My rating: 3 of 5 stars
It’s funny that NYPL considers The Proposal a romance novel. I simply would’ve considered it fiction or chick lit. The phrase “chick lit” kinda makes me cringe, but I’ve also learned to accept it. Chick lit has the same reputation as rom-com movies: considered to be for women only, but a good story is a good story.
It’s not your typical boy-meets-girl, boy and girl fall in love and live happily ever after type of romance and definitely not the type of romance I went through a phase of reading in high school. Those “romance” novels were more sex and erotica than romance, but there were elements of love mixed in with the lust.
Jasmine Guillory’s novel opens with a disastrous marriage proposal and break-up. (I’m not spoiling anything by saying that.) Nikole Paterson, a freelance writer, believes she’s casually dating struggling actor Fisher. A mere five months into the relationship and without previous discussion of marriage or love, Fisher decides it’s a good idea to propose on the Jumbotron at a Dodgers game. To add insult to injury, he misspells Nikole’s name with a “C.” Stunned and embarrassed, Nikole can’t bring herself to accept, even with cameras and thousands (millions if you count at-home viewers) of eyes on her. Enter Carlos and his sister Angie who decide to spare Nikole from further embarrassment by pretending to know her and intercepting a camera crew intending to interview Nikole on her failed romantic experience.
That meet-cute moment sets off Carlos and Nik’s friends-with-benefits relationship that they’re reluctant to call dating, even though they do exactly that: go on real dates. They even meet each other’s friends. Both have their hang-ups for resisting a committed relationship and opting for a casual, no-strings-attached relationship. Of course life circumstances and pesky, uncontrollable feelings get in the way and prove otherwise.
All the text messaging scenes between Nikole and her friends and Nikole and Carlos accurately depict modern day friendships and dating. Who talks on the phone anymore? I like how the interracial aspect (Nik is black, Carlos is Mexican) of their relationship is mentioned, but not dwelled upon. I mean really, people, get with the times. Date who you meet and run into, don’t just stick to the same usual circles. Although, speaking as a black woman, I love a good healthy #blacklove story, but will take love in whatever package it comes. Lest we forget that most of my heed over heels crushes have been on white guys. Nikole’s rejected paramour is a white guy–with a man bun no less.
The Proposal is part of a loosely related trilogy. According to social media, the books don’t have to be read in order to be understood. Having heard such great things about the now-released The Wedding Party, I wanted to read the two previous novels, The Wedding Date and The Proposal, before snagging a copy. I rationalized first comes a proposal, a wedding date then a wedding party, therefore snagged The Proposal from NYPL. Turns out I was wrong. The Wedding Date is the first in the trilogy, but its storyline follows another couple, so I was ok following The Proposal’s plot and characters.
My only qualm is that I would’ve liked to have read more about Nikole’s family and her interactions with them, considering she is the protagonist. We see the full scope of Carlos and his family dynamics. Otherwise, I enjoyed reading The Proposal. It reminded me of the Emily Giffin books Something Borrowed and Something Blue. The novels are a cute, fun and easy read. The Proposal was a welcome departure from the heavy memoirs I tend to consume. It would’ve been a perfect for leisure reading during my trip to an all-inclusive resort in Cancun with my boyfriend. That was the intention, except the only times I cracked the book open was on the plane and during a layover. Perhaps, subconsciously I was trying to send a subliminal message to my boyfriend. In any case, I look forward to reading the other two novels and delving into the relationships that Jasmine Guillory creates.