Book Review: Playing Autumn by Mina V. Esguerra

December 8, 2013 Filipiniana Sunday, Review 0 ★★★★½

Book Review: Playing Autumn by Mina V. EsguerraPlaying Autumn by Mina V. Esguerra
Series: Standalone
Published by Self-published on 2013 November 20
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 108
Format: E-book
Source: Purchased
Buy on Amazon

Haley Reese is going back home to Houston and she's dreading this trip. She volunteers as a mentor to young musicians at an annual festival, and the longer she's been doing it, the more she feels like a fraud. It's been years since the web videos that made her sort-of famous first came out, and she hasn't done anything else to pursue the career in music she's always wanted. Things start looking up when she shares a plane ride with Oliver Cabrera, music prodigy, rock star, and the reason why she picked up an instrument in the first place. Oliver Cabrera hasn't called any place "home" since he started touring professionally in his teens, but Houston is as close to it as any. He's also nearly broke, his career just about over. When he gets the invitation to mentor at the Breathe Music Festival again, he decides, what the hell, he should finally show up. He meets Haley, Hot Piano Girl herself, and finds her fear of failure might be easier to fix than his own.

Playing Autumn was first released in 2013 in the Rock Gods of Romance ebook anthology. This is a revised, expanded, and steamier edition.

I don’t have to stress the obvious that I was desperate to get my hands on this book immediately.  When I read the synopsis of Playing Autumn from Ms. Mina’s site, I know that I wouldn’t rest until it’s safely tucked in my e-reader.  I am not big on music but the title and synopsis gave me an impression of something poignant and of better times. I was reminded of comfort even if “autumn” symbolizes melancholy. Yeah, I am crazy that way.

Set in USA, Playing Autumn started with Haley meeting her all time music idol, Oliver Cabrera, at the airport. Though she constantly reminded herself that she had already moved on from her fangirling days, she can’t deny the weird feelings that Oliver is stirring in her. Eventually, everything just went crazy between the two of them when they spent a week mentoring the participants of the Breathe Music Festival.

Playing Autumn’s first impression on me certainly lasted. It is certainly heartwarming with a dash of humor and melodic feel. For a very short novella (89 pages), it gracefully managed to deliver what it’s meant to deliver.  The characters immediately stood out to me. Oliver is not the typical rockstar book hero who has everything. On the contrary, his career has gone downhill and his landlord is already shooing him out of his apartment. What I love about him is that he remained cool despite the circumstances. He didn’t wallow in self-pity nor drowned himself with booze nor hide in his apartment nor pulled stunts just to create publicity so his fame would be restored. He just tried to move on.  Meanwhile, Haley is your average fangirl who preferred in sharing her musical talent instead of harnessing it to become someone like Oliver. She’s contented staying on the sideline mentoring the youth. One of her traits that really made an impact on me is that she knows what she wants and she will not be ashamed in getting it like having a one week fling with Oliver.

The romance in this novella is sort of instalovey but it was beautifully crafted. And I don’t think I would be really critical about it since the story is very short.  What I can assure you is that it was conceivable given that weeklong flings are actually happening in real life.  And it’s not the only thing that drove the plot forward.

Ms. Mina’s talent to create stories that are interlaced with meaningful life lessons is simply admirable.  Playing Autumn does not only revolve around the steamy romance between Oliver and Haley. It’s also about facing your failures and learning from them, and stepping up to brand new challenges.

Playing Autumn is just incredible. I just couldn’t believe that a book so short managed to merge loveable characters, a plot that draws you in, a swoon worthy romance while tying it all up with a few potent sentences.   This book alone made buying Rock Gods of Romance worth buying.


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