What happens when you take an immensely kilig love story and set it on the stunning shores of Boracay? That’s exactly what Cover Story Girl is all about, and I absolutely loved it. How can anyone not? With the breathtaking scenery and the love that will shake the whole island (plus a delightful marriage of both local and Korean cultures), this gem of a romance is truly a local masterpiece. It’s a classic tale of how opposites attract: the main protagonist Gio is the island’s museum curator, while love interest Min Hee is the enigmatic Korean girl who walks into Gio’s life and pretty much mucks it up. Calculated and safe, Gio finds Min Hee’s free-spirited nature initially annoying and eventually intriguing—and it doesn’t help that Min Hee’s string of excuses about her true identity is as misleading as she is beautiful. She tells Gio so many cover stories (hence the title), from her having amnesia to her father being on the run from mob bosses. One th ing is for sure, though—she has a surreal and exquisite splendor that rocks Gio’s organized and museum-y world, effectively turning it inside-out. What ensues is a wonderfully told tale about taking risks, falling in love, and learning how to trust. Add all that to the sun, sand, and sea, and it’s an instant bestseller right from the start.Cover Story Girl is part of the #romanceclass series led by author extraordinaire and local writers’ champion Mina V. Esguerra. The class aims to further the cause of contemporary romance written by Filipino authors, and because of masterfully crafted tales such as Cover Story Girl, the big publishing houses are
actually taking notice. And why wouldn’t they? There’s a reason why Visprint picked up Chris Mariano’s work—heck, there’s a ton of reasons why, and I have quite a few myself. For one thing, the main character is a guy, and in a genre where very few stories are told from the male point of view, this one definitely stands out. The author also did a marvelous job at portraying and conveying what goes on in a guy’s mind despite being a woman herself, and that alone is a unique talent in itself. For another, the story isn’t just your average rom-com fluff. It has substance, depth, and a rich exploration of the deep and astonishing culture of our local heritage, and historical references aside, the plot almost reads like a fitting homage to our alluring tropical country. Sure, we always see Boracay as the world sees it—white sand, pristine waters, vibrant night life along the shore when the sun goes down. But with Cover Story Girl, readers get to see Boracay in a whole new light—and it is simply spectacular.What’s interesting is that the book also has a lot of fun tidbits about Korean culture as well, and there are times when I am reminded of the infamous My Sassy Girl movie while reading the story. Min Hee is just that quirky—the elusive mischievousness, the light and breezy attitude, and the jaw-dropping beauty. It’s a refreshing and welcome take on the typical Filipino romance, so it will be incredibly easy for any engrossed reader to just devour the whole thing in one sitting. Yes, the story is just that engaging. Of course, at the heart of it all is the love, love, love. There will be a generous amount of feels in this one (yes, prep your dear heart for some twists and turns), as a proper romance novella should have. Chris herself has her home in Kalibo—a mere two-hour trip to Boracay—so she knows exactly what she is saying. So if you are a fan of calamansi muffins and a darn good love story, there is no doubt that you should go pick up Chris Mariano’s Cover Story Girl off the shelves today. It’s available in major bookstores such as Fully Booked and National Bookstore under Visprint’s books—just follow the trail of local talent! On another note, you can take part in boasting of Filipino pride by supporting our local authors. The #romanceclass group is a treasure trove of fresh and exciting stories told by Filipino authors and written superbly in English, and if you didn’t know that, it’s time to spread the word! You can learn more about the class here (http://romanceclassbooks.com/), as well as find an online catalog of the works published by our super talented local authors who are working in the shadows to bring you the best English contemporary romances out there. Also, if you want to know more about Chris Mariano—on her works in progress, her motivation for Gio and Min Hee, and her road to going indie—you can check out Mina V. Esguerra’s interview about her here: http://minavesguerra.com/books/interview-chris-mariano-author-of-cover-story-girl/. What are you waiting for? Summer is almost over, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up and let the rain pour in, right? And what better way to keep the sun shining than by losing yourself in the most summer-y Boracay read ever? *Photos are original.