Ever since contemporary romance novel writer Mina Esguerra’s #romanceclass concluded in the middle of last year, more than a dozen people who have taken the class have gone on to finish their own novellas and self-publish on different platforms.
One of the earliest to finish was food blogger Chrissie Peria, who came out with All’s Fair in Blog and War,” a romance that happens in the Philippines, in Macau, and on the world wide web.
“All’s Fair in Blog and War” tells the story of Five Cuevas, a travel blogger who finds herself invited to an all-expense paid familiarization tour to the special administrative region of Macau, along with four other bloggers. It’s something that Five has been looking forward to doing, and has even enlisted the help of her sister to help her explore the less touristy side of the region.
However, her tour is off to a bad start when there is immediate friction between Five and photo blogger Jesse Ruiz. Five finds Jesse insufferable, and things begin to look even more dire when the two become each other’s designated travel buddy.
But something happens on the way to Macau. It begins with small things, and soon Five doesn’t find Jesse as irritating as he was back home. Five begins to notice that Jesse is much more attentive to her needs. Despite how they first met, Five begins to consider the possibility of being more than just friends with Jesse.
After getting to know Macau and each other over the course of several days, Five is ready to take a chance with Jesse. But when an unexpected twist shakes up Five’s plans, will she be able to get back on track and still find love along the way?
For one thing, Peria provides us with an engaging and interesting guide in the form of protagonist Five Cuevas. Five is charming and relatable, infused with a snarky sense of humor that makes it easy for readers to root for her and hope that everything ends well for her.
Peria also does a great job of charting Jesse Ruiz’ journey from being Five’s object of irritation to quite possibly becoming the object of her affection. She displays a deftness with description that makes it easy for readers to roll their eyes along with Five when Jesse drones on about how important it is for him to have access to social media during the Macau familiarization tour because he “utilize(s) both Twitter and Instagram” to connect with his readers.
This skill at painting a picture on the page for her readers also works for Peria when she takes Five and Jesse on their tour of Macau. In much the same way that seasoned travelers focus on the spots that tourists tend to overlook, Peria glosses over Macau’s more obvious attractions and focuses instead on creating charming scenes at sidewalk eateries and lesser known egg tart stores.
Peria also focuses on the little things when building the relationship between Five and Jesse – maybe Jesse helps Five clean up a mess here, maybe he helps placate her about something vaguely supernatural there. It helps ground the story and makes the progression of feelings between Five and Jesse seem organic and natural. It makes it easy for readers to root for Five and Jesse’s budding relationship, and makes it extra painful when things don’t go as planned.
Another thing that Peria utilizes to great effect is social media and the role it plays in “All’s Fair in Blog and War.” For instance, all of the chapter titles are hashtags, and changes in setting are marked by the “@” sign. Even the two main characters have Twitter accounts that readers can follow!
But more than just giving the book a style that makes it easy to remember, Peria also makes full use of the fact that her two main characters are bloggers. Five gets to know more about Jesse when she visits his blog, and the threat of an incriminating Instagram post bring Five and Jesse closer together. Social media plays a part in what drive the two apart, and it also plays a role in bringing them back together. It’s all small details that work so well when brought together.
With its engaging characters, charming settings, and easy-to-root-for romance, “All’s Fair in Blog and War” is a great read for those looking for romance with a dash of travel. Who knows, it might even inspire you to go on one of your own.
(Disclosure: The author was also part of the same romance novel writing class.)