his bros, the last thing she expects is a scoreboard proposal. Saying no isn’t the hard part–they’ve only been dating for five months, and he can’t even spell her name correctly. The hard part is having to face a stadium full of disappointed fans…
At the game with his sister, Carlos Ibarra comes to Nik’s rescue and rushes her away from a camera crew. He’s even there for her when the video goes viral and Nik’s social media blows up–in a bad way. Nik knows that in the wilds of LA, a handsome doctor like Carlos can’t be looking for anything serious, so she embarks on an epic rebound with him, filled with food, fun, and fantastic sex. But when their glorified hookups start breaking the rules, one of them has to be smart enough to put on the brakes…
I really enjoyed 90% of this book. Two things have kept me from reviewing it in the weeks since I read it. One was an unfortunate article in The Atlantic, the other was the big conflict between the main characters and the way they resolved it. That second one involves spoilers, so I’ll deal with it in a separate paragraph labeled SPOILERS.
My problem was not with anything Guillory said in The Atlantic article, “How to Write Consent in Romance Novels.” My issue was with how the article’s author, Hannah Giorgis, framed the article and her obvious lack of knowledge about the genre. Guillory is quoted in the article as saying, “Romance writers have been thinking about this stuff for a long time and people haven’t really paid attention…” and still Giorgis frames the article as if Guillory is the trailblazer. Writing about consent isn’t new to the genre and I’m sure those of us who read Romance have our own favorite books with excellent examples of consent. Even books that fall within the bodice ripper sub genre had more complicated views on consent that they are given credit for. Anyone who wants to find bad examples will certainly find them. Internalized misogyny is real and the patriarchy wouldn’t have survived this long if there were not women to prop it up. It took me a while to get the bad taste of the article out of my mouth.
Before I write about what bothered me in the book, I should spend a little bit of time writing about what I liked. I think Guillory is a very good writer. She is easy and fun to read and I look forward to reading more of her books, even though she is not yet on my Buy At Full Price list. I love her characters and their friendships. I love the way Nik and Carlos get to know each other and slowly peel back their protective armor. I loved that Nik and Carlos didn’t isolate themselves as their relationship grew, and that their friends and family pushed them to grow in ways not related to their romantic relationship. I loved reading their banter and their disagreements. The relationship progressed in a way that was relatable and realistic and a joy to read, right up until the major conflict.
SPOILERS – What I didn’t like was the major conflict and it’s resolution. Carlos has a revelation that he is in love with Nik and wakes her up to tell her about it. And then he gets mad that she isn’t immediately overjoyed. Carlos was an enormous dick. The saving grace is that Carlos figures out quickly that he was an enormous dick and sends Nik an email apologizing. My next frustration was that instead of sitting down and having a conversation, Nik decides to engage in a grand (though private) gesture to declare her love for Carlos. I hate grand gestures. I have enough experience with the pitfalls of grand gestures in real life that reading about them doesn’t feel romantic to me. This is all stuff that falls within the realm of subjective opinion. Other people can and will have different feelings.