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Claiming Carlos (Sanchez Sisters Book 2) Kindle Edition
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Choco has always been the responisble older sister, well apart from once, but now her life seems to be stuck in a rut. She runs the show at her parent's restaurant without getting any credit, and her relationship with her best friend, Carlos, seems to be in jeopardy. But when a new business consultant, Johnny Dee, comes into town, he starts to try and win Choco, even though all she can think about while he does so is how he isn't Carlos. All Carlos needs is a hint from Choco that she's interested, he knows she is but until she says something he can't do anything about it, though his tactics leave something to be desired....
I've read books from Ayala before and thourghly enjoyed them, so I had no doubt that I'd enjoy Claiming Carlos as well. I thought that the split point of view (Choco's from a first person and Carlos' from a third person) worked really well, though there were a few moments where I really started to wonder about the motives of both of them because of it. Knowing the reasoning behind both of their actions just made me want to bang their heads together, but also made it so they were equally reliable, and equally flawed.
As with the previous book, Taming Romeo, there was a lot of Fillipino culture in Claiming Carlos, from the names that they called family members, to the food that they were eating. I liked it because it is a change to have ethnic characters and have those characters part of their own culture. It also introduced me to certain dishes and customs that I hadn't heard of before, which is always a good thing!
One of the themes that came through due to the culture was the idea of Choco being a ruined woman (though not many people actually knew and I won't spoil it by telling you why other than to say it was due to not being a virgin). I also really like the way that Choco addressed the fact that even though they pretend to be, most of the women around them pretending to be virgins were lying by omission.
Johnny as a character was someone that I disliked a lot, though saying that there were times when I was disliking Choco's father as well. There was something about him that I didn't like from the start (even before Carlos' POV where jealousy came into it) and then the big shocking reveal happened and I liked him even less. He certainly wasn't good enough for Choco.
Carlos and Choco were both great characters, and I liked that the main thing that attracted them to each other was the things that made them them, and not some fantasy. The chemistry between them throughout the book was immense, though they didn't actually have much sexual interaction for most of the book; that's how good their chemsitry is (that you could feel it before they kissed).
The ending of the book itself was always going to be what it was, and that's not a problem, I want my romances to end like that, but there were a lot of twists and turns along the way, and times when I couldn't figure out how Carlos and Choco were actually going to end up together. There were also a few points where I wondered if they'd end up together at all or just happy with other people.
I really enjoyed this book, it has a rich culture, strong characters, and sizzling chemistry even outside the bedroom.
Amazing book, love the networking of the characters and use of the English language. I enjoyed reading this book with so much excitement and was captivated from start to finish. I felt the issues (mental health) were dealt with impeccably, I have read other books that without meaning to they portray the character as crazy rather than dealing with the issue. This is the first book I've read of Rachelle Ayala, and I'm wondering how I've not come across or read any other of her books! I will definitely be following this series & more.
It's definitely a 5* must read for me!
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Concepcion "Choco" Sanchez had been best friends with the head cook, Carlos Lopez, at the family Filipino restaurant in San Diego, CA for a very long time. Both are comfortable with each other, neither wanted the relationship changed. That was shattered when a restaurant consultant Johnny Dee came to make over the restaurant... AND Choco as well. Choco fell head over heels with Johnny Dee, and Carlos is not taking that lying down. Who is Johnny Dee, and why is Choco's father letting Johnny's mother Miranda make over the restaurant? Does this have something to do with Choco's secret? When someone threatened to expose Choco's secret in order to get Choco away from Carlos, so cousin Julia can marry Carlos, Choco walked away, but Carlos wasn't ready to let that happen, even without a penny to his name...
While the family dynamics are great (Choco and her mother need to "take back" the restaurant as Miranda was turning it into some "New Age Filipino thing" and there were funny scene when that happened, while Carlos need to figure out what are his intentions toward Julia and Choco), somehow the relationship between Choco and Carlos was never quite defined. It's as if the two were in love with each other but both thought of it as friendship until a new factor, Johnny Dee, forced them to confront their feelings. Once they figured it out, then it became a regular romance push-pull with outside complications, like family and friends and obligations and so on. I think the transition could have been a little smoother.
Those likes included the descriptions of the various family members and their interactions with each other, some of which I could completely relate. I enjoyed reading about the hustle and bustle at the restaurant and the descriptions of the Filipino dishes being served there. The plot line that talked about the importance of preserving our food culture and embracing it, pig parts and all was something I could get into.
Other than that, this book really didn't do it for me. First, I didn't feel the chemistry between the two main characters, Choco and Carlos. Although there were POVs from both characters talking about the attraction, it just wasn't palpable.
The transitions between the POVs were also a bit rough and didn't make much sense. In more than one scenario, a change happened to either Choco or Carlos, but there was no real explanation of why that change happened. Instead, all is left is for the character on the other side to deal with it.
It also didn't help that I didn't like the heroine. She was childish and was a sender of mixed messages to poor Carlos. She pushes him away and encourages him to date someone else but then tells him that "She hates him" for doing just that.
Also, the book was fraught with so much drama like secret children, restaurant sabotage, fake boyfriend/girlfriend, blackmail, miscommunication, unrequited love, etc., that there wasn't any room to really focus on Choco's and Carlos' relationship, what little there was of it.
What doesn't help matters is that the reasons for some of the craziness that was happening didn't make any sense at all. Even after a day or so of processing, I still don't understand why certain things happened the way they did.
Even the ending was unsatisfying because it was just so abrupt. At one point, they broke up and without any kind of real resolution between them, they get back together.
Overall, there way more misses than hits. I think I need some halo halo to get over the disappointment.