Blog Tour: Review: Claiming Carlos by Rachelle Ayala **GIVEAWAY** + Excerpt
Such an outstanding story, surprised me to no end. The feels are just crazy.
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Choco Sanchez is stuck in a rut. She's never hit a softball and has been friends forever with Carlos Lopez, the head cook at her family's Filipino restaurant. When flashy restaurant consultant Johnny Dee hits her with a pitch, she falls head over heels and gets a makeover.
Carlos Lopez is not about to lose one for the home team. Johnny launches a full scale change on the menu, and Carlos sends him straight into the dumpster. Claiming Choco's heart proves more difficult, especially when her secrets threaten to doom their love. But never underestimate a man who can cook hot, spicy, and steamy, and we ain't talking just food.
I stick to par on that hole. Ha, ha. These miniature golf courses have many trick holes.
There’s one where the ball has to go over a bridge, and of course there are all the curbs to bounce off. But the worst are the mounds. Carlos sucks at those.
Livy, meantime, maxes out at six shots each hole. “My club’s crooked. Can we trade?”
“I don’t see anything wrong,” I say.
Carlos takes her club and balances it. “Ah, you see here? It’s curved and off balanced. Here Livy, have my club.”
Oh no he doesn’t. Then he’ll have an excuse why he lost. Besides, the clubs were handed out by height.
“Livy, take mine. His is too long for you.”
“Whatever.” She grabs it.
After she’s out of earshot, Carlos whispers, “My club’s definitely too long for you.”
“You wish.” I tally the scores, my cheeks burning. “You’re still five strokes behind.”
He bends toward me and waggles his eyebrows. “I’ll make up those strokes tonight. Where would you like them?”
“You nasty boy.” I wait until he lines up for his putt before pretending to trip and bump into him. “You’re not even up to par. Tsk, tsk, tsk. You sure you can keep up with me?”
“I know how you like me driving into your hole.” He winks and swats the ball. It rolls into the hole, and he does a golfer’s fist pump. “As for keeping up with you? I can go all night.”
“I don’t know about that. You’re going into the water trap.” I line up the ball near the windmill.
“If it gushes like you, I’ll gladly take the plunge.” He bumps my hip and my ball hops and skips into the running water.
“Why you!” I gingerly climb over the fence and duck under the bridge.
“Ha, you’re all wet.” He helps me climb back. “Just the way I like it.”
“Shhh … Livy,” I hiss, but fortunately she’s staring at her smartphone.
The next one is a right angle shot. If I can hit that diagonal perfect, it’s a straight shot into the hole. I line up my shoulders, square my hips, and wait for Carlos to jeer. I fake up, about to swing.
“Wait, wait.” He claps his hands right beside my ear. “Your ball still wet? You better compensate for the drag.”
“I think your club’s all wet.” I quickly take a swing and whack the ball hard. It flies straight at the diagonal, then rolls down the green toward the hole. The carpet is uneven, dang. I didn’t account for it, but it goes closer and plop. It lands in the hole.
“Whoo!” I raise my club in the air and jump up and down. “A hole in one. Ha, ha, you’ll never catch me now. Loser cooks.”
He puts his finger down his throat, gagging. “The way you cook, I better lose.”
“You guys are silly.” Livy yawns, bored with our antics.
“Let’s see how silly you are when you fall in love,” Carlos says. He gives her a noogie and she screams, “Ewww. Love is yucky.”
I screw up the next two holes. Did Carlos say he was silly because he’s in love? The
thought it could be me is so delicious, I quiver, the same way I do when a dessert is super sweet and cold.
I cannot believe this book!. My first impression at first, especially with the writing style along with the vibes it was giving off, I thought it was just going to be like any other romance; just an okay story.
What kept everything going for me with this story was how spontaneous the author was in many of the scenes as well as the characters that were created.
I liked how the perspective switched between the main characters, Choco, and Carlos. I was a bit iffy when it came to Choco, because she was a bit unhappy with the way everything was at in her life and with herself. And then things start to change. For a time I felt so strongly, sympathizing with her, until she derailed a bit, but then eventually came back to her senses. Carlos I really really liked. The feels are going through the roof. He was just so cool, and hot, and caring and hot, and just an awesome cook. My stomach growled every time the setting took place in the kitchen with him or cooking something for Choco. I still got frustrated with him too for a little bit but then I'd become smitten with his cooking skills as well a some other skills he excelled at... The only character I did not hate, and truly loved, as well as had their head screwed on straight was Tita Elena, the one with the bakery. I just love her to death. She was the only one that I did not get irritated by. And gave great advice. Julia, however was the one character that was completely confusing, and irritating too. She just seemed unstable and weird.
I really appreciated the mini glossary at the end defining the meanings of word, phrases and honorifics used throughout the story.
I actually have a Filipino aunt, although she's still pretty young, but her parents still live in the Philippines so I liked how this story helped a bit with knowing more about my aunt's heritage.
This author truly did amaze me with their writing style, and character development.
Overall, I very much enjoyed this read and would recommend this romance to those looking for one that is out-of-the-box unpredictable as much as it is very entertaining.
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About the Author:
Rachelle Ayala is a bestselling Asian American author of dramatic romantic suspense and humorous, sexy contemporary romances. Her heroines are feisty and her heroes hot. She writes emotionally challenging stories but believes in the power of love and hope. Rachelle is the founder of an online writing group, Romance in a Month, an active member of the California Writer's Club, Fremont Chapter, and a volunteer for the World Literary Cafe. She is a very happy woman and lives in California with her husband. She has won awards in multicultural and historical romance.