MAYBE THIS TIME: STORIES OF LOVE AND SECOND CHANCES by Caryn P. Santi

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Title: Maybe This Time: Stories of Love and Second Chances
Author: C. P. Santi
Genre: Contemporary romance / Short stories
Length: 16,000 words (3 stories of approximately 5k+ words each)

BLURB:
An accidental reunion . . . a sneaky plot . . . things finally falling into place.

Maybe This Time contains three heart-warming stories of love and second chances. Because when fate gives you a break, you grab the chance to finally make things right.

In Sweeter by the Second, when paintings conservator Rina David arrives for the Arts Festival in the heritage town of Jimenez, she’s reunited with Tony, the guy she once loved and lost. Now vice-mayor of Jimenez, Tony wants Rina back in his life and will do everything he can to convince her that they belong together.

Pamela Quiroz hatches a plot to get her parents back together in Exorcising My Ex. But will a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner succeed in reconciling Geno and Viv? After all, it’s been more than fifteen years since they first got together and they aren’t the hormone-driven teenagers they once were. Will wine and cheese balls still do the trick?

Torch, meet hand. Arne Weichmann has been waiting twenty-one years for Bea. Is it finally the right time to make his move and convince her that they are Meant to Be? He hopes so. Because he doesn’t think he’ll survive losing the one person who brought warmth and sunshine to his life.

MY THOUGHTS:

C.P. Santi’s When Cocoy Became Kikay was a pleasant discovery in my reading life this year and I made it a point to watch out for other books by the author. It was not a surprise that I also enjoyed Maybe This Time. This latest release is a compilation of three short stories all revolving around a single common theme as suggested by the title: second chances, mostly in love but, as I soon discovered, also in life.

The first story, Sweeter by the Second, begins with a line that speaks of too many things. It was teasing and naughty and it instantly caught my curiosity. I loved the banter between Tony and Rin. The tension, the unspoken questions, the what ifs — I easily felt all these as I quickly got into the story of their lives, before and after.

“Fate certainly had a sense of humor. It was ironic how the things that tore us apart was also the thing that brought us together again.”

What I loved the most about the story was the vibrant setting. I liked how the place was meticulously and vividly depicted — this, despite the length constraints. The story ended with me giving a sweet sigh of satisfaction, although a bit (just a bit!) disappointed that the story has already come to an end.

Exorcising My Ex is partly epistolary, the story opening with a text conversation between father and daughter. Although I already knew that the date was a set-up and that this kind of story was not new to me, I still wanted to know about Geno and Viv, how they got together and why got apart and if they would get back together. It was really interesting to read a love story like this in Geno’s point of view.

“Young people laughed and flirted — without a care in the world. Some were in love, some were looking for love, and some despaired of ever finding it. They didn’t know what love could be like.”

I got slightly teary-eyed towards the end. The realities of love and life were so close to home I could only nod in agreement. But the ending gave enough hope — hope that love will work this time in the kind of persons Geno and Viv had become and in the chance they took to make things happen for them again.

If I were to pick a favorite story in this collection, I would choose the last one. Meant To Be was sweet and fluffy, all the kilig (I can use this word in an English sentence now, right?) of the first two stories all wrapping up in this finale. Following Arne and Bea’s story was a suspense. Although I already expected a happy ending, I couldn’t help being frustrated at how these two were so clueless (and helpless!) about their feelings for each other. Reading this story reminded me of Love, Rosie where I also wanted to tear my hair out and scream in frustration, haha!

“Twenty-one years! Do you think they’re eligible for a world record?”

***

I thoroughly enjoyed every story in this collection. Meant To Be gave me another reason to love the author. The narrative was simple and uncomplicated and I like the humor that peppered each story. Most of all, I loved it that the characters were all so easy to relate with (because they’re my age. Haha!). Truly, love is sweeter the second time around, sa tamang panahon.

My Rating: 4/5 stars.

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